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Saturday, May 31, 2008

THE HOMELESS ENVELOPE

by David Plumb


The fat yellow manila envelope
On the Bank of America window ledge
at Stockton and Columbus
said, Darryl Woodson, homeless.
The poor state of his life attested
by dental clinic sheet with bus token taped on
that would get his teeth fixed
at least the front right incisor he complained about.
A voucher from a homeless shelter
said he was a volunteer in their food program
and according to another form
he had a welfare interview at ten A.M.
to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt
that Darryl Woodson lived at the Holland Hotel.

I called his case worker
a fast talking Filipino whose
voice got ground up in the phone with the buses going by
and when I rang the Holland Hotel bell
I was greeted on the stairs by a woman named Patel
suspicious of me and I guess the world in general.

Who said he checked out
and I had the envelope.
A documentation of hunger
one night stands, rotting teeth
suspicion, alienation and missed appointments.
A fragmented life trying a piece at a time
to get it right, to get to the bus stop
with what little ammunition he had left
(yes he was a vet) to use the token
before losing it to a stranger
before madness took over
or the tooth hurt too much
or the bus went by
and the bus went by
and all that was left was the envelope
I put back on the ledge.


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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Friday, May 30, 2008

ECHOES OF LIFE'S UNCERTAINTIES IN THE WHITE HOUSE CORRIDORS

by Earl J. Wilcox


Do not go gently into that good night of writing your memoirs
while those about whom you write are still in power.

Oh, do not ask me what is it?.
Let us go and make our visit.


In the room the media come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

I would not have thought there were so many of them.
We learn to love the things for what they are.

That is not what I meant at all,
That is not it, at all.


Blest be the tie that binds
our hearts in political love.

Merd, merd, merd, merd.


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 34 poems to the New Verse News.
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DOUBLE-T@LKING JEOP@RDY

by Bill Costley


Like schoolyard bullies,
once again caught pissing
on the walls of the District,

Bushites natter they're being

abused by being caught once again,
doing what they've already done.

Bill Costley serves on the Steering Committee of the San Francisco chapter of the National Writers Union.
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Thursday, May 29, 2008

EARTHQUAKE, FLOOD, TORNADO

by David Feela


It’s not just weather anymore.
A pointless umbrella
opened to the epicenter
or a pair of galoshes
hastily pulled on
before the media begins the body count.
If relief comes
it’s not in sandbags or bottled water,
chainsaws or the Red Cross.
Relief is the sigh
that crests like a swollen river
marking a moment
where the worst has been done.
It’s the aftershock
radiating out from the sump
where the heart pumps
and pumps, trying to keep up.
And it’s also the sound of a train
racing along a track
torn up for more than a generation
but still
you hear it coming.


David Feela is a poet, free-lance writer, writing instructor, book collector, and thrift store pirate. His work has appeared in regional and national publications, including High Country News’s "Writers’s on the Range," Mountain Gazette, and in the newspaper as a "Colorado Voice" for The Denver Post. He is a contributing editor and columnist for Inside/Outside Southwest and for The Four Corners Free Press. A poetry chapbook, Thought Experiments (Maverick Press), won the Southwest Poet Series. A new poetry book. The Home Atlas, will be released in 2009.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

NO TIME FOR MOURNING

PoeArtry by Charles Frederickson & Saknarin Chinayote



Almighty earthquakes wreak havoc stench
Uncivilized world turned downside-up
Geological faults zap knockout punch
Constant aftershocks shatter last nerves

Weary soldiers face mask clad
Rescue volunteers clearing clogged impasses
Working tirelessly unaware of fatigue
Depending on charity of strangers

One thousand schoolchildren trapped under
Endless heaps of twisted scrap
Concrete slabs shoddy construction blamed
Parents demand making unknowns known

Shovels pickaxes counterclockwise helping hands
Disarming images limbs poking out
Wristwatch stopped at 2:28 pm
When ticking time bomb struck

Grave reminder bedraggled teddy bear
Makeshift altars wafting incensed curlicues
Burning paper currency traditionally honoring
Beloved only child in limbo afterlife

Clinging to even slightest hopes
Against all odds phoenix ashes
Spectral apparitions dispelling survivor guilt
Cranes uplifting spirits steely wills


The dynamic duo of always toptimistic upstARTs Charles Frederickson & Saknarin Chinayote edit AvantGardeTimes.com, an eclectic cosmopolitan poeartry quarterly EZine. Check out Dr. Chazz’s No Holds Bard website: PoetryArtCombo.com, and Saknarin’s new Glad Thaidings exhibition: http://www.poeartrygallery.th.gs/.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

AFTER A BATTLE

by Chris Crittenden


flayed yet fierce,
trident-like hands
stab up a cliff, hoist
a wretched soldier
to the top;

and he cries out
as if granite
clawed his soul,
spurred it to shriek-

hating god or light
or whatever mother
birthed the miracle
allowing this torture-

to see but not know,
to feel but not answer
questions riddled
with bomb and maggot,

depravity and pus.

why
you sick originator,
slaughter toddlers
for bankers' gain?

why hate against hate
while arensals rage,
employing steelworkers?

why,
bloody Gabriel,
perch blue-green hope
on the pinhead of war?


