Guidelines



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Friday, October 31, 2008

HALLOWE'EN FEAR

by John Newmark


I fear I'm becoming old
as I react negatively
to the growing cleavage
on Hallowe'en costumes
marketed to pre-teen
males, and females.

I'm not likely to vote
Republican, or start protesting
at the local costume shop
with picket signs denouncing
our nation's declining morals.

But I will write a poem,
to lament the changing seasons
and how the world seems
to be growing colder.


John Newmark lives in St. Louis, Missouri, and works as a professional mendicant for a local 501c3. His poetry and fiction have appeared at Newspoetry, EOTU, Mother Wit, The Landing, Bewildering Stories, MillenniumShift, and Scared Naked Magazine.
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Thursday, October 30, 2008

ACUPUNCTURE

or
BEING A CANDIDATE IN ‘08


by Art Goodtimes

Everyone’s focused on Obama
to win this year. His face
like moxie held to the sky.

Me I'm taped
to the campaign wallboard
waiting on pins & needles.

My poster’s the wood rooster.
Happy to work as a team
player. Not just top cock.

Still, the future’s as binary
as dandelion plucking.
They love me. They love me not.


Art Goodtimes is a candidate running for his fourth four-year term as a Green Party county commissioner in San Miguel County, Colorado. He runs Talking Gourds, an annual earth festival dedicated to the word in performance. He will soon appear in a new Ron Mann film about the Telluride Mushroom Festival (where's he's been poet-in-residence for 28 years) called "Know Your Mushrooms."
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

POSTCARDS FROM THE NEWSROOM

by David Chorlton


I
With all their appearances
on late night television
we can’t tell politicians
from comedians. The situation
is serious. Nobody knows
when to laugh.

II
The numbers just in
from the Nasdaq, the Dow
and the Sierra Club
show a bear market
with futures declining
at the same rate as the house sparrows
once common in our yards,
and a decline
in the growth rate
among trees worldwide.

III
Now these messages
from the manufacturers of pills
the side effects of which
overpower their healing properties
but whose presence
is the only way corporations know
to package hope.

IV
Finally sport. Or back to politics.
Either way it’s a race,
winner take all.


David Chorlton has lived in Phoenix for 30 years and come to love the desert around it. He recently won the Ronald Wardall Award from Rain Mountain Press for The Lost River, a chapbook whose contents reflect his unease with what is happening to our planet. More of his work, including paintings, is at his Web site.
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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

ANTARCTICA

by Ed Webb


In the least accessible place on the surface of this infested earth
A statue of Lenin protrudes from snow,
Abandoned camp below him,
Face toward Moscow,
Endless sky.

How far does he see though that peerless clear air?
Has news yet reached him of capitalism's chaotic collapse?
I dream of his face, frozen in a grim smile.


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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Monday, October 27, 2008

MONEY GO BYE BYE

BANK ACCOUNT DOWN WAY DOWN--DOWN DOWN DOWN DOWN DOWN--NO END IN SIGHT WISH I HAD MORE BUT I DON’T HELLO LONG LINES AT THE CAR WASH EMPLOYEE APPLICATION DESK I’M REALLY GETTING TIRED OF DRINKING KETCHUP STRAIGHT FROM THE BOTTLE I’M SORRY ARE YOU GOING TO FINISH THAT TACO

by Dale Goodson


I
am somewhat fearful
about
the future

last night
I tried to sleep as
they repaved 12th St.

at least those guys
had something new to offer
as they ground yesterday
to a pulp


Dale Goodson is a writer from Seattle currently living in New York City.
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CONCERNING THE WAR IN __________

by Janice D. Soderling


Rapid changes in media focus make it difficult to assign an attention-grabbing title to this poem. The reader is requested to fill in an appropriate country. Consult your morning paper or favorite news program. Thank you.


Where are the brass bands?
Where are the waterfalls and the blue lagoons?
And the girls in sarongs, sloe-eyed and sexy?
Where is the team of white huskies racing under
          the cracking whip?
I mean, like, where is Joe Palooka?
Where is Bob Hope?
All we got here are morgues full of little kids.
          Also some pregnant women who claim they
          have been raped.
Why are all these people crying? Why?
Get me somebody who knows what’s going on.
We got top-level statesmen on live telecasts,
          waving like rock stars or a sales convention.
We got boy soldiers killing their parents.
We got torture camps that everybody knows about
          and that’s no way to build up suspense.
I want a close-up of Randolph Scott's strong jaw.
I want church bells ringing in the distance and
          a cowboy in a white hat settling firmly
          into the saddle and the sun going down like
          thunderous stripes of Cinemascope
          and a little blond girl in a sunbonnet,
          riding in a covered wagon.
This war is hell.
I ask you: Where are the brass bands?


Janice D. Soderling has contributed to online and print journals in several countries. Her fiction got a first prize at Glimmer Train, and poetry is recent or forthcoming at Blue Unicorn, Anon, Orbis, Nthposition, Stirring, Mannequin Envy and Literary Bohemian.
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Sunday, October 26, 2008

BY ONE VOTE

by Robin E. Sampson


Maybe it was mine.
Another referendum
up before the voters,
yea or nay, they want
more money. So do I.
Especially now.
If only it was so easy.
Well, sorry, I screwed up,
could I please have
six million more
to make up
the difference?

The last one passed
so easily. We needed
more room in the high school,
no question about that.
But this time, it lost
by twenty-six votes,
one over
the legal recount cut-off.
Don’t tell me
my vote doesn’t count.
This time
I voted NO.

