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Saturday, January 31, 2009

WHITE PHOSPHORUS

by Paul Stevens


Blind windows glare unlight
reflected from their murdered god,
their palace tower looms, erect
pale concrete with its dome of steel

teeth. And from its gape a burp
of white phosphorus eructates, to hover
over the bound land, over our occupied
mother: where I may step only the path

which they have signed and arrowed; not
wander to her spirit-haunted folds;
may not embrace her, whom their mines
strip, whom their power-lines strap down.

White phosphorus honeycombs my head,
white-ants eat my song-cycle, shred my tongue.


Paul Stevens was born in England but lives in Australia. He has an Honours degree in English and teaches Literature. He has published poems in print and pixel, most recently or imminently in Shakespeare's Monkey Revue, The Literary Bohemian, Soundzine, Mannequin Envy, qarrtsiluni, The Barefoot Muse, London Poetry Review, Abyss and Apex and Umbrella. He edits The Chimaera and The Shit Creek Review.
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Friday, January 30, 2009

DIGGING UP GALILEO

by Mary A. Turzillo


Forensic physician Watson
and historian Galluci
want to dig up Galileo.

They want to go to Florence,
open his crypt in San Croce Basilica,
disturb the hero-heretic's ghost.

They want to interrogate his dead eyeballs,
to inquisition his DNA. They question
why he said Saturn had ears.

Saturn has rings, they say, rings!
How could you think ears?
It must be -- well they have their theories.

Unilateral myopia maybe.
Inflamed middle eye. Or, get this:
creeping angle closure glaucoma.

Poor Galileo! Where the hell were they
when he was squinting at blurred images?
Or, as for that, when the Inquisitors shut him up?

And, get this: they need the Vatican's fiat
to bless their resurrectionist scheme.
Ah, Galileo! Is it poetic injustice

the Church has charge of your dead eyes?
Or will you have the last laugh
knowing the Pope might say no?


Mary Turzillo's “Mars Is no Place for Children” won the 1999 Nebula, and An Old-Fashioned Martian Girl, her first novel, appeared in Analog. Among other magazines, Asimov's, F& SF, Cat Tales, Interzone, SF Age, Weird Tales, Oceans of the Mind, Electric Velocipede, and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet have published her fiction and poetry. Your Cat & Other Space Aliens, her poetry collection, will appear from vanZeno press this year. An Emeritus Professor at Kent State University, she founded Cajun Sushi Hamsters and has taught in NASA's Science through Arts. Her favorite people include her son, Jack Brizzi, Jr., and her husband, writer-scientist Geoffrey A. Landis.
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BLAGO

by Andrew Hilbert


He sees himself
like Gandhi
or MLK, Jr

He sees himself
as a martyr
for the people

He's innocent
he says
he speaks

He's the reverse
of Nixon
he says

To be a savior
like Jesus
with no disciples

Messiah
Martyr
Crusader

All these things
in his head
but not Governor

Andrew Hilbert has a degree in History at Cal State Long Beach and lives in Orange County, California.
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Thursday, January 29, 2009

GAZA GUILT

by David Radavich


I confess: I didn’t really see
the grief-stricken girl
by the seashore.

I didn’t know her suffering.
I’ve only seen pictures.

That’s why it
didn’t seem real.

But I felt for her
genuine pain.

And images came
to me—

just as they are
not now

unlocking their shapes,
their unforgettable
colors.

You will please
forgive me.

Honesty is best.

Even dull honesty
with no ripped-off heads
bloody and toy-like

that only have
been imagined by

the privileged
who in their silence

collude
and oppress.

I am safe and warm.
I have food. And money.
I don’t see bodies

torn by war
for breakfast.

The blind can
never do justice.


David Radavich's poetry publications include Slain Species (Court Poetry Press, London), By the Way (Buttonwood Press, 1998), and Great Hits (Pudding House Press, 2000), as well as individual poems in anthologies and magazines. His plays have been performed across the U.S. and abroad, including five Off-Off-Broadway productions. He also enjoys writing essays on poetry, drama, and contemporary issues. His latest book is America Bound: An Epic for Our Time (Plain View Press, 2007).
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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A TASTE OF HOME: HOMAGE TO JOHN UPDIKE

by Earl J. Wilcox


A famous fiction writer sits elbow to elbow by me
behind a garish banquet table on an over-lit stage.

