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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

LOVE AT LAST SIGHT

a new year's resolution
by Scot Siegel


Is there such a thing?
Can it happen more than once?

What if it happens every day?
and has nothing to do with lust,

     or envy
     or democracy

     or god
forsake
     our country…

This is how I might strike-up a new conversation
with the world

If we can do it all over again
but differently…


Scot Siegel is a poet and land use planner from Oregon, where he serves on the board of trustees for the Friends of William Stafford. He is the author of Some Weather (Plain View Press, 2008), and Untitled Country, a chapbook due out from Pudding House Publications in 2009.
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NEW YEAR'S EVE, 2008

by Earl J. Wilcox


For once, then, let’s not toast
those arcane resolutions. OK,
maybe one or two, say something
like we hope for the best in the
new year for the young family
down the street, who had to put
their house up for sale, move
away without telling us where
they went because the dad lost
his job, the mom couldn’t find one,
and their little guy that we loved
watching play catch with his dad
is gone, too, God knows where,
and we’re left holding empty
cups nobody’s going to fill up,
no matter how much toasting
a new year we do.


Earl J. Wilcox writes about aging, baseball, literary icons, politics, and southern culture. His work appears in more than two dozen journals; he is a regular contributor to The New Verse News. More of Earl's poetry appears at his blog, Writing by Earl.
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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

BODY COUNT

by David Plumb

New Year 2009

Each day he cuts out
the New York Times Dead in Iraq
and places them in a green metal dish
to rest with the rest
of the silence in between.


David Plumb’s latest fiction book is A Slight Change in the Weather. He has worked as a paramedic, a cab driver, a, cook and tour guide. A long time San Francisco writer, he now lives in South Florida . Will Rogers said, “Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.” Plumb says, “It depends on the parrot.”
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APPROACHING DECEMBER 31

by Phyllis Wax


The old year’s got
plenty of testosterone left,
enough for a surge
of violence in Gaza ,
in Sri Lanka, in Pakistan ,
and God knows
where else and
what’s He going to do about it,
just send the new lad in
to continue the job— and where
will it all end?


Phyllis Wax keeps up with the news from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Most recently, she has been published in Out of Line, Free Verse, Wisconsin Poets' Calendar and The New Verse News.
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Monday, December 29, 2008

THE DUSTBIN OF HISTORY

by Jon Wesick


actually a rusty dumpster
behind the Smithsonian
Soggy newspapers, broken glass,
black banana peel on its lid

The last deposit
a dripping garbage bag
coffee grounds, apple cores,
the Taliban
Before that
a broken comb tangled
with Karl Marx’s unruly hair

When the lights go out
dumpster divers crawl inside
searching for anything they can sell:
thumbscrews, Spanish boots,
Hitler’s old razor blades,
dead sparrows, backyard blast furnaces,
Herbert Hoover’s musty economics text,
vials of phlogiston, the recipe
Typhoid Mary used for ice cream,
McNamara’s board games,
Stalin’s toenail clippings,
Pol Pot’s busted stereo

Bad ideas get a quick rinse
in the waters of forgetfulness
and a fresh coat of PR.
Then grocery carts bulging
with Lysenko science,
crusades, jihads, and Thirty Years Wars
the shadowy junkmen scurry
to the marketplace
or political convention
to start a new round
of famine, disease, and war


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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Saturday, December 27, 2008

SNEAKERS

by Earl J. Wilcox

after Robert Frost

When I see white sneakers swinging
from low hanging wires, I like to
think some kid grew tired of wearing
them and heaved them high, or was
celebrating a first kiss, maybe the
baseball coach named him the team’s
catcher. You must have seen these
shoes here and there in the hood, even
in unlikely places. But a boy with only
one pair of shoes summer and winter
holds on to them, would never throw
away his sneakers just when he got
them broke in. Gangs do that, I am told—
toss shoes up on wires---signaling a
nearby hangout, where members do
whatever. But I was going to say
before reality broke in that I wish
instead the shoes were a boy’s whose
graffiti scuffed soles, smudged tongue,
prayed for someone to draw his name
from an office pool ---size, color,
brand don’t matter—and would send
new sneakers to that boy who tossed
the old, paper thin pair up high, a new
ornament dangling from a wire, a
burnished, bright star at Christmas.