Chris Crittenden is an anguished hermit, all that crying in the wilderness crap. It means something to him, but there are lots of ignored prophets out there in the wilds of Maine. Some recent publications are from: Offcourse, Drunken Boat, Barnwood and Merge Poetry.
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Monday, May 26, 2008

PARADE

by Christopher Woods


Christopher Woods is the author of a prose collection, Under a Riverbed Sky, and a collection of stage monologues for actors, Heart Speak. His play, Moonbirds, about doomed census-takers at work in an uninhabited desert country, received its New York City premiere at Personal Space Theatrics. He lives in Houston and in Chappell Hill , Texas .
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Sunday, May 25, 2008

MEMORIAL DAY

by Ed Webb


Silent dead
Sequestered wounded
Limp flags
Stillborn Empire
Small mercies


Ed Webb teaches and studies Middle East politics. His poetry has appeared in the New Verse News and Quiet Feather magazine.
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Saturday, May 24, 2008

AMERICA, AMERICA

by Howie Good


The story goes that the day
my grandmother got off the boat,

just a girl from the village,
the dead were parading past

with crumbling, infested faces,
and ever after, she saw,

or, rather, sensed,
the future in her peripheral vision,

God dangling from a broken pulley
and the stars turning black.


Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of four poetry chapbooks, Death of the Frog Prince (2004) and Heartland (2007) from FootHills Publishing, Strangers & Angels (2007) from Scintillating Publications, and the forthcoming The News at 11 from Right Hand Pointing. His poems have appeared in numerous print and online journals. He has been nominated for the Best of the Web anthology and twice for a Pushcart Prize.
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Friday, May 23, 2008

SUBTERRANEAN RAGE

by Mary Saracino


Deeper than bone
deeper than muscle or sinew
or tenacious tendon
this howl of ages
rivers through bloodlines, ancient as oceans
salty as the primeval seas
this is what happens to women who
out-step their bounds
dare to be bold, brazen
speak up, name the subterfuge
women who grit their warriors’ teeth
fight on, for their children
their lovers, their nation
their homes, their hearts’ desires
branded as heretics: witch, bitch, cunt, whore
they race through forests and fields
trying to outrun the acrid scent of their own sweat
running from the hellish hounds
the priestly proclamations
the wrenching bite of the strappado*
running for their lives
caught between sinner or saint
rarely allowed sovereignty over Self
over mind & womb, over laws meant to undo them

Thousands of straggled cats launched the Plague
tender necks swinging from tree limbs
flaccid, cold paws an omen: the rats will have their day

Crucibles of change, cauldrons
of sorrow, voices stymied for ions by the threat of extinction
womb-wisdom silenced by public outcry
burned at the stake of cultural conditioning
the subterranean outrage
seeps out, sharp as knives
sharp as memory
sharp as justice denied
sharp as the bloodied knives
eviscerating their midnight powers

Deep is this grief
Deep this anger
A dirge of rage lost to the winds of time.
The weeping memory wails, still.
Hear it the moonless night sky,
touch it in the hot light of noon
smell it in the poisoned soil
taste it on your remembering tongue
see it in the burning irises
that bear witness to this unyielding genocide.


* Strappado is a form of torture, employed by the Inquisitional tribunals against women accused of witchcraft. Victims were suspended in the air by means of a rope attached to their hands which were tied behind their backs, causing their arms to be dislocated.


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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Thursday, May 22, 2008

WHAT'S ALL RIGHT FOR HIM, MAY NOT BE FOR HER

by Helen Tzagoloff

It takes a modest weight gain for a woman
to experience bias, but much more for men,
a new study from Yale shows.
-- New York Times, April 1, 2008

Divorced for decades, my friend
still displays a picture of his former wife.
Perfectly proportioned, Alba in a string
bikini, could be a pin-up calendar girl,
a Playboy playmate of the month.
I can see how the thought of having
had such a beauty, delights my friend.

He sees her now and then driving by
in her little red sports car --
she has come into an inheritance.
They wave to each other.
It was not a hostile divorce; he can't
even remember the reason.
Things had not gone well for them.
Alba remarried, had two miscarriages,
is now divorced. My friend, after
several disappointing relationships,
doesn't date anymore.

“Why don't you and Alba get together
again,” I suggest.
“Are you kidding? Have you seen her?
She's gained a hundred pounds.”
“That should make the two of you
compatible,” I retort.
“You could diet together,” I add
in a conciliatory tone.
“It's all right for a man to be fat,
but not for a woman.”
“I didn't know that.”
“Now you know.”


Helen Tzagoloff has worked as a microbiologist and often writes on subjects related to science and medicine. Her poems have appeared in Barrow Street, Blueline, New York Quarterly, PMS and other journals. She was the First Place Winner in the Icarus International 2002 Competition in honor of the Wright brothers. She lives in New York City.
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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

ON NEWS OF THE SECOND BATTALION, 503RD INFANTRY (AIRBORNE)

by Robert Farmer


There's bottled water and MRE's
instead of Gunga Din.
But know you that no one
has ever left there in victory.
Ask Alexander or Tamberlane
about the Hindu Kush.

You've hardened up since my hitch.
Professionals in for the long tour
bunkered down on ridgelines
north of the Khyber Pass,
holding a valley to some end
you hope someone knows.

A mountain dawn rises
through deodar
and timeless village sounds
to another morning's patrol,

laughter mixed with the clatter of preparation
for passage through chaos.
Today death arrives before its sound,
but still dealt by ancient tribes.
Know that you've arrived
at the summit of war
in the Korengal.


Robert Farmer is a retired forester who served his Second Lieutenancy with the 503rd long ago. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio.
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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

LIVING IN THE FAR UPPER LEFT COAST OF BUSH COUNTRY

by Scot Siegel


These days, I can’t think of the Douglas Firs
that tower over our street, or those shafts of sunlight
flung like angel wings through summer boughs,
without thinking of dog shit.
Not the garden-variety shit that lines roadside swales
not those nuggets of wisdom imparted by the city council
but that nonsensical shit that keeps falling from the President’s lips.
Yes, this is Oregon. It rains here, and we’re fairly liberal
at least in the five blue counties; though even the reds concede
cleaning up Bush’s pile is a tall order. Barack and Hillary
might not have the noses for it –
But I want to assure you, from where I sit with a shitty May primary
skidding way out on the horizon – our shovels are ready
We’ve been ready for years.
Yes, we will report for duty when the doggerel day comes
On the twentieth of May, Oregonians will unleash their delegation
51 out of 2025 delegates may be a whistle only a dog can hear, but
Every bone counts, they say –
Fellow Country People, Oregonians stand ready
We stand ready with visqueen hands extended!