Robin E. Sampson’s poetry has appeared online in Bent Pin Quarterly, New Verse News, Wicked Alice as well as various print locations. She also has an essay included in the book Poem, Revised: 54 Poems, Revisions, Discussions (Marion Street Press, 2008). She is one of the hosts of the Bethel, CT Wednesday Night Poetry Series, and a member of the performance troupe Shijin. She lives in Sandy Hook, CT.
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Saturday, October 25, 2008

LET US PRAY

by Anne G. Davies


McCain didn't see the warning signs:
How brightly her ambition shines
How easily she turns abusive
Or did he wish not to seem intrusive?

He failed to do sufficient vetting,
Didn't realize what he was getting
A permafrost babe who loves the action
And yearns to be the main attraction.

Did he sense that she would soon outpace him
And, like Dick Cheney, scheme to replace him.
Did he see her lust to be top banana
Winning the right-wing's top hosanna?

Does he encourage grinning and winking
As a substitute for rational thinking
Or is Macbeth now his Lady's minion
Deferring to her royal opinion?

Let's pray she's a nightmare we can shelve
Until she goes for first prize in 2012.


Anne G. Davies is a fund-raising writer by profession and a writer and versifier by avocation. Her work has been published in local and regional papers. She lives in Lexington, Massachusetts.
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Friday, October 24, 2008

FACE

by Mike McCulley


I dread a different face as naturally as a sandpiper
dreads a falcon, and the alert sandpipers
survive to hatch chicks with the same falcon dread.
I'm an old white guy, my picture

is on the money, there's a lot of us on the TV.
When I see another guy rambling
down the street I look in their face for clues.
I can tell if they are in the old-white-guy tribe

as easily as a ruddy duck can look
across the pond and tell a canvasback
from a ring-neck. A prettied-up politician
struts under banners in a campaign tent,

they battle to be leader of the old-white-guy
parade, the one migrating into the dim glow
coming from the kitchen window. The prettied-up
face has a different fit and finish,

but I don't see a ring-neck and I don't see a falcon,
prettied-up must be a part of my tribe
from the other side of the tent.


Mike McCulley: Retired from educating / rewired for recreating / pastime birding, / part time wording. He posts his tweedledum / at wordanger dot blogspot dot com.
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THE FIRE (ANTS) NEXT TIME

A fable for our time; a nod to James Baldwin.


by Earl J. Wilcox


Many years ago, a few colonies
surfaced on the front lawn, under
the cherry tree, smaller communities
popping up, citizens gaining new
courage, building and staying put
instead of letting the property go
to ruin when times were hard.

Just a few years ago, more
neighborhood families, several
buying into local real estate—
near the front stoop, in the petunia
patch, colorful habitats in the mounded
hills underneath the crape myrtles,
dogwoods, green spring grasses.

This year, serious staying power
in the loamy soil of beds, red clay
enclaves with hundreds of ebony
citizens, speaking up at board
meetings behind the old pear tree,
church gatherings in rotting pots
beside the carport. We have
learned our myrmecology lessons
well this season: give them room,
space to be seen, heard.

Feeling their sting does no one good.


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 41 poems to the New Verse News.
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SOUTH DAKOTA

by Buff Whitman-Bradley


On our way east across America. Stopping one afternoon in Rapid City to see Marletta Pacheco, whose grandmother was a little girl at the Wounded Knee massacre, whose imprisoned nephew hanged himself in his cell when the guards who knew he was suicidal put him in isolation and walked away, whose daughter is in federal prison for 30 years for half a gram of meth because her co-defendants copped a plea and named her as the kingpin and the prosecution figured any Indian would do.

You’re burying my daughter alive, Marletta told the judge when he sentenced her.

Marletta remembers how children were taken away to boarding schools, remembers hearing stories about the beatings for speaking the Lakota language. Her father moved the family off the rez to keep that from happening to his kids. She talks about how whites still take Indians out into the countryside and beat them up for the fun of it and take their shoes so that they have to walk barefoot on the gravel roads back to their homes in town or on the reservation.

Marletta whose heart is a thousand times broken prays to Jesus and goes to prisons to meet with the Native sisters and brothers because Jesus keeps saying, “I was in prison and you visited me.” And she goes to the state capitol and Washington DC to tell the people who think they are the only ones who matter how their criminal justice system is continuing the genocide.

Leaving Rapid City and continuing east across America. Stopping the next morning in Mitchell to look at the Corn Palace and to have breakfast and finding of all things a Jamaican café. Scrambled eggs and fried plantains and harddough toast with guava jam. The owner says he left the Caribbean to go college in Boston, met a girl from Mitchell, fell in love and followed her here. The first week he was in town he was stopped every single day by the police. He went to see the chief and said, Look, I’m black and I’m here and I’m planning to stay, and was never bothered again.

It’s not so bad for a black man here, he says. Who I really feel sorry for are the Indians.


Buff Whitman-Bradley is a peace and social justice activist in Northern California. In addition to writing, he produces documentary videos and audios. With his wife Cynthia, he is co-producer/director of the award winning video Outside In, about people who visit prisoners on San Quentin's death row.
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

DAD CHASES NUDE BOY FROM DAUGHTER'S BEDROOM WITH PIPE

by Amy Holman


Governor Sarah Palin,
too, likes abstinence for our eager youth.
That poor lovin' boy is wailin'

from his bloody head, fallen
by a pipe swung by a Ruth.
Governor Sarah Palin

cannot see the whale fin
as epochs older than the human tooth.
That poor lovin' boy is wailin'

for his sweetie's smile, wanting his girl in
bed with him, each other's secret sleuth.
Governor Sarah Palin

doesn't see the body's scale in
society, the adolescent mind, or fossil earth.
That poor lovin' boy is wailin'

from his stapled wound. A gail wind
has toppled Dad. No one seems to like the truth.
Governor Sarah Palin,
that poor lovin' boy is wailin'.


