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Saturday, February 28, 2009


by Tony Brown

We claimed
we didn't know anything
about how this would be
right up to the day

the dragon,
the one we'd been watching stir for ages,

the one whose back had been humping up
the earth like a monstrous gopher as long as we could recall,
the one whose scales had been landing on us
like scalding flowers for eons,
the one whose breath had tanned us so raw
that warm drizzle felt like an alcohol bath,
the one with eyes like star sapphires
that dazzled us into inaction,

until the day the dragon rose into
full and awesome view
and demanded our firstborn, our secondborn;
demanded that he be slaked and satisfied
with all our legacies; demanded nothing explicit
because his sheer sudden command of the common sky
told us all we needed to know then and evermore;

and then we ran about like cinders
jerking crazily in the general cloud of destruction,

sparks that vanished even as we flew,
lost in the heat of a moment
we'd known was coming for years
and yet
had denied as easily as any other god
we'd ever taken on casual terms...

of course,
since we had made this one ourselves,
we still believed we could remake it
right up to the second
that we fell, consumed,
back to the black ground
as fodder for whatever folly
followed us.

Tony Brown is a poet living in Worcester, MA. His work has appeared in The Riverwalk Journal, The November 3rd Club, and many other publications and Anthologies. A chapbook, Flood: New Poems, will be published soon by Pudding House Publications.

Friday, February 27, 2009


by David Plumb

Maggots in his eyes someone said?
Dead five days.
Coroner asks who saw him last
Lights on all night for how long?
Threw up blood someone said.
Had the HIV, quit his job or lost it.
Drunk most of the time but a nice guy.
Lived up there alone With IT.
Nobody should, but they do
don’t they, live alone with AIDS.
You just think it goes away
that everybody gets the message?
Bang it’s back and he’s what?
Fifty-three? Died alone
with two cats he yelled at.
Voices he’d been hearing for years
amid drinks and echoes
of whispers and blue.
Maggots in his eyes?

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.”

Thursday, February 26, 2009


by Spiel

We won't know.
We'll all be dead."

that's what you once said
mr. boosh

oh you should be so lucky

but i say
one moment
after midnight
is history

and right this moment
dear mr. boosh
history's not
turning out
your way

don't even bother
with a book of lies
the cowardice of
your yes men
is being revealed

and your secrets
slaughtered and
three times fried
for you to gag on
so duck your head
your knees

by the time
"we'll all be dead"
if you're lucky
might record those words as
the only profound thing
you ever said

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.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


by Bill Costley

Weighty matters weigh heavily as the Taurus
carbon observatory falls to Earth & sinks.

Mardi Gras offers one last day’s distraction.

Obama gets even seriouser with Congress;.
Bernanke says the recession will lift this year.

Anybody still running on hope is wondering:

What in hell are the Republicans thinking?
Can’t they see we see right through them?

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

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


by James Penha

Something there is that doesn’t love:
a wall.

Shadows shake and stammer
This stage of the world--
They talk, these self-important stars
Spread out like stooges waiting
For Godots
Or the next dowel driven
In their heady knotholes. How hard
It is to balance books
On a thin red line
With no limbs to stand
On but the maestros’
And so they stand for nothing
But the fall.

James Penha edits The New Verse News.


by Neal Whitman
with due respect to Leonardo Fibonacci

“The big brains in banking just aren’t feeling the love.” --The New York Times

“President Obama is aiming to water down Democratic proposals on pay caps for banking executives because he fears a “brain drain” on Wall Street.” --The Times

makes the claim:
"I am worth the bucks,
even if my performance sucks."

Neal Whitman is a featured author on where he posts one haiku per season and is a frequent contributor of fibs to

Monday, February 23, 2009


by Anne G. Davies

The biggest banks don't even pretend:
They simply have no desire to lend
Until taxpayers (though they be unemployed)
Renew the status they once enjoyed.
They've outfoxed Fed Chief Bernanke
Who seems powerless to stop this hanky-panky.

The President called for bonus reductions
Generating loud howls and ructions,
And a salary cap of 500 k
That causes bankers shock and dismay.
They say no one can live on half a mil
Without a fatal lifestyle chill.

Summer in the Hamptons might be abolished
Country club deal-making all but demolished
Move from that co-op with all its amenities?
The mere concept gives rise to obscenities.
And another scenario that disturbs:
Bankers might be forced to flee to the burbs
To confront a fate especially cruel,
Sending their children to public school.