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.
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Monday, May 19, 2008

RED, WHITE, AND GREEN

Strawberry Season in Carolina

by Earl J. Wilcox


On Saturdays during strawberry season
in Carolina, the entire Gonzalez family
comes early to pick. Field owners
don’t check for green cards when red
berries ripen and quickly rot in the field
in the hot noonday sun. Local townies
also show, children in tow, gramps for
fun, uncle Dave to drive the SUV. The
Smith family comes for the fresh fruit
taste, sunshine, mixing Carolina twang
with a few Hispanic words the kids pick
up in school. During strawberry season,
when the juices flow down the arms of
pretty children, joy is the common language


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 33 poems to the New Verse News.
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Sunday, May 18, 2008

HOSTAGE

by Marcelle Kasprowicz


Lob your stone
across the border
Yes, that way

Nothing to worry over
those are cardboard cutouts
A shooting gallery
No more

If your aim is good
they will fall
That's what you want

If you've done this before
you can aim at the head
That will bring them down quick

The chest is a bigger target
easier to hit
With good results too
And the small ones
don't run as fast
That's an advantage

Don't feel bad
What may look like wounds
is really just paint

Here is the first stone

You hear cries?
Did you forget your earplugs?
Have you tried inspirational CDs?
A great one is ''Might Makes Right''

Today
the sun is shining on us
giving us strength
Tonight
when they bask in the sun
the same stones
may be lobbed at us

Hurry
Don't look into their eyes
That's where man's innocence
lies hostage
to history's shifting shadows


Marcelle Kasprowicz was born in France and lives in Austin, Texas. She writes in English and French. In 2001, her poem “House of Bones” won first prize in the AIPF Anthology. Her poems have appeared in several magazines, anthologies and on line. Her first book Organza Skies was published in 2005.
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Saturday, May 17, 2008

CONFLAGRATION

by Scot Siegel

after Israel's 60th Birthday

One word worth 19 points
but so many other options on the table:

a Ratio: 5
a Ration: 6
a Nation: 5

(nearly a Generation)

and a Flag is 8 in flames...

But tonight, we choose real things:
opt out of the competition

and push
the Scrabble board aside -

I hand my daughter the matches
and fold the napkins

as she steadies the flame
and lights our Shabbat candles -


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.
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Friday, May 16, 2008

LET THEM EAT CAKE

by Phyllis Wax


They’ve got us over an oil barrel
and we’ve got a great solution
except it’s not really a solution,
but don’t say that too loud.

We’re turning corn into biofuel
(I’ll tell you a well-known secret:
to produce a gallon of ethanol
takes almost as much energy as
that gallon contains) and our farmers
are doing well and the oil companies
are doing well—-what a deal!

Still, every acre of corn
is an acre not growing food
and they’re starving in Africa
and they’re starving in Asia
while we’re producing fuel

for our 4,000 square foot homes
and our hungry SUVs. What the heck—
if we’ve got it why not use it
and it’s too bad about the others
but it’s not our fault, is it,
that they weren’t born American?


Phyllis Wax lives and writes in Milwaukee, WI.
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Thursday, May 15, 2008

A WOMAN'S LANGUAGE OF WAR

by Mary Hamrick












"Suddenly the sky turned blood-red. [ . . .]
I stood there, trembling with fright.
And I felt a loud, unending scream piercing nature."
--Edvard Munch (the Scream)
Year after year,
in sleeping positions of flowered poses,
we sleep with thorns of desert-dirt
between our fingers: bodies cursed silent.

Perching,
they isolated a certain few.
Smoldering, as they sinned,
they carried mesh bags of dirty works.

Standing crowded in the line of death,
we stood on their floor
and did what we were told.
In the wooded regions of their bodies,

they’d stir things up unholy.
Heavy, diving birds
spread sad skirts wide open
like branches of a tree.

Unanesthetized, in an endless loop
of resistance, we felt bullets heckling
and knives mangling.
Necks and breasts were squeezed small.

Hands yanked us to places
where tongues of whiskey
soured our breath. Cursed silent,
this is when the body breaks.

White-hot,
the town is thirsty.
The desert and its creatures play;
they buzz about barking.


Mary Hamrick was born in New York and moved to Florida when she was a young girl. Her writing often reflects the contrast between her Northern and Southern upbringing. Current publications include Arabesques Press, Architecture Ink, Cezanne’s Carrot, Coe Review, Howling Dog Press (OMEGA 6), Lucidity Poetry Journal, Ocean Magazine, On the Page Magazine, Pemmican, Poetry Repair Shop, Poems Niederngasse, Potomac Review, Rosebud Magazine, Scrivener’s Pen, Tattoo Highway, The Barricade, The Binnacle, The Harrow, The New Verse News, The Subway Chronicles and others.
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THE EXECUTION BUS

by David Chorlton













A condemned man saw his reflection
in the sunlit flash from a Chinese sword.
This is how the guilty were executed.
This is how the innocent were executed.
Then a gunshot was the last
sound a prisoner heard, just before the family
had chance to claim his body for the price
of the bullet used, which was the same
for the guilty as for the innocent.
Now the government speaks of human rights
as a bus arrives at even the poorest village
whose inhabitants would envy the wash basin
and comfortable seats beside the stretcher
for guards and witnesses
to the injection’s administration
behind the blacked-out windows.
More humane for the guilty,
officials say, than having to ask
the prisoner to kindly hold
his mouth open to allow the bullet
to pass through
without deforming the face.
More humane for the innocent.
The country has become more civil say
its leaders who are quick
to indicate that people spit
less often than they used to. During the Olympic Games
executions will happen three, four hundred times.
Justice is swift for the guilty, swifter
for the innocent. The fine for spitting
translates into two dollars and forty-one cents.


