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Thursday, April 30, 2009


by Barbara Lightner

The beaten path goes funny bone.
Deep pain’s in the clutch of self-help.
The self-appointed guru and monger.
Curses to the broken and bottled anoint.

Baby carriages careen bomb-cratered streets.
Fires in the night materialize ghosts.
The scree of the banshee shrills through the air.
Never mind it’s all in the wealth of our nation

we toast over pig at the great barbecue,
the uninvited, arrested; the starved, skinned and boned;
the bloat-hearts assuaged; the rest admonished to laugh
midst tales of self-help.

And the sun in its daily rounds goes on.
And the moon looks on us all, all alike.

Barbara Lightner is a 70-year old shameless agitator, retired. After a career of community organizing and teaching at university, she turned her hand to poetry. As a bookshop owner, she sponsored poetry readings, and published chapbooks of local poets in Milwaukee, WI. Her poetry has appeared in the Table Rock Review and Poesia; as well as in Letters to the World, an anthology of women’s poetry.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


by Lori D’Angelo

The glass slipper doesn’t fit.
The red sweater doesn’t match
the green pants and the visions of sugarplums
that danced in my head aren’t real.
On paper is the only place that matters
and my resume is a just trail of breadcrumbs
that lead to an empty bank account.
Johnny Cash was not the first to ask:
What have I become, my empire of dirt?
I wish I had an empire. I wish I had a million dollars,
George Bailey, it’s really not such a wonderful life
after all. The broken banister might drive me
to the river too or to the big house.
There are days when I want to slam into cars
like I’m at Kennywood again, like it’s just a ride.
I wish I could pay my rent with monopoly money.
I wish I could go outside and have somebody say:
OhmyGod, you’re--, but when I pass by, no one stops.
No one knows the dreams I’ve built. In the light
of incandescent bulbs, they just fade into a stream
of vapor. How many mornings have you been caught
in a mist, felt you were in a fairy world and then
when you turned a corner, the mist was gone--there was
was only a Wal-Mart and a debit account with a $5 balance.
Even gas I have to ration, feel like I wear the same damn
thing ever other day. Chicken Little, the sky is falling
just beyond the reach of my grasp. Still, I close my eyes
reach for rainbows, build a palace out of gingerbread.

Lori D’Angelo is an MFA student at West Virginia University. Her work has appeared in Pequin, Red Ink Journal, Hamilton Stone Review and Stirring. She lives in West Virginia and Ohio with her husband and two dogs.


by ayaz daryl nielsen

among the homeless
all those
service medals

homeless veterans
gathering around
a bottle

ayaz daryl nielsen's poetry has found many homes, including Lilliput Review, HazMat, and Magnapoets, and he is editor/custodian of bear creek haiku (since 1991)/a poet/editor/father/veteran/hospice nurse/etc.


by Karen Garrison

touch me
i’m not beautiful
i’m not smooth
i’m not open

touch me
i am stiff
i ache
i am bent

touch me
i have an attitude
i have adipose
i have been abused

touch me
i am deathly gray
i’m unshaven
i am afraid

touch me
i am so uncertain
i need a fix
i lost my dreams

touch me
my hands are rough
my bones protrude
my skin sags

touch me
i cannot pay
i have no gratitude
i have been betrayed

touch me
don’t look
past me

Karen Garrison is a writer, certified massage therapist, and former clinical social worke. She lives in Colorado and goes hiking as often as possible. She worked with homeless people on and off through her career as a social worker.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


by Catherine McGuire

The trailer in Revelations, as all trailers do,
pulled out the hot bits, the big scenes -
and we were fooled into thinking
it would be one big Bang finale.

But no. You’d think we’d realize
how theater works.
This is a made-for-tv-drama series
drawn out over a lifetime or two;
this is a full-course dinner
of crow and old hats.

The four Ninja Horsemen sneak
through dark with masks and blackened tools;
dismount and do more damage on foot.

In normal garb, Famine swathes the usual
villages and towns, but covers its tracks
with news reports of CARE packages dropped
like manna. It goes upscale as anorexia
becomes the ultimate fashion goal,
it dopplegangs as empty calories
slowly infiltrating potbellied kids
who play World of War
until only their thumbs have muscles.

War calls itself “unrest” and harvests
scores in villages, thousands in town
then bolts before it can be Formally Declared.