But then we heard from Timothy Geithner
(Touted as the economic bright'ner)
Who handed us a cocktail of platitudes
Spiced with residual Wall Street attitudes.

Barack, though pressures are mounting on you
You asked us to choose you and we¹'e counting on you
To deliver us from GOP control
Lest all but the richest end up on the dole.

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

Sunday, February 22, 2009


by Rochelle Owens

When you are hearing Tahitian
speaking through fingers shaping fingers
forming a hole a circle a spiral
a hemisphere a terrain
then an island
                              The shape of a woman
                                             out of a corner
                                                            of your eye
A woman with purple blossoms
in her braided hair and on her head a basket
filled with dried husks of fruit shells
teeth and finger bones the dry bones
give out faint light
                              The muscles of her neck
                                             tropical orchids
                                                            twined around
your brain––the final domain––vibrations of air
the death rattle of Gauguin a hollow tube
filling with pigment O islands of epidermis
deep ridges of malachite layer by layer
layer by layer the skin
breaking down vascular tissue
pumping stomach gut bladder pancreas
intestine anus
                              luminous membranes
                                             blood in blood out
                                                            organs liquefying
And in a single rapid stroke swarming insects
like star clusters––a colony of fungus gnats
lay their soft eggs
The skull filling up with blue-green algae
with the sea and air the skull of Gauguin
filling with strumming plucking sounds
filling with the sounds of Tahitian
The dry bones give out faint light

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.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


by Steve Parker

in a sudden swoop this morning Mr Wolfowitz Cheney Bush
was arraigned in the wire for dredging during a sudden raid
by shock baboons of the eastern interior department.
in other news the killing of children by the application
of either reeling waves or massifs of failing concretion has become
so routine that it's now funny so what do you call a three year old
wearing a three ton party hat quick we gots ta get outta here
before the brown comes around and the black gets back and
the red man is a head man. andy murray won something at
snooker too. what do you call a philistine with no table manners?
haha. what do you call kristal and perle? depends where the
shock baboons are. oh all so ready to weep with terror and all
so ready to weep with joy. juvenilia has outbroken in all
provinces. the sun arched itself as a westphalian slunk
spread for the taking oh god just spreeled for sheens of love.
some interference is to be expectorated. normal service will
be subsumed. read here about the new Japanese
remote-controlled musical toilet with bottom-washing facility.
excuse me while I do nothing at all.

Steve Parker is a UK poet working near Haworth in Yorkshire. He’s been published in various journals and zines etc, including Underground Voices, The Chimaera, The Cleave, Ditch, Dogzplot, Cause and Effect, Admit Two, Chaos International, Machenalia etc etc, with more forthcoming. Published in a couple of anthologies, with two poems forthcoming in the Cleave Anthology this Spring. Also published a couple of short collections, with another coming soon. Parker was a founder-member of the Orzel Collective experimenting with transtextual poetry. He also runs a poetry and critique forum and has a lively poetry blog.

Friday, February 20, 2009


By Bradley McIlwain

You know I don’t believe what they say, that dead men
Tell no tales – I have heard their stories at fruit stands
And checkouts across America, those who are missing
In action or just returned from war – and I have seen
Their pictures in the morning paper, carefully inserted –
Each face is personal. I have stood among their graves
And wept, too many countless dead – know one really
Knows how many. The other day I visited the grave of
The American Soldier known only to God, the site of
Arlington’s Unknowns – whose sealed bones cry out
For identification, visited daily by thousands of tourists –
Just like the liberty bell. But there are no bells here, only
Tears – and there are no sounds but guns – twenty-one
Of them angry, pointed at heaven. The bullets pierce my
Heart. I have recently spoken with a soldier’s widow
And a mother, who has seen both below the ground
Before their time. She asks me when they’ll end the war.
I tell her soon – in reality I don’t know, none of us do.
I continue reading the editorials of the ones we’ve lost, of
The ones gone missing – still waiting to be returned. The
Women down the street have started a church group, and
There are frequent candle light vigils for a safe return.
They sing Hosanna in the Highest – their echoes reach
My windowsill at night, and I think about how quickly
Their songs become elegies. I drown in them nightly,
Hoping that someone will hear. Sometimes I think about
Whitman, and hear the sad songs of America stretch
Across the countryside at night – can you hear them
Whitman? These are the songs of change. In the morning
I will read the columns again that once more give faces
To the dead, to those returned from war or those who are
Missing in action – but maybe soon the war will end.
Maybe soon it’ll all be over. I have heard on the news they
Will shut down Guantanamo Bay. Maybe these are the
Songs of change.