Earl J. Wilcox writes about aging, baseball, literary icons, politics, and southern culture. His work appears in more than two dozen journals; he is a regular contributor to The New Verse News.
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Friday, December 26, 2008

THE FAREWELL LEGACY TOUR

by Earl J. Wilcox


He takes to the road like a fading pop singer,
A farewell tour for the fans, for the faithful
Who long for just one more tune from his
Masterful mouth, one more round of tales
Of his adventures in eight years of singing
The same tunes. He laughs, he jests, he
Fibs, he smirks, he tells jokes, he swaggers
Onto the stage as his minions scribble
New lines for the new songs he will sing
In the Presidential Library, the Auto-
Biography, redefining, rewriting his story.


Earl J. Wilcox writes about aging, baseball, literary icons, politics, and southern culture. His work appears in more than two dozen journals; he is a regular contributor to The New Verse News.
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Thursday, December 25, 2008

25TH OF DECEMBER

by Joseph Dorazio


No cardboard skeletons
gleefully dance the Charleston now.
No pumpkins grimace.
No cackling witches stir the heated broth.
All that's left are winter's bare bones,
stark and hard and black.
And St. Nick's alchemical tricks:
     earth turned to iron
     water to stone.
The solemnity of another year's end
with its concentric loneliness.
The sun stands still at solstice
while the distant songs of carolers
move past in Doppler Effect
leaving you,
standing alone,
in the silent night

suspended—

like Lot's wife.


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 reviews.
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

WOMAN FROM TIBET

by Rochelle Owens


I

There was once a woman from Tibet
who paid the rent and electric bill
flaying carcasses in the Market Place
          Bones of a bird’s wing
               hinged together
The pants she wore
were made of burlap and silk
          and the edges were frayed
          Bones of a bird’s wing
               hinged together
Watching the woman from Tibet
earn her living was as good as any
blood sport
          Bones of a bird’s wing
               hinged together
Hidden in the pockets of her pants
were four lapis lazuli rings
tied together with a string
          Bones of a bird’s wing
               hinged together
Work is a binding obligation—
You must flay carcasses
in the Market Place
          Bones of a bird’s wing
               hinged together
Living in the fiction of her glass eye
the gouged out one of the past
the woman from Tibet flays carcasses
          Bones of a bird’s wing
               hinged together

II

Words from bones the woman from Tibet
her hard skeleton her animal soul
pouring into your blood
Tibetan words words moving up and down
felt in your spine your fibrous substance
          Moving her lips
the woman from Tibet
standing in front of a camera
in the fiction of its glass eye
living in the fiction
the gouged out one of the past
          Work is a binding
obligation—
You must flay carcasses
in the Market Place
as good as any blood sport
rows of birds rows of knives
FLESH becomes WORD through your teeth
your eyebrows through your skull
your brain your nasal bones
in your muscles
          Moving her lips
words in Tibetan     spiraling etching
onto your corneas
turquoise glass lapis lazuli words
embedded into the knives
the blades vibrating
circling white lights circling
through your auditory canal
felt on the palms of your hands
soles of your feet
through your heart
          The woman from Tibet
standing in front of a camera
in the fiction of its glass eye
living in the fiction
the gouged out one of the past
          Work is a binding
obligation—
You must flay carcasses
in the Market Place


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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Monday, December 22, 2008

WHEREHOW

by Karla Linn Merrifield


Going upstream
testing our limits

canoe & paddles
on Rio Grande

Santa Elena
fatigues us with silt

no Border Patrol
no fence nearby

we edge exhaustion
grow thirsty

with nothing illegal
in our slow thoughts

just making a bend
surely as turtles do

nationality or species
unimportant

more shade desired
more water necessary

but canyon walls
mock us like ravens

we lumber along
elementally

between two countries
belonging only

to tiring muscles
our wasting pink skin

we trespass the silence
without clear borders

in this hot, sere land
accompanied by

thunder—clear warning
to go downstream now

strokes before heat strokes
we must go homeward

but where, how?


A Pushcart Prize nominee and 2009 Everglades National Park Artist-in-Residence, Karla Linn Merrifield has had poetry appear in publications such as CALYX, Earth’s Daughters, Poetica, The Kerf, Negative Capability, Paper Street and Blueline; on line in The Centrifugal Eye, Terrain.org, Elsewhere: A Journal of the Literature of Place, and Elegant Thorn Review, and in several anthologies. In 2006, she edited The Dire Elegies: 59 Poets on Endangered Species of North America, from FootHills Publishing; in 2007, FootHills issued her Godwit: Poems of Canada. She is poetry editor of Sea Stories and poetry book reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye. She teaches writing part-time at SUNY College at Brockport.
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Sunday, December 21, 2008

