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Thursday, December 31, 2009

IF IT'S BROKEN . . . 2009

by Bill Sullivan

Last time we met
you said," So many things broken."

Since then I have heard the cracking,
the splitting, the plunging of the glaciers,
as if a frenetic swarm of aquatic termites
surreptitiously devoured their foundations.
                                   And I am perplexed
by the word calving which continues to define
this calamity, for it is not a birthing
but a dying to be mourned and remembered.

And I have seen bankers and brokers
drunk on greed speeding in their limousines
stuffed with bundled bonds and sordid derivatives.
Have seen them careening through our streets,
heading for the cliff with our savings and misplaced faith.

And if I try I can begin to feel the wounds of war,
the tears and curses that multiply like fruit flies
trapped and nourished in gigantic glass jars.
Can feel the brain forever jarred by the bomb's blast.
Can feel the loss of feeling from the waist down,
the missing limb, the nightmare that comes as it will.
Can feel the futility, the need to inch forward.

Is it any wonder that this year the pear blossom
waited in vain for the loving touch of the honey bee
or that the monarch butterfly seldom suckled
the nectar of the buddleia bush?

Bill Sullivan taught American literature and American studies at Keene State College. He is the co-author of two books on twentieth century American poetry as well as co-producer of a documentary film on the life of Jonathan Daniels, a slain civil rights worker. He has published poems on babelfruit, protestpoems and perigee, on-line literary journals.


by Thomas Reynolds

Two chairs put together
Make a bed.

The father’s coat,
Dusty from the train,
A blanket.

Logs in the fireplace
the murmur of thoughts—
working far from home,
the silence of an empty room—
trying to settle.

The boy’s even breath,
Still an hour till midnight ,
A gentle wind
Blowing though
The window inside
The father’s chest.

The beating
Of his aging heart
A visitor knocking
On the cabin door
Of his childhood home
That none can open,
For which no key exists.

The father’s right hand a map
To towns that
No longer exist,
Landscapes that
Roll on forever
Like flashing lights
Past train windows,
which only darkness
Can remember.

Thomas Reynolds is an associate English professor 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, The MacGuffin, The Cape Rock, Flint Hills Review, Falling Star Magazine, Ariga, American Western Magazine, 3rd Muse Poetry Journal, Strange Horizons, Combat, The Green Tricycle, Muscadine Lines-A Southern Journal, Farsight Magazine, Miller's Pond Poetry Magazine, and Prairie Poetry. Woodley Press of Washburn University published his poetry collection Ghost Town Almanac in 2008.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


by Mel Brake

Daddy how
Many lies

You want
Me to tell

The War
In Iraq

And now
About nuclear


If I get
In trouble

Will you
Come to my aid

Will you
Stand before
The world stage for me

I have been
Your good little
Black girl

Our relationship
Cooked up
Like a supper in the deep
Deep South

In a black pot
Of Rice and Beans

My body to your

I melt in your

Mel Brake is an award winning poet/singer/songwriter. Publications from Philadelphia to New York and beyond have featured his work. He believes that poetry and the arts are the foundation of any sustainable and thriving civilization, and he formed the Mel Brake Family Band to keep the nation together. Recently, his CD chapbook, “Adoration of the Sol” was heard on WLIU FM, Long Island University public radio.


by Floyd Cheung

shepherds keep watch
angels sing
the world’s desire rests
cradled in a manger
warm in the eye of the storm

while Herod’s men circle
all Bethlehem trembles

the Coventry carol
there is no rose
away in a manger
what child is this
warm in the eye of the storm

while wars rage
and terror threatens

hymns at Christmastide
truly lullabies
we sing to one another
candles huddled
warm in the eye of the storm

Floyd Cheung has taught American literature at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, since 1999.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


by Howie Good

I give you burning towers
as a source of light.

I give you green troops
to plug a gap

that mutinies and desertions
have torn in the line.

I give you a Christmas tree farm
that is continuously crying.

I give you expired pills,
a book on death,

something machine-made
but sexy to wear.

I give you another day
of me explaining

night with my hands.

Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of 12 poetry chapbooks, including most recently My Heart Draws a Rough Map from The Blue Hour Press and Ghosts of Breath from Bedouin Books. He has been nominated four times for a Pushcart Prize and five times for the Best of the Net anthology. His first full-length collection of poetry, Lovesick, has just been published by Press Americana. He is co-editor of the online literary journal Left Hand Waving.

Monday, December 28, 2009


by Andrew Hilbert

wall street
worships itself
plastering photographs
of themselves in fancy clothes
drinking the best wines, smiling
writing checks to each other with
somebody else's money

the gods of america
the true noble christ
they nailed themselves to the cross
and cried, and kicked and screamed
begging to be taken down, the pain too great
for gods to endure
their tantrum caught the eye of the romans
the red white and blue
did not forsake them
too big to fail
even if it cost
the whole roman
their profits
are protected
in god we trust

Andrew Hilbert has a degree in History at Cal State Long Beach and lives in Orange County, California.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


by Tom Kelly

We tune out the preacher and ignore
the priest, no longer feast on bread
and wine, chuckle at the threat
of brimstone and the harpies' endless
pecking through time; we've sloughed off
the beast, its archaic symbols, as well as
ancient runes that lack the promise
our modern energies presume.

Instead, we focus on intention:
in yogic pose, we try to meditate
and mediate that omnipresent flow
whose touch we yearn for, but remains
ineffable. It slips through our fingers
easier than how sorrow finds its way
into the catastrophes of life...

Here at year's end we grasp
for structure, grope through the glitter
and glitz in the evergreen, seeking
good fortune, the star, the hope
of some light beyond the far
end of the tunnel.