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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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

DICK TO LARRY

by George Spencer

". . . if you closed Guantanamo, you'd have to find
someplace else to put these folks."
--Dick Cheney to Larry King

As the presidential straw sucked the remaining petroleum deposits dry
to fill the national cup to overflowing,
marshmallows roasted alongside Sunnis and Shiites on a spit
turned by congressmen and basted by lords of the law disguised as John Wayne.
Waiters tuniced in the best money could buy
and beach sandals by guess who arrived in Hummers.

On this day of the annual constitutional joke
at the dinner table were two raped Sudanese twins, cute in their look-alike tears,
some recently rendered Afganis sad because they had no fingernails to paint,
two dead Iraqis representing Abu Ghraib's bleeding hearts society
and the usual suspects protesting their treatment at Guantanamo.

This annual expiation took place during the World Series
when attention was elsewhere.


George Spencer lives in Ecuador half the year where he started its first poetry slam. Recently, he had poems in CLWN WR, Stained Sheets, Rain Tiger, 63 Channels and Poetry MidWest. PWP is publishing his chapbook Obscene Richness of Our Times in '09.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

F-LIES

by Sherman Pearl


This is the season they swarm--
into your mouth so you’re forced to swallow them,
into your ear whispering secrets and rumors;
the big ones lodge in your brain.

God knows where they come from
or where they’ve been. All you know is the house
is infested. You turn off the lights
hoping they’ll miss you in the dark, shout curses

to scare them away
but no use. Next morning
when you set out Revere-like to warn the town
they’re waiting for you, buzzing with news.

City Hall is loud with them but refuses
your demand for action. The fly-specked police
promise to investigate.
In a church offering shelter you find them feasting

on the minister’s words. Fearing for your sanity
you visit a therapist--there they are,
thriving in the air of reason. He counsels you
not to worry, just live and let live.

His eyes bulge–so big now they see inside you.
He folds you into his transparent wings.


Sherman Pearl was a co-founder of the Los Angeles Poetry Festival and co-editor of CQ Magazine. His work has appeared in more than 50 literary publications and has won several national and international awards. His fifth collection Profanities was published in July, 2008 (ConfluX Press). He lives with his wife, artist Meredith Gordon, in Santa Monica, CA.
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Monday, October 20, 2008

TABERNACLE IN THE DESERT

by Jacqueline Jules


Though
not even the priests
were privileged
to peek inside,
the ark--
acacia container
of the holy tablets
Moses cradled
down the mountain--
was lined with gold,
that strong, gleaming element
only corroded by greed.
The notion of using
valuable metal
on an interior no one sees
is as improbable today
as the politician
who shows
the same golden face
in private as in public.


Jacqueline Jules is a poet, librarian, and children's author. Her poems have appeared in Christian Science Monitor, America, Sow's Ear Poetry Review, Sunstone, Potomac Review, The Mid-America Poetry Review, Cider Press Review, and Lullwater Review, among others. She was a two-time winner in the Arlington Arts Moving Words Poetry Competition and twice a recipient of the SCBWI Magazine Merit Honor Plaque for Poetry. In 2008, her poem, "Bungee Jumping," won first place for Best Original Poetry from the Catholic Press Association.
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Sunday, October 19, 2008

JOE THE POET

by Spiel


his left hand wrapped in a brown bag
stuffed in his filthy wool coat pocket
he waits patiently in line
like all the others

but aiming to exchange his pain
with desperate thoughts of a poem
more seering than his last
about the dead meat joes of war

and hunkering behind him joe the indian
inhales his tribal blend of tobacco
to spread his lungs so he can face
the grim reality

of three frail babies’ mothers
whose milk has failed to flow
while joe the farmer gasps
for one more breath

of this flu-contaminated air where
all the joes are just joes including joe
the nurse who assigns them by measure
of perceived urgency

joe the poet wondering: have the severed points
of his writing hand gone completely dead
before his turn for an assist to stitch it up
with the fire panging his left arm


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

by David Radavich


One scarcely
wants to remember
any more.

Change happens
on its own

or does
not happen

like this sewage
building up

and everyone wants
a plumber immediately

but he is already
elsewhere engaged

and no one
here knows pipes

or purging so
we wait

for nature to
reclaim its own

and gird our loins
for more war

and no selection
is not money

that will nonetheless
turn one day into

history
and monuments

erected to
the bronzification

that discord brought
in the glancing

of one face
one incurious

eye into a camera
that only

shuddered
without thinking.


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

by Martha Deed


is not a plumber
his name is Sam

lived in Alaska
in 1994

big hospital bills, too
(Does he need Obama’s

health reforms to save
the rest of what he owns?)

the Toledo Division of Building Inspection
laughs at his flawed ambition

exposed by John McCain – who
searching for the emblematic rural primitive

plays “you betcha” politics with a 34 year-old rubik
cube to light the embers of a failed campaign

And here’s the best for last:

Joe the Plumber has inspired
John McCain’s secret plan

to get Osama
and put him where he belongs:

say his name 20 times
on prime time TV

send the media googling
flying ‘til dawn

then watch Diane Sawyer interview
Osama Bin Laden on the rocks

next morning
in front of his cave

the morals?

they are many
they are hiding, too


Martha Deed watches world events pass by like boats on the Erie Canal. Recent publications include Big Bridge, Shampoo, unlikelystories.org, and The Buffalo News. Secret plan to get Obama inspired by co-blogger Millie Niss on www.sporkworld.org's microblog.
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Saturday, October 18, 2008

D-BAIT 2 (2)

by Bill Costley


“I suffered 5 yrs in the Hanoi Hilton”
raves McCain, “Obama oughta do a
hard-5 in Camp Delta JTF Guantanamo
2make this, mano a mano, a fair fight.”
Obama rope-a-dopes, calmly & cooly,
in no hurry2vacate his wooden stool;
no survivor of Hanoi, but Chicago; no
grad of USN, but Columbia & Harvard.
McCain, in an expensive pair of shoes,
walksabout lost, doing himself no good,
struggling to fight this out his own way:
beat-up, knot-headed, raging, infuriated,
limping around the ring, lost in blue,
badly over-lit, ill-composed.