GLOBAL UNITY PRAYER

PoeArtry by Charles Frederickson & Saknarin Chinayote


Praying to whatever God listens
Keep the faith universal salvation
Chanukkah Christmas Kwanzaa Ramadan Solstice
Offering compassionate kindness merciful forgiveness

Prickly holly sneaky mistletoe kisses
‘Elf conscious North Pole meltdown
Yuletide carols harmonized Silent Night
Birch logs rekindling hearthstone glow

Still believing in wondrous miracles
Temple flame burned eight days
On oil just for one
Menorah candles votive lamp remembrances

Kwanzaa Swahili for First Fruits
African harvest bountiful taproot blessings
Uplifting spirit marching ever onward
Kinara candles red black green

Fasting from dawn to sunset
Obligation demands appetite denial continence
Eid-ul-Fitre feast shared willful charity
Thanking Allah for blessed mercy

Celebrating Tree of Life diversity
Evergreen bodhi cedar baobab pine
All children indiscriminately presented greatest
Gift Peace on Earth TLC



Dr. Charles Frederickson & Saknarin Chinayote are co-editors of AvantGardeTimes.com.
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Friday, December 19, 2008

FASHION STATEMENT

by Matthew Quinn


If I were Bush
and ducked a 10 inch shoe
but the Secret Service crew
didn't rush
till after loafer number two,
I would note this
and never shop at Payless.


Matthew Quinn is a freelance writer, editor and researcher. He resides in St. Louis, Missouri, with his muse and a menagerie of disembodied voices.
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

:COLON: OSCOPY:

by David Feela


So it’s true that it’s not true
that 90% of all colon procedures
identify cancerous growths.

So it’s also true that being 50
gives you only a 50% chance
of finding polyps in the tract

where men (mostly) suffer
the indignities of being
probed for alien life.

Nothing, it seems, is conclusive
except that final breath
where all the fiber you ate

makes no difference
and the trouble you’ve feared
sneaks up from behind.


David Feela is a poet, free-lance writer, writing instructor, book collector, and thrift store pirate. His work has appeared in regional and national publications, including the High Country News "Writers’s on the Range," Mountain Gazette, and in the newspaper as a "Colorado Voice" for The Denver Post. He is a contributing editor and columnist for Inside/Outside Southwest and for The Four Corners Free Press. A poetry chapbook, Thought Experiments (Maverick Press), won the Southwest Poet Series. A new poetry book, The Home Atlas, will be released in 2009.
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

SOMETHING BETTER ABOUT TO HAPPEN

by Scot Siegel


hard to believe an entire generation
of American children

have grown up in a foreign country
where the anti-war poets, feeling nostalgic

& pathetic, thud our sooty windows
like finches drunk on toxic hedge funds

while the unemployed, mentally ill, and others
incarcerated in upside-down mortgages

wipe the daily grime away and drink from
a cracked urn called the-American-Dream-

on-Trickle-Down-Lies-Ambush-Economics
& other toxic drivel too disturbing to name here . . .

hard to believe so many still get up and go to
school or college or what's left of the jobs

most mornings believing something
better is about to happen . . .

O these days, what I would give
for a new administration, my grandfather's generation

O what I would give for a few rogue epiphanies!
an early inauguration; the next WPA


Scot Siegel is a poet and land use planner from Oregon, where he serves on the board of trustees for the Friends of William Stafford. He is the author of Some Weather (Plain View Press, 2008), and Untitled Country, a chapbook due out from Pudding House Publications in 2009.
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

THREW SHOES?

by Bill Costley


“So what if he threw shoes?”
says cheekily defiant Dubya,
missing the symbolism after
a Cairo TV-reporter threw
his shoes at Dubya during
a Baghdad press-conference,

one shoe forcing Dubya
to lame-duck, the other sailing
over Dubya’s head & slamming
into the wall behind him. Throwing
shoes at someone is the worst
insult possible in the Arab world:

shoes cover the body's lowest part,
tread on animal dung, are removed
on entering a house or mosque.
What’s lower? Just the dung itself.



Bill Costley serves on the Steering Committee of the San Francisco Bay area chapter of the National Writers Union.
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THESE SHOES ARE MADE FOR THROWIN'

by Earl J. Wilcox

after Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra

You say you’ve done something for us

Something we can’t seem to see is true.

You been messin’ where you ought not to be messin'

Now I’ve got something here for only Y O U.


These shoes are made for throwin’

And throwin’ is what I’ll do

I take both of ‘em off right here today

And throw them both at Y O U.