Tom Kelly, a 59 year old resident of Virginia Beach, Virginia, has been an attorney in private practice for 27 years.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


by Elizabeth Kerlikowske

Does the tinsel swaddling itch? The molded plastic magi are big
but not scary, except Balthazar. Does his left eye wander? Have you
been blinded by the tiny lights? With the tree so close, does pine pitch
fall on you? Doesn’t it smell good? Did you get a cookie? They
disappeared from the plate. North Pole gifts wear different paper.
What did you ask for? I hope it wasn’t a dog. No one ever gets
a dog, even if it’s all they really want. Are you allergic to peppermint?
Sachets? Oranges studded with cloves? Do you smear divinity
on hives? Could anyone mistake an electric candle for a flame? Do
you like the little children as angels with aluminum foil wings? Do
you prefer halos? Which is your favorite Yuletide carol? A lot of them
make people cry. Why weren’t any women helping Mary? Were they
baking? Were they wrapping gifts? Who does the baking and wrapping
at your house? What was your best gift? Was it your idea for divorced
kids to split the day? Can a man in a light-up vest ever look dignified?
What does your dad wear? Have you ever read “A Christmas Carol?”
You seem so far away, like an old-fashioned ornament out of my reach.
Would you like a bite of this hollow chocolate Santa twinkled with
sugar soot? Please answer me.

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

Friday, December 25, 2009


by Laura Rodley

Rise up and you can walk, Jesus said.
Did they have cancer then?
What if they hadn’t crucified him
What if he’d stayed alive
and taught everyone around him
the gift of healing
and those people went forward
to teach others the gift of healing 
and there wasn’t as much illness or pain
and it was like that for the last 2009 years;
what songs we’d be singing,
what birds, the bobolink would
still be filling the air,
the sky purple black
with the cloud of their passing
as they fly south
rather than the weak V formation of geese
or scattering of sparrows on the wire.
Ah, if Jesus lived, forgive me
but perhaps it’s true he does or
at least his message, perhaps a healing
touch resides in us all
a poem we may give a song
we might sing, a hand we
might hold, a hug we give
the point being to give away, to give.

Laura Rodley's chapbook Rappelling Blue Light was nominated for a Mass Book Award. Nominated fora Pushcart Prize, her work has been in anthologies, Massachusetts Review and many others. On the advisory board of the Collected Poet Series, she works as a freelance writer and photographer.


by David Chorlton

We keep an old pigeon
who can’t fly, can’t see, and who
has lost the feathers on his back
but we bring him in from his cage
at night so he stays warm. He is a part
of the world we can feed
as so much of it is disappearing

while politicians meet to talk
about when they will talk next
about what could be done
if they thought the planet worth saving.
The Christmas mail arrives

with sadness sealing the envelopes.
My friend in Prague tells me
his home has been broken into,
paintings stolen, after his family has lived
there securely under Hitler
then the Communists
but in a democracy he has been burgled
three times. From his spot

in rural Tenerife
another friend reports the man in the next
vineyard is cutting down trees
and replacing them with noise.
What can he say to influence
the government when he can’t even talk
to his neighbour? Back in the USA

change once believed in
has turned into a troop deployment
and insuring the companies
that sell health insurance. The forecast
from Copenhagen is for continued
industrial growth, and we’d vote
for polar bears if we could
but the best we can do is create
a refuge for a single ragged pigeon.

David Chorlton watches the world from central Phoenix where he lives and writes. Sometimes, though, he rides buses. His new chapbook, From the Age of Miracles, appears this summer from Slipstream Press as the winner of its latest competition.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


by Janice D. Soderling

was born on December 25, 1936

in Berlin.

She had a mother and a father

who loved her fiercely and helplessly.

She had an enemy who did not love her.

He worked long hours behind a desk.

He was a thin man with a thin moustache,

and long, thin, delicate fingers which he used

to play Clair de Lune and sign papers.

All day long, he signed papers.

On December 21, 1941, he signed a paper

with five carbon copies, enabling

this child

to ride for the first time ever
in a railway car.

Janice D. Soderling is a previous contributor to The New Verse News. She has published poetry, fiction, nonfiction and translations in print and online journals based in nine countries, most recently Left Hand Waving, Horizon Review and The Pedestal. In 2009 her poetry was nominated for Dzanc Best of the Web, Sundance Best of the Net, and Pushcart. She lives in a small Swedish village.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


by Vincent F. A. Golphin

Why do Black men have to be so angry?
A white man asked.
His tone and eyes told me
His heart was too small
And will too weak to understand.

So the nine words hung in silence.
The crowd in the library auditorium,
Sat up straight and still like eager scholars
Anxious to hear me drop knowledge,
Or at most fluster into silence as if the truth were mystery.

Why do Black men have to be so angry?
I would not tell them that
Dancin’, singin’ and callin’ on Jesus only go so far.
A real Black hurts where they cannot see,
And cleverly hides his scars.

Why do Black men have to be so angry?
The crowd waited near a minute, eyes trained,
On my smile, while my mind danced through youthful memories.
I used to try to educate the ignorant,
And speak already clear realities that many refuse to know.

Why do Black men have to be so angry?
Because their faces tire from grins.
And hearts bleed to scream to those that ask,
Stepin Fetchit is dead, and
A good black in white minds,
Is a minstrel trying hard to court illusion.

Why do Black men have to be so angry?
The crowd eased forward as my mouth opened.
I said, ‘cause they crave dignity, justice and truth,
And see this world offers their color little of either,
And they ache nearly everyday because they can say nothing.

Vincent F. A. Golphin teaches Creative Writing in the Rochester Institute of Technology Department of English. For nearly 30 years his work has appeared in magazines such as Christianity Today, National Catholic Reporter, Emerge, Washington Living, and Upstate New Yorker, and literary journals such as Bridges, Drylongso, Fyah, Ishmael Reed's Konch Magazine, Mental Satin, the Southern Poetry Review and The Southern Quarterly. His most recent poetry collection is Like A Dry Land: A Soul's Journey Through the Middle East.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


by Richard Baldasty

My sister collects snow globes, insists figures within are friends and family. Whether she truly believes or merely covets, it’s an abomination, not what’s meant by “be ye fruitful and multiply”.

Her favorite globe reads I Left My Heart on its base. Inside, a tiny Golden Gate Bridge , bare of cars, just two lovers entwined above water, rocks, fog, one eager shark.

I fake coughing. She leaves to get a menthol lozenge. I whisper into her San Francisco , declare anathema those little Satan pals, sentence them to jump. Presto! PTL! As of old, when Samson slew one thousand with the jawbone of an ass, heaven’s hero triumphs. Wahoo! Cowabunga!