Bill Costley serves on the Steering Committee of the San Francisco Bay area chapter of the National Writers Union.
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Friday, October 17, 2008

THE MORTGAGE CRISIS

by Kate Bernadette Benedict


What you've done to the place!
One could whirl all over in a rapture of sprawl.
I never imagined there was this much space.

Elbow room, manifest destiny—
let us not underrate what you've achieved.
Every detail merits scrutiny.

Underfoot, good wood.
Overhead, a coffering.
And over there, where empty shelves could

hold a thousand books,
more there; beyond,
a kitchen for a thousand cooks.

But sister, little mother won't come in.
That's her, keening in the side yard.
Banshee wails, giving us this goose skin.

She says you've spent too much and overbuilt
and took out mortgages you'll never pay
and gave away her fine ancestral quilt.

Fine, then! Swipe the air and turn your face
away. The crisis is coming.
You will lose this place.


Kate Bernadette Benedict is the author of the full-length poetry collection Here from Away and the editor of Umbrella: A Journal of Poetry and Kindred Prose.
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Thursday, October 16, 2008

THE SEEDS OF RECESSION

by Laura LeHew


If the cost of gasoline is $4.59 a gallon and Sergio special orders a Rosso 2008 Maserati GranTurismo with a 4,200 cc 4.2 liter V 8 front engine with double overhead cam, variable valve timing/camshaft with four valves per cylinder that uses premium unleaded fuel and his wife, Julie, herniates her disk at L5 so that she can no longer bend into Sergio’s mid-life crisis and the cost of postage is due to increase based on the rate of inflation but neither Sergio nor Julie have gotten cost of living raises, and they have 9 maxed out credit cards for which they can barely slap together and then mail their 9 minimum monthly payments and they purchase the Maserati by taking a 2nd out on their home on which they are about to default but they are not worried because their life is patterned upon the current government’s spending model by which the government is trillions of $s in debt and bails itself out by printing more money thereby lowering the value of said $ should Sergio have gotten the 20” BirdCage Grigio Mercury wheels and the Rosso calipers?


An award winning poet, Laura LeHew's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in such journals and anthologies as Alehouse Press, Big Pulp, Her Mark Calendar, J Journal, Pank, PMS, and Untamed Ink. Her chapbook Beauty is forthcoming (05/09) from Altered Crow Press. Additionally, she interned for CALYX Journal, and won a writing residency from Soapstone. Her MFA is from the California College of Arts.
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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

MADE IN



by James Scruton


The label sewn inside a shirt I used to wear
named a country I had never heard of,
one of those new republics
stitched, I thought, from old map lines—
Somewhere-stan, Something-esia or -eria.

No atlas I could find had charted it,
the only globe in my house too
out of date. No one I asked knew
where it was, which continent I should try
to put my finger on, imagining

a patch of landscape and a people
working for next to nothing, their flag
the shirt off my back. For all I know
that country has another name by now,
might have folded back into its neighbor,

my shirt long gone as well, other clothes
like a gathering of piecework shades
in my closet, tags and buttons and seams
from all the usual places, all the usual lives
still hanging by such thread.


James Scruton is the author of three books of poetry, most recently Galileo’s House, winner of the 2004 Poetry Prize from Finishing Line Press. He teaches at Bethel College in McKenzie , Tennessee , where he chairs the Humanities Division and serves as Mary B. Holmes Professor of Literature. He has poems in recent or forthcoming issues of Broken Bridge Review, Broome Review, Steam Ticket, and Connecticut River Review.

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SIERRA NEVADA NIGHT THOUGHTS



by Buff Whitman-Bradley


Early autumn chill
Sleeping in our tent by Green Creek
The talking waters waking us
Again and gain
The need to pee
Waking us again and again
Crawling out of our bags
Grabbing a flashlight
Slipping on our shoes
Going outside in the ancient dark
The bigness and brightness
And many-ness of the stars
Make us gasp
Make us laugh
Steam rises from our pee
On the ground

Back inside the tent
Old questions return
How is it that we are the ones here
Sleeping and waking
In the clear cold night air
At seven thousand feet
Far from invasions and occupations
Surrounded by mountains and stars
And are not grandparents in Fallujah
With no grandchildren left
And are not family farmers in India
Driven to suicide
By the Free Market
And are not among the two billion
Living on a dollar a day
(Those who say we are all of these
From a safe distance
Are not to be trusted)
How is it that we are the ones
Not in barrios and favelas and on reservations
Are not the ones in brothels
Are not the ones in prison
How do we explain this
What can we do
How shall we live

Waking up once more
As the sky lightens
But staying in our bags until
The sunlight finds our tent
Under the aspens
Dressing then and brushing our teeth
Boiling water on our Coleman stove
Sitting on a boulder
Out on the sage-covered open ground
Drinking lemon ginger tea
Above us in the brightening day
Two Air Force fighter jets
Streaking across the sky


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



by Bill Costley


Dealing from the bottom of the deck,
NeoCapitalists con us into believing
they haven’t cut the deck enuf times
to make our old bottom their new top.