You keep lyin' when you ought to be truthin’

We’re losing and you know it’s true

But I got a pair of number tens on today

That I’m throwin' right at Y O U.


These shoes are made for throwin’

And throwin’s what I’ll do

I’m takin’ both of em’ off right here today

And throwin’ them both at Y O U.


Earl J. Wilcox writes about aging, baseball, literary icons, politics, and southern culture. His work appears in more than two dozen journals; he is a regular contributor to The New Verse News.
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Monday, December 15, 2008

BIRTHRIGHT

by Scott Simpson


Jacob stole his birthright,
being clever and tricky
and gets the bad rap
on account of greed,
but what about the sin of Esau
who sold his birthright for a single
bowl of soup?

And sure, at the time
it seemed reasonable
Esau seeing nothing but his hunger
                    —gut wrenching hunger
but emptiness doesn’t always
render us clear of sight—
sometimes it shapes desperate eyes
and snatching hands.

I imagine Esau there at table,
hunger sated, realizing now
the emptiness of the bowl
the emptiness—
what he’d given up…

                    or maybe not,
maybe Esau simply belched
and excused himself, because
satiation doesn’t always
render us mindful
of consequence.

Keep brother stuffed;
he’ll never know he’s being taken.

And sometimes my own hunger
is the voice I hear telling me to short-sell
for a few immediate spoonfuls…

I have seen the children
of stolen birthrights,
stolen, in the end, by their feeders--
by those who have something
to sell them… and something to gain
from the selling.

And I’m a teacher
for Heaven’s sake,
with a bowl of soup
and some hungry students
willing to eat
what I’m dishing up--
indiscriminately--
filling the pits of swollen bellies
with what’s been mandated
with what the research says
will surely fill them.

And I could spend days
feeding them data soup
chock-full of standards
in a warm broth of best practice
and we could raise the bar
make AYP
incentivize the path
till no one’s left behind.

But what if something
has been squandered
while I was ladling—
what if they’ve traded
some blood-right,
some unique mark…

What if we educators
have helped them trade
a birthright
for a bowl of
compliance soup?


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. Scott's poems have appeared in Switched-On Gutenburg, BigCityLit, and New Verse News, and anthologized in In Praise of Pedagogy (2000, Calendar Press). You can listen to some of Scott's music and poetry on MySpace.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

CAPPUCCINO SMILE

by Peter Branson

"The opinion that art should have nothing to
do with politics is itself a political attitude."
--George Orwell, “Why I Write.”

Young Costa girl
with fashionable dreadlocks
and early morning eyes
sits down, no customers
about, asks what
you write: a poem
on 'Tolpuddle',
at least you're trying to.
"They pay the minimum,
this lot. No unions here;"
melt-water over stone.
The coffee bar warms up
so she must leave,
missing your mulled
apology by miles.

Robbed of their common wealth,
farm workers starve
on seven bob a week.
These fields were hedged with greed.
No combination laws,
the charge is fixed and primed:
transported seven years,
but not for what's been done
and said, grapeshot across
the bows. "The Safety of
the country is at stake,"
the Judge points out.
In 1984,
"The enemy within,"
life imitated art.


Peter Branson is a creative writing tutor. Until recently he was Writer-in-residence for "All Write" run by Stoke-on-Trent Library Services. He began writing poetry seriously about five years ago and has had work published by many mainstream poetry journals, including Acumen, Ambit, Envoi, Iota, 14, Fire, The Interpreter's House, Poetry Nottingham, Red Ink and Other Poetry. In the last two years he has had success in several competitions including a first prize in The Envoi International, a second place in The Writing Magazine Open and a highly-commended in The Petra Kenney. His first collection, The Accidental Tourist, was published in May 2008.
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Friday, December 12, 2008

DEEP IN PINEY WOODS

by Garland Strother


Forty years ago my friend
Henry chained himself
to the courthouse stairs
in the timber town
of Bogalusa chanting
freedom now in the key
of Dixie, getting himself
whipped across the poor
white skin of his burnt
bald head all the way
down the justice steps
of Washington Parish.
Forty miles south of here
last month deep in piney
woods, the Klan killed
a woman who wanted
to join them, but then
changed her mind. The
Klan said no with a gun,
killing her to keep her.