Death of course is hard to disguise -
but data is an awesome camoflage: statistics
like swarms of flies on carrion fog the air
smudge the actual count, the real cull.

And Disease…well… hold on to your snouts,
my little piggies -- here we go…

An award-winning poet, Catherine McGuire has been published online, in many wide- and small-circulation print magazines, and overseas in the past two decades. More than 100 poems have appeared in publications including MReview, Portland Lights Anthology, HazMat Review, Tapjoe and Adagio. She has published a chapbook, Joy Into Stillness: Seasons of Lake Quinault and is newsletter editor of Oregon State Poetry Association.

Monday, April 27, 2009

401 OK - OCTOBER 22, 2008

by Tyrone Nagai

Whether insurrection or the other,
I bought bonds before 9/11’s crash,
six days before stocks started to sputter,
for I was reacting to market math.
The Dow was teetering below ten thou,
and I wanted to lock in my profits.
So fast a bull becomes a "holy cow,"
yet I was shielded from heavy losses.

But that was nothing compared to this month.
Seven years of growth evaporated
by risky subprime loans and credit crunch.
My stock broker looked exasperated;
asked what I want if not to retire.
A living wage for all workers hired.

Tyrone Nagai is pursuing his MFA at San Diego State University. He is also associate editor of Fiction International.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


by Buff Whitman-Bradley

A cold gust of wind whips the baby greens
Out of my basket
Tender leaves scatter and swirl
Crazily along the ground
Like little children running out the doors
Of a school that is being bombed

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

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Volume Nine

by Bill Costley


Long ago, CHENEY prepared
for the long haul, by playing
his own best defender. Think:
Who knows better Who he is?
Who knows Where all the bodies
were really buried? Just CHENEY.

Book XCVIII: Our Stalin, CHENEY

Our Stalin, CHENEY
preaches loyalty to anyone
loyal to him, proving steel's
stainless despite defeat, if
VPOTUS is engraved on it.

Book XCIX: CHENEY shuffles

CHENEY shuffles his worn,
marked deck of face-cards
of himself, thinking aloud:
My next administration
will be totally trustworthy,
like Scooter, loyal to me
& me alone; first, I’ll issue
a $100 stamp with my face
on it & then a $100,000-bill,
with my face on it, & then
an invisible CHENEY tank.

Book C: Finally, CHENEY

Look upon him, ye who would-be
mighty & revisit the District’s suites
where he was once walled & re-vered.
Finally, CHENEY we’ve had enuf of;
haven't we seen B&W TV's McCarthy
spinning filamentary power from lies
rewoven with pretension, unravelling
week after week after week? Only his
pre-convinced re-enjoy his re-arguing
unvarnished semi-truths, his wooden
image semi-cybernetic, quasi-alive
among us, automatically speaking
his message, grimly us hectoring...

Book CI: Wh@t Coloss@l B@lls

Wh@t coloss@l b@lls
CHENEY must have 2
announce he’s all for
gay-marriage as a matter
of states'-rights; can't
you see him smirking,
just waiting for Rush
2 denounce him as
as a closet liber@l?

Book CII: Mary Matalin’s Booking

Mary Matalin’s booking
CHENEY Family memoirs
for Scribners’ new rightwing
Threshold imprint she runs:

Dick CHENEY’s nightstand
awaits his hand-written
cheniad he's sure everyone
wants & needs to read

for rightwing perspective
& inspiration during today's
Republican party decline...
so Mary Matalin imagines

moved far below the Beltway,
down to N’O’leans w/hubby
Ragin' Cajun James [D] Carville.

Book CIII: CHENEY Stingz Dubya

Vexed by his having flexed for Dubya
while VPOTUS, CHENEY’s memoirs
sting Dubya as ‘an ordinary politician’
for having ignored CHENEY’S advice.
Blind-sided by a late-changing Dubya,
CHENEY, freed now to speak on then,
stingz Dubya as unworthy of CHENEY’S
piercing perceptionz, steel-jacketed in-
iativez, steely rezolve, absolute goalz.

Book CIV: CHENEY Can't Recall 72X

Interestingly, CHENEY
can't recall (72X) to the FBI
what he & Libby said;
but Libby can recall what
CHENEY can't. Plame/Wilson
fogs VPOTAL memory.