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

by Kobus Moolman













He works. In an all girls’ school. He makes the tea. In the all girls’ school. He is one of the only. Men. In the school. Mowatt Park. Montclair. Overlooking. The shunting-yards. Railway tracks. Factories. Workshops. Second-hand discount stores. Reduced. Hawkers welcome. The teachers call him. The teachers call him. Philemon. Philemon okay. Philemon. That’s right. Philemon. Thank you. Philemon. Philemon. Come here. But – His real name. His real name his real name his real name. Is. Mzolisi Njabulo Ntshangase. He works. In the staff room. He makes. Tea. Coffee. Hot chocolate. With or without. Black or white. For the teachers. All the teachers. Are white. At Mowatt Park. Montclair. All the teachers call him. Philemon. The girls. The girls are almost. Almost all. Black. The girls call him. Baba. Baba Ntshangase. Bab’Ntshangas. In Montclair. Mowatt Park. Overlooking. The shunting-yards. Railway tracks. Discount. Reduced.


Kobus Moolman is a South African poet and playwright. He has published three collections of poetry: Time like Stone (which received the Ingrid Jonker Prize for 2001), Feet of the Sky, and Separating the Seas. His play Full Circle won the major South African award for a new script in 2004. Last year he published a collection of radio plays, Blind Voices, including a CD of the BBC production of one of them.
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BECAUSE I AM BLACK

by Martins Iyoboyi













Because I am black greed governed our lives,
Lines, drawn for differentiation.
I possess thick lips wreathed in short nose
Short hairs with proud forehead.
In the old, manacled, abducted
In rooms inscribed with ‘A land of no return’
Tumbling the immense car in great swiftness
Making my divine home miles away
To the belabourment of foreign land.
For the many valleys dug for burial
Of black remnants of old
Unspeakable mistresses in junk cabins
Serving in servitude the rulers,
Calls for compensation.
When I go beyond the drawn radius
Reeling to crumble the opaque scenario,
The red eyes came up in the south of the continent.
Because I am black, is it a clog,
Am I a wick to light the lamp of the world?


Martins Iyoboyi was born in Nigeria. His poems have appeared in Zone, The Flask Review, 63 Channels, The Bending Spoons, Zeitschrift for the Nations, Temenos, Rhythm, Munyori, Contemporary Rhyme, Chiron Review, Poetry Cemetery and Boyne Berries.
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HOW TO FIND PEACE

by Martin Willitts, Jr.

Based on the painting, “Peaceable Kingdom” by Edward Hicks













1.

I know the glow of benevolence when I see it.
It is easily recognized by the wild animals,

so they willingly come to you without regret
trusting what they should not.

When they come to you, you do not harm them,
so they recognize this and respond.

They know your voice does not lie, so they relax,
settling down so you can smooth them.

They are easily led and they allow themselves to arrive,
permitting you to touch them, feeling tranquility

in your fingers, they forget to flee, the urge to dodge.
They let their muscles loosen and their pacing is released.

It is the same as a breeze when air is hardly moving
yet you feel it, you stretch out your arms to embrace it,

your hair tingles on your arms like light touch,
your tension leaves your jaw. This is what happens

when you remove yourself from everything. This
is what happens when you go silent and into yourself.

Something speaks inside of you, so subtle,
you have to listen closely, intently.

It is a voice telling you something. Listen.
It is telling you to let go.

All you to do is trust. You can fall back
and you will be caught. You will be alright.

This is why I trust you as the wild does.
I will be safe in your arms,

you do not have to be there for me to know this,
it is part of the trusting, it is a part of letting go.

2.

I am domesticated.
I acknowledge this now.

I was a beast until you came along.
At first, I resisted this.

I did not understand & mistrusted.
I refused to let myself be tamed.

I thought being controlled meant
losing something about myself

I was wrong
I was wrong as wrong could be.

When you took me in,
brushed me with your serene hands

I began to understand something,
something wordless,

something that needed to be felt
and unable to describe

other than I felt safe, loved,
and protected like never before

I felt something few have felt
until they let go,

and find the what is invisible
and then regret waiting so long.

3.

This calm is what I want, forever,
your hands, solid as light,

as thirst is quenched without water.
Your arms opened for all to enter

even a person like me, especially me,
although I do not understand why me,

doubting I deserve this, in spite of myself,
or perhaps because of me.

Rather than question this,
it is better to accept what is possible.

It is simpler this way.
It is what is needed and necessary.

4.

The wild and the tame lay together,
breathing a new kind of music

sighing the calm into the trembling forest,
knowing what was not before

it can be a peaceable kingdom,
only they have to be willing to change

that which was missing is returned,
finally they see what they could not

the grass shining, the hummingbird air,
the wind speaking in secret tongues.

If you listen, it will speak to you without talking
& you will hear what you need to hear

how to seek for another way to live
without craving retribution or what is not ours.

The lack of control scares us, fiercely,
needlessly throwing around destruction,

treating others as undetectable,
unwilling to consider options.

5.

We can lie down with the wicked,
or move dream-like like we already do.

We can continue to wade in the wrong direction,
or question the direction we are heading.

When it seems like only one way,
two at best, we never see more, never more.

If I lay down in the pasture with my enemy
will we discuss our differences, rationally.

If he kills me, then he destroys
his own chance at peace;

if we use a common language
can we give what the other needs,

will we realize we never really own anything,
will we hold onto our own shadows, tightly,

how can we argue over nothing we had,
how long can we hold our breath.