A native of Tensas Parish in north Louisiana and a retired librarian, Garland Strother currently lives in River Ridge near New Orleans with his wife, Liz, also a librarian. Strother’s poems have appeared in Louisiana Review, Arkansas Review, South Dakota Review, Texas Review, Common Ground Review, Big Muddy, and others.
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Thursday, December 11, 2008

PAPER TIGER

by Bill Costley


In Silicon Valley's Cupertino,
a dutiful grandson eagerly awaits
an annual U.S. Savings Bond

from his indulgent grandfather,
a manufacturer in Shanghai
who shuffles yuans, reading
his falling quarterly orders
report on the United States.

This year his indulgence
will bear the 2-tongued-E
of a Eurobond instead.

Facing the Chinese in Beijing,
Paulson involuntarily shudders
at a hint of chill across the table.

Something’s morphing. Paper’s
no longer just promissory scrip.


Bill Costley serves on the Steering Committee of the San Francisco Bay area chapter of the National Writers Union.
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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

DOWNTURN

by Howie Good


Everywhere I go, it’s the same thing,

pockets filling up with dirt, with tears,
with small, gray feathers of smoke,

crowds in the background murmuring
a familiar prayer, a powerful name,

impatient for the century to at last begin,
or at least for this dry season to end,

and as I stare out across the page,
I wish I could remember a time

when shadows were merely shadows
and our skin was blue and gold

like the gorgeous raiment of sacred kings.


Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of six poetry chapbooks, including most recently Tomorrowland (2008) from Achilles Chapbooks. He has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize and twice for the Best of the Net anthology.
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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

SETTLERS

by Mary Dingee Fillmore


The chainsaw rips the air
of this quiet quarter where trees
are already scarce.

When the lumberman ropes
a locust tree's concentric layers,
I'm sure I've seen him before.

Asked why cut, he replies
"We're cleanin' up the land -
 it belongs to the owner."

Defeated, I walk home under
maples whose crowns
can't be seen overhead -
survivors of woods men cleared
a century ago to make the garden
I love and live by.

They cut even more in the vanishing
Vermont forest: cedar to shingle my house,
spruce to frame it, and golden pine
and birch for floors -
     yes, birch, its snowy bark peeling
      in the darkened woods -

I live in this calamity of cutting, and now
I remember the lumberman's name

It's carved on my great great great
grandfather's gravestone he's the man
whose hard-swung axe hewed out
the place we savages know
as Canada.


Mary Dingee Fillmore earned her M.F.A. at Vermont College after a twenty-five year career in organizational development and a hidden life as a writer. Her poetry about the Holocaust in the Netherlands and other subjects has appeared in Upstreet, Pearl, Diner, Westview, Main Street Rag, Pinyon and Blueline among other venues. She won the Poetry Grand Prize in the 2007 Tallgrass Writers' Guild Contest, and is a winner of the 2006 Iowa Source contest.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

SOCIALIST POKER

by Bill Garvey


The sweet sound of an Obama speech –
words soothingly spoken, the weight he gives each
syllable as if articulation can reach
into our souls, as if reaching into our souls
matters to him – eases my fear about losing my job
or every dollar I’ve saved in my 401K…
which reminds me of a guy named Mike
who won three hands in a row at our Friday night game.
Stacking red, white and green poker chips,
he averted his eyes from the glare of his friends
and then, as if uncomfortable with sudden prosperity,
tossed chips to the poorest among us
as if he were Obama spreading the wealth –
and how I love to utter Obama! Maybe I
voted for the sound of it, knocked on doors
for it, called voters, like Margaret, who raged
into the phone Obama and Biden! Osama bin Laden!
I shouted Change! Argued against for more
years of pasty-faced men who don’t care
about syllables, I actually said, and then
I tossed to Margaret the O in Hope!


Bill Garvey lives in New Hampshire with his wife. Their grown children live in Toronto. Garvey’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in several journals including Margie: The American Journal of Poetry, The Worcester Review, 5AM, Slant, Diner, Concho River Review, and New York Quarterly. Finishing Line Press published his chapbook The Burden of Angels in 2007. Garvey received his MFA from New England College.

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

CRY

by N.C. Haiduck


Around and around the world it goes
to Africa, China , England , Malaysia ,
a hole in its pocket, sitting in hard polished shadows,
a cry for peace.

We are people, unemployed, in peril,
trying to master rents, insurance,
our lives interrupted by a televised glimpse,
crying for peace.

Oily gloves count all of the signs
in all of the streets, worth trillions of dollars,
on every continent,
a cry for peace.

We want jobs, clean air, water,
to teach our children,
to answer each, in the unprecedented cathedral,
with a cry for peace.

It staggers through Serbia , Korea , Russia ,
careens, through Turkey , Arabia , America ,
black shoes scuffed by the cold, white Artic Circle ,
a cry for peace.