NeoLedgerdemain’s impoverishing us,
flushing their hand neo-royally. If
you don’t think it’s us VS them
you aren’t watching their hands,

you’re falling for their neo-global
bluff: All rising tides . . . float all boats,
esp. neo-tsunamis. Catastrophically . . .


Bill Costley serves on the Steering Committee of the San Francisco Bay area chapter of the National Writers Union.
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ROD STROKED SURVIVAL WITH A DEADLY HAMMER



By Michael Lee Johnson


Rebecca fantasized that life was a lottery ticket or a pull of a lever,
that one of the bunch in her pocket was a winner or the slots were a redeemer;
but life itself was not real that was strictly for the mentally insane at the Elgin
Mental Institution.
She gambled her savings away on a riverboat
stuck in mud on a riverbank, the Grand Victoria, in Elgin, Illinois.
Her bare feet were always propped up on wooden chair;
a cigarette dropped from her lips like morning fog.
She always dreamed of traveling, not nightmares.
But she couldn't overcome, overcome,
the terrorist ordeal of the German siege of Leningrad.
She was a foreigner now; she is a foreigner for good.
Her first husband died after spending a lifetime in prison
with stinging nettles in his toes and feet; the second
husband died of hunger when there were no more rats
to feed on, after many fights in prison for the last remains.
What does a poet know of suffering?
Rebecca has rod stroked survival with a deadly mallet.
She gambles nickels, dimes, quarters, tokens tossed away,
living a penniless life for grand children who hardly know her name.
Rebecca fantasized that life was a lottery ticket for the pull of a lever.





Michael Lee Johnson is a poet and freelance writer from Itasca, Illinois. He is the author of The Lost American: from Exile to Freedom. He has also published two chapbooks of poetry and is presently looking for a publisher for two more. He has been published in more than 240 different publications worldwide.
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ZIMBABWE



by Jennifer Fenn


A man treks home,
Leading his donkey,
Loaded with grain sacks
From aid workers
Finally allowed in.

The deep creases in his face
Slightly unfold
At his visions of baked bread
For his rib-thin child,
Fed only on wild fruit.
He breathes deeply,
Anticipating its aroma.

But how can he bake it
If he can't get fuel for the fire?
He looks down,
Burdened by the weight
Of empty pockets.

A tattered newspaper
With Mugabe's picture
Gets blown across the dirt road.
He picks it up and grins.
Tonight, he'll have his fire!


Jennifer Fenn’s poetry has appeared in National Catholic Reporter, The Pink Chameleon, Amaze: The Cinquain Journal, and is scheduled to appear in Samsara and The Poet's Art.
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MODERN LIVING



by Carla Laureen Henry


The loam of living,
bills, mortgages,
groceries and utilities
siphoning
Maslow's
Self-
Actualization
Drum Drum
roll goals,
by well paid
motivators.

Homeless ambu
lating along
pissed
streets
alleys,
on-ramps to
fastlane hell.

Fall
out
from wars,
mental cases,
job losers --
bad luck
bad genes
bad dreams
child abuse.

Fire
storms
are blowing
homes off
mountains
where devel
op
ers bulldoze
oaks, rocks,
erect super-
track playhouses
sliding
into a
neighborly
Howdy

Doody
compels
Hiroshima --
all that foreshadows.

Family values
sanction
corporate theft
diversify and
deregulate
and meemeemee
me
meeeee.

Let the masses
multiply to be
buried enmass
from flu, AIDS,
tuberculosis
starvation,
wars

not to disappoint
bible thumpers
dire warnings
Let the sirens
blast, damnation
is screaming
do
not
pack
your
clothes.


Carla Laureen Henry's interests are many: Published author of and Souper Skinny Soups Vegetarians in the Fast Lane - Pelican Publishing, poetry, travel, business and editorial articles. Artist: paints landscapes and mixed media. A Board Member of Santa Susana Mountain Park Association helping to protect open space and wildlife.
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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

WHERE TO GO

by Steve Hellyard Swartz


If they win
(I think you know who I mean)
I think it's pretty damn clear
There ain't no way in hell we're stayin here
Only question though
Where oh where is it we go?
You came here at 32
Emmigratin from the FSU (not Florida State; the Former Soviet Union)
So you are more than loath to once again be movin
But I don't think that i can take it if they get in
(Statin the obvious: Her and Him)
Lately I've been busy checkin out old Quebec
Which is a short drive north, so what the heck?
Our daughter says she's in the mood to move to a place that sounds like food
Like Turkey, say
Or Chile
Am I nuts to be thinkin bout Brazil?
Hell, Him and Her even scare George Will
We're Jewish so Israel might rate a What the hell?
I hear they welcome seekers
Down south in Costa Rica
And a man can still be a man
Going Dutch in the good old Netherlands
You say (in your cute Russian accent): Vhy vorry?
Him and her is no vay vinnin
But just in case
This globe
I be a-spinnin


Steve Hellyard Swartz is a frequent contributor to New Verse News, Best Poem, and Haggard and Halloo. He has been published in switched-on guttenberg, The Kennesaw Review, The Paterson Review, and will soon have a poem in The Southern Indiana Review. In 1990, his film "Never Leave Nevada" premiered at the U.S. Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
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Monday, October 13, 2008

DRIVING THE SLOW WAY TO BUXTON, NC

by Darla Himeles


We follow the mapped black line down
Rt 13 from Philly through little towns

marked as dots. I insist there is a faster way,
a simple backdrop for sing-alongs, some interstate

without these stoplights, these low speed limits
forcing me to concentrate on places and people

from Smyrna to Norfolk to the Outer Banks.
Buildings with bowed wood mock faded paint;

misspelled store signs prop on window panes.
Can't we take the easy interstates, blinders

from our neighbors' pain?
Get me to vacation, hiking, writing, quiet

wedged between waves, a needed break
from the Web and The Times—

but here's Dover Air Force Base
where secretly bodies ship in

from Iraq to the States—
Can't be the fastest way

to recall mis-shipped people,
but who here will invest in change?