6.

Your hands hold what is hidden.
When your hands open, there is a small light.

I can either believe there is light
when there was no light before,

or believe it was a magic trick.
When I open my own hands, I find light.


Martin Willitts, Jr. has had publications in Big City Lit, Rattle, Pebble Lake Review, Hurricane Blues (anthology), Hotmetalpress.net, Haigaonline, Bent Pin, 5th Gear, Slow Trains, Primal Sanities (anthology) and others. He has a print chapbook Falling In and Out of Love (Pudding House Publications, 2005), an online chapbook Farewell--the journey now begins on www.languageandculture.net 2006, in archives), a full length book of poems with his art The Secret Language of the Universe (March Street Press, 2006), print chapbook Lowering Nets of Light (Pudding House Publications, 2007), online chapbook News from the Front, edited a poetry anthology about cancer, Alternatives to Surrender (Plain View Press, 2007), and an online chapbook of haiku with his artwork, Words & Paper.
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THE JANJAWEED'S WIFE

by Leslie McGrath













Who are the wives of the saint and the brute?
She who loved her husband and she who loved her husband.

Husband, you've returned to us
covered in blood and dust, covered
in bits of gore crawling with flies.
Let me wash your clothing, let our son
tend to the horse while you
scrub the battle from your sore skin
with hot water, sweet herbs.
This war, it keeps you far
from our fire; it has closed
your face; it has written
on your chest unreadable verses.
Have you no hunger? You shame me
by refusing millet from our pot.
And do you think I don't notice
the stink of another woman on your sex?
How am I to honor a man who feeds
his appetite in another village,
rests in the shade of a stranger's tree?
No rest for me. Our children wake at night
to the new voice of Sudan: screams and screaming
mortars from the dark's hundred corners;
their father making corpses out of mourners.


Leslie McGrath lives in Stonington, CT and works as an integratve health counselor. Her poems have appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Black Warrior Review, Poetry Ireland, and elsewhere. She was the winner of the 2004 Nimrod/Hardman Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. Her chapbook, Toward Anguish, won the 2007 Philbrick Poetry Award and was published by The Providence Athenaeum. She is the submissions editor for Drunken Boat and a recipient of a 2007 Artist Fellowship from the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism. Her interview with poet Dick Allen is forthcoming in The Writers' Chronicle.
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DREAMS ABOUT TORTURE

by Marion D. Cohen













It's always things that would not really hurt.
There's rawness but no blood
moans but no screams.
And definitely no marks, never anything gross.
And when I'm the one being tortured, I'm also the one doing the torturing.
I'm at the controls in some way.
And if the dream turns lucid, I approach everybody in sight and begin to mold their faces.
I stretch, I shrink, I permute.
But I don't torture.
Once, in such a dream, I said to them, "I know you aren't real. So I can torture you if I
want to. But I don't want to.
"Besides, maybe you ARE real."
Yes, I'm still afraid it will hurt them
more than it hurts me.


Marion Cohen's latest book is Crossing the Equal Sign (Plain View Press, TX), a poetry collection about the experience of mathematics. Her previous book was Dirty Details: The Days and Nights of a Well Spouse (Temple University Press). She teaches math at Arcadia University.
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MONUMENTAL

by Roger Craik













Parched, outlandish by the sea
it stands declarative:

“The Park of Human Rights”

fresh-hewn
free

authorizing you and everyone
at liberty to saunter round its ornamental gardens,

inspect the three colossal marble blocks
white as bone

hacked to slabs of arches, each one
justified by lists of names of men

who fell in war or died
of wounds, beneath the legend chiseled there:

her insan uzgur
(“all humans are free”).

Further down the shore
you’ll see a strip of jetty, corridored

with roses, trellises, and lattice work.
There on Saturdays the wedding parties walk

down to the kiosk at the end, for hire,
and there they stand. I’ve watched them many times.

But here – you cannot miss the sight of it –
here a graphite-black gigantic spike

sling-hawsered to a sharp incline,
goes bayoneting high and deep above

the forced-in strangulated shrubs, above
the concrete walkways frozen hot in ripples, up

over the Aegean , the living sea,
torturing the winds. But if, instead, you let your eye

sidle down to where the spike begins
you’ll snag a tousled barricade of wire

installed to barb, to brand the urchin boy whose only aim
is climbing to the highest, the forbidden place, the place –

higher than his friends or anyone can climb – the place
that’s marked in red, or black – with clumsy skull and bones –

yasak

and there, with one corrugated rubbery flap
of skin, darkening

he’ll stand overreaching everything,
and point, and laugh, and mock.

No explanation’s given of the spike.
No explanation’s given of the wire.
No list of names depends on either.


Roger Craik, Associate Professor of English at Kent State University Ashtabula, has written three full-length poetry books – I Simply Stared (2002), Rhinoceros in Clumber Park (2003) and The Darkening Green (2004), and his poetry has appeared in several national poetry journals. English by birth and educated at the universities of Reading and Southampton , Craik has worked as a journalist, TV critic and chess columnist. Before coming to the USA in 1991, he worked in Turkish universities and was awarded a Beineke Fellowship to Yale in 1990. He is widely traveled, having visited North Yemen, Egypt, Tibet, Nepal, Japan, and, most recently, Bulgaria, where he taught during spring 2007 on a Fulbright Scholarship. Craik is an American citizen and is glad that he is. Poetry is his passion: he writes for at least an hour, over coffee, each morning before breakfast, and he enjoys watching the birds during all the seasons.
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MAY DAY 2008

by Bill Costley
For Dave Keefer













On May Day,
I blogged about cultivating jade-plants
& got a breathless e-mail
from Anna Hawthorne in Canada
calling the day Beltane.

Unable to march, I wrote.