Bradley McIlwain is a Canadian based writer and poet. He is currently finishing his undergraduate education in English Literature, and is working on his first chapbook. His work has been published in Wanderings Magazine and others.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


by Andrew Hilbert

I shouldn't even file
My California state taxes this year

It's always more
Complicated than the federal form anyways

But I had to do it
Just to see how much in I.O.U.s Arnold owes me

You owe me $8.00.
Keep it.

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

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


by Bernard Gieske

Who said, "You can be whatever you want to be."
                                                            was not a laborer
being squeezed by corporate octopuses
forever grabbing more and more
                                                            free of guilt.
the panopticon of fantasies
                                                            I am your hands
recycling your throw-aways
                                                            I am your sewing machine
... made in China ... Puerto Rico ... and Paraguay
                                                            I am a bushel basket
of tomatoes still on the vine
                                                            I am your Chablis
plucking grapes from the vine
                                                            I am your machines
with revolving hands turning out
your bargain products,
scrabbling, barely surviving on the edge
beyond the outskirts of security
                                                            I am long gone
lost amid the multitudes
toiling late into the night
locked in pools of sweat and debt
making ends meet with barely a wage
and no insurance

I am the "garbage" of the global economy.
Now’s the time for the revolution to be unfurled.
Go now, tell it on the www
until it reaches all the edges of the world.

Bernard Gieske lives in Bowling Green, KY. He has always been involved in political issues and does what he can to express his views and concerns. Since he retired he has have writing poetry to do the same. His poems have appeared in Words Words Words; moonset THE NEWSPAPER, cc&d magazine, Poetic Hours, foam:e, Language and Culture, paper wasp, Ink, Sweat & Tears, and Oh!, What a Tangled Web.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


by Robert M. Chute

High above Afghanistan's vengeful hills
a battle whose motives Kipling
would understand rages still, rousing ghosts
from Alexandrian legions,
British disasters, Russian retreats.
The motives common, the means surreal,
as disembodied men control
my brain, my conscience and my soul
from half a world away. There'll be
a two second satellite delay
between command and act so if
one of those men meeting at the border
of Pakistan steps outside to piss
now he may fight another day.

Robert M. Chute has a book from JustWrite Books, Reading Nature, of poetry based on scientific articles, that is available from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Monday, February 16, 2009


by Karen Greenbaum-Maya

I want to write about the children
I've seen their dark, liquid eyes
luminous as onyx

I don't want to write about war
I want to write about those eyes
that strain to figure out
what will happen next
why blue jeans and pans are piled in cartons
why families huddle in freezing schools
and mothers never stop sweeping

I want to wonder
how leaves still feed on sunlight
how the eyes find daylight through the smoke
if moon and silence will return

I can't write about war
I see the untrusting eyes of children
whose dreams are loud as waking
who can't play house
who have learned to be at home
with the ready shape of hatred

Karen Greenbaum-Maya is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Claremont, California. Before her doctorate, she majored in German Language and Literature so that she could read poetry for credit. She has written since she was nine, but did not submit poetry for publication until 2007. She laughs at things that no one else thinks are funny. She proof-reads too much for her own good; as a therapeutic measure, she started an on-line photo group dedicated to making public the grammatical and other written idiocies that we see out there. Her poems and photos have appeared in Untamed Ink, O Tempora! Faraway Journal, online whispers & [Shouts], Superficial Flesh, the San Diego City Works Press 2008 anthology of Hunger and Thirst, and Schmap, and will appear in Lilliput Review. A poem of hers has been nominated for the 2010 Pushcart Prize.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


by E. F. Schraeder

When the war is internal, noticing also how cost-effective
introspection is,

Language finds itself blossoming, meaningful, meaning: ‘revolutionary”
applies to ideals, not selling cell phones or lipstick,

The Guerilla Girls’ have no culture work left to do,
and walk unmasked safely home any night, anywhere

Because anyplace is safe enough for unguarded evenings
when not harming becomes the standard.

Decency reflected meticulously in pollution control,
kindness is the season’s harvest

For mice or men who everywhere prior were kicked,
and the seventh generation guides national law.