The man with crushed cans in garbage bags
trudging on his bike along the highway?

Five dollars from cans affords no break.
This is where I get stuck, though I see

the difference between flesh and page,
between black lines, white space

and the lives maps displace—
by maps, I mean laws, wars—

solutions the quick and dirty way
that pierce at the crux of hope
and where our spirits start to break.


Darla Himeles currently lives in Bryn Mawr, PA, and works as the Coordinator of Staff Education at nearby Bryn Mawr College. This winter she will begin pursuing her MFA in poetry at Drew University's low-residency program. Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Mad Poets Review, Getting Read, and Poetica Magazine.
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Sunday, October 12, 2008

TEN YEARS AFTER

by Diane Elayne Dees


They feared not Matthew, but themelves,
the night they tied him to the fence,
where he bled and froze, and finally died.
He saw the vast Wyoming sky,

that night they tied him to a fence,
through bruised and cut and swollen eyes.
He saw the vast Wyoming sky
grow small and dim, then disappear.

Through bruised and cut and swollen eyes,
he glimpsed the jagged shape of rage
grow small and blur and disappear
into an endless night of fear.

Then he saw the jagged shape of hate
cut through the landscape like a scythe.
Throughout an endless night of fear,
the piercing screams of Matthew's brothers

cut through that landscape. Like a scythe,
the truth cut through the sleeping town,
while the piercing screams of Matthew's sisters
howled over mountains and across wide plains.

As truth sweeps through the sleeping town
where he bled and froze, and finally died--
from frigid mountains to rolling plains--
they fear not Matthew, but themselves.


Diane Elayne Dees is an activist for feminism, LGBT equality, and the liberation of non-humans. Her poems about peace and justice have appeared in Out of Line, HazMat Review, The New Verse News, Mobius, and other journals. Author of the now-inactive social/political blog, The Dees Diversion, and former blogger for the Mother Jones MoJo Blog, Diane now publishes Women Who Serve, a blog about women's professional tennis.
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Saturday, October 11, 2008

FALL HAIKU

by Geoffrey A. Landis

Autumn wind;
Leaves gently fall.
Banks, not so gently

Geoffrey A. Landis is mostly known as a science-fiction writer, but as a hobby he also writes poetry. His first poetry collection, Iron Angels, comes out in late 2008. Far more than you need to know can be found on his website,
http://www.sff.net/people/geoffrey.landis.
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Friday, October 10, 2008

THE GREAT AND POWERFUL SARAH PALIN

by Laura LeHew


an art installation in a desk lamp
swimming in endless circles amidst the artificial

     gravel—aquarium grass
a hardy red beta fish
able to tolerate poor water conditions
primarily a carnivorous surface feeder
she is typically fine in a small bowl


An award winning poet, Laura LeHew's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in such journals and anthologies as Alehouse Press, Big Pulp, Her Mark Calendar, J Journal, Pank, PMS, and Untamed Ink. Her chapbook Beauty is forthcoming (05/09) from Altered Crow Press. Additionally, she interned for CALYX Journal, and won a writing residency from Soapstone. Her MFA is from the California College of Arts.
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AT THE CULT OF THE FREE MARKET

by Jon Wesick


Stained glass     Reagan, Goldwater, Bush
angels escorting Ken Lay to heaven

Today’s sermon – “Government is not the solution
to your problems.     Government is the problem.”

“What a friend we have in Wal-Mart
where good wages are quite rare.
Credit, debit, cash and carry.
Our fulfillment is found there.”

The congregation takes communion
Vioxx, Thalidomide, Chinese pet food.

Mortgage fraud, outsourced jobs,
corporate bailouts,
and unaffordable healthcare
fill the collection plate.

Pass the Kool-Aid.
Hallelujah!


Jon Wesick has a Ph.D. in physics, has practiced Buddhism for over twenty years, and has published over a hundred poems in small press journals such as American Tanka, Anthology Magazine, The Blind Man’s Rainbow, Edgz, The Kaleidoscope Review, Limestone Circle, The Magee Park Anthology, The Publication, Pudding, Sacred Journey, San Diego Writer’s Monthly, Slipstream, Tidepools, Vortex of the Macabre, Zillah, and others. His chapbooks have won honorable mentions twice in the San Diego Book Awards.
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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

TO THE GUY WHO PAINTED GRAFFITI ON THE FREEWAY OVERPASS

by Sherman Pearl


My car zooms under your words
(of whatever the hell you've scrawled up there)
and at this speed
I can't decipher your language or fathom
how you managed to balance above the traffic
while aiming your fearsome spray.
I drive past
this limb of the city's skeleton
but my mind screeches to a halt, imagining
that a caped super-hero
has swooped down, paint can in hand,
not to save us from evil
but to startle us out of complacency; or that
some dark angel had reclaimed
this road because we've failed to beautify it.

Most likely you're just a street kid
come to remind us you're here among us--
up in our rafters, down in our basements.
No space is safe; you've tagged
all the walls we've erected against you; now it's
the clouds you're coloring.
I think of you suspended above the danger,
the law, the humdrum. I picture myself
next to you risking all for art,
tied to the girder with strings of nerves--creating
something larger than art.