3 days later,
I BARTed to Berkeley
to a mtg of the writers’union
I’d joined in Boston
when Dutch Reagan
fired the air-traffic controllers.

My union struggles; I persist.


Bill Costley serves on the Steering Committee of the San Francisco chapter of the National Writers Union.
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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

THE CLINTON MARRIAGE

by Elizabeth Kerlikowske


They’re people we might know
vaguely fighting at a table across the restaurant.
Civilized. Seething. Giants.
I use two hands to cup jagged fragments of the ring she’s thrown
hollow as a chocolate rabbit, rich and dark inside
not cheap like a shower curtain rung
gleam clearly gold.

They stand up quickly.
He sits down.
I recognize them now
from D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths:
Hera and Zeus
(page 16).
She speaks simply with no rage;
fury compacted into smashed ring shards on our table.

He looks withered, not divine,
while she manifests an aura
(page 24).
She is pardoned anything by his infidelities.
Her torso wants to leave,
but her head and feet are rooted to him like Baucis and Philemon
(Bullfinch, Chapter VI).

Zeus begs without moving his lips.
The bags under his eyes empty,
ring reforming itself like the cop in Terminator,
remarrying her public finger.


Elizabeth Kerlikowske's fourth book of poetry Dominant Hand is now available from MayApple Press. She teaches at Kellogg Community College and runs the annual Poems That Ate Our Ears Contest in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A SANCTUARY NEAR THE IRRAWADDY

by Frank Joussen


Burma two weeks after Cyclone Nargis
and too few voices, too few photos coming through.
But don´t switch off, don´t turn away.
Use your imagination to face the bigger picture:
rice on the runway,
hunger in the ruined harbour of Rangoon;
medicine going to waste on the planes,
epidemics threatening the flooded delta.
And in between:
The military and its junta.

Don´t start wailing now,
“you see, there´s nothing we can do.”
When the water´s rising
you shouldn´t refuse to build an arch
only because you´re not a carpenter.
Inertia in the face of
natural and political disasters
is every dictator´s dream
is every peasant´s nightmare
come true.

I, for my part, am going to take a chance.
I´ve got a friend who´s got a friend
who knows a Burmese woman
working with the nuns and monks
of a monastery near the Irrawaddy,
a sanctuary on slightly higher ground,
a refuge for the desperate.
And if you say now,
“what a long line of people
to trust”, I agree.
But look at Christianity or Buddhism:
what a long line of religious leaders –
and what a success story.
Now, I´m not sure about
Heaven or Nirvana.
I don´t know much about the Irrawaddy, either.
But I´m going to learn – by doing.
Then we will see
if help can get through.


Editor's Note: Frank Joussen tells us he will be contributing to help the victims of Cyclone Nargis via The Australia Burma Community Development Network.


Frank Joussen is a German school teacher who actively supports NGOs in India, Brazil and Africa. His poems have appeared in numerous print publications in the U.S., Canada, Germany, G.B., Ireland, Australia and India. His ezine publications include The Pedestal Magazine, Raving Dove, Poets Against War, New Verse News (U.S.A.), Poets Against War Canada, The Stephen Gill Gazette, Big Pond Rumours (Canada), The Poetry Kit, Caught in the Net and the Measure (G.B.)
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Monday, May 12, 2008

A SIMPLE SIGN

by Becky Harblin


People First,
that’s the sign. Simple,
black with plain white letters.
It hangs on a construction trailer.
No bee, or bird, or bat in sight.

People First.
What People, all people?
People first above all else?
Pat my head and feed
some people’s pockets
today, and never mind tomorrow’s
earth. Our mother’s sons and daughters
can live elsewhere
on genetically
engineered corn or cake.

People first.
We the people?
Who do we think we are?
We are the first people
with all the claims on all the soil, all the air,
all the animals, and all the waters,
posting our simple sign,
with our motto my ‘people first’
above all else.
We are the mind, separate
and severed from our earth body.

After all, what comes first,
the money,
or the chickens with no eggs?


Becky Harblin is a sculptor who works in concrete on on her farm in upstate New York. Becky starts each day by writing haiku. Her poems have been published on New Verse News - 2007/04, 07, and 09. And in North Country Journal. Her other poems may be read on her Web site.
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Sunday, May 11, 2008

A MOTHER'S DAY PROCLAMATION

by Mary Saracino


"Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have heart, whether our baptism be that of water or tears!”
--Mother's Day Proclamation, Julia Ward Howe, Boston , 1870

She couldn’t anticipate that we’d sip champagne at fancy brunches,
turn her fervor into a hallmark holiday

In the name of womanhood and of humanity

Julia Ward Howe set her soul upon a nobler task

We will not have our great questions decided by irrelevant agencies

Set her courage upon loftier aims

Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause

She spoke of blood and bone

Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience

She invoked the language of the womb

We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs

She sounded a clarion call for unity

I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limits of nationality may be appointed

Against all adversity, she audaciously sought to abolish war

to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international question,

She meant for all of us to mother the world

the great and general interests of peace.

She meant for us to mend our rivalries,
go to our rooms until we cooled off,
kiss and make up, the way she knew we could
if we’d just listen to our mothers


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, May 10, 2008

WATERING THE TAXPAYER

by David Feela


How strange to think of giving up financial stress!
Suddenly I see so clearly my tax rebate check
against the bank’s steel vault!


