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Sunday, November 30, 2008

TO THE MAXX AT WAL-MART

by James Penha


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



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


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

JUST TRYIN TO GET THIS STRAIGHT

by Steve Hellyard Swartz


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

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

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

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

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

Say how they ain't

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

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


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

MUMBAI BURNS

by Vivek Sharma


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

VENISON

by Thomas D. Reynolds


My ancestors were hunters,
Walking wooded paths at dusk.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

LARGE MAN SMALL DOG

by Buff Whitman-Bradley


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

LETTER TO PUCCINI

by David Chorlton


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


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

LEAVES

an ode to e e cummings


by Earl J. Wilcox


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


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

THE LAMB CHOPS OF GOD

by Joseph Dorazio


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

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

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

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

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


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

DREAMS FROM MY OBAMA

by Donna Hilbert


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

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

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

THE WAY TO WIN IS TO LOSE

by Gary Lehmann


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

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

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

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


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

WALL STREET

by David Radavich


Something
keeps spiraling

down
down

beyond words
or images

seasons

almost
a rain dance

black snake
coiling

or uncoiling
in sun

that glints
into a solemn

smirk

outside
the cold window


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

by Bill Costley


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


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

WINTER SOLDIERS

by Howie Good


Can’t you feel it,

the troops dimly massing
on the border,

horses the color of doom
dragging cannons

along old lumber roads,
their hooves muffled with cloth,

as the collaborators among us
count down the days

till manic petals of snow
will be falling murderously

everywhere.


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

EXIT POLL

by Scot Siegel


I had a dream
we were sweating bullets

Oakland. 1973
soul-music-afro-sheen

Nixon. Panthers
Grandmother

Didn't trust
blacks

Called them
shvartzes --

*

Twenty years
grandma dead

Now I wonder how
she would have cast

Her ballot:
white/black

Bush administration
says fear

Is our greatest asset.
Waged war

For war's sake.
Said:
be afraid


*

Today, I keep
pinching myself,

Wanting to believe
my grandmother

Lied. I pinch myself
until I bleed

Black blood
blood of our brothers

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

Blot my eyes
with the rest of you --

Overcome, and
wet with joy


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

THE EMPRESS OF AFRICAN SONG

by Mary Saracino

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




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

pata pata
malaika
qongqothwane

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

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

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

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

pata pata
malaika
qongqothwane


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

RETURNEE: LAST WORDS

by Spiel


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

BACKYARD WEDDING

by Buff Whitman-Bradley


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

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

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

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

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


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

BUILDING IN THE GREEN

October 2008

by Linda Lerner



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

is there such a thing as green sunshine
green silence?

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

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


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

PROP 8 / PROP HATE

by Mary Saracino


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


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

MONKS BRAWL IN HOLY SEPULCHER

by Daniel E. Wilcox


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


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

SONG FROM OUT OF UR

by Rochelle Owens


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

MURDER BY THE (WRONG) NUMBERS

by Christina Pacosz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Christina Pacosz has been writing and publishing prose and poetry for almost half a century and has several books of poetry, the most recent, Greatest Hits, 1975-2001 (Pudding House, 2002). Her work has appeared recently in Jane’s Stories III, Women Writing Across Boundaries, Pemmican, Umbrella, qarrtsiluni, Letters to the World. She has been a special educator, a Poet-in-the-Schools for several state and city programs, and a North Carolina Visiting Artist. For the past decade she has been teaching at-risk youth of all ages on both sides of the Missouri/Kansas state line.
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Saturday, November 08, 2008

BEWARE ALIENS!

by Bill Costley


Jim Boulet, dir. of English First, fears
illegal aliens may be getting bailed out
of bad mortgages by the government:
“Now we don’t know who’s legal &
who’s illegal because they won’t tell us.”
Easy. Ask them, in Spanish, of course.

But what about those space-aliens
who offered ultra-easy credit terms?
Do we care if they’re legal or illegal?
Are we worried their money’s bogus?
Do we know what terms for default
may be in outer space? Alienation?
What’s alienation to space-aliens?
Exile to our heating Planet Earth?
Exile to our single airless Moon?


Bill Costley serves on the Steering Committee of the San Francisco Bay area chapter of the National Writers Union.
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Friday, November 07, 2008

THE RACIST'S TREE

by Steve Hellyard Swartz


November ushers in its
Deep conservative browns
The golds, reds, oranges of October
Are raked, mowed, strewn
On lawns
As gone as my daughter’s treasure trove of
Milky Ways and candy corns

One tree on our street remains bravely gay
I can see it from where I’m sitting
It’s on Bob’s lawn next door
Bob, who said to me when I told him about my immigrant father-in-law’s cancer:
Nice of him to come here and get sick

I wonder what Bob and his wife Marge are thinking today about
President-elect Barack Obama
I guess I could ask him
He’s just come out of his house with his ancient dog on its leash
Bob?
I see you standing there, a travel mug in one hand
Bob?