Richard Baldasty’s poetry and short fiction have appeared in New Orleans Review, New Delta Review, The Apalachee Quarterly, Epoch, Willow Springs, Karamu, and other literary magazines. He was a Pushcart nominee in 2001 (submitted by the editors of Stray Dog). Work online includes publication in Raving Dove and Cafe Irreal. He lives in eastern Washington state, a short drive from Sarah Palin's hometown, Sandpoint, Idaho.


by Mary Saracino

Dark night
Holy night
Sun’s light
Inner sight
all that’s lost
or seems to be
lies coiled and cold
beneath the soil
slumbering seedlings
whisper songs
of justice
prayers for peace
oh, may we soon
remember we
are made of earth and sky
siblings to creatures
great and small
birds and bees
whales and wallabies,
towering redwoods
delicate fiddle-headed ferns
salty seas and mighty oceans
melting ice caps and babbling brooks
bound by holy obligation
to honor and protect
comfort and serve
the fading heartbeat of our
Mother planet
on this longest night
may we remember
we need one another
more than we need
wealth or power
prestige or prizes
Dark night
Holy night
Sun’s light
Inner sight
light a candle
to illuminate
ignorance and hatred
ease our hearts
thaw our fears
bring us home
at long, long last.

Mary Saracino is a novelist, poet and memoir-writer who lives in Lafayette, 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.

Monday, December 21, 2009


by Gary Lehmann

In the Muir Woods high above Sausalito , where the giant California red woods stand,
there is a sign prominently displayed between the Men’s Room and the Women’s Room
that declares this space as a First Amendment Area. “What is that?” my brother asked.

This area has been set aside for individuals or groups exercising their constitutional
first amendment rights. The National Park Service neither encourages no discourages
or otherwise endorses these activities and receives no funds in relation to these

My brother and I stood before this sign for some time in bewilderment. Then he said,
“I think John Muir combed his hair funny.” We looked up and down the path. Nothing.
Then I said, “I think John Muir smelled bad after living so long in the wilderness.”

All we heard were chirping birds. Then he said, “I think all these trees would make a
lovely great pile of toilet paper.” The birds sang on indifferent to constitutional issues.
He shrugged. I said, “I thought the whole country used to be a Free Speech Zone.”

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], Public Lives and Private Secrets [Foothills Publishing, 2005], and American Sponsored Torture [FootHills Publishing, 2007].


Sunday, December 20, 2009


Poem by Charles Frederickson; Graphic by Saknarin Chinayote

The fundamental problem is indifference
Activating passivity reversing hateful fears
Open to understanding respectful tolerance
Willful compromises agreeing to disagree

Praying to whatever God listens
Keep the faith universal salvation
Christmas Kwanzaa Ramadan Hanukkah
Dharma wheel turning full circle

Prickly holly sneaky mistletoe kisses
'Elf conscious North Pole meltdown
Yuletide carols harmonized Silent Night
Star of Bethlehem Nativity creche

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

Still believing in wondrous miracles
Temple flame burned eight days

Illuminating everlasting light rekindled daily

Menorah candles votive lamp remembrances

Celebrating Tree of Life diversity

Evergreen bodhi cedar baobab pine
All children indiscriminately presented greatest
Gift Peace on Earth TLC

No Holds Bard Dr. Charles Frederickson & Saknarin Chinayote together comprise PoeArtry. Flutter Press has just published Charles’ new chapbook fanTHAIsies.


by Frank Joussen

On Day One After Copenhagen
Noah stepped out into
the pouring acid rain
and started building
a state of the art rocket-cum-spaceship
which would have made
turn green with envy.

On Day 39 A.C.
the Lord thanked his old builder
for being such a good engineer
and environmentalist over the years.
Noah simply asked, "when´s the launch?"
"Well," said the good Lord,
"tomorrow. But this try will be
without the humans."

Frank Joussen is a German teacher who has contributed to New Verse News before. He also works with local ngos in Brazil and India, where his first selection, Building Bridges, was published in 2008.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


by Mary Dingee Fillmore

It's always urgent. Like poison, only a few
more drops will end whatever war it is
this time. Drops which now swirl in human
vessels, veins. We count only our side's bodies,
and even that is unbearable, even smothered
in flags. Go and walk there, among their graves.
Watch the woman in a dark coat wring her red
hands, blow her red nose. Walk the battlefields,
where the dead killed and were killed, under
orders. Show me the bomb that smashed
the White House columns, the President
who lost his arm that night, and his daughter,
and his clean sleep, forever. You know
the man I mean - it's always a man -
the one whose voice says "We have to go in
and finish. The generals need more troops."
When did they not? Crimea? Ticonderoga?
Vietnam? I can't remember if I'm twenty
or forty or sixty. Maybe eighty. In fact, I don't
know if my name is Mary or my mother's
or my grandmother's, or even if I'm Canadian or
German or Afghani. I just know
I've heard it all before.

Mary Dingee Fillmore earned her M.F.A. at Vermont College in 2005 after a twenty-five year career in organizational development and a hidden life as a writer. Her poetry has appeared in Upstreet, Pearl, Diner, Westview, Main Street Rag, Pinyon, New Verse News and Blueline
among other venues.


by Esther Greenleaf Murer

There’s no such thing as global warming.
There’s no such thing as global warming.
Carbon dioxide is good for you.
Carbon dioxide is good for you.
Warming as carbon’s nothing there
for you; such good is global dioxide.

Glaciers and ice are too much with us.
Glaciers and ice are too much with us.
The Eastern seaboard deserves to drown.
The Eastern seaboard deserves to drown.
Ice deserves the seaboard too much
and Eastern glaciers are to drown us with.

We can get natural gas out of rock.
We can get natural gas out of rock.
No one needs water; let them drink Coke.
No one needs water; let them drink Coke.
Let no one drink gas; Coke needs rock.
We can get them out of natural water.

There’s ice deserves gas to let
the Eastern carbon rock for you.
Natural dioxide no can get with us
out of warming drowndrink no one needs.
We glaciers are such as waterboard them;
much sea is global Coke and good thing too.

Esther Greenleaf Murer lives in Philadelphia. Her poetry has appeared most recently in Able Muse, Pemmican, The Umbrella, and New Verse News.

Friday, December 18, 2009


by Bob Muir

I came by a potato
and thought some…

on the Irish who bore
their homes across the pond,
and Van Gough’s Potato
Eaters, sharing their harvest,
in communal hardship.
Where famine
caused a revolution.
Really, who was it that said,
“ let them eat cake.” ?