David Feela is a poet, free-lance writer, writing instructor, book collector, and thrift store pirate. His work has appeared in regional and national publications, including High Country News’s "Writers’s on the Range," Mountain Gazette, and in the newspaper as a "Colorado Voice" for The Denver Post. He is a contributing editor and columnist for Inside/Outside Southwest and for The Four Corners Free Press. A poetry chapbook, Thought Experiments (Maverick Press), won the Southwesr Poet Series. A new poetry book, The Home Atlas, will be released in 2009.
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Friday, May 09, 2008

OUR FOOL

by Julian I. Taber


You are a licensed fool, empowered to bear
about the castle a bauble stick that’s dressed
with ass’s ears and tassels and fox’s hair.
You simper on about some noble quest,
and mutter curses, rhymes and scriptures
that spoil milk and mold the game on hooks
all hung away to foil dogs and vultures
that flock to feast around the heels of cooks.
Who gave you sanction, by what majority?
What moral virtue or tortured plot
stood the test of winning this authority,
or was your status fear coerced, or bought?
The kingdom decorates this gorgeous fool
whose toxic tune and dance grow sour now.
He is, in all, our fool, our hero, our tool,
our mirror of self, our light, our sacred cow.

But jokes by fools out-kill the cannon’s fire
and may dissolve in grief the whole empire.


Julian I. Taber is a retired clinical psychologist who specialized in treating addictions and was one of the first mental health professionals to work with pathological gamblers. He has been given two national awards for this work. His first book, Learning and Programmed Instruction, was published by Addison-Wesley. His next book, In the Shadow of Chance, was privately published by members of Gamblers Anonymous. Distributed by the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling, it is used in counselor training workshops. He is author of Poems for the Rest of Us, a poetry chapbook.
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Thursday, May 08, 2008

KARMA OF A VET

by Chris Crittenden


splinters from that devil time
hobble him, millimeters
mark his pace, and he sweats past noon,
desperate to flee
inching shadows.

splinters-shrapnel
of life, of tortured hope, killed prayer,
strewn flesh, they
are his kevlar now, absorbing
hellos-

no smile can breach
the nests of barbed broken trust
under his skin, the exploded
jumbled corpse-heap
of memories-

the bloody hooks of guilt
under his face, ashamed zits
pimpling his cheeks,
temples too.

whiskey made his eyes red-

the rest hails to the cries
of those who had no armor,
no weapon like the hum
of the Blackhawk

under his thighs-
pump pump pump
went the thick strapping gun
mounted on the monster's head,

pump pump pump,
he laughed and painted
cartoons of spread women
on the chassis,

marking his conquests,
fun until those shadows came-
until he felt the hands of the dead,
wet as tears, rigid as teeth,
stuffing him with cold maggots.


Chris Crittenden is an anguished hermit, all that crying in the wilderness crap. It means something to him, but there are lots of ignored prophets out there in the wilds of Maine. Some recent publications are from: Offcourse, Drunken Boat, Barnwood and Merge Poetry.
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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

THE END

by Jill Lange

For Milena who is tired of my poems about flowers.

One day, someone will ask, "What happened
to the country that existed in the middle
of the continent known as North America?"

The Almanac will describe:

     a spacious and magnificant land abundant in mountains,
     forests, prairies, and clear, fresh water;
     containing adequate fertile ground, oil, and gold;
     supporting a strong and affluent nation;
     an experiment in equality, offering the opportunity
     to transcend class.

     This form of government existed nearly four centuries.

Will historians mark the turn of the 21st century
as the point of critical mass? And say no one cared
as the government drilled, mined and cut away resources
from protected public lands? Will they remember those
who destroyed the last of the buffalo and wolf populations
as evil or ill advised? Will they remember any of this?

Will the children ask, "Did grass grow there? And trees?
Why would a bird fly through such dead land? What would it eat?"

"What" will historians say, "lead to the end of this powerful
and promising nation?" The people were intelligent, literate,
why did they not speak? Who will consider the surging masses--
educated unemployed struggling to survive, and those employed
working harder, earning less-- lacking the will to demand integrity
from their Congress?

Will the Almanac report an opposition both ridiculed: Michael Moore;
the Dixie Chicks; Jacques Chirac, President of France;
and ignored: Greenpeace; Joan Baez; John Brady Kiesling,
US Ambassador to Greece; the United Nations?

In the year 2175, will anyone light a candle and pause
to consider the difference if in the year 2000, in the State of Florida,
the ballots of minority welfare mothers and factory workers
had been counted?


Jill Lange is an attorney, naturalist and poet who prefers to be out on the trails and beaches of her favorite wild places. Her poems reflect her interest in environmental, civil rights and political causes.
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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I’M NOT SEEING IT

by Dale Goodson


it’s not there

gone
like that bright cab I couldn’t hail

gone gone

I’m watching television
but not happily
what quality I expected has vanished
fair and balanced have mutated
who am I supposed to vote for
why
I can’t vote for a stick
can’t vote for a mallet
what happened to the good soul
the pedestrian
the philosopher king

come on, Mr. Murrow
peep out
peep out and rub my stomach
like mom used to do
between poker hands
then- sir, madam
then
I’ll sleep soundly in the shady nook of our bathtub
under the faucet
above the drain
listening
listening
listening

later
I’ll pull the only lever left to me


Dale Goodson is a writer from Seattle currently living in New York City.
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Monday, May 05, 2008

THE PRICE OF A MEXICAN

On the Cinco de Mayo, 2008


by Carmen Tafolla


Six thousand dollars, Texas courts declared,
a handful of years ago,
and often less
till a Connecticut oilman’s playing-cowboy son got the job of his lifetime.
Finding no one else to blame for billions squandered playing war
he pointed his well-protected rich-boy finger
South
at a border he had enjoyed only too well
and said, “It’s THEIR fault we haven’t won this war yet.
All those Mexicans crossing that border,
bringing terrorism with them.”
(Then checked real quick behind him to make sure
the ranch hands, cooks, carpenters, and gardeners back home
no longer had their un-papered cousins still among them.)