Book CV: VPOTUS CHENEY'S untitled

VPOTUS CHENEY’s untitled
memoirs (due out in 2011)
of his years under
POTUSes Ford & Bush2
contain “a lot of interesting
stories that ought to be told;

I want my grandkids,
20 or 30 years from now
to be able to read it &
understand what I did,
& why I did it.” [QED]

Book CVI: CHENEY reveals

CHENEY reveals a dispute
within the White House
over combatants being tried
in civilian vs military courts.

What came of it? Nothing.
What will ever come of it?
What does it matter while
those disputants walk-free?


CHENEY smiles Chenily
at the CPAC convention,
visibly glad to be seen by
everybody, still assuming
they’re all still Cheneyist.

At AIPAC they are,
reports Wonkette.

Book CVIII: CHENEY's heart attacks

CHENEY’s heart attacks him
at the CPAC convention
putting him into a DC hospital
where he’s as happy as hell,
delighted when he hears
the CPAC straw-poll results:

Ron Paul 31%, Mitt Romney 22%
Palin & Pawlenty, 7% ea.
Gingrich & Huckabee, 4% ea.
6% undecided, 5% Other.

Gingrich bobbles minimally.

Click here for Book CIX.

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

Friday, April 24, 2009


by Andrew Hilbert

all week i fretted over my taxes
and turned on the news to see an angry mob
dressed like the original tea partiers
and holding signs saying "big brotha"
"obama's a fascist"
"obama's a communist"
i even saw pictures of kids with signs
saying that they pay taxes
and work
and have kids to feed

shit must have really hit the fan economically
if these poor little kids were paying their taxes
instead of feeding their stuffed animals at imaginary tea parties

i had to turn off my tv
but i couldn't escape it.
it seemed like disliking taxes
was just a way to disguise hate.
when we were under the Bushman
we were called unpatriotic
but i do not recall anyone on my team
advocating secession.

i had to plan a route out of my house on tax day.
i didn't want to see my ultra-conservative neighbor.
i didn't want to explain away the reason why i was
committing the ultimate act of treason:
doing my fuckin' taxes.

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

Thursday, April 23, 2009


by David S. Pointer

The superiority complex
housing sustainable
economic exploitation
has energy escaping
like a scavenger gas
as Wall Street appoints
Timothy Geithner for
bank to bank resuscitation
and nobody clears
poverty's airway
just the pockets
of the global poor

David S. Pointer is a sociologist. Recent poems have appeared in Illya's Honey, Skidrow Penthouse, and elsewhere.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


by Matthew Quinn

I think it goes back
to the evening news
saying scientists have determined
global warming is now unstoppable.

I just want to kiss
my children on the forehead
and stare out the window
until the tar in the street
is engulfed in flames.

We are such an instant gratification society.
I want my worldwide devastation
and I want it now,
but no. We have to wait like frogs
in a pan
for the slow build up of heat
to catch us unawares.

But rising temperatures might send
Greenland’s glacial sheet
sliding into the sea,
a giant ice cube
blocking warm Caribbean waters
for a mini Ice Age
before the fiery end.
Mixed messages and further delay.

I wrote for posterity
until Katie Couric.
Now I eat popcorn,
watch Missouri Avenue
and wait.

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


by Howie Good

No more declarations,
no more petitions for redress of grievances,
no more looking back over my shoulder,
but only simple tasks,
putting in ten dollars’ worth of gas,
enough to get to Lake Chodikee,
then lifting the kayak off the roof
and out onto flat water,
startling the doe come down to drink
as I glide around the bend
and the leaves shed their shadows on me.

Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of eight poetry chapbooks, including Tomorrowland (2008) from Achilles Chapbooks and Love Is a UFO (2009) from Pudding House. His full-length book of poetry, Lovesick, is due out from Press Americana this summer.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


by David Chorlton

A guest on the radio news show
claims to have found a poem
capable of saving the Earth. He reads
some lines by William Stafford
about watching swallows
before ending with a modest reflection
on stepping with care
through the world. Every April
a small group assembles
close to the stream
where a cottonwood casts
a dark green shadow on the water
that flows like hope
from year to year,
and each of us reflects on how we see
the signs around us. This passing
back and forth of words
is our ceremony, an annual
blossoming of thoughts held inside
ourselves all winter. We’ve been counting
sparrows and listening
to a glacier drip
into oblivion. We often rise early
to hear the mockingbirds
after staying up late reading
Edward Abbey who liked to speculate
on taking out the dams
built to power industry. Even that
meant stepping gently
through the world; it just
entailed clearing the way
before putting on an appropriate
pair of shoes.