Until then, count this a small hat off to those worthy of rescinded money,
a quiet tribute to ideals scorned, but on a comeback.

E.F. Schraeder's work has appeared in Blue Collar Review and is forthcoming in the anthology Kicked Out! When she isn't working or writing, she's with her dogs or gardening (or gardening with her dogs). When she isn't doing any of those things, and sometimes while she is, she is thinking about writing, dogs, and gardening.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


by David Chorlton

A pig is burning. It happens
thousands of times. The exercise is
to keep it alive as if
it were a man. But fire hurts
too much to use it on anyone
with the power of speech to describe
what they feel. A squeal doesn’t count.
A pig can’t salute
or say no. A pig doesn’t know
why it has to go through
the ordeal. It can’t tell a terrorist
from the man who comes to feed it.

Before anybody knows who the enemy is
the goats are enlisted to graze
on the battlefield where
they are wounded and drugged
just enough to be still
while young recruits practice
removing a limb
while the earth spins
into the space where the sky used to be.

A vervet monkey has no country
other than the one from which
it is taken when chosen
to be a nerve gas victim so
a soldier being trained to kill
may be trained as well to try
keeping it alive
when its heart slows and its bowels melt
and if the monkey lives it will
be on a battlefield again until
there’s nothing can be done
except dispose of the remains
after a simulated war
in which only its pain was real.

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.

Editor's note: For information on the U.S. military's experiments on animals, visit In Defense of Animals.

Friday, February 13, 2009


by Kim Doyle

I always think of Bill Murray, the masochistic
dental patient in
Little Shop of Horrors when
I visit my dentist. Alternatively, it’s Laurence Olivier
asking repeatedly: “Is it safe?…Is it safe?” of Dustin Hoffman,
as he works on the last root nerve of the
Marathon Man.

Olivier’s evil Nazi verve is not shown by my practitioner, Dr. Needleman,
but I do feel that mixture of pleasure and pain as he probes
around my gums. I do sums in my head to ease the stress but
I confess; it hurts sooooo good.

This pleasure/pain has now been replaced by panic. It used to be
you’d swallow and spit to get rid of the shit gathering in your mouth.
Now a high speed stream of water irrigates, flagellates, and fills up my
orifice so fast that I scream: “I’m being water boarded.” The suction does
not suck fast enough to stop me from feeling I am drowning. I think of those poor
saps at Guantanamo, frowning over their Koran, or rendered somewhere nasty;
water cascading over their face.

It remains a national disgrace. I know Prick Cheney has a pace maker and I hope,
to say the least, he has ugly, rotting teeth.
You can spit now, Dick.

Kim Doyle is a writer of poems, essays and micro fiction and memoirs. She believes war criminals should be brought to justice. She pays her taxes and has not been nominated to be Secretary of anything.

Editor’s Note: Ask Congress to find out how the U.S. became a nation that tortures.


Thursday, February 12, 2009


by David Plumb

The wind is blowing
The snow is falling
And the monkeys
Keep eating the pie.

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.”

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


by Bill Costley

“Kiss my B&W ass” says Obama
asked how he intends to enlist more
Republicans in his stimulus bill. “If you
think nothing but tax-breaks work,
join Dubya in Dallas, getting wasted.
We have serious work to do.” No more
Mr. Nice Guy, Obama unsmiles; hardass
Republicans know their bluff's called;
McCain stiffly folds his one bluff hand.
Palin flaunts hers from way up in AK.

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


by Barbara A. Taylor

red orb rising­
sweet scents of frangipani
through the smoky air
a warning
it’s too late to depart

Barbara A. Taylor's poems appear in literary journals and anthologies, including The Salt River Review, Tattoo Highway, qaartisiluni, Lynx, Modern English Tanka, Kaleidowhirl, Umbrella, Magnapoets, Triplopia, Poemeleon, Loch Raven Review, The Blue Fifth Review, Contemporary Haibun On Line, and elsewhere. Her diverse poems with audio are available online.


by Mary Kathryn Morgeneier

Arts are swept
as if clutter
left after a party

Mere frivolity amid
matters more serious-
an economic leech

In these hard times
it is now, more than ever
important to teach

It is more urgent now
In these hard times
to speak out

Of the poem
that helped you reach
to be better

And the painting
which gave you courage
to go on

Of the song
that sang out truth
and justice

Hear us politicians
We demand economic
stimulus for the arts!