But now, the price has gone flat bottom.
“Patriots” make speeches to stop evil immigrant kids from attending school,
stop automatic citizenship of all “those” babies born here,
raid places where undocumented workers slave twelve hour days and
round them up, deport them (right before payday), split families apart,
and NEVER let that lady with the torch shine her light
ANYWHERE facing south.
The earthskinned natives of this continent cross snake-infested miles by foot
because there is no legal way to cross if you are poor
And recent European immigrants a century esconced,
screen out the longterm residents eight thousand years upon this land,
whose Mayan ancestors invented the same zero used now to build
a high-tech world where natives of America are
exploited
in convenient, carefully evaluated, rationally managed
calculations


Carmen Tafolla is one of the most anthologized of Latina writers, whose work has appeared in Southern Exposure, The Pawn Review, The Langdon Review of the Arts, and Cipactli, among others. The author of five books of poetry and numerous children’s works, Tafolla’s new collection of short stories, The Holy Tortilla and a Pot of Beans will be released by Wings Press next month at the International Short Story Conference in Cork, Ireland. In 1999, she was awarded the Art of Peace Award for work supporting peace, justice, and human understanding.
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Sunday, May 04, 2008

EARTH DAY

by Milton P. Ehrlich


Spring is here.
Earth Day volunteers hand me
a to do list to preserve life on earth.
I walk, drive a hybrid if I have to,
jiggle the thermostat cool
in winter and warm in summer.

I climb up Fort Lee Road ,
take a short-cut on the shoulder of the highway
to the G.W. Bridge to the best bakery
in Bergen County ..
An unending flow of behemoths race by
careening around the corner as if vying
for the finish line at the Indy 500.

On Earth Day, I’m pleased to pass a patch of pansies,
yellows and blues, a surviving island surrounded
by a sea of asphalt, grime and a discarded pair
of black panties lying in the driveway of Sunoco.
Exhaust fumes and grit fill foul air.
With a running nose I step over mangled hubcaps,
busted Budweisers, a cracked five gallon jug
of Deer Park pristine drinking water and a devilish
looking horned, ribbed sex toy that must have been
tossed soon after the panties hit the ground.

I long for sun-filled April mornings when blooming forsythias
were untarnished fences of pure yellow and robust
azalea’s pink and purple blossoms illuminated front yards
like a Florentine wedding celebration.
I savored soft April evenings when my girlfriend and I
parked my old Chevy in secluded parks and streets
where giant oaks and maples provided lots of cover.
All we craved was privacy for unleashing youthful passion
as our car shook and shuddered to the sweetest pleasure
of springtime lust, grounded to the earth as best we could.


Milton P. Ehrlich’s publications can be viewed at his website: Milton.Ehrlich.com.
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Saturday, May 03, 2008

STATE OF THE UNION, MORNING AFTER

by Steve Myers


He’d come down off the mountain by Vera Cruz,
past Kozy Korner and the Jewish Community Center,
tracking the doe he’d wounded, and because

I’d been shoveling all morning, and had hit that rhythm
in the early going where the blade cuts down to asphalt
easy, I admitted I hadn’t noticed the spattering

over the snowbank. Since September he’d been marking her,
he said, when she and her fawns cropped his new azaleas—
long story short, a major buttache, a fucking menace

to the neighborhood was how he put it, roadkill waiting to happen, so with my OK—shouted
over his shoulder—he’d cross my property. Reload.


An English teacher, Steve Myers’ most recent collection, Memory’s Dog, appeared in Fall 2004 from FootHills Publishing. His poems have appeared in literary journals such as The Dark Horse, Ekphrasis, Paterson Literary Review, and Poetry East, as well as in Common Wealth, an anthology featuring contemporary Pennsylvania poets.
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Friday, May 02, 2008

I HAVE LOST MY SENSE OF HUMOR

by Silvia Brandon Pérez


I am hoping it is misplaced
among the orphaned socks,
in one of the bags in the upstairs
closet, or with the bottle lids,
in the cookie tin from France
which is all that remains from Louis-Marie's
visit; it may be on my gardening table,
outdoors with the soil and the shards
of broken pots, awaiting the end
of interminable winter,
ready to bloom with the azaleas
and the phalaenopses,
or in the file where my students'
hopeful composiciones
await grading.

It would not be permanently gone;
I misplace but rarely lose things;
it has been a faithful companion
through sleet, accidents,
the death of a parent, friends,
a betrayal by this or that one,
the day I entered the hut in Bahía Kino
where the women were making hamacas;
the small boy was inside in a wheelchair-
Mercedita told me they cannot afford
the medical care that might make him better;
he sits in the dark and listens to the radio,
there are always rancheras playing in the morning,
Verónica told me her hermana is working
for the compañía; the four dollars per day
is enough for basic food and transportation;
the companies have triple shifts and bring back
the goodies that we need for our negocios,
labels in all shapes and file folders in all the colors
of the rainbow; I remember it was with me
because I laughed when Carmencita told me
a joke about gringos and shepherds;
it came with me into Arizona,
despite the vigilantes searching
for the ilegales; it was waving in the evenings
out in Crawford, Texas, it was first missing in action
on the holidays, so much food and family
rejoicing, a fake Colgate smile for the friends
and children, it is somewhere
in the vegetable crisper, with the green peppers
and the romaine lettuce,
or in the garage, with last year's slogans...


Silvia Brandon Pérez is a bilingual poet, singer/songwriter, translator and political activist. For the past three years or longer, she has begun to write poems with her feet (through marches and demonstrations). She presently lives in the Bay Area, California.
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Thursday, May 01, 2008

MAN BUILDS GUILLOTINE TO KILL HIMSELF

by Amy Holman


Maybe he suffered from killer migraines. Maybe
his neck itched. Maybe he had body issues.
Maybe he was guilty over being the executioner
in a past life. Maybe 41 is not the new 31. Maybe
it was mind over matter.


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.
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