David Chorlton lives in Phoenix where he writes and keeps watch for the birds in his urban setting. He likes to celebrate the desert in his work, but sometimes a cautionary tone intrudes as is the case in his chapbook The Lost River, published last year by Rain Mountain Press.

Monday, April 20, 2009


by Del Doughty

When her black AMEX card had to be snipped
in half, she sat cowering in a corner
with cut lips and blood streaming from her nose
and the next thing bam! Katie's aiming a vase
at me and screaming "You jerk! You loser!
You fool!" Then the vase disintegrates
like our property portfolio in the financial crash.
This year I'm going to study physics--
nothing fancy, just the NASCAR brand--
because I need to learn how to absorb
more energy on impact, how to measure
how much damage an object in motion
can cause to a human body, and
how such a body maintains velocity.

Del Doughty has published two award-winning books of haiku, The Sound of Breathing (Saki Press, 2000) and Flow (Red Moon Press, 2004). He teaches English at Huntington University.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


by Janice Keough

I’m the billing queen for a tech company
or I was until they ‘just had to let me go.’
So the young guy working on his Masters
is now the billing king, ‘he’s fabulous and young.’

When I started this job with a new boss
(wife of the big-boss, made-manager,
her new group to run, a new title spun)
she thought I was ‘fabulous and fun.’

I had a plastic box in my drawer,
a box from some forgotten chore,
I’d pull staples from sales orders before
billing, a nice pile of silver parentheses.

Then sweep them into a box going nowhere
to skitter around their molded walls.
how many spent staples would fit?
I never counted them all.

66 months of staples unbent from their job
66 months of papers pitched into boxes
66 months of bills and payment calls and
66 months of fabulous growth and praise.

66 months of worry at end-of-month
66 months of ‘great job, how do you do it?’
66 months of no-time-off allowed
3 days before the end thru 3 days into the new.

Now the box is full of gray silver strands
joined into a massive sameness.
now I’ve joined the mass of unemployed,
a parenthesis tossed from the box.

Janice Keough has published in the RI Writer’s Circle 2008 Anthology. Last January, the Bay Area Poets Coalition awarded her 1st Honorable Mention for the 64-count poem, "Lemon Life". She wrote "Billing Queen" after her layoff last Thursday from a Warwick, RI technology company.

Friday, April 17, 2009


by Lori D’Angelo

Sneezing, waking. On the news
a story about a spray
that promotes male endurance.
My nose keeps running
and, outside, the weather just won’t
get warm.
On Today, Meredith and Matt
talk about Obama’s visit
to Camp Victory.
“We have not forgotten
what you’ve already done.
We are grateful for what you
will do.”
A Iraqi says Obama cares
about Muslims.
Sometimes, I don’t think
anyone cares about anyone,
but we all pretend to.
In my pajamas, under the covers,
I sit and hope for a better world.

Lori D’Angelo is an MFA student at West Virginia University. Her work has appeared in Pequin, Red Ink Journal, Hamilton Stone Review and Stirring. She lives in West Virginia and Ohio with her husband and two dogs.


Thursday, April 16, 2009


by Steve Hellyard Swartz

where I taught
in Albany, New York
was comprised of the most collegial of enemy camps
Me and the Vietnamese
The Bosnians -
Serb and Moslem
Russians and Afghans
Isrealis and Egyptians
Jiro, from Colombia
said: I feel lonely
Who will be my enemy?
The nicest person in the class was Hung
A Black Vietnamese guy, 31
who worked long hours re-finishing furniture
His English was horrible but he never failed to smile at me
His Vietnamese friend Dung and he went halfies on an SUV
Through his pal, Hung managed to convey
that there had to be a way
Had to be some way
Mr. Steve you help Hung
Hung say
Help him please Mr. Steve
Hung bring wife to him
Wife and baby boy
From Vietnam to Albany
One day Hung just stopped showing up
His pals stopped coming, too
I asked the director of the Center
if she knew, had a clue
Don't worry about it, she said
We do as much as we can do

Steve Hellyard Swartz is a regular contributor to new verse news. His poems have also appeared in best poem, switched-on gutenberg, Haggard and Halloo, and The Kennesaw Review. He has won honorable mention in The Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards (2007 and 2008), The Mary C. Mohr and the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Awards. In 1990, his film, Never Leave Nevada opened at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


by Esther Greenleaf Murer

Lurching from quagmire to quagmire,
we stop by the nation’s capital and feel
a bright new buzz in the air:
Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

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.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


by Jane Herschlag

Our guardians of value
and their Armani-suited friends
have sold their souls to the highest bidders.