He wrestles with lettuce, picks at his peas, deftly digs
into an overcooked lamb chop. Between bites, we chat

amiably. He gazes toward an adoring audience as if
searching for a friend to rescue him from this show.

The common folk stare back at us, sip their wine,
wonder what he and I are discussing. They imagine

we mix our peas and chops with talk of unpalatable
words from feminist critics whose slaughter of his

body of work has left a bitter taste in his mouth.
We clear our palates, rise for his reading, after he

has signed my copy of his latest novel with a note
claiming to savor our gab for thirty minutes about

favorite foods, growing up in rural America,
----and speaking harshly to grandchildren.


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

by Gary Lehmann


Until Andrew Wyeth was 15, his father gave him no artistic training at all.
He sensed that his son could only learn from his own intuition,
but there came a day when Andy reached the limit of his own methods.

NC unexpectedly taught his son to sketch a skeleton, a still life, a human body.
One day NC entered the studio and stared awhile at a watercolor.
Andrew was completing a tree. “Andy, you’ve got to free yourself.”

“Then, he took a brush and filled it with paint and made this sweeping
brushstroke. I learned more then from a few minutes of watching what
he did than I’ve ever learned from anything since.”


Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Gary Lehmann’s essays, poetry and short stories are widely published. Books include The Span I Will Cross [Process Press, 2004] and Public Lives and Private Secrets [Foothills Publishing, 2005]. His most recent book is American Sponsored Torture [FootHills Publishing, 2007].

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

AMERICA!

by Robert Riche


America, you arrogant brutal simmering pot
of financial crooks, screwed workers,
homeless mothers, you pungent stew
of torturers, imperial self-righteous vulgarians,
despoilers of all that's beautiful,
you potluck hodgepodge of horrors --

God bless you!

For the grace to pass the toque blanche
to one familiar with the unpalatable stink,
who brings a lost recipe to the table,
the flavor and nourishment
long promised, cherished,
remembered now.


Robert Riche: Two chapbooks, Eternity and Other Mundane Matters (Foothills Publishing 2007), On the Line (Pudding House 2008). Other poems accepted by Cape Rock, Clark Street Review, Pudding, Confrontation, Hawk & Whippoorwill, Shakespeare's Monkey, Pilgrimage, Passager, Aurorean, River Oak Review. National Endowment for the Arts grant, Connecticut Foundation for the Arts grant, Advanced Drama Research grant; winner Stanley Drama Award, Breadloaf Writers Conference scholar. Plays performed in numerous LORT regional theaters and in Bristol, England. Published by Samuel French.
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Monday, January 26, 2009

HINTS

by Scot Siegel


an erasure newspoem
based on the story "Hints from the President" by David Cesarani, guardian.co.uk
(Jan 24, 2009)



Over Obama-themed flea market
with a coach park, a street party, an
armed camp. Once the humvees out,
yesterday's ephemera today's garbage,
the city slowly back to normal. Inevitably,
a question hanging pundits and columnists

Obama's inauguration speech America's journey
a repudiation that momentous oration black but
dot.com in a way that Tony Blair never was.
co-opting and disarming adversaries.

How long he will manage to play remains
more radical than his centrist election ever hinted
abuse of human and civil rights
rippled off him. The way he disparaged
the bullying foreign
policy of the past eight years
(he) hunched the smiles, the gifts the tributes
the hapless anger on the Mall to boo and to jeer
Cheney in a wheelchair.

When the retirement lifted off
and flew over joyous shouts
"Bye Bye Bush". Sadly, the crowd control.
The jams, crushes, and frustration threatened
a cheerful throng into
a stampeding herd of selfish summons
to enter "a new era of responsibility"
duty, service, and sacrifice.

No less ironic the stretch limos, shiny speeding
inauguration balls. A lot of gas, canapes and
alcohol

guzzled(,) Michelle and Barack, plainly from the fray
this festival of bling the last gasp of an outgoing regime
typified by greed and excess?
People will be people
Obama is a motivational organizer of
306 million people. So the instruments of democratic
fight and kick quietly into the night. The rich
surrender the gun-toting, truck-driving section
to love hybrids, wind
and solar.

The first 100 days head-on,
while it is weakened,
or slice it up
neutralise it bit by bit. Lincoln, after all,
fought a war to preserve
Washington was a revolutionary
singularly American
bold move. Obama('s) evocation
of winter at Valley Forge
when nothing but "hope and virtue"
"brave once more the icy currents"
Was the devastating surprise attack on
Unlikely.