I've never been that high, kid,
but I think I'm beginning to see what you mean.


Sherman Pearl was a co-founder of the Los Angeles Poetry Festival and co-editor of CQ Magazine. His work has appeared in more than 50 literary publications and has won several national and international awards. His fifth collection Profanities was published in July, 2008 (ConfluX Press). He lives with his wife, artist Meredith Gordon, in Santa Monica, CA.
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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

ELEGY FOR THE NEWBORN

by Howie Good


The librarian doesn’t care
as she once might have
that the books I’m returning
are missing some words.
Then I come to a forest,
dark, mossy clouds
like morbid thoughts
not even drugs can dispel.
A yellow cab, its engine running,
is always waiting at the curb
for a messiah to appear.
It’s the difference between
a democracy and a republic,
and though there’s no wind,
the puddles shiver.
My face reminds people
of someone they knew long ago,
before the assassinations
and the roadside bombings.
I stop to rest with the newborn
on the border of shrill gulls.


Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of six poetry chapbooks, including the free e-book, Police and Questions (Right Hand Pointing, 2008). He has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize and twice for the Best of the Net anthology.
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Monday, October 06, 2008

WEEP, WRETCHED REGULATOR

by Bill Costley

Lightly adapted from HENRY VI, Part Three, Act II, Scene V, ll. 55ff

Alarum, Enter a REGULATOR that hath ruined a banker . . .
[dragging in the banker’s ruined body]

Regulator. Ill blows the wind that profits nobody.
The banker whom so handily, I ruined today
May be possessed with some store of crowns
& I that haply do take them from him now,
May yet ere night yield both my job & them
To some banker else, as this ruined banker doth me.
Who’s this? O God! It is my banker’s face,
Whom in this conflict I unawares have ruin’d.
O heavy times, begetting such events!
In the District by the President was I set;
My banker, being Bear Sterns’s man,
Came on the part of Bear, pressed by Stearns,
& I, who at his hands had receiv’d my funds,
Have by my hands of capital bereaved him.
Pardon me, God, I know not what I did!
& pardon, dear banker, for I knew not thee!
My tears shall wipe away thy financial wounds;
& no more words till they have flowed their fill.

President. O piteous spectacle! O bloody times!
Whiles bankers war & battle for their banks,
Poor harmless depositors abide their futility.
Weep wretched Regulator, I’ll match tear for tear;
& let our hearts & eyes, in intra-class war,
Be blind with tears, & break o’ercharg’d grief.


Bill Costley serves on the Steering Committee of the San Francisco Bay area chapter of the National Writers' Union.
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Sunday, October 05, 2008

DEATH BY ELECTION

by Olga Wayne


To vote, or not to vote: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler to stress on undecided bleachers-
Submit to others' will and insane caprices,
Or to take arms against abyss of indecision,
And by choosing one of the evils – join it? To vote: to have a voice,
Responsibility; but vote – does it mean agreement?
The torture of a thousand objections and
Inquietudes – reflecting mind is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly abhorred by Independents. To vote, but
Republican or Democrat? Ay, there's the rub;
For in this world there's but a two-party system,
And lack of choices gives us Independents pause.
That makes calamity of road to each election;
For who could bear the whips and scorns of desperate decisions,
Between the oppressor's wrongs, and the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of empty rhetoric or total cluelessness,
The insolence of these choices and the spurns
Of disgusts and regrets over choosing the unworthy,
When I myself would better President make -
All I need is a good stylist and Wikipedia.
Alas, we grunt and sweat under the weary choice,
Fear and loathing after the election,
The undiscover'd country from whose trap
No traveller returns. This strangles all free will -
Traps thought, hope, will to live and spirit.
But vote for Nader? Lord O'Mighty, no!

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the total lack of choice or resolution -
Sickens. I dread the very thought of this election.
I resent the fervor and freight of the moment.
With this regard I fall into despair.
And I forget the rush usually felt with action.
Oh, the fair Hillary! You are a nymph in my orisons.

Be all my sins remember'd.


Olga Wayne is an attorney by day and a bard by night. She is a graduate of Harvard College and Temple Law School.
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Saturday, October 04, 2008

NO! I'M NO PRESIDENT, NOR WAS MEANT TO BE!

by Aaron Gillego


O, that this too too "solid" economy would melt
Slow into recession because of the Dow!
Or that the Federal Reserve had not fix'd
Your rates 'gainst bad mortgages! O Bush! W!
How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable,
Seem to me all the credit of this world!
Fix it! Ah fix! 'Tis an unregulated market
That's to blame for this: the rank and file in Wall Street
Possess bad debts. That it should come to this!
But two banks dead: nay, not so much, not two:
So excellent a bailout that was given
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae; yet so unkind to Merrill Lynch
That it almost faced bankruptcy without Bank of America
buying its stocks too cheaply. Savings and Loan!
Must I remember? Why, that's what's happening,
Because inflationary spending has grown
By rates the Feds cut. And yet, within a month --
Let me not think on't -- McCain, thy name is woman! --
A little month, and the election will be held
And you want to postpone the debate with Obama?
Like Bush, all talk: -- Why even speak? --
O, Bush! A lame duck, that lacks discourse or reason,
You should have acted sooner—rescue by Uncle Sam
For Lehman Brothers, but no clue about
The cost to Taxpayers: Within the week:
Before any meaningful debate takes hold
And before anyone can eye and flesh out the bill
You want it passed. O, most wicked speed, to discuss
With both candidates the balance sheets!
It is not nor it cannot come to good:
But break my bank; for you must raise my taxes.