And then,
because we need to know,

The paper prints:

The missing five year old
given up to prostitution,
by her mother,
has been found dead.

Thank God for that.

and the news broadcasts:

that a man on I-95 crashed
into a sign today and ran
up the embankment.
Then to finish the job
he jumped back into
the morning commute.

Was he hungry too?

Bob Muir was born in Boston, raised in NYC, and later returned to New England, and has been a resident of Providence RI for the last 30 years. He retired from the Providence Police force after twenty years of service. Bob is bilingual-Spanish and writes poetry in both English and Spanish.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


by James K. Zimmerman

and I heard
          the three of you shouting
          outside the window of my
          fifth-floor walk-up
                    on a sweaty summer night

and I ran
          to the window to see
          you staggering out
          from the shit-hole bar
                    across the street

and I saw
          the two of them kicking you
          in the back, in the head
          holding you by the arm
          so you couldn’t get away

and I knew
          you were too drunk to know
          if this was real or the
          final chapter in the DTs
          that were your closest friends
                    for all those years

and I saw
          them pull out their blades
          and stab you over and over
          in the arms and legs and
                    back and head

and I thought
          I should do something
          shout out, call the police
                    do something

and I stayed
          at the window watching
          in the after-midnight stench
          and screech and scream
          of the dreamless night

and I saw
          you stumble to the corner
          where a miraculous yellow cab
          swept you up to take you
          to the hospital
                    or the morgue

and I watched
          the two of them saunter
          and slide down the street
          in adrenaline-pumped swagger

and I raged
          as they wiped off their blades
          and closed them up and
          put them back in their pockets

and I smelled
          the fear, mine and yours
          and the blood and the
          sweat and the stench
          of the dumpster where they
          threw the bloody handkerchiefs

and I heard
          the siren of the cop car
          at the end of the block
          coming down the street

and I saw
          the two of them drag on a
          casual cigarette or a joint
          in the rotating red glow of
          the oncoming cop car lights

and I saw
          the cops drive up the street
          as the two of them walked on by

and I shouted
          in my mind: “that’s them
          they’re the ones
                    stop them
                              make them pay”

and I knew
          in the dreamless after-midnight
                    stench and scream

I knew
          the cops would not stop

James K. Zimmerman is the winner of the 2009 Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Contest and the 2009 Daniel Varoujan Award. His work appears or is upcoming in SLAB, Penumbra, Off Channel, Winning Writers, ICON, SNReview, and the Poetry Annual from Wild Leaf Press.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


by Michael Haeflinger

In June 2009, controversy erupted in Jaslo, Poland after the city council elected to cut a tree down in order to make way for a new roundabout. Protesters lobbied to save the tree, despite it having been planted as a gift from Hitler to the occupied city on his birthday in 1942.

were your seeds evil, too?
branches only longings to reach
out and swipe us all away?
leaves only brooms for sweeping
yourself under history’s carpet?

what of the smaller trees
who sprout at your trunk?
foot soldiers in your endless army
or resistance fighters racing
to obscure you, to bring you

why are you here? more important: how
did your story survive?
why not shred the records
of your birth from the office
file cabinets in which they cowered
for half a century?
why are you here to put
us to this test?

how far has the wind carried
your acorns across the continent
and those people there,
do they know?

Michael Haeflinger is originally from Dayton, OH. His poems have appeared on Maverick, BlazeVox, milk, and in Southern Indiana Review. He lives in Berlin, Germany.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


by Bill Costley

No longer obfuscating
things done under Dubya,
radical Republicanz play
GO-slow Party, saying:

“Let’s do...Nothing!”
about global warming,
about health-care
costing anything.

The less they do now,
the more they block;
the more they block,
the worse things get.

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

Monday, December 14, 2009


by Floyd Cheung

of the ones we don’t know
of the ones not published in The New York Times

of those who fight on the other side
of those who are caught in between

of their names, ranks, hometowns, ages, and
by whom they are beloved

Editor’s Note: Click to read Names of the Dead I.

Floyd Cheung has taught American literature at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, since 1999.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


by Steve Hellyard Swartz

(with a nod to Allen Ginsberg's "A Supermarket in California")

What fears I fear this fine afternoon, Allen,
     old friend, as I walk through the parking lot
     of Crossgates Mall on Thanksgiving Sunday
In Border's, the Border Songs pipe along like merry train wrecks
Whole families in the cafe stuff themselves
     with scones and muffins and giant cookies
Whole families flightless and full of mirth
Look, Allen, at the shelves where the nudges and winks
     of the crazy and avaracious of the earth
Sit side-by-side with Elie Wiesel's Night

Steve Hellyard Swartz, a regular contributor to New Verse News, has piles and piles of poems ready to be published. He has won Honorable Mention in the Allen Ginsberg, Mary C. Mohr, and Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards. In 2009, poems of his were published in The Paterson Review and The Southern Indiana Review. In 1990, Never Leave Nevada, which he wrote and directed, opened at The U.S. Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. He was recently selected Poet Laureate of Schenectady County in upstate New York.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


by Holly Day

the tide threatens to come and tear
our legacy down—handfuls of sand
poured through fingers forged
into building blocks
this is for the generations
I say to my son, half-believing
our tiny castle will withstand
time, stand until unearthed
by derby-wearing, monocle-sporting archeologists
from future civilizations that will never suspect
we built these turrets
in just one day

Holly Day is a journalism instructor living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband and two children. Her most recent nonfiction books are Music Theory for Dummies, Music Composition for Dummies, and Walking Twin Cities. Her poetry has most recently appeared in Bottle, The MacGuffin, and Not One of Us.

Friday, December 11, 2009


by Mary Saracino

Peace is
a heartbeat
a breath
a bowl of rice
or soup
or pasta
or beans
 a kiss
a caress
school books
health care

War is
rattling rales
deafening dirges
a litany
of mangled
oozing brains
righteous causes
cold coffins
duty to

Mary Saracino is a novelist, poet and memoir-writer who lives in Lafayette, 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.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


by Jean Liebert

     When I joined the teachers in 48,
The thought of sickness gave me the shakes.
     What would I do if the polio bug
Came to our house to give us a hug?

     Health insurance was available to all,
So I signed up with a sigh of relief.
     No more lying awake at night
With the fear of pending grief.