They grabbed the world’s assets,
miraged them into Triple-A bonds,
sat idly by as our ballooned funds
were buffeted by currents high
above the seven seas—
bursting, dropping into turbulent waters,
unretrievable as drenched napkins.

Where have all the fighters gone?
Have we been shocked and awed
so that we, the public, lie down and cry
about 401Ks shrinking to 201Ks?
We are too busy counting pennies,
turning down our thermostats,
(if we are lucky) clutching
our re-financed life preserver
but wonder—

Lady Justice what are you weighing?
Who has put what onto your scales?
You let Paulson and his ilk
dispense billions of our dollars to banks,
no strings attached—
while the foreclosed sleep in their cars.

Lawyers, look at our boarded-up homes,
stand with us on unemployment lines,
listen to our creditors making demands
while they hold their hands out to the feds.

Where Have All The Flowers Gone?
Iceland and Great Britain, you have lost
more of your gardens.
Won’t you join us to plow the fields of Wall Street,
enrich its soil with ethics?

Bully In The Spotlight, Jane Herschlag’s 40 page docu-poetry chapbook is published by Pudding House Publications. Her poems are included in three anthologies and many university presses. She won eight prestigious writing awards from Hunter College and CCNY. She taught creative writing to children and adults at in Manhattan and Danbury. She curated the Open Mic reading series for the Writer’s Voice in NYC for seven years and in Danbury for one year. She has run a poetry peer group for ten years.

Monday, April 13, 2009


by Thomas Sullivan

It was never their wealth to keep
Though everyone was convinced it was
They were mistaken, same as you
By the beliefs of the day

The conquistadors tried, using the horse and sword
Fearful gods from another world, enslaving men and carting bounty home
But different gods rose up while the Spaniards sunk down
And drained it all away

The church made their play for the wealth of their time
Marketers of God scaring the masses into buying salvation
The coffers piled high until the scientists showed up
And reasoned those beliefs away

The Spanish sword and the Christian cross
No different from the softer weapons of today
Electronic ledgers and digital debts
Need fearful subjects to believe and obey

The greedy and the blind
Never see what’s coming
Until a new belief shows up
And takes their power away

Thomas Sullivan writes essays on contemporary American society. His writing has appeared in Arts & Opinion, Bad Idea Magazine, and Dogmatika, among others. His longer prose can be seen at open salon.


Saturday, April 11, 2009


by Barbara Lightner


Pirates have always captured
my imagination. Adventure
on the high seas, the swashbuckle
of life–

the successful underdog to
the wealth of the great
nations and the robber barons of industry,
taking booty, but most of all bringing defeat
to an arrogance of power and wealth:
a lawlessness in service to themselves,
and to the greater good.

Pirates are ever so much better
than Robin Hood, boring, boring,
unutterably boring, in his good, green wood.
The devilish, we all learn early, is ever so much
more interesting than the good.

Pirates, both the devil and the good.
It’s what imagination is made for.


So be it, the Pirates of Somali
raiding ships in their waters
to avenge two decades of tuna plunder
from their shores; and the detritus
of other nations dumped there;
along with heavy ransoms demanded
by men from a desperately poor country,
no sustenance for its people:

the devil along with the good

– must not be allowed,
the Secretary of State
of the United States says,
bestowing the pirates with
capitalism’s paradoxical, grim screed:
"They are nothing but criminals," she says
from her podium built
on her own country’s plunder and greed.

But the State Department is not enough.
The generals of the marauding great
must also get into the act:
two warships sent,
two helicopters, and more
of the great nation’s fleet soon on the way.

The offense, and the reason for this new
military surge against a tiny lifeboat on the great seas?
(It’s getting to be the fashionable thing,
to be sure, the surge.)