Scot Siegel is a poet and land use planner from Oregon, where he serves on the board of trustees for the Friends of William Stafford. He is the author of Some Weather (Plain View Press, 2008), and Untitled Country, a chapbook due out from Pudding House Publications in 2009.
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Sunday, January 25, 2009

MY BOOK BY GEORGE W. BUSH

by Earl J. Wilcox


I am elected.
I leave Texas.
I go to DC.
I stay eight years.
I go back to Texas.
The End.


Earl J. Wilcox writes about aging, baseball, literary icons, politics, and southern culture. His work appears in more than two dozen journals; he is a regular contributor to The New Verse News. More of Earl's poetry appears at his blog, Writing by Earl.
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Saturday, January 24, 2009

ON ICE

by Verandah Porche


Light through the needle's eye: solstice
Poem for a blunt wound: poultice

Soft rime on branches, crystal lattice
The drift of white dry statice

Love sought in the underworld: Eurydice
Crevice too close for touch: interstice

Sacrifice draws a budding novice
A toddler adores her mother's bodice

Kid goats are given to caprice
Kickbacks are offered to police

Milk of human kindness, juice of malice
sluice together in a pewter chalice

Avarice, the caviar of vice
Paradise Lost with a pair of dice

Leaflets flutter from the precipice:
A kiss. No lip service. An armistice.

Take office in the wilderness, our choice
Blind Justice, entice us to rejoice


Based in rural Vermont since 1968, Verandah Porche has published The Body’s Symmetry (Harper and Row) and Glancing Off (See Through Books) and has pursued an alternative literary career. She has written poems and songs to accompany her community through a generation of moments and milestones. As a teacher and facilitator, she has created collaborative writing projects in schools and nontraditional settings: literacy and crisis centers, hospitals, factories, nursing homes, senior centers, a 200 year-old Vermont tavern and an urban working class neighborhood. Her work has been featured on NPR’s “Artbeat,” on public radio stations around New England and in the Vermont State House. The Vermont Arts Council awarded her a Citation of Merit, honoring her contribution to the state’s cultural life in 1998, and a recent grant to support the preparation of poetry for publication and performance.
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Friday, January 23, 2009

POETRY READING, INAUGURATION NIGHT, NEW YORK CITY

by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz


There was a guy in the open mike who said, I don’t
have any poems about black presidents. I’m sorry.
I know it’s important, but I just don’t have any.
And I wanted to say, I know what you mean. I only
have one such poem, which isn’t bad, until you take
into consideration that I have two poems about giraffes
which have been trained to rape. Then, the percentages
aren’t so flattering. In my defense, these giraffes actually
existed in Ancient Rome – where else? – and they were
used to punish political criminals. And the idea of them
is so jarring bizarre that they have worked their way
into two – well, now, I suppose, three – poems.

But our new minted president? Only one. What does that
say about me, the girl who balled empty fists to her chest
and wept when they announced his victory. 11pm in NYC,
and I was so sure it wasn’t going to happen I stayed at home.
I couldn’t believe such a good thing could happen to such
a profoundly flawed country. What kind of poet has
such a limited imagination. What kind of poet can accept
the concept of a giraffes trained to rape, but cannot accept

that we might have a leader who flashes his intellect
like an ID – standard, there. A leader who has my dad,
a man who voted for Bush twice, nodding at his laptop,
watching his speeches five, ten, fifteen times, annoying
my mother, a McCain holdout til the end. A leader who
brought back patriotism from bumper stickers and irony,
who makes my heart glitter, makes my spine straighter,
makes me flex my hope muscle, unbreak my faith bone.

This afternoon, everyone is my office stood around a radio
in the conference room just to listen. I stayed at my desk,
feeling like hearing him speech in front of my HR person
and the lecherous accounting guy would make me feel
oddly naked. I join the parade of people who flinch daily
worrying about an assassin’s bullet. I join the party
of awe and gratitude. I join the tender line of poets still
stuttering at the news, still disbelief, still rubbing eyes,
still clinging to doubt and shock like we might need them,
like they are weapons we should still keep in our tool belts.

But this poem is a shedding, is an opening, is a gambit,
is a stripping, is a doorway, is a keyhole, is a push.
This poem is a poem in which I admit today is a new day,
that I am beginning to believe in our blushing hard-won future.
A poem where I say thank you, a poem where I say thank you,
A poem where I say thank you to whoever is responsible.
A poem where I say thank you to whoever will listen.


Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz is a New York City-based poet and author. She is the author four books of poetry and has performed throughout the U.S. and Australia. Her fourth book of poetry, Oh Terrible Youth, was published by The Wordsmith Press in June 2007 and her first book of nonfiction, Words In Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam, was published in 2008 by Soft Skull Press.
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Thursday, January 22, 2009

THE INTERIOR

by Judith Terzi


He's signed the papers;
the house is theirs.
Cartons line rooms.
The lamps are finally lit.
The girls are running down halls
in Hannah Montana pajamas.
Grandma and Michelle have changed
into red flannel robes.
They're fussing with the pillowcases,
arranging, rearranging
the girls' comforters.
Barack is brushing his perfect teeth;
he'll floss tomorrow.

It's the year of the ox.
He's pulling eight loads
of endangered country
from midnight to dawn.


Judith Terzi spent most of her life teaching high school French language and literature. Her poetry has recently appeared in Broken Bridge Review, Eucalypt, Ginosko, Picayune, The Pedestal Magazine and Raving Dove. She lives in Pasadena, CA.
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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

THE POEM IS MISSING IN GAZA

by Buff Whitman-Bradley


The poem is missing in Gaza although
There have been fleeting glimpses and
Unconfirmed sightings someone says
She saw it floating down a gutter in a
Foaming river of blood another one
Reports hearing its cries from under
A building bombed to rubble and dust

The poem is missing in Gaza it may
Have been at an open-air morgue
Among the bodies of children killed
From the sky while waiting for a bus
A doctor believes he may have
Amputated the poem’s shredded legs
And tossed them on a pile of other limbs

The poem is missing in Gaza some say
They saw it run into a school to escape
The bombs just before the bombs
Obliterated the place the flesh of its
Hands and arms may have been fried
From the bones as it tried to rub white
Phosphorous off a burning infant

The poem is missing in Gaza have the
Explosions melted its eyes shattered
Its eardrums is it being pursued through
The convulsing streets by the people with
Gunmetal grins whose breath smells
Like ammunition whose microprocessor
Eyes see everywhere but into the heart

The poem is missing in Gaza the Gunmetal
Grins have big plans they will build a
A wall around the poem and imprison
The poem and torture the poem and steal
Its land and cut down its olive trees and
Slowly starve the poem and its children
Until there is nothing left of them but

The poem eludes the Gunmetal Grins
Armless legless deaf and blind it has
Made its way to the same beach where
Artillery fire killed a family on a picnic
It cannot hear the waves or see the sky
Grow pale but it feels the warm sand and
Smells the perfumed hands of evening

And the poem can remember it can
Remember murdered children back to life
And disappeared villages out of the earth
Holding their arms open to welcome
Refugees home it can remember shy winds
Blowing through olive groves and what
The poem remembers becomes a song

A song that gets up and walks away
From the beach into the smoking ruins
Of villages and towns the Gunmetal Grins
Cannot hear the song with explosions
In their heads and blood in their ears but
The people can hear they begin singing softly
We will not be erased and we will not die


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.
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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

20 JANUARY 2009

by Matthew Quinn


Let the devils
burned by the brushing wings
of history
gather with the throng:

Fastidious Booth
and wild haired Calhoun,
Nathan Bedford Forrest,
a rogue's gallery of slave masters.
All are elbowed and jostled,
buried beneath a sea
of small American flags
waving, saluting
through the length and breadth
of the mall.

Let an angel hover, also.
From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial
Dr. King looks forward
through the Washington Monument,
through Selma's bloody streets,
through the balcony of the Lorraine Motel
to the Capitol steps,
to a hand resting
on Lincoln's Bible.

With the last word
of the inaugural address
Dr. King looks down,
takes the hand of Emmett Till.
Silent, they walk down
the memorial steps
and dissolve into the crowd,

one dream,
at least,
no longer deferred.


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

by George Held


We got at last a Pres that’s black
We got a Pres that’s white
We got to cut that man some slack
Until he get unpack’

Oo—uh oo, oo—uh oo—uh oo
I got th’inauguration blues

He got a wife that’s name’ Michelle
The slickest gal you’ll see
The Klan just wish they’d go to Hell
An’ let the white man be

Oo—uh oo, oo—uh oo—uh oo
I got th’inauguration blues

Barack began in Ioway
An’ got the white vote there
He stayed in front all o’ the way
An’ did it fair ’n’ square

Oo—uh oo, oo—uh oo—uh oo
I got th’inauguration blues

O we voted with all our heart
Made sure that Barack won
O we voted from the heart
So Sweet Obama won.