     We no sooner got it “just right,”
When everything began to crumble.
     First the economy failed us
And we all began to grumble.

     Jobs began to vanish overseas
And Wall Street came tumbling down.
     Just like Humpty Dumpty
It remains in pieces all around.

     To make it worse, pensions vanished,
And health insurance bit the dust.
     We now wait at the bottom
Forlorn and covered with rust.

     Today the light is shining on Congress.
Does it have the guts to move ahead?
     Or will it pass a health insurance bill,
That’s toothless and might as well be dead?

Jean Thurston Liebert, age 91, lives in Corvallis, Oregon. She writes poetry, short stories and novellas. Her published work is included in Apricot Memories, a non-fiction history of the apricot industry in California, Linn Benton Community College’s Collections and the Oregon Writers Colony anthology, Take a Bite of Literature. She recently completed a memoir, Another World.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


by David Brennan

During Gay TV’s commercial break
Ricardo’s assistant Victoria pats
away the perspiration beading
the host’s upper-lip. The stage lights
are too close, too beating. Why bother
turning on the air
if he still sweats like a cold
glass on a hot day? Ricardo
is Catholic and drinks too much
coffee. He also has an idea or two
about his faith that he likes
to keep under wraps. For instance:
who decided Jesus
was straight? Sure, the rumored
marriage with Mary Magdalene
is popular with the parishioners,
but look at the facts: who did Jesus
pack about himself? Men.
Twelve: eggs in a carton.
Twelve: sardines in a tin.
Twelve: grown men like schoolgirls
gawking at the rock star’s
rad shredding and riffs,
not to mention his dirty-hip
good looks. Wasn’t it true
he taught them all how
to love? And Christ the free radical
had to understand the
positives of pleasure, of pressure
and release, the pain principle—
could he, Ricardo, with calm rational, reduce
the Passion of Christ to metaphor
for how Jesus got his rocks off?
“And we’re on in 10, 9, 8 . . .”
Ricardo’s automatic smile
flashes in the heat of the lights.
He is the host, with his whole body
he is host and so
ministers to those who have been
denied wine and host, denied
worship with their fellow men
in the name of interpretation, in the name
of what might have been misread.

David Brennan’s work has appeared in journals such as Action Yes, Pank, H_NGM_N, Parthenon West Review, Beeswax and elsewhere. His first book of poetry, The White Visitation, is forthcoming from BlazeVOX Books. Brennan lives and teaches in Harrisonburg, VA.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


by George Held

The bombing [of Basque Guernica on 26.4.37] inspired the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso to make his famous painting Guernica, which was first shown at the Paris World's Fair in 1937. When the painting was finally shown in Spain in 1981—six years after the death of Spain's Fascist dictator, Generalissimo Francisco Franco—it had to be displayed behind bulletproof glass.

Even bulletproof glass
Wouldn’t protect a painting
From today’s terrorists:

They’d blow up the whole gallery,
The whole museum
The whole block.

How innocent seem those Stukas
Flying low over Basque country
To lay their eggs

In civilian nests.
Those were the days, when
Big-time fascists like Franco

Hitler and Mussolini
Had armies and air forces
At their command

And quickly cowed their people,
And the great German Army
Quickly conquered Poland

And the other helpless lands
Until Hitler made his big
Russian mistake.

Today terrorists are common
Folk, inhabit people’s minds
Almost everywhere—

That’s the point of terrorism—
They have no native land,
The world is their target;

We are their targets.
Look at the carnage in Guernica;
Ask, can we end up like that?

George Held has collected many of his New Verse News poems in The News Today.

Monday, December 07, 2009


by CB Follett

The young men
in the neighborhood,
I mean, the young men,
the ones who are men
by the time they are seven,
     seven come eleven
a crap shoot
when young boys are men
and the men are fighting
one to a sack.

And the mamas,
the mamas are grannies
before they hit twenty-eight,
and the two in the playpen
are nephew and aunt,
daughter and grandson
mixed up together
in the toys, rancid spit-up,
noise, and the no-time-to-nap,
those two, or her,
or any of them.
Don't turn
don't nap
and watch when you nod,
there's always trouble waiting.
Bad days
nights worse,
school's gone,
jobs whistle in your face.
Government wants you
for their looking-good-charts
with your spanish name
and your
black face
that don't get you nothing,
nothing good at all.

Winner of the 2001 National Poetry Book Award from Salmon Run Press, CB Follett has had poems published by Ploughshares, Alligator Juniper, Calyx, Americas Review, Peregrine, The Cumberland Review, Rain City Review, Ambit (England), The MacGuffin, Snowy Egret, Birmingham Poetry Review, New Letters Review, Psychological Perspectives, Without Halos, The Iowa Woman, Heaven Bone, Green Fuse, Black Bear Review, among others. She has been in many anthologies; received contest honors in the Billee Murray Denny, New Letters Prize, the Ann Stanford Prize, the Glimmer Train Poetry Contest and several contests from Poetry Society of America, among others. Five poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Poetry Prize plus three nominations as an individual poet. The most recent of her four collections of poetry is And Freddie Was My Darling, 2009. CB Follett is publisher/editor of Arctos Press, including the anthology, GRRRRR, A Collection of Poems About Bears; she was publisher and co-editor of RUNES, A Review of Poetry, 2001-to 2008.

Sunday, December 06, 2009


by Leah Maines

I'm sad about our sweet old turkey. I miss him. He would come up to the door and to the side window and just look in. He was as old as dirt. He would run away instead of guard anything. But he liked to prance around and flirt with his two hens. He would beg for bird seed and steal from the bird feeder. He liked cheerios.

Leah Maines is former Poet-in-Residence of Northern Kentucky University. Maines is the best-selling author of Looking to the East with Western Eyes, #10 in the "Cincinnati/Tri-State Best Sellers List" (Cincinnati Enquirer). Her most recent collection Beyond the River (KWC Press, 2002, 1st edition) won the Kentucky Writers' Coalition Poetry Chapbook Competition.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


by Charles Frederickson

Demoncrazy has lost lustrous panache
In Gold Wet Rust corrrrosiononoNO!
Dog eat dogmajority slide rule
What’s in it for U$?!