Mary Kathryn Morgeneier lives in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania and co-hosts the Steel City Coffeehouse gathering of the Mad Poets Society on first Tuesdays. Her poetry has been previously published in Trend Magazine, New Verse News, Mad Poets Review and other local outlets.

Monday, February 09, 2009


by Earl J. Wilcox

At Larry’s Grille,
home of hot dogs and hamburgers,
business has taken a dive.
Breakfast crowd’s dwindled
to a few seniors, couple of truckers.
Lunchtime is no better. The dog
crowd can’t afford fries or chips.
Water’s the drink du jour.

Like bankers and brokers, Larry
needs a bailout, an infusion
of customers with money
just to tide him over, you understand,
until Pearl from the beauty parlor,
Ralph from the reality firm,
Sam from the shuttered shoe shop
are on their feet again.

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.

Sunday, February 08, 2009


by David Feela

It’s called a social networking phenomenon,
this desire to paste our faces
in cyberspace in the hope somebody finds us.

And here in the broader galaxy we plant
the ones we love in plots of earth
marked by numeric profiles

or we push them into the sun
hoping to disperse their energy
to the widest possible audience, praying

they’ll contact the webmaster
directly instead of being forced to point
and click for an eternity.

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 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 Press. A poetry chapbook, Thought Experiments (Maverick Press), won the Southwest Poet Series. His first full length poetry book, The Home Atlas, is now available.

Saturday, February 07, 2009


by Bill Costley

How much starch (if any) does Obama
like in his dress shirts? Some? None?
How’s about a reasonable amount ? Is
he a no-iron, drip-dry guy? Ask his shirt:
“How much fresh sweat does he work up
on an average day?” (Answer:) Lots more
than you actually get to see, soaking in
sweat as he re-nominates his cabinet;
cool to look at, but sizzling in his suit.
Solution: do it all in a Bulls uniform.
Let righteous sweat fly where it may!

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

Friday, February 06, 2009


by Khary Jackson aka 6 is 9

A pound of rice sits on the shelf as an unanswered prayer.
There is a calloused hand reaching for it.
Straining. Shaking.
It cannot reach.

In Haiti they call it Clorox Hunger.
As if their stomachs are being eaten by battery acid or bleach.
They feast on mud cakes and bark to stave off starvation,
and not because the food isn't there.

From Haiti to Egypt, Senegal, Mauritania,
their voices seem only to be heard when backed by riots,
UN peacekeepers cut down by their neighbors.

Our grandiose world is shrinking.
Our nightmares multilingual.

Two blocks down, we can hear neighbors fighting
over who gets to use their oil. Their voices are muffled by
tanks and exploding cars.

The third exit off the highway is where our leaders
pretend to address climate change.

Downtown are the mansions, where we live,
where our dumpsters are filled with food we were too full for,
where our lights are on long after
we kissed each other goodnight.

Further down, where the highway ends,
you'll find the farmers,
who now profit more from ethanol than wheat.

And in the slums, you find the starving.
The ones making less than a dollar a day.
Peaceful citizens tempted into violence when their stomachs
scream of Clorox.

Distance is illusion, suffering is immediate as the air,
their voices are more than potholes on the highway.
This is our City.
Here, we cannot throw a rock with
someone having to dodge.
We cannot feast without the odor escaping our kitchen
into the streets, tormenting the starving,
and they are tired of waiting.
They are dying from waiting.

Yes, there are terrorists.
Then there are those who are given no other choice.
Those are the ignored, the hands prevented from reaching the shelf.
The rice sits as an unanswered prayer.
And when our gods don't answer, we turn to our guns.
We did not take their guns.

At the entrance to this city of God
is an abandoned church.
On the door, it says,
"Welcome, beloved, to the city that saves itself."

Khary Jackson aka 6 is 9, currently residing in Saint Paul, but born in Detroit, is a teaching artist, a playwright and nationally-recognized slam poet.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


by Peter Branson

"I would like to see a return to the biblical law outlined in Isaiah
and Jeremiah. It would put our people back in God's order ..."
--Pat Johnson, friend of Mike Cain, Nevada, USA.

No way you'll miss how much the place has changed,
even in these uncertain times: that sign
"White hetero English Christians welcome here"
on main routes into town; banners strewn high,
"Death to all socialists and sodomites";
"Code violators shot on sight"; prayer cloths
on posts; religious art on every wall
and gable end. Folk altered overnight.