Oo—uh oo, oo—uh oo—uh oo
I got th’inauguration blues

We pray the Lord protect that child
Protect our pride and joy
Lord, let him rule so strong yet mild
No harm come to that boy

Oo—uh oo, oo—uh oo—uh oo
I got ‘em—real bad—th’inauguration blues
Oo—uh oo, oo—uh oo—uh oo
I got them inauguration blues


George Held published two chapbooks in 2008: The News Today, a collection of poems that first appeared in The New Verse News, and Phased, a collection of moon poems.
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Monday, January 19, 2009

EIGHT LONG YEARS

by Anne G. Davies


We won’t have Bush to kick around any more
Which comes as a grand epiphany
If the stock market weren’t in the doldrums
I’d get a bauble from Cartier or Tiffany.

The list of his sins is quickly compiled
As are their repercussions
Such as blighted foreign relations
With Europe, Asia, the Russians.

The inexcusable Iraq adventure
With its “mission accomplished” bravado
An exercise in macho indulgence
By our Lone Star desperado.

Wrecking the Justice Department
Declaring war on science
Making the Oval Office a fortress
That treats subpoenas with defiance.

Degrading public discourse
From civil to cantankerous
Poisoning contacts with Congress
Which have never been so rancorous

Riding roughshod on habeas corpus
Flouting the Geneva Convention
Wiretapping fellow Americans,
Deserve our special attention.

The aftermath of his onslaught
Will haunt us for generations,
Ample time for historians
To confirm our condemnations.

He leaves this land a darker place
Its honor sadly diminished
I see but one redeeming grace:
His ruinous reign is finished.


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.
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Sunday, January 18, 2009

EPITAPH ON A NIN*COM*POOP

by Mary Hutchins Harris

after W.H. Auden—Epitaph on a Tyrant

Perfection, of some kind, was what he was after
although he denied it with a shrug, but the words
he invented were easy to repeat, the folly of those
around him familiar, so with mission accomplished
by his armies and fleets, he claimed their tears his
own then danced--a soft shoe here, a foot stomp
there, as children fell down and died in the sand.


Mary Hutchins Harris is a poet and essayist. She has been a featured poet for the Piccolo Spoleto Sundown Series and the Stories for Life Festival in Charleston, SC. Her work appears in on-line and print journals. Her poetry chapbook A Tongue Full of Yeses was recently published as a winner of the 2007 SC Poetry Initiative Chapbook Contest.
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Saturday, January 17, 2009

WALDEN, JANUARY 2009

by Scott Simpson


Like some sort of Thoreau
ignorance, I am here-- I hear,
in my cabin in the woulds

and shoulds, doing nothing
worth the price of my real
estate, with mortgage I can

not even pay--I hear on my tele
vision, those chosen
people and their fugitives die

aspora-aspirations of promise
now woven into what’s Read
of our Bibles, the White of unflown

flags, the gun-Blue of anthems
launched above poverty’s head,
and of dying babies.

Silly me, I went into the woulds
because I wished to live
de-liberate-ly.


Scott Simpson is a former high school teacher, college professor, camp director and lay-minister who attempts to live a contemplative lifestyle on a planet that views quietness and stillness as destructive ideas that could potentially undermine the fabric of society. He, indeed, hopes to undermine the fabric of that society with quietness and stillness. Scott lives on a planet called Earth. Scott's poems have appeared in Switched-On Gutenburg, BigCityLit, and New Verse News, and anthologized in In Praise of Pedagogy (2000, Calendar Press). You can listen to some of Scott's music and poetry on MySpace.
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Friday, January 16, 2009

INSTEAD OF A POEM FOR INAUGURATION DAY

by David Chorlton


Let someone meditate
with all the nation watching. Let someone
be seen to look inward.
Between the fanfare and the public prayer
let someone sit cross legged
and recall what has been done in all our names.
Keep poetry out of this. The art
of speaking truth to power can’t translate
into speaking for power as truth.
Let someone contemplate the way
of handshakes and whispers masquerading
as democracy, but don’t ask poetry
to mark the occasion. It has a reputation
to uphold. Let someone hold a blank
sheet of paper to say
the poem that would have appeared here
would never have been allowed
to be read with so many listening. It would
have been too graphic, too honest, too intent
on seeking justice. It would have spoiled
the day. Let silence ring.