Bipolar horseshoe magnet unhappppy hoooofers
mAlice’s white rabbbbit-foot pedicure pause
Cocksure lobbbbyists sharpening dependent clause
What’s in it for U$?!

Anti-Congressss party poooopers thwarting Progressss
Haunted house chamber of horrrrors
SENATOR anagram TREASON discrediting zillllion$$$
What’s in it for U$?!

Of – By – For – furtive peeeephole
Smart-Mart Open 24 Hours closed
Joblessss opppportunity doooors slammmmed shhhhut
What’s in it for U$?!

Washington DCeption SOS = State Of Social-inSecurity
Pollllcat skunks fOXOXOXOXy cry babiezzzz
Questionabullll unsureveys mmmmulti-mmmmedia statistic-tac-toe
What’s in it for U$?!

Dr. Charles Frederickson. Name: D. Mentor Stan Doubt; Nickname: Nun; Address: Genial Devilry State of Denial; Zip: B9-1-1; Phone: Taco Bell; Faxhole: telepathetic moonsense UFOcult; Sexile: manimal; He-male: e-diot dot commie; vagabondAge: Ironic; Blood: Taipei; Vision: 20-20-20; Religion: Born Against trance-incidental Vegetation; Education: U-Nique BSer IV Leak Overachiever; Major: Mickey Mouse Pad Commuter Séance; Club Memberships: A, AA, AAA, AAAA, AAAAA; Special Abilities: Unmentionable Listless Hypist; halluciDate: Blind Man’s Bluff TGIF.

Friday, December 04, 2009


by David Feela

I’m so sorry for the pain
(Guess I’ll won’t do that again,)
I have caused my family.
(though I did it just for me!)
I know I have let them down
(I’d better appear with a frown)
and lost their generous trust.
(but wow, that generous bust!)
I would like to make amends
(I’d kick the media’s ends)
by trying to be the man
(and screw the devoted fans)
I used to be, one that repents
(but I love the endorsements.)
and puts it all in the past.
(How long does this interview last?)

David Feela's work has appeared in regional and national publications. He is a contributing editor and columnist for Inside/Outside Southwest and for The Four Corners Press. His first full length poetry book, The Home Atlas, is now available.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


by Floyd Cheung


Staff Sergeant
Lance Corporal


Marysville , Washington
St. Joseph , Michigan
Kansas City , Missouri
Plymouth , Massachusetts



Floyd Cheung has taught American literature at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, since 1999.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


by Lori Desrosiers

I will walk out on my front porch,
watch the children throw snowballs,
cheer on the postman in his high boots,
marvel at sun filtering through pine branches,
sing a song my mother used to sing,
shovel some snow, sweep up the house,
make a call or two, joke about the weather,
pick up an ornament from the floor,
put on the tea kettle, start chicken soup,
sit in my chair, pet the orange cat,
finish the dishes, make the bed,
put in a load of sheets , edit a poem,
remark to my husband
how delightful it is
that we are still here,
after all that hullabaloo.

Lori Desrosiers lives in a big house with a front porch in Westfield, MA and likes to sit and observe the world, then write about it. Her poems have appeared in many reputable publications, including The New Verse News.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


by Mary Saracino

We cast our votes for peace, not war
Were we wrong? We were wrong?
We filled our hearts with hope of change
Were we wrong? Were we wrong?
We cheered the Nobel Laureate on
Were we wrong? Were we wrong?
For sowing seeds of peace not harm
Were we wrong? Were we wrong?
Listen O, and heed the call
Don’t be fooled. Don’t be fooled.
The front line’s here, at home, not there
End the war. End the war.
With wages lost and health care woes
Hear our cries. Hear our cries.
Cast your vote for a different way
Keep the peace. Keep the peace.
Just say no, it’s not too late
Don’t escalate. Don’t escalate.

Mary Saracino is a novelist, poet and memoir-writer who lives in Lafayette, 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.

Monday, November 30, 2009


by Elizabeth Kerlikowske

A few of us still at the table with cake and pie
and strong spiked coffee, another Thanksgiving
where football insists that men and Hoosiers gather
before an ever bigger screen in a choreographed
silence, where the judge sits as far away
from the felon as possible, and on the couch
an adopted black girl naps next to my father who
regularly says “nigger” except for today.
There’s that to be said for football.

But back toward the kitchen,
the next generation of women dishes to the next
about their aging folks, their quirks and questionable
decisions. When does helping become enabling?
And isn’t talk of what parents do always just
a little bit about money? To vent is good; to solve
from hours away impossible. Days of indigestion
elapse before I realize this. Sweet sight of faces…
if only their mouths were basted shut.

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

Sunday, November 29, 2009


by George Held

The old football coach tells the radio host,
“It’s great we’ll have a night game
in the NFL on Thanksgiving this year.
Previously we just had the two early games.
Now we'll have something to watch
After we eat the turkey.”

Now, that’s something to be thankful for,
Like the news we’ll be out of Afghanistan
By 2017. Of course, that “we”
Won’t include the thousands of war dead
And the thousands who’ll die without health care.

The formula is dazzle ’em with football
And ignore ’em on ending the war
And providing universal healthcare
And reducing carbon emissions,
And pray the market won’t tank.

“We cower together to ask the Lord’s blessing,”
The old hymn goes. “He chastens and hastens
To make His will known.” Can his will
Include a gluttonous assault on factory
Farmed turkeys while the Lions mew on TV?

The first whites to give thanks in “The New
World” fasted a day or two before feasting.
Today only the poor fast and without choice
While gluttony produces obese, diabetic cattle
On two hooves throughout the land.

In the land of the fat, a slender black man
Will be king. Like other monarchs, he will
Gird his loins for war, grant favors to the rich,
And soothe the poor with resonant rhetoric.
Yea, we are thankful for him: he’s not the king
We had last year. Pass the gravy, please.

George Held has collected many of his New Verse News poems in The News Today.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


by Earl J. Wilcox

First on the auction scene,
a multi-billion dollar ski slope,
followed by seventy-five sand islands,
and the world’s tallest (unfinished) building.
Bidding bonus: 500,000 Expat slaves
from the Philippines , Egypt , India , and Croatia .
Opening bid: Emirates’ dignity.

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.

Friday, November 27, 2009


by Ray Brown

It was a tough year to give thanks.