The Pirates of Somali mounted a ship
taking food and other relief to Africa’s shores,
but allowed it to continue on course
after taking its captain
into a small lifeboat;
a captain who, his friends say, is
"an outgoing daredevil"
one of the pirates’ own kind,
captive in that small lifeboat,
four pirates with him,
allowed to communicate by radio;
who jumped out of the lifeboat
to swim to a warship hovering near;
was brought back, is kept in the lifeboat unhurt.


The greatest military power in the world
hovering, fit to kill;

unable to face down
four pirates and a captain
bobbing in a tiny lifeboat,
a 17,000 ton vessel overcome.

No pirates have dared the seas against
the United States of America
for two hundred years, someone says,

It does the heart good, this standoff
with the pirates of Somali, guardians
of the seas, some devil, some good.

Barbara Lightner is a 70-year old shameless agitator, retired. After a career of community organizing and teaching at university, she turned her hand to poetry. As a bookshop owner, she sponsored poetry readings, and published chapbooks of local poets in Milwaukee, WI. Her poetry has appeared in the Table Rock Review and Poesia; as well as in Letters to the World, an anthology of women’s poetry.


by Earl J. Wilcox

It’s not just the glitzy stadium,
The venues where you can buy
Dogs and diamonds (I hear),
Nor is it those plush, wide
Seats fit for the fat asses of
The fat cats who can pay the
Prices to see the Yanks lose
Yet another pennant.

It’s the rape of the game.
Violating the given axiom
That baseball is America ’s
Game, our pastime, our game
To see and play, even when
We don’t have money for bread
And milk. Stick it to the fans,
Ram it in their faces, jab and jab
Them until the give in, pay money
They don’t even own to watch
Jeter & Co. romp around, preen
Like they have just unloaded a
Package on the baseball world.

Out in the countryside, the Cards
And Reds and Pirates play on like
Country cousins, hitting the
Ball, running the bases, doing the
7th inning stretch to "Take Me Out
to the Ballgame" instead of a
Diva doing an aria from Aida, or
Pitiful fans looking disappointed
At not finding lottery tickets in their
Boxes of Crackerjacks.

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, April 10, 2009


by Mary Kathryn Morgeneier

In the shadows of the sharks
sliding below them
They are lurkers
restless for fresh blood
Hardened ocean roamers
hungry for money
They flaunt their greed
before any flag or sod
Coldblooded surprise
despicable deeds
Calculating sea thugs
stinking sea weeds

Mary Kathryn "Kate" Morgeneier has been published in Trend Magazine, Mad Poets Review, and The New Verse News. She lives in Phoenixville and hosts the Mad Poets Society meetings at Steel City Coffeehouse in Phoenixville, PA - the next one scheduled for the first Tuesday in May.

Thursday, April 09, 2009


by Charlie Mehrhoff

One hand
with as much flesh upon it
as the other.

Yet I see only shade,
not sustenance,
in the fruit trees of Babylon.

Charlie Mehrhoff has sent out little work in the past decade but has occasionally offered some words to The New Verse News. Survival issues. Crafting the Word is a Web site window into his work.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


by Lee Patton

I keep thinking of that grandma
     in the Royal Arms projects, in D.C.--
who, chosen to receive the Queen
     of England, laughed a welcome
and yanked Elizabeth Windsor into a hug,
     so that the Queen, much flustered,
had her Chief of Protocol kindly insist that
     the Royal Person must not be
touched, most surely not by commoners.
     The grandma had another laugh at
that—dry British wit—and grasped again,
     enfolding Her Highness in her
plump black arms until Royal bodyguards
     restrained Grandma with gentle
force. Chastened, she realized that she
     and Elizabeth were the same age,
and came to pity her peer for all those hug-
     less decades, not to mention
the spiteful in-laws, the pointless wars,
     the worrisome children, wild
and/or daunted, and offered Elizabeth
     a stay in her cramped quarters—
amidst the framed school pictures and fridge
     drawings, and Elizabeth nodded,
and duly noted her host’s lovely grandchildren
     and apartment, so tiny and clean,
whilst Americans everywhere came to realize
     that we, too, possessed a queen.

Among several quarterlies that have published Lee Patton’s work: The Threepenny Review, The Massachusetts Review, The California Quarterly, and Hawaii-Pacific Review. Lee’s second novel, Love and Genetic Weaponry: The Beginner’s Guide, is forthcoming from Alyson Books in May 2009.


by Anne G. Davies

The media seem to be all agog
At Michelle’s lack of civility
In ignoring a thousand years
Of royal untouchability.

The Queen, always unflappable,
Seemed to take the matter in stride
She didn’t flinch from the common touch
Upon her imperial hide.

Rather than an expression
Of democratic vulgarity
I suspect she saw it
As female solidarity.

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.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


by Martin Galvin

Were we to tell him that the world is whole,
that places where he would have lived have sounds
that are not screams, have softened voices made
for songs and choral laughter, he would not
quite believe, not having learned (nor ever now,
being twelve and done with school) how to read
the signs nor how to sign himself except
in pictures that he used to draw in sand.

Were we to tell him that the keening blade
he pulls out of his side is something blessed,
a thing that he has stopped in time to free
the rest of us, he would not understand.
And we would be dismayed that he could
not quite get how full his life has been.

In the last ten years, Martin Galvin has published over 170 more poems in a wide variety of journals and magazines, including Poetry, The New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly, Commonweal, Midwest Quarterly, Alimentum, OntheBus, Image, Poetry East, and New Issues and in a number of anthologies including Best American Poetry 1997 and Poets Against The War edited by Sam Hamill. In 2007, he was awarded a month-long residency at Yaddo.

Monday, April 06, 2009

APRIL 2009

by Jill J. Lange

I don't need to tell you
about this winter's cold
or about the stock market
falling steadily as the snow
and freezing rain.

Anyone who listens
to the news or reads a paper,
assuming you can find one,
and lives
this depression.

Tell me how you are counting
the cards you are dealt.
Where have you put your money?
Have you found a guru,
gone back to your therapist,
renewed your prescription for Valium?

Do you live in California where
medical marijuana is an option?

Do you want to know my cure?
I'm counting robins.

The sun came out last week,
I spotted two robins under the maple
with the snowdrops,
and further down the road
another scratching grass,
then two more.

I'm up to twenty-one, no thirty now.

You can trust a universe
that creates robins.

Jill J. Lange is an attorney and poet whose writing reflects her passion for the natural world and her interest in political and environmental causes. Her poems have appeared in The New Verse News previously.

Sunday, April 05, 2009


by Lylanne Musselman

Facebook invades
my space, creates
tendencies to twitter
my time away.

Lylanne Musselman resides in Indianapolis, Indiana. She's an Associate Professor of Writing at IUPUI, and she teaches creative writing classes at Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis and at the University of Indianapolis' School of Adult Learning. Her story feature, L WordS, is aired live monthly on BloomingOUT a weekly broadcast on WFHB radio. An award winning poet, Lylanne's poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Flying Island, New Verse News, Ichabod's Sketchbook, Tipton Poetry Journal, Poetry Motel, among others.

Saturday, April 04, 2009


by Alan Catlin

No one thought it
could happen here

not at Columbine
Not the Hokies
Not the Binghamton folks

Especially not the receptionists
the ladies taken down by lone

shooter intent on taking out
the unarmed, defenseless,

unsuspecting, victims of premeditated
mass murder: one dead already in her area,
the other critically wounded
calling 911 to say I've been shot.
feigning death thereafter

as the shooting continued in no exit
classrooms seventeen more would fall
rear exit blocked, hostages taken

in this place of aide:
"Were here to help you"

serving the defenseless, the poor,
the confused, the lost

Immigration issues handled
Community outreach arranged
Basic services provided

We're here to prevent
the killers from taking over

Community Center Closed until
further notice

Funeral arrangements and death notices
will be announced once all the details are known

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.


by Lee Schwartz

There’s a lab off the Pacific Highway
where they snare gay sheep, turn them straight,
no more wooly love come dragging
by the top edge of the hill.

Injecting gay sheep with estrogen
to keep the natural order:
replant fences and implant desire,
to plump them up for slaughter chops.

We play God in the garden
while most species in the wild are choked;
the salmon have lost their way,
snared in black tarry waters, the seal extinct.

The future is drawn in plastic buckets,
genes in savings deposit vaults,
tinkering with nature’s Gameboy,
creating dwarf melons, mating grapes.

What does man want to extol
that Thoreau has not celebrated,
while we go sheep shopping at the Gap,
admiring every hanger of iceberg lettuce.

Don’t tell me who to love,
Don’t legislate my heart to fall on blue or brown eyes,
I am not your coal mine or your cornfield,
I will choose whose lips to warm.