Wait, he’s saying something
He’s saying

Come on, please

The dog is dying, that much is plain to see
Bob is looking up and down the street
Tugging on the leash
In heaven, too, the colors are draining
The dog’s flanks are shaking
He’s trying hard to obey
Come on, please
My hands are shaking, Bob’s too
Under the glorious stubborn late awakening
Of the last November tree


Steve Hellyard Swartz's poetry has appeared in Best Poem, switched-on gutenberg, Haggard and Halloo, and The Kennesaw Review. He has won Honorable Mention in the 2007 and 2008 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards, as well as the Mary C. Mohr and the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards. His poetry will soon appear in The Paterson Review and The Southern Indiana Review. In 1990, his film "Never Leave Nevada" opened in Dramatic Competition at the U.S. Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
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Thursday, November 06, 2008

HAPPY TO SAY

After the 2008 Presidential Election

by Terry Hertzler



I’m not, I’m happy to say, moving
to Canada, won’t have to learn
to say “eh” rather than “huh” when
I miss a question, or substitute
“chesterfield” for “couch,” request

a “serviette” rather than a “napkin,”
or start inserting the letter “u” into
various words: colour, neighbour,
honour—won’t have to try to recall
those infiltration techniques I learned

many years ago in the Army if Canada
decides it has no room for an overfed,
middle-aged, third-tier poet, won’t
have to sneak through midnight woods
into beautiful British Columbia, face

streaked with camouflage paint, which
would probably cause me to break out
in a rash, although at least in Canada
I’d have access to free medical care
as I waited deportation as an undesirable.

So, I’ll stay put for now, happy that I won’t
have to start typing all my poems in both
English and French or learn the distinction
between “providence” and “province,”
whatever that is.


Terry Hertzler has worked as a writer, editor and teacher for 30 years. His poetry and short stories have appeared in a variety of publications, including The Writer, North American Review, Margie, Nimrod and Stand Up Poetry: An Expanded Anthology, as well as being produced on stage and for radio and television. His work has also been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He is the owner and publisher of Caernarvon Press and coordinates the monthly Second Sunday at Open Door Books poetry series in Pacific Beach, CA. His latest book of poetry is Second Skin.
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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

BARACK TO THE FUTURE

PoeArtry by Charles Frederickson & Saknarin Chinayote


Be the change you want
To actualize promoting cross-cultural diversity
Progressive macrocosmic ‘tudes far-sighted perspectives
Determined to make an impact

Envisioning enlightened virtual reality worldview
Discover whatever can shall must
Be done working together with
Sympatico others blazing new trails

Become change make it happen
Believing is seeing things differently
Meeting challenges head-on responding swiftly
Borderline easy solutions seldom are


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/.
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BARACKING THE VOTE

A Sonnet by James Schwartz


O Obama! On this November night.
Of pumpkin leaves and Halloween's remains.
A sober October gone with the light.
Leaving behind Robert Frost and grey rains.
Poets need a hero to believe in.
In this Global Era's new unity.
Poets' sanctuary to achieve in.
Vital to our current economy.
Dot Com confusion spinning with the room.
Please excuse my mess as the powder flies.
The bombs are raining and jets go zoom.
Pardon my urgency as the ink dries.
We stand at Eden's gates: Behold our joy.
Barack Obama: you are my homeboy.


James Schwartz is a poet and slam performer striving for the simplicity of Cavafy mixed with modern gay wordplay and elements; Schwartz's poetry / slam material dialogues of GLBTQ issues and affirmations of gay (night) life and love.
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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

COUNTRY FIRST

by Janice D. Soderling


The lion snuggles with the lamb
Till it is time to sup.
Then when the hunger hits them both,
He eats the dear lamb up.


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 Anon, Orbis, Nthposition, Stirring, Mannequin Envy and Literary Bohemian.
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Monday, November 03, 2008

FISHING WITH McCAIN

by Scot Siegel

in the distance, the black cod fleet
is having a banner day

Here we are
chumming along, ice-free
through the Northwest Passage

Petroleum LNG Geothermal...
the possibilities are endless
it seems...

*

Then we hit a reef
called Alaska
we see Russia

and it looks
good
from here...

Fish bones impale
our hoarse throats
as the boat lists

and our campaign
engine
sputters...

*

I'd throw her back if I could
October gaffs
gave me grief

She's a looker,
but a lousy
deckhand...

*

Got media hooks
in my shoulders now
sore from reeling up

urchins
rocks
anemones...

I can't catch
a break
for the life of me

I'm snagged
on a bush
called history

Global fisheries
crashing
     like stocks

over the bow -

Bernancke, Patraeus, Somebody
          save me now

I think I'm turning Green!


Scot Siegel is an urban planner and poet from Lake Oswego, Oregon, where he serves on the Lake Oswego City Planning Commission and the Board of Trustees for the Friends of William Stafford. His first full-length poetry collection Some Weather is forthcoming from Plain View Press in 2009.
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Sunday, November 02, 2008

OF TALKING HEADS

and Other Body Parts In An Election Cycle

by Earl J. Wilcox


Let’s give all praise to the ones
who coined the term,
Talking Heads.

Next, we need a word
or two for coinage of
Stuck His Foot in His Mouth.

How about a shout out
for Walk the Walk
And Talk the Talk. Four stars for those.

We really should praise the inventors
of Body Language, the expression
we have come to identify with some
candidates this season. What about
Eyes on the Prize and A Nose for News.

Now put your hands and hearts together
for the most apt body part description
as you prepare to vote for the candidate
who is All Ears.


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 42 poems to the New Verse News.
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Saturday, November 01, 2008

BUBBA REDNECK

by Bill Costley


“O’bama, Hussein, Hussein O’bama” chants
a volunteer redneck cracker sheriff in black
working the stage at a Republican-party rally.

Keep your eye on him: the man of the hour
that’s gone midnite in the middle of the day.
His next move'll B2 get out the rope & ladder.

Nothing less can end the insult that Obama is,
& the degree of insult depends on how high;
just how high he can be strung up & hanged.

Now you may try tell'n me this is all jest funnin’
but who’s havin’ all this fun, Bubba Crackuh?
It’s you, Bubba Redneck, a-holdin’ that rope.


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