Ignoring the voices of nuclear dust,
newspapers tease us a bit,
Hiroshima unravels, Nagasaki falls and we all
cry for peace.


N.C. Haiduck teaches writing at The City College of New York, where she won the English Department’s Outstanding Teacher Award in 2007. Her poetry can be found in the Paterson Literary Review, New York City Streets in Poetry, Main Street Rag, BigCityLit, Anderbo.com, and other online and print journals.
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Friday, December 05, 2008

LETTERS FOR JUSTINE MASIKA BIHAMBA IN THE DRC

by Kaci Elder


Was this the man who laid himself upon your little girl,
He, whose belt nearly unbuckled itself in a feverish haste to get something,
Something onto her, into her, through and around and between her
Tightening tightening thighs?
Was this the man who locked eyes with you when you'd suddenly
RUN into the room?

Was this the gun he used to break into your home
Into the safe and protected space you'd set aside from the world you usually roam,
With the risks you take to defend we whose cunts are called shame
Who are still scrubbing down the walls inside ourselves to feel clean again?
Was this the gun he held to your children's heads, your six trembling babes
NOW fearing death?

Was this the uniform he wore on the night he stormed inside,
His matching buddies by his side as he shouted "Where did Justine go!"
They wanted you, yes, you know, because you work to stop rape, you work against the pain thickly slapped against women in the democratic republic of this congo.
Was this the uniform he wore when he knew the military men would look
AWAY from punishment?

Well,
I've taken his gun and I've taken his clothes and I've taken this man
Without taking his life.
I've done nothing more than bring him to you,
Cuffed inside of this courtroom.

I wrote my thoughts to your dear president, a simple thing,
But there were thousands of us, so many thousands of us that he was forced to relent
And now here you are, and here is that man and I'm with you still, Justine,
As black marks on a white page
Tucked in an envelope, telling the world your story.


An actor and poet, Kaci Elder is learning the long, slow lesson that black lines--magically assembled into letters then words then indented messages on the page--can subtly shift consciousness and the way we see each other. Can even lead to freedom. She manages a hostel in Redwood National Park with her muses, Ryan her husband and Rory her son.
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Thursday, December 04, 2008

TWINKLE

by Lori Desrosiers

Doctors in India are baffled as to why a young girl spontaneously bleeds through her pores without being cut or scratched, the Telegraph reported Tuesday. Twinkle Dwivedi, 13, sometimes wakes up in the morning covered in dried blood that has seeped through her eyes, nose, hairline, neck and the soles of her feet. She has undergone several transfusions. --AOL Health News, 1 October 2008

Mystics and Krishna won’t cure you
Halleluiah child of bleeding pores
child of India, mother holds your hand
in blue and fuscia striped pajamas
waiting for another transfusion
another doctor to say he doesn’t know
ask the Sufi saints
who sing and dance for you
al hamdu’l ‘illah but nothing happens
your face is lovely I see why they
called you Twinkle and the red stain
runs down your cheek like a teardrop
that won’t come off, but at the same time
you smile for cameras hoping someone will
bring the right medicine, poor little star
so the children will play with you again
so the saints will go sing for someone else


Lori Desrosiers' chapbook Three Vanities is being published by Pudding House Press in 2009. Her poems have appeared in Common Ground Review, Big City Lit, The Equinox, Ballard Street Poetry Journal, November 3rd Club, Blue Fifth Review, Gold Wake Press' mini-chapbook series and others. She is the managing editor/publisher of Naugatuck River Review, a journal of narrative poetry. She lives in Westfield, Massachusetts and is a member of Florence Poets Society.
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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

OF COURSE THIS NEVER HAPPENED

by George Spencer


2 black cops come to check a suspicious white guy
at the country club

he's armed with a driver, a 5 iron
starts to pull something out of his golf bag

hard to see white guys in the bright sun

100 bullets
fifty from each gun


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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Monday, December 01, 2008

EARTHSHINE

a found newspoem by Scot Siegel
based on "Doorstep Astronomy: Venus Shines Bright" by Joe Rao at Space.com


These days, there is much ado
about Venus & Jupiter hovering
aligned in the near sky. Never mind
that planetary spectacle.

Monday night, shift your lens
to the right and you might spot
the full globe of the darkened moon
gloating, its shadowy portion

Glowing with a blueish-gray
hue interposed between sunlit
crescent & the not much
darker sky

This vision,
some call "the old moon
in the young moon's arms"


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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