And the sheep with the coarse and wiry coat?
Wouldn’t we prefer sleek and glossy?
What about seeing eye cats? Faster turtles?
Deer that don’t stop in the headlights?

You go down that long Pacific highway
and build a Sparta to keep up with the trends,
see if you can weed out the gene that pulls the trigger,
rapes women, and votes Republican.

Lee Schwartz grew up in Brooklyn and went to the same high school as Arthur Miller and Neil Sedaka. Retired educator and social worker, she has published widely. This year she received the Alan Ginsberg award and her winning poem will be in the Paterson Literary Review. Lee will be reading a piece about growing up in Brooklyn at the 92nd Street Y in NYC on April 23rd. Look for her downtown at the Bowery Poetry Club, 6th Street Garden or KGB.

Friday, April 03, 2009


by David M. Laws

So let me see if I understand what’s happening:
we worked our asses off for months and months,
sent in our ten bucks each, used our rollover
minutes calling voters in Ohio and Florida , wrote
letters to the editor, and sweated bullets to get
your ass elected, so you could appoint
all the discredited advisers of your opponents?

And yes, I understand they work for you
and you set the agenda, but my impression
was that you had ALL NEW ideas and
ALL NEW talent and ALL NEW people.

I mean if we had wanted the Clintons and their baggage,
we could have voted for her, and if we had wanted
leftovers from eight years of Bush’s crime
and incompetence and degredation we could have voted
for Grampy and the wicked witch of the Great White North.
So I’m left thinking, what IS this?

OK, man you’re the boss, and you say you can control
all these near-nazis, free market pirates, and neobuffoons,
but all I’ve got to say is this had better be




David M. Laws graduated in 2005 from Western Washington University with a degree in English—Creative Writing Emphasis, and his writing has appeared in The Seattle Times, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Whatcom Watch, TechniCom, and Noisy Water Review. A former editor-in-chief of Jeopardy, WWU’s undergraduate literary journal, he enjoys gardening, writing, magic, history, model railroading, Uncle Scrooge comics, hiking, and irritating conservatives. He is self-employed in the musical instrument repair business, and lives in Bellingham with his wife Judith and Lucky the Wonder Dog.

Thursday, April 02, 2009


by Kirk Lumpkin

after the Credit River near Toronto, Canada

If credit were a river
          it would flow from a source
          in a reflecting pool
          where you could look
          and see yourself
          fit, trim, and smiling
          with the product
          of your choice,
          what you most
          want to own
          at that moment
If credit were a river
          the water would be
          perfectly clear,
          warm as a bath,
          and the bottom would look
          as a swimming pool
If credit were a river
          no sharks
          would be seen,
          it would be
          with fish that look
          like very attractive
          and mermen
          (but are actually
          robot mannequins)
          to you
          to come in
          just for a dip,
          a little swim
If credit were a river
          as you wind past
          its banks
          on your pleasure boat
          you would need to look
          very close
          to see
          that all the plants
          are plastic
          in the lovely well-manicured
          dotted with stores stocking everything
          you could possibly want
          each featuring
                    a very special one time only SALE!
          with easy terms
If credit were a river
          it would be staffed
          by strong, slender, sexy, smiling
          life guards
          of both genders
          always ready to help
If credit were a river
          it wouldn’t be
          until way down stream
          the water turned
          icy cold
          in white water rapids
          where the padded contours
          are no longer applied
          to the jagged rocks
          that now
          can cut you
                    and what’s behind
          the false-front movie-set
          at the beginning of the river
          is only exposed
          right before
          you get
          to the falls
          great and treacherous
          as Niagara
          where the boulders below
          are littered
          with battered broken lives
          drowned in credit,
          valued less
          than what they thought
          to own
If credit
          were a river

Kirk Lumpkin is the author of two books of poems, Co-Hearing and In Deep. He is the founder of the poetry-music band, The Word-Music Continuum, that last year released its second CD, Sound Poems. He works for the Ecology Center as the Special Events & Promotions Coordinator of the Berkeley Farmers’ Market. For more info:

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


by Andrew Hilbert

these recession days
i've noticed
more and more
that use stimulus as
their catchphrase

it's the new "thing"

it won't ever happen
i'm patiently waiting
to see
the creative ways
viagra says
"stimulus package"

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