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.
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Thursday, January 15, 2009

THE ACID TEST

by Earl J. Wilcox


"My parents told me to keep coming to school even if I am killed.
The people who did this to me don’t want women to be educated.
They want us to be stupid things"
--Shamsia Husseini, 17, who has returned to school in Afghanistan
despite being injured in an acid attack. (NYT, 14 Jan. 09)

Today we study Economics and World History,
subjects not dear to my heart, not even close
to my love of music and the stars. Yet, if I
don’t go, they will win, those who threw acid
at me last week, those who walk up to me
and give me a nod just before blowing themselves
into Allah’s eternity. But my mother is right:
if I don’t go today, I won’t go tomorrow, and
soon not only this battle, but the war is won by
men who don’t want women to have a chance,
now or ever. Out the door I go, head covered,
eyes averted, holding my breath, hoping I
make it to school with my lunch---and my life.


Earl J. Wilcox writes about aging, baseball, literary icons, politics, and southern culture. His work appears in more than two dozen journals; he is a regular contributor to The New Verse News. More of Earl's poetry appears at his blog, Writing by Earl.
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

CHILDREN OF GOD, CHILDREN OF GAZA

by Mary Saracino


Bands of bloodied brothers wage war,
circles of sorrowful sisters sing
of senseless feuds, ancient grudges.
Greedy fingers grab for land, water, food, power.
No cease-fire, no peace,
too many dead-end promises
pollute the death-drenched air.
Bombs explode, freedom implodes,
terror seizes every soul.
Israeli, Palestinian grief shrouds
lifeless bodies, lost dreams, shattered futures.
The children of God are the children of Gaza
who wail, shiver in fear, seek solace, safety, shelter.
In whose godly arms do they find refuge?
In what godly chambers of the human heart
can their hopes hope to reside?


Mary Saracino is a novelist, poet and memoir-writer who lives in Denver , CO . Her most recent novel, The Singing of Swans (Pearlsong Press 2006) was a 2007 Lambda Literary Awards Finalist. Her short story, "Vicky's Secret" earned the 2007 Glass Woman Prize.
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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

AFTER

by Khary Jackson aka 6 is 9


After the riot,
the streets are a milky haze,
the morning blurred in golds and yellows,
impressionism meeting sobriety,
rage wishing for a hangover.
Clouded yellow faces,
shadowed brown faces,
still streets covered in glass,
and the boy is still dead.
Store owners hoping their insurance
will keep them afloat,
car owners estimating the cost
of new headlights before
work, teachers weighing the
relevance of lesson plans,
and the boy is still dead.
They said the system was to blame,
and the system justified assault upon
the livelihood of a city barely making one.
Hundreds of numbing hospital bills,
millions lost among friends,
this is all worth the life of one boy
who is still very dead. Yet millions
die daily of starvation, of filthy water,
of systems that view them as numbers,
where are our riots then?
If one man can throw shoes,
can not a nation provide them?
If we're going to waste millions,
take them from the very hands
we kissed two days ago,
I know of a few nations
who need it more than the system
we desired to humble.
Because after the riot,
a dead boy is nearly forgotten, and hundreds
of beautiful people have become
an embarrassment,
walking through the glass covered
streets wondering, what now?
What now.


Khary Jackson aka 6 is 9 is a teaching artist, a playwright and nationally recognized slam poet; currently residing in Saint Paul, born in Detroit.
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Monday, January 12, 2009

THE END TIMES

by Robin E. Sampson


It was tough for everyone.
Wall Streetwalkers, Big Three guzzlers,
mortgaged bankers, surreal estate brokers.

But when the purveyors of porn went under,
civilization as we knew it collapsed
into a quivering heap.

At first everyone snickered,
the smut peddlers needed
a hand out. A money shot.

Yeah sure. We thought
they were joking, but…
we should have listened.

Flynt and Francis were right.
Depressed, we quit having sex.
For recreation. Then procreation. The end.


Robin E. Sampson’s poetry has appeared online in Bent Pin Quarterly, New Verse News, Wicked Alice as well as various print locations. She also has an essay included in the book Poem, Revised: 54 Poems, Revisions, Discussions (Marion Street Press, 2008). She is one of the hosts of the Bethel, CT Wednesday Night Poetry Series, and a member of the performance troupe Shijin. She lives in Sