Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions. Use "Verse News Submission" as the subject line. Send a brief bio. No payment. Authors retain all rights after 1st-time appearance here. Scroll down the right sidebar for the fine print.

Monday, August 31, 2009


by Paul Hostovsky

Yes, but not in this country.
Which doesn’t mean we don’t have to worry
about telling the truth in our poems—
you can still get hurt
trying to tackle the big truths
on the football field of life
in this country. So tell the truth, but tell it
oblong like a football bouncing around
unpredictably, even comically—
sure, try a little humor, try
tackling the big truths by tickling them
on their ankles or necks or Achilles
tendons—maybe they’ll fall down laughing
at the ten or twenty yard line, slap
your back and have a cup of tea with you
at the table of the poem. But with humor
you risk being glib, or stupid, or worse—
there you are with your pen
or index finger sticking out, trying
to tickle a little skin in the middle
of the football field of life—a poet
could get hurt doing that. True,
in this country we don’t have to worry
about being shot to death for telling the truth
in our poems. But the reason for that—
which has less to do with gun control
and the right of free speech in this country
than the place of poetry in this country—hurts too.

Paul Hostovsky's poems appear widely online and in print.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


by Joel Solonche

Even here
even in this church
this house of peace

this place sacred to him who said
blessed are the peacemakers
even in this place

this warmonger
this criminal of criminals
this shiftyeyed one

this george w stands for war bush
cannot conceal his crimes
the murders by the thousands

the mutilations by the tens of thousands
the devastation in its utterness
visited upon the innocents

the old men and the young men
the women and the children
they are on his face

I see them there
small shadows on his face
they are in his eyes

especially do I see them there
in his eyes
that cannot stop glancing from right to left

that cannot stop glancing from left to right
that cannot come to rest on any single thing
that will not find a resting place in any place

that know no peace
that know no peace
that know no peace

J.R. Solonche is coauthor (with wife Joan Siegel) of Peach Girl: Poems for a Chinese Daughter (Grayson Books). His poems have appeared in many magazines, journals, and anthologies since the 1970s. He teaches at SUNY Orange in Middletown, New York.

Friday, August 28, 2009


(A DIY Guide for Young People)
by Janice D. Soderling

First you acquire a land lot

(in a good neighborhood, that’s the hard part).

Then you build a house on it.

Then you build a garage.

Then you build a neat white fence around the house
Then you plant a high hedge inside the fence
Then you add a porch to the house (at the front).

Then you lay a patio (at the back).

Stay healthy and 

take care not to lose your position of

gainful employment.

Then you build a playhouse for the children.

Then you build a tool shed.

Then you build a gazebo and two birdhouses.

Then you put up a birdbath.

Then you dig a fishpond.

(Some like to further enhance with two plastic storks on long red legs

or those cute little wooden windmills that rotate in the slightest breeze.)

All this time, of course, you will be filling

up the rooms of the house, garage, playhouse,

tool shed, gazebo, birdhouses with STUFF, all kinds of STUFF.

Stay healthy and

do not, repeat do not, lose your position of

gainful employment.

After twenty years,

replace all the indoor and outdoor

furniture, then glass-in the front porch,

repave the patio,

panel the basement, insulate the attic,

put up a weathervane, erect a flagpole.

Stay healthy and

do not, repeat do not, lose your position of

gainful employment.


Shortly before

or after


climb up on a ladder

and reach too far.

Fall off and break your neck.

Die with a minimum of fuss.

The system thanks you for your cooperation.

Janice D. Soderling is a previous contributor to New Verse News. Her work appears at The Pedestal, Stirring, Soundzine, nthposition, Centrifugal Eye, ditch, Shakespeare's Monkey Revue.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


by Scot Siegel

the news is no longer with us, my friends,
Walter Cronkite & the Kennedys are dead

a war is not a war anymore, my friends,
but an engagement, a collaborative effort

(involving all the local stakeholders
& security forces
                         on a flexible timetable
for self-governance–)

the news is no longer the news, my friends,
(the polar bear will have to fend for herself)

our species is on fire, my friends,
but I’ve learned to forgive

the ocean is growing

Scot Siegel's recent books include Some Weather (Plain View Press 2008) and the chapbook, Untitled Country (Pudding House Publications 2009). He serves on the board for the Friends of William Stafford.


by James Penha

Hyannis NewHampshire LAColiseum Washington Camelot Berlin Cuba Dallas St.Matthew’s Arlington NewYork Washington Vietnam Ambassador Hotel OnToChicago St.Patrick’s Arlington Westfield Chappaquiddick Mudd NewYork TheSenate NorthernIreland South Africa Palm Beach Iraq Denver Hyannis JFKLibrary MissionChurch Arlington

James Penha edits The New Verse News.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


by Daniel Wilcox

Last week in stark finality,
A reality TV star of us all,
Wanted by the cops,
Hanged himself
In despair or regret
At the end of a rope,
So unreal in the darkened motel
In Hope B.C.

What an oxymoron of factual news,
A final exit show in
This small fairytale town
Below snow-capped peaks
And evergreen, cliff-ledged majesty
By the River Fraser rolling past time;

Strangely last Fall,
I, too, clung at the end of a lifeline in
A brightly lit motel down that same road,
But now I thrive in this troubled life
Far from the ledge of loss
Because last year when peering
Into the bottomless abyss,
I took a leap across
To the ageless Rock,
There in Hope, A.D.

Daniel Wilcox, a former activist, teacher, and wanderer--from Montana to Hope, B.C.--casts his lines out upon the world's turbulent waters and wide shores in Counterexample Poetics, Moria, Frame Lines, Full of Crow, Centrifugal Eye, etc. His first book of poetry, Dark Energy, was published in July of 2009 by Diminuendo Press.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


To: Sarah Palin

by Andrew Hilbert

A death panel already exists
and it sits at every health insurance
board meeting.

Those who cannot pay
must die.

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

Monday, August 24, 2009


by Howie Good

Bombs Kill 95
the headline says

beside the sunflowers
in a milk bottle

Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York, is the author of nine poetry chapbooks, most recently Visiting the Dead (2009) from Flutter Press.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


by John Azrak

Oh, Wayne, you got me singin’ the baseball blues
right here in the pages of The New Verse News.

It’s hard to sit pretty when you got ‘roid rage:
see Republican Roger the artless dodger hurl
a bat at Mike Piazza on the World Series stage.

I do agree that Andy has a sweet dimple in his chin
and that Bible he carries makes my heart go a-flutter
but it took a syringe of HGH to get him a big win.

Look no further than A-Roid when it comes to cheatin’
the Dominican Republic will take the heat
for the Boli and testosterone cookin’ in his kitchen.

The story is getting old, McGuire was a liar
Big Papi on the juice, Sosa’s smile a ruse . . .
Manny being Manny another hit man for hire.

So if Yanks on top today is order divine—
Give me chaos! Give me rain!—
I’ll look to Joe D for a heavenly sign.

John Azrak is a retired baseball fan. Growing up in Brooklyn, he was a shortstop for the Kings County all star team in 8th grade. Unfortunately, Kings got battered by Queens County in the battle of NYC boroughs. He has had poems and stories about sports published in Aethlon: A Journal of Sports Literature (East Tennessee University) over the past decade or so. Aethlon is part of the nationwide Sports Literature Association.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


by John Grey

You weren’t expecting us
to be against the stars were you,
or protesting sunsets,
too gaudy, too bloody.
The days of tongue-lashing tree trunks,
berating love, vilifying childhood,
are behind us.
Likewise the smear campaign
against any and all beauty,
be it rose or water-fall or woman
glimpsed briefly in train window.
No more blackening hearts,
dragging souls through the gutter.
From now on, it’s strictly weapons
and the ones who wield them.
It’s dumb cluck politicians
and their smart bombs.
Good times, great days,
are safe from our vindictiveness.
No more ganging up on butterflies
and carousels and well buckets.
We’re working for the wounded now.
We take our orders from the dead.

John Grey’s work had been published recently in the Georgetown Review, Connecticut Review, South Carolina Review and The Pedestal and is upcoming in Poetry East and The Pinch.

Friday, August 21, 2009


by Steve Hellyard Swartz

Standing in the rain protesting the protesters
Up at the Sears corner of the Colonie Mall
When a woman in a Hummer stops and eyeballs me
And screams -
"Hey You! Ask yourself - What Would Jesus Do"?
The rain picks up
People honk, people wave
Some extend a hearty five
Some a sullen, middle one
On the western horizon
Here comes the sun
Jesus, it's been one hell of a summer
And now I'm pissed off at that nut in her Hummer
Jesus, my brother from another mother
Fellow Jew, and likeable too
From what I've read, you sound pretty great
Just damned if I know
Where you fit in - in this debate
So in lieu of giving props to you
Instead I consider
What would Squeaky Fromme do?
Oh, Squeaky, visionary follower of Charles Manson
     (self-proclaimed back-up QB to God's only son)
Squeaky, who was miles ahead of the curve
Bringing loaded weapons to a Presidential event in
     the time of Ford and Rockefeller
Will we see Squeaky at a town hall event
No longer young, now an Old Yeller
What, I wonder, would Squeaky do?
As the rain continues to pelt us
And the woman in the Hummer
Uses her GPS to find Jesus

Earlier this month, Steve Hellyard Swartz was selected as Poet Laureate of Schenectady County in upstate NY. A regular contributor to New Verse News, Swartz has also been featured in Best Poem, switched-on gutenberg, and The Kennesaw Review. A two-time Honorable Mention in the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards, Swartz is also a filmmaker. Never Leave Nevada, which he wrote and directed and in which he co-starred, opened at The US Sundance Film Festival in 1990.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


by David Chorlton

As certain colours fade when
the light to which they are exposed
eats into them

a language fades to silence
on its final speaker’s tongue

when he tries to remember the name
of the bright red birds
he used to see all the time

but they no longer answer
his calls

and nobody knows how to ask him
where they are.

When millions turn into thousands
there are still enough to count
without worrying about
missing noughts.
When thousands

are hundreds
we see them as if
they were all
that ever lived.
The hundreds

are a dozen
but each of them remains
as lovely as they were
when common.
A dozen soon

is two. Then
the last one
sings from
a branch
and we listen

as if it
had nothing
to concern it.

A bird’s plumage in the light
of intense observation
first turns white
and then invisible,
but from the trees

where it has lived for so long
its call continues
to ring against the leaves.
Its language is all that remains

of foraging and flying,
of scratching in the soil,
of bringing each new brood
to fledge, and those who heard it

talk about how much it meant to them.
They formulate their words
in many ways
to say

it sounded like this or like this
and they try again to replicate
the particular notes

but survival has no synonym.

The last word from a language in decline
survives as a call for help
but nobody alive understands it.

It has always been a word
considered lovely, whether spoken
or as script

with the trailing lines of a pen
ornamenting its consonants
and a loop at the centre

of the interlocking syllables
where the music of its vowels
has existed since anyone can remember

the slanted lines of sunlight
in the forest. Then came clearcutting
of the ancient alphabet

which took away the letters used
to spell the word, so all that remains
is the sound

as it flies from someone’s tongue
in desperation to be understood
as more than beauty.

The sound of rain became a word.
It didn’t need an alphabet
in order to exist; people spoke it
and the sky went dark.
They knew the power of speech
when the first drops fell.

Many gathered when the earth was dry
and their voices rang as thunder.
The word was never written down.
It remained in its native region
where it never failed to break
a drought. But many of its speakers

went away while others died
and in the absence of books
there was no rain
when there was no word to describe it.

Syntax unravels. Punctuation
slips between the lines.
The words do their best to hold together

by rhyming or as phrases
but don’t know when
a letter should be upper case
and without leadership

they fall into a state
of fragmentation. Then the verbs
grow tired

and pale into invisibility.
Nouns resist the longest.
They dig into the page the way they remember
from when type was set by hand
one letter at a time. The adjectives

promise to hold on
as long as there is something to describe
but even the nouns

surrender and in time
everyone forgets
what they mean. When the adverbs

collapse, nobody comes to save them.
What use can gracefully be

without fly to precede it? When do we say
melodious when there is
no singing?

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

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


a wooden playlet after Carlo Collodi

by Bill Costley

GEPPETTO: Pinocchio, my dear wooden Son,
you need fixin’ but my hands hurt too much.

PINOCCHIO: Soak them in clear water, Father.

GEPPETTO: I have, my wooden Son, I have,
but they still hurt, I cannot grip my knife.

PINOCCHIO: Who else can fix me, Father?
Who else can carve me as well as you can?

GEPPETTO: Any, who have knives & skill.
There are many skillful wood-doctors.

PINOCCHIO: Well, where are they, Father?
Bring me to them, or bring them to me.

GEPPETTO: It is not so simple my wooden Son.
Wooden insurance is needed to make it work.

PINOCCHIO: Then say those words, my Father,
& They will do it. You are their master, Father.

GEPPETTO: I wish I was, my one wooden Son;
I must choose among them & I am confused.
What does Public Option mean? Single Payer?
What is a Co-op? I just live & work all alone.

PINOCCHIO: Father, somebody can explain
each of them to you so you will understand.

GEPPETTO: Who? I have no telephone. Besides,
Parl' solo Tosc'ano, no capich' Italy'ano.

PINOCCHIO: How do I speak to you, my Father?

GEPPETTO: I do not know, my one wooden Son.
We just say what we have to say, somehow.

PINOCCHIO: Then think wooden Thoughts, Father.
Think wooden Thoughts & They well hear you.

GEPPETTO: I am thinking them, my dear Son.
I cannot fix you all by myself. I need help.
Please help me, o, skillful wood-doctors.

WOODEN DOCTORS: We are listening to you,
Geppetto, we hear your wooden thoughts.

GEPPETTO: Thank you, listening wooden doctors.
I need your skills to repair my wooden Son.

WOODEN DOCTORS: Are you covered, Geppetto?
What kind of wooden coverage do you have?

GEPPETTO: I have clothing of cloth & leather;
my wooden covering is my wooden roof.

WOODEN DOCTORS: You do not understand us,
Geppetto. Covering is wooden insurance.

GEPPETTO: I only need wooden insurance for
Pinnochio, my only wooden Son, not myself.

WOODEN DOCTORS: You both need wooden
insurance for us to help you, Geppetto:
for us to talk to you & for us to fix your son.

GEPPETTO: How do I get wooden insurance?
What do I do? Where do I go? Who do I see?

WOODEN DOCTORS: You are doing it now, but
you alone must choose the type of coverage.

GEPPETTO: I do not understand this coverage.
What does it cover? My head? My hands?

WOODEN DOCTORS: Your hands, because you
are a self-employed wood-carver, Geppetto.
Just your hands. They are what hurt you now.

GEPPETTO: Yes, they hurt me so much I cannot carve.

WOODEN DOCTORS: Do you have Workmen’s Comp?

GEPPETTO: No, I work alone, I have no workmen.

WOODEN DOCTORS: Then we cannot help you. We
cannot fix your hands to fix your wooden Son.
That would make you a wooden doctor like us.

GEPPETTO: But you are skillful wooden doctors!

WOODEN DOCTORS: Yes, we are, but we follow
the rules set by whatever coverage you have.
You have no coverage, so we follow no rules.

GEPPETTO: All men follow rules. I have a Rule
there on my workbench & I follow it carefully.

WOODEN DOCTORS: We follow rules of practice,
If we do not, we could be sued for malpractice.

GEPPETTO: But you practiced for many years!
Questa mala fortuna has now befallen you?

WOODEN DOCTORS: Health care reform, with
many new options, soon will re-regulate us.
We fear what it may do to our wooden skills.
(We should not be talking to you about this.)

GEPPETTO: Wait, please, skillful wooden doctors;
Do not fear talking to me; I will try to understand.
I am not part of your mala fortuna malpractice.
I am a humble woodcarver. My hands hurt. My Son…

WOODEN DOCTORS: We do not want to hear any more
about your wooden Son until you choose a health plan.
A wooden health plan for him, not you. Yours must
be a human flesh & blood health plan. For your hands.

GEPPETTO: (weeping) My hands are my only skill.
My hands have made my wooden Son. My hands
are my only hope. [He lifts them to the ceiling.]

[Wooden curtain drops.]

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

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


by Paul Stevens

Defarge and her sisters
At the guillotine's base
Sharp-eyed examine
Each citizen's face

For non-PC thoughts
Betrayed by a glance,
An opinion, a flicker
Of least deviance.

A hint is fact,
Hearsay is better;
Conclusive proof—
An anonymous letter.

What these tricoteuses need
Is Walcott's head:
Knit one, purl one,
Walcott's dead!

Defarge rocks her chair
While the pulleys squeak,
She knits one more name,
Click-click, click-click.

Paul Stevens has published poems and prose all over the blooming place. He teaches literature and edits The Flea and The Chimaera.

Monday, August 17, 2009


by Tim Connelly

A call comes at day's end.
My doctor's appointment has been canceled.
Nothing new.
“No, you don't understand,
the doctor has retired, sorry.”
That's the government.
Have a nice day, too.
Anger consumes me.
I fear my health will suffer.
The system has failed me, once again.
My healthcare put in jeopardy, once again.
I feel like a beggar.
Screwed, once again.
No one cares...
Wave the flag...
Rattle the saber..
Buy the message...
Serve your country...
End up in line...
Waiting all the time...
Cursing the day
I bought the bulls...

Tim Connelly is a veteran and poet of The Lost War. He appreciates the health care he receives from the government but it has made him a professional neurotic. Someday he would like to appear before a death panel.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


by Wayne Scheer

With economists feuding
On whether we're improving

And health care costs spiral
While reform talk goes viral

With a Family First gov
Seeking Argentinean love

And another acting surly
When asked why she leaves early

We take comfort in knowing
As bad as things are going

Order remains in the universe:
The Yankees sit pretty in first.

Wayne Scheer has locked himself in a room with his computer and turtle since his retirement. (Wayne's, not the turtle's.) To keep from going back to work, he's published hundreds of short stories and essays, including, Revealing Moments, a collection of twenty-four flash stories, available as a free download. He's been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Best of the Net. Wayne can be contacted at

Friday, August 14, 2009


by Bill Costley

Pissing blood in rage,
a GOP-agitated citizen slips
on his blood pooling up
on the hardwood floor
of a high-school gymnasium
in the flyover-heartland while
standing to rave at a D-politician.

His face reddens, his eyes
bloodshoot, bloodpressure
skyrockets; his GOP script:
‘Abortion leads to euthanasia
under diabolical Public Option.’
falls to the floor; he stammers:

“The gub-mint wants to kill us!”
soaking in his own blood; an
ambulance 911’d from a local
VA hospital takes him away...

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

Thursday, August 13, 2009


by Andrew Hilbert

yes, they're angry
about government health care
but their blood pressure
medicine is covered
by medicare so it's
nothing for them to worry
about too much
and yes, they're angry
so angry that they bring
guns to town hall meetings
and its only a matter
of time before things get
worse before they get better
and the people that they
shoot may not have health
insurance but the shooter
will say, "tough shit.
i got mine," as they drive
away tuning into Rush
Limbaugh who has
the best pills in the world
and doesn't want anyone
else to have 'em.

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

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


by Earl J. Wilcox

They look like ordinary folks---
housewives, plumbers, UPS drivers,
preachers, professors---citizens
seeking to vent their rage, exercise
their vaunted freedom of speech---
placards, banners, lobbyist-crafted
slogans stealthily unhidden. Comes
the signal flare they heave volley
after volley of hate, lob lies,
bombard with verbal bombs,
try to rout the reasonable with
rants of furious fusillades, shells
of sanctimoniousness. These are
the artillery of raucous discord
paraded before the press. Like all
guerrillas at war with democracy,
they lie in wait to take town hall.

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.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009



by Charles Frederickson

Nobel laureate esteemed Angel of Mercy
Lifting golden torch gracious Lady Liberty
Buddhist lotus position restoring Burmese legacy
Wretched refuse yearning to breathe free

Concerned global family must condemn travesty
Just cause release demanding unconditional guarantee
Farcical trial unquestionably crime against humanity
Democratically elected PM overdue recognition key

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.


by David Feela

"It was almost a surreal quality that kind of developed during the night," passenger Link Christin said. -AP

When the rerouted plane set down
the passengers stayed put
but not because they didn’t
have other places to go.
One fell asleep after two hours
of insisting he be released.
He dreamt of Minneapolis
in the snow despite it being summer,
the moist midnight air
filling his lungs like a sponge.
Another exhausted her cell phone
calling for help, the irony being
that passenger safety
was why she couldn’t leave.
Airport security, gone for the day,
had locked the doors behind them
and nobody else was qualified
to secure this acre of earth.
So the crew refused to disembark
any passenger, afraid that broken rules
might open the hatch to terrorism.
Out of kindness a stewardess
turned off the seat belt light
and relief circulated through
the tiny adjustable nozzle
above everyone’s head, that is
until the toilet holding tank filled
and then not even relief
reigned, though the captain
still held the cockpit out of habit,
asserting his inalienable right
to remain in charge.

David Feela is a poet, free-lance writer, writing instructor, and book collector.. 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.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

MELTDOWN: AUGUST 6 & 9, 1945

by Kim Doyle

I’ve watched the cornflowers explode with color by my backyard fence,
and turn towards the Sun, as it makes its daily celestial journey.
It is true that plants have photo-receptors
that are turned on by blue light.
It is true that a beckoning protein, auxine,
is generated.
It is true that cellular walls elongate
on the Sun side of the plant.

But the steps from Sun up to movement are still somewhat hazy.

I am lazy about researching this phenomenon more deeply.
I am content to observe it and marvel about its existence.
I eat plants and fowl and fish and worry
about their consciousness.

I fret about the big Sun of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
and how it attracts others to its fire; a desire to have it.
Like moths, humans seem drawn to it, nourished by it, warmed
by its controlled reactions but then, but then, but then.
The Sun goes down; the flower heads droop. The end.

Kim Doyle cites J. Robert Oppenheimer at the Trinity atomic bomb test: "I am become death, the destroyer of worlds."

Friday, August 07, 2009


by Karla Linn Merrifield

On the day when three subtropical dragonfly species
appeared at Galveston Island Beach, metallic imitations
patrol far overhead—Coast Guard issue,
draconian Homeland Security spawn.

Gallardia daisies stalk sunflowers on young dunes,
blooming open to the menace above,
some going to seed; they heed not the spying beasts.
Laughing gulls maniacally cackle,
idling away hours along the wrack line.
From a loose rope strung low across the Gulf,
pelicans plunge one by one out of formation
into shallow waters, feeding according to
perfected instinct, ignoring the armed monsters.

Only Homo sapiens of the tourist variety,
myself included, lying on the sand are terrorized,
knowing those hovering creatures,
like practiced predators, take their prey alive.

A Pushcart Prize nominee and 2009 Everglades National Park Artist-in-Residence, Karla Linn Merrifield has had poetry appear in dozens of print and online publications as well as in many anthologies. She has four books to her credit (Midst, Godwit: Poems of Canada, Dawn of Migration and Other Audubon Dreams, and The Dire Elegies: 59 Poets on Endangered Species of North America); a fifth is forthcoming this fall, Etowah River Psalms. She is poetry editor of Sea Stories, book reviewer and assistant editor for The Centrifugal Eye and moderator of the poetry blog, Smothered Air. She teaches at Writers & Books in Rochester, NY. She reads her poems to audiences regularly, most recently in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


by Buff Whitman-Bradley

When I was a boy I read war comics
Terry and the Pirates Steve Canyon
Captain America and I fantasized
About fighting against the Nazis and
The cruel Japs who hated my country

Twenty-five years later a student
Of Zen Buddhism I went to Japan and
Met my teacher’s master a small town
Temple priest who had been a
Fighter pilot during World War II

Later on that same trip I visited the Peace
Museum in Hiroshima and surrounded
By twisted pieces of debris stopped clocks
Scorched and melted Buddhas I imagined
My own shadow burned into the wall

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.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


by JoAllen Bradham

The daily paper does a spin on death,
Fabricating fame, puffing trivia,
Conflating decades past with yesterday.
Sweetness and light, vapid as high school lore,
Fill up inches of obituaries.
So “passing on” is pastiche of platitude.

If the deceased had not drawn their last breath,
Had not recycled beyond the last hurrah,
They would blush, object, demand a replay
Upon reading cookie baking was the core
Of eighty years fighting heavy weathers,
That playing bridge defined beatitude.

Upon his “untimely passing” Macbeth
Today would be washed free of all faux-pas.
A “loyal husband,” “brave king,” “sturdy stay
Of strength.” One who earned his due, no more.
His lady—not the cookie type—carries
Her strong hands with spousal rectitude.