Aaron Gillego resides in Miami, FL, where he teaches high school English. He pursued his MFA in Poetry at the University of Miami. He has been published by The Advocate and has contributed three poems previously to The New Verse News.

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Friday, October 03, 2008

LETTER TO SAMUEL JOHNSON

by David Chorlton


Dear Dr. Johnson, I own a copy of The Rambler, Volume III,
printed in 1798 on the kind of paper
that makes us value the print upon it. My grandfather
first told me about you; now amid slogans
I turn the pages to find your sentences
are often long enough to tie up with a knot
the superficial arguments of our age
masquerading as discourse.
Power and superiority are so flattering and delightful, that, fraught
with temptation, and exposed to danger, as they are, scarcely any
virtue is so cautious, or any prudence so timorous, as to decline them.
You couldn’t sell that on the street today, not on a Tuesday
and not on a Saturday the way you did. I’m not looking
to cloud the issues with language, but to find
some pleasure in the way ideas ripen
into words. Politicians like the ones whose meanings
have no binding power, like change or choice.
There’s no difference between their speeches
and the nightly ads between segments of the TV news
for allergy pills or stool softener. They just want
to sell us the idea of comfort. I doubt that you’d make it
as a commentator on the shows we have in which
it isn’t enough to serve sound bites, but we get the content
chewed up and ready to swallow. You’d take a question
and respond: There is nothing more common
among this torpid generation than murmurs and complaints;
murmurs at uneasiness, which only vacancy and suspicion
expose them to feel, and complaints of distresses, which it is
in their own power to remove. Some elegance might help us
disagree when we must. My grandfather appreciated
the way you wrote. He was just what we call working class,
which is to say he liked his beer and didn’t own
a lot. He didn’t learn about you in college
because he never went to one. It was simply the language
that proved that thinking isn’t a matter of class,
it is everyone’s right to conclude It is necessary
to distinguish our own interest from that of others;
          and that distinction will

perhaps assist us in fixing the just limits
of caution and adventurousness.


David Chorlton has lived in Phoenix for 30 years and come to love the desert around it. He recently won the Ronald Wardall Award from Rain Mountain Press for The Lost River, a chapbook whose contents reflect his unease with what is happening to our planet. More of his work, including paintings, is at his Web site.
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Thursday, October 02, 2008

THE SKINNY

by Bill Costley


“A woman with a skinning-knife…”
slowly muses AK Gov. Sarah Palin,
“can cut the heart out of any man
in a pin-striped suit. I will again;
I'll truss up & skin that Sen."
Alaskans agree, half a million
hands on their skinning-knives.


Bill Costley serves on the Steering Committee of the San Francisco Bay area chapter of the National Writers' Union.
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RUNNING MATES

by Art Goodtimes


Something about
bitter & weary
that gravitates to honey.

Barracuda swims alone.
Strikes & smiles
‘neath stars of blood, eyes of blue.

Palin’s packing.
McCain’s double-dealing.
Obama’s biding his time.

As we slog on down
the October trail
bet the house on hope not hate.


Poetry editor for Earth First! Journal (1981-91), Art Goodtimes makes his living as a freelance writer and third term Green Party county commissioner in Telluride, Colorado, and runs Talking Gourds, an annual earth festival dedicated to the word in performance. He will soon appear in a new Ron Mann film about the Telluride Mushroom Festival (where's he's been poet-in-residence for 28 years) called "Know Your Mushrooms."
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GLOBAL LUNCHBREAK

by Scott Simpson


So the bell rang and we all punched out, but it’s hard being the American, so many third-world countries strategically located but ideologically problematic, and then there’s the lingering fast-food aftertaste and the smell of the Mall bathroom and the poly-textured rub of the voting-booth curtain sliding open to the sounds of the “historically oppressed” making marketable music for my children to buy but not get, and all of this factors in, but the worst part is when the market crashes and I have to remind myself that a 700 billion dollar bailout, after all, would be just a small drop in the world economy bucket I’ve been kicking…

Being the American means almost everyone wants me to fall hard—harder because I’m holding most of the goods and losing friends fast, making people want to tear down my back fence and scatter my toys… it all makes my stomach hurt--gives me a real global-tension headache…

So, I take a deep, cleansing breath, and stroll nostalgically out among the cold-war missile silos and dream of days when slapping leather solved everything until I’m stopped short in front of a polished casing panel, my reflection distorted and stretched, but still quite cinematic, “You lookin’ at me?... Are you lookin’ at me?” and damn if I’m not doing a great DeNiro, and I slap and slap… but when I turn around, the rest of the world is no longer looking, they all went for Chinese take-out.


Scott Simpson is a former high school teacher, college professor, camp director and lay-minister who attempts to live a contemplative lifestyle on a planet that views quietness and stillness as destructive ideas that could potentially undermine the fabric of society. He, indeed, hopes to undermine the fabric of that society with quietness and stillness. Scott lives on a planet called Earth.
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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

PATRIOTS

by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen


Nebraska panhandle roads
north of Billy Goat Hill
trucks move through fresh snow

thousands of cowbirds
unwilling to fly and lose
warmth buried together
under snowdrifts are

crushed by passing tires.


Ayaz Daryl Nielsen is editor/custodian of Bear Creek Haiku, also, poet/veteran/nurse/father, etc.
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SPARROW

by Merry Speece


bald sparrow
you could be the national bird

monotonous song!

& with that

one feather falls

& all the time Jesus listening


Merry Speece has published two chapbooks of poetry and been a recipient of a state arts commission fellowship in prose. Her Sisters Grimke Book of Days (Oasis Books, England) is a mixed-genre work of fragmented historical scholarship which one reviewer called a prose poem.
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