Grandmother had seen it in the depression,
but she learned a long while ago to stay out of it.
The teenage daughter wanted a Blackberry
and the mother used to like an Italian Prosecco
before Thanksgiving dinner,
but after being out of work for nine months,
worried the unemployment was going to run out
he took a job at ShopRite bagging -
and they gave him a free turkey for Thanksgiving -
that was the only way they made it.

When he was a young boy, his parents had little.
He was happy then with little.
They were happy then with little.
Gave thanks for the little they had.
He and his family now had much more
and would not be happy until they had much more yet.
These are hard times….

Ray Brown lives in Frenchtown, NJ. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey. In 2009, his poetry has appeared in the 13th Annual Poetry Ink Chapbook (Moonstone Publishing), The Star-Ledger of Newark, and NJ Lawyer Magazine. He received a NJ Poetry Society 2009 Recognition Award, and will be published in upcoming volumes of the Edison Literary Review, the Big Hammer, FreeXpresSion, and the River Poets Journal.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


The New Verse News is proud to nominate for the Pushcart Prizes the following poems published in our pages in the last twelve months . . .

Venison” by Thomas Reynolds

News On a March Full Moon” by David Plumb

Sacramento” by Eliza Kelley

Gunman Kills 8 at N. Carolina Nursing Home” by Steve Hellyard Swartz

Sculpture, Ohio, Spring 1970" by Mary Turzillo

Autumn Turns Through Stratified Wars” by Scot Siegel

. . . and thanks all the writers who have shared their passionate poetry with our readers this year.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


by CB Follett

High on the thermals, raptors are winging.
They circle the heights, easing south.
           Buteos, Accipiters, Harriers, Peregrine
Red Tail hawk banks against clear air, flashing
the rufous under-blush that gives him name.
          Sharp-shins, Coopers, Merlins, Ferruginous
Their beaks are curved, their plumage concinate.
Slicing the wind, in sweeps the Kestrel,
sleek, small, and bullet straight. The Windfucker.
             klee klee klee    killy killy killy

Down in the canyons, raptors are circling
in long limousines. On executive-gray car phones,
they are riding the thermals of stock buys and leverage,
their sharp claws extended. They are wheeling the air paths,
and dealing down, and their beaks are red.
             sell sell sell    buy buy buy

In the deep dark of the penta-building,
raptors rip the flesh of war,
circle the heights of power, riding
thermals of their special interests.
Hawks tear the clean white dove feathers
into ribbons of red.
               rat-tat-tat    rat-tat-tat

Deep in the dark undergrowths, the raptor is waiting.
His breathing circles, riding thermals of night,
in the parks, in the big, unweeded city.
His claws are curved, as he grabs, hurts, kills.
               And his cry is silence.

Winner of the 2001 National Poetry Book Award from Salmon Run Press, CB Follett has had poems published by Ploughshares, Alligator Juniper, Calyx, Americas Review, Peregrine, The Cumberland Review, Rain City Review, Ambit (England), The MacGuffin, Snowy Egret, Birmingham Poetry Review, New Letters Review, Psychological Perspectives, Without Halos, The Iowa Woman, Heaven Bone, Green Fuse, Black Bear Review, among others. She has been in many anthologies; received contest honors in the Billee Murray Denny, New Letters Prize, the Ann Stanford Prize, the Glimmer Train Poetry Contest and several contests from Poetry Society of America, among others. Five poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Poetry Prize plus three nominations as an individual poet. The most recent of her four collections of poetry is And Freddie Was My Darling, 2009. CB Follett is publisher/editor of Arctos Press, including the anthology, GRRRRR, A Collection of Poems About Bears; she was publisher and co-editor of RUNES, A Review of Poetry, 2001-to 2008.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


by Alan Catlin

"in my hometown
there's even a nightclub named
Guernica." Jessica Hagedorn

where they play nothing but
dangerous music, atonal and
dissonant, so strident unmuffled
ears bleed, are assaulted by solo
guitar riffs, percussive drum beats,
organ blasts; killer sounds one and
all. The bouncers are all armed guards,
uniform like Nazis. No one dares
to intrude, tires to leave once they
are locked in for the night of danger
and beauty, gangster love and heart
throbbing infarctions. The heat inside,
the unnatural light inspires visions,
tropical apparitions vivid as death
squads, angles from hell with pilot's
licenses, machine guns and bombs.
In my town there is a night club named
Guernica where turf wars are fought
and lost, where the innocents plead
for mercy and are denied. In Guernica,
I am the demon on the dance floor,
the one with a coat of arms: blood
splatters on a field of clay.

Alan Catlin's latest chapbook is a long poem, Thou Shalt Not Kill, an updating of Rexroth's seminal poem of the same name. Whereas Rexroth riffs on the abuses of the Eisenhower adminstration, the update observes abuses of power in the previous administration with particular attention to the cynical, criminal behavior towards the Katrina hurricane victims.

Monday, November 23, 2009


by Michele F. Cooper

Barack salaams the Emperor,
cameras rolling and Fox lit for joy.
“We don’t bow,” they insist.
“He’s a Muslim, a fake, has links
to terrorists, wasn’t even born here,”
all on prompts before the President
straightens up and CNN’s showing tapes
of Nixon and Eisenhower bowing low.

No salaams for an old lady,
stooped as she walks to the bus.
She’s been cowed by the years
since she lost the twins
in Qandahar , caught in crossfire
on their way to a temple station,
plus the neighbor's boys in Iraq ,
scared to death, they were,
saying their last goodbyes at Hood.

I asked Barack, after shaking his hand
and keeping my posture tall,
why he salaamed that skinny emperor.
“In a word?” he asked. “Respect.”

Michele F. Cooper is the first-place winner in Poetry Canada's Rhymed Poetry Competition and the TallGrass Poetry Competition, second-place winner in the Galway Kinnell Poetry Competition, author of two books and numerous published poems, founding editor of the Newport Review and Crone's Nest literary magazines, and of a chapbook series, Premier Poets. She recently won honorable mentions in the Emily Dickinson and New Millennium Poetry Competitions. Her book Posting the Watch has just been published by Turning Point, the narrative poetry imprint at WordTech. She is listed in Who's Who in America, Contemporary Authors, and the Directory of American Poets and Fiction Writers, among others. She recently moved from the edge of a small horse farm (not hers) to Providence, RI, and now to the Cleveland area, where she writes and works as a book editor.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


by Esther Greenleaf Murer

Sundays I drive three blocks to services
and pray the Lord to banish all these strange
ill-mannered folk that twist my world awry.
What could be more dire, what could be graver?

I like my burgers! Damn the consequences!
So what if the cattle never see a range?
It's not my fault that prices are so high,
when they take all the jobs and do no labor.

Here's what we need: a supermanic pres-
ident with magic powers to rearrange
the universe and so construct the pie
that I will always have more than my neighbor.

For all the world is clamoring for change,
and so am I, but only in my favor.

Esther Greenleaf Murer lives in Philadelphia. In addition to New Verse News, her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Externalist, The Ghazal Page, Mimesis, Light Quarterly, and Town Creek Poetry.

Friday, November 20, 2009


by David Chorlton

Between a plane out of Georgia
and his connection
to Las Vegas, a passenger in Phoenix
wears a T-shirt with the words
Keep the South Beautiful
Put a Yankee on the Bus
beneath the confederate flag.
When incivility takes off

there’s no telling where
it will land. Maybe route seventeen
where a young man has music
turned loud enough for me
to hear through his earphones
and the only word I discern
is bitch, growing longer
each time until it is biiiiitch. Look away

and there’s a woman
who chose for today
a shade just grey of blue
with her message to humanity:
I’m busy
Your (sic) ugly
Have a nice Day
Sometimes it isn’t even words,

but a crucifix that blazes
on its chain
where it says Believe,
believe or get out of the way.

David Chorlton watches the world from central Phoenix where he lives and writes. Sometimes, though, he rides buses. His new chapbook, From the Age of Miracles, appears this summer from Slipstream Press as the winner of its latest competition.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


by Dale Goodson

well, they said they found it
24 gallons in a crater
somebody could take a bath there
somebody probably will

there’s excitement
there’s dismay
water, water everywhere
but no funding
isn’t that always the case

first things first: EARTH

can’t take a step here (giant or otherwise)
without poverty or peril
(“micro loans before millions”
the bible says)

the moon isn’t going anywhere
but this planet is
we’re flush with “can-do”
crashed a satellite
into the lunar surface
created a 60 foot pit
and got a bucket of ice

does that sound like a winning formula

Dale Goodson is a writer from Seattle currently living in New York City.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


by Erle Kelly

The ex-Gov going rogue,
springs from the compost
of a deep political hole.
She flew in on a northern frost,
a Bull Moose, lipstick and all,
though a T.R. she is not.
They put her name on a book,
a diatribe to solidify her base:
The Birthers, Tea Partiers,
Creationers, and more of that ilk.
They salivate when she gives them a wink,
dismembers her Grand Old Party
and labels all Liberals a shade of pink.
With loud harangues
of resentment and blame
she deals out political smack
and shouts to her sheep,
“Let’s take our country back!”
She makes the talk show rounds
with Letterman, Leno, Conan and Ms. O
while the fallen in the GOP and Neo-Cons
sift through their political debris,
scratch their white-haired heads
and ask, “where did our party go?”

Erle Kelly resides in Long Beach, California, attended Cal State University Long Beach. He attends a poetry worshop conducted by Donna Hilbert, a locally renowned writer and poet.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


by Mary Krane Derr

For Felix Fritz Pytel (2001-2007)

The No Child Left Behind Act slips in a mandate, for this time of Vietnam-plus, of four and five traumas of redeployment, for schools to fork over the contact info of all students to military recruiters, they know where you live now.

Felix is five, can’t walk, talk, swallow, or eat by mouth, 4-F if there ever was one. Fuh, fuh, fuh, fuh, he can almost tell you himself through his random plosives. Yet still, the mail bombards glossy brochures of such full-color youthful fun, who wouldn’t want (to die bloodily for Big Oil) to have that eternal hang gliding summer?

That order Felix, be an Army of One. But Felix, son of Father Zivildienst and Medicine, of Mother Urban Community Gardening, isn’t and won’t be an Army of Anything.

The troop he belongs to says & does, no distinction between “fit” and “unfit” to divide so a sundering of sacred life from sacred life, no matter how short or long. The troop he belongs to says & does, works 24/7 to suction his mouth and nose, maintains and fills his G-tube, salves the chapping of the drool zone around his mouth, soothes him while he poops out his pain, whatever it takes, whatever it takes, that’s our mission, take heart, take heart in the heart of God, do not leave this our child behind.

Felix never hang glides, doesn’t have the muscle tone, but his life is an eternal summer of fun sometimes. Like anyone’s left in robust peace. Even in wintertime, when he spies the red watercolor burst of amaryllis in the glass vase on the counter above his head, when he kicks and rustles in the nonlethal spreading wonderment of it.

Truth be told, they don’t know where he lives now.

Author's notes: Please learn more about the militarization of No Child Left Behind. Zivildienst: Conscientious objectors in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland can perform this community service instead of compulsory time in the military.

Mary Krane Derr is a writer, musician, multi-issue nonviolence activist, and fourth generation South Side Chicagoan. Most recently her poetry has appeared in a collection for International Day of Climate Action; Canary: Literary Journal of the Environmental Crisis, and Kritya's tribute to Polish Diaspora poets.

Monday, November 16, 2009


by Scott T. Starbuck

“Corporations spend $2 billion each year targeted specifically on the young, intending to lure them into a life of unthinking consumption. [ . . . .] Young people on average can recognize over 1000 corporate logos but only a handful of plants and animals native to their places.”

Our goal was not to save the forest
and animals we knew
but to give them more time

so we jacked up pickups
and stole the wheels,

turned a tractor upside down
in the creek,

moved survey markers
around already-built homes.

We were nine so we painted our faces
like warriors and, at the end,
when “developers” destroyed our valley
we were still whole enough
to sit on a hill and cry.

Scott T. Starbuck's newest poems are at; his new chapbook, The Warrior Poems, was one of six finalists of over five hundred entries at the 2009 Pudding House Poetry Chapbook Competition, and will soon be published by Pudding House. His creative nonfiction essay, "Another Short Ode to Kurt Cobain in the Time of Decay of the American Empire," is forthcoming in issue 11: "Life in a Time of Contraction" at