Churchwardens menace, black and uniform,
gun metalled smiles. All pubs and betting shops
are boarded up or turned into bedsits
for newlyweds. Sports Hall's a holding pen
for fornicators waiting to be cleansed.
Women dress modestly, all face-painting
thought-crime: this haven for upstanding men;
no noise or litter, buses dead on time.

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.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


by Ann Malaspina

Today they’re counting the homeless in
Bergen County. There are the crazy ones
we see everyday: the trumpeter on the steps
of Town Hall, the unkempt woman scribbling
poems on newspaper margins at Starbucks,
the man in a Civil War uniform who paces
up and down Main Street, year after year.
But there’s also the car washer who rides to
work on a one-speed bike in a snowstorm
(though he can sleep at his cousin’s place
if he wants), the Costa Rican who
starts work at the bagel place at 4 AM,
and the elderly taxi driver who
sleeps behind the wheel so he doesn’t
burden his son's wife. Soon it may be the bank
vice-president, laid off a year ago but
still too stunned to job hunt, and
the software engineer who found temporary
work in California but is home again,
behind on the mortgage. It could be
the radio announcer who can find only
one-day gigs, the journalist forced into
early retirement, and the lawyer who
cut his hours in half and sleeps in on
Mondays. The homeless in Bergen County .
They'll be counting them today,
and adding more tomorrow.

Ann Malaspina is a former newspaper reporter and the author of many nonfiction books for young people. Her next book Harriet Tubman will be published by Chelsea House in 2009. She lives in Northern New Jersey with her family.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


by Catherine Zickgraf

Below my window
the convicts parade.
And armed guards
push their charges along.

Thirty men shiver and
sway through the streets.
Their pace hesitates
toward the waiting square.

Their feet drag chains to
warn the children:
the wages of sin is death.

If you lie
with a woman who is not your wife
or unnaturally with another man
or you’ve murdered,
you threaten
our holy land.

In the center of Tehran
a crane is ready.
Its dusty tires
braced to lift each body.

The condemned arrive and
line the square.
Their hair hangs wet
underneath their noses.

A black-masked man
blindfolds a prisoner.
A woman wails,
and guns push her back.

The truck’s arm holds
a rope in its grip.
It’s ready.
It’s time. It’s time.

So rope around neck and
wrists behind back,
a body is lifted
three stories up.

The kicking legs lose
their dirty shoes
but the shirt is unwrinkled—
he mattered to someone,

To a faceless woman,
veiled in the crowd:
the fruit of her womb—
he mattered.

Catherine Zickgraf is a former northerner excited about growing her roots in the red Georgia clay. She intends to pursue her MFA in poetry next year. Her credits include a forthcoming poem in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s “Poetry and Medicine” section.


Monday, February 02, 2009


by Andrew Hilbert

walked into my house
after the super bowl
didn't much care
who won or lost
didn't even watch
the commercials
this year

walked in at the same time
as my neighbor
was walking in
asked him
how are you doing?
he said okay but my team

he was the guy
with anti-obama stickers
on his car
and the ultra patriot
who didn't fly his flag
for a week after the election
(this guy made it a point
to fly his flag every day
when his team ran things)

ha, i thought to myself,
you've lost two things
the super bowl and the election
we can truly be friends

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

Sunday, February 01, 2009


by Stan Pisle

On Sunday mornings,

George Stephanopoulos does:

“The soldiers in memoriam”

I study the names,
attending to the towns they are from.
Hoping most are from cities.
--Big ones.

by convention of opinion,
a dead soldier from a city,
is less crippling.

the denominator of the whole is bigger,
they can pass in vagueness of the divisor.

The city won’t know who the soldier fucked.
That, at this time,
a soldier has been fucked.
And the progeny of that fucking is an urn,
spilling ashes across a newspaper.

--Ashes to be bushed aside from formal blues,
As the city’s coughs during the tapping march of
and capital myth worship.

But urn dust burns a uniform away

from a small town soldier.
It chokes everyone’s lungs,
stopping the whole fraction,
to catch breath,
in a parade,
to distract from our chronic asthma.

Berkeley resident Stan Pisle's poems have appeared in previously in The New Verse News and Our Magazine of Cleveland, Ohio. He's a supporter of California State University East Bay's writing program, and an advisory board member of CSUEB's literary magazine Arroyo.