Newspapers issue none-too-fit bequests—
Puny, pitiful desiderata.
“Lovely,” “loving,” “devoted”—they all say,
Stamped out in mass. Not what each singly bore.
It’s long past due for obit’s commentaries
To take note of truth or fortitude.

JoAllen Bradham lives and writes in Atlanta. She is a published novelist (Some Personal Papers) and, by training, a specialist in satire.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


by Tony Brown

Overpass banners
in red white and blue lettering
flapping above the commuter traffic:

Welcome home,
Sgt. Orozsco,
Private Kenney,
Major Dent.

Love you,
Corporal Bronson.

PFC Rodriguez.

I pass under them
almost daily
without much thought.

But the one this weekend
with the black letters
and black borders
that simply said

Sgt. Conroy:

every time I close my eyes
I can still see
how it was fastened tightly
by each corner
to the fence
and did not move at all.

Tony Brown of Worcester, MA has been writing, publishing, and performing his poetry for over thirty years. Pudding House Publications has just published his latest chapbook Flood.

Monday, August 03, 2009


by Beth Winegarner

Trains shuddered out of the subway,
A stampede of sound not loud enough
To trample my baby's cries. On the platform
I bent over his carriage, searching for the right
Combination of words, binky, and patting
That might soothe him. His brow
Was furrowed in that old-man expression

Newborns get. He looked like my
Father would in the instant before scolding us
And sending us to bed without supper.
It was our first time out of the house since
His birth, and the city seemed somehow too
Sharp and blurry at the same time.

I never saw the second train bearing down,
Nor the other passengers scattering. We only
Heard the thunder of steel buckling against steel,
Thick dust sighing out into the sunny afternoon.
My boy went silent, and we both looked up, blinking.
Riders poured out of the trains,
Some of them bloody, some of them screaming.

Sirens and flashing lights followed. Later,
They said the driver blacked out as he pulled
Into the station. I wondered briefly how his life
Would change after that day. While ambulances
Carried the injured away on stretchers, I rolled
My son back down the ramp toward home. We
Did not fit into the world again just yet.

Beth Winegarner is the author of Sacred Sonoma, Beloved, and Read the Music. Her poems have appeared in Tertulia, Bardsong, Hot Metal Press, Lime Green Bulldozers and Dispatch. She lives in San Francisco with her partner and daughter.

Saturday, August 01, 2009


by John F. Buckley

Our town had been beset by addictions,
pillaged by parasitic benedictions,
each desired prayer biting away at our essential natures
until shoulders could no longer stand the touch of wheels
and the teeth of our saws did not contact the wood.
We ourselves
barely survived
because we could not hear the chanting clearly.

And then Mama Rowan came into the picture.
She was provincial. She never left Michigan.
Based on discussions of sex, safety, and travel,
she thought that analingus was the national
airline of Ireland and that using Aeroflot
would prevent one from sinking in water.
But we once took her to a Salvadoran place
for pupusas and she liked them. She said, orange hair
in coils like a happy Medusa, “Oh, cheesy
pockets with cold slaws. I can make this!” She could have.

The other ones, they left the baby with her,
because although their wits were endless,
they knew their collective common sense wore
shoes two sizes too small, brogans that pinched.
And the baby grew without unreasonable terrors and wants.
It learned to cook and reel and chuckle healthily.
It left before the songs of the exalted fell
crashing down upon its shoulders,
before the pulsing meditations met its eardrums.

Mama Rowan stayed
until she was found by forces that sit outside sympathy,
in the wash of dark weedy tissues that eventually rinsed her through,
filled her liver and lungs with filaments,
brought her coughing her cheer into the inside crooks of elbows.
She fell from canopy to roots on a Saturday.

During rain like Robert Lowell’s,
a summer rinse of rot and recompense,
we wait to see her carried away,
our eyes red, mouths in rictuses.
What has she earned us?

Raised in the Detroit area, John F. Buckley has lived in California since 1992. He teaches English at Orange Coast College and does some writing and editing on the side. Please get on his bandwagon now, while he's meek and humble, before success rots his character and he explodes in a maelstrom of pie-hurling and self-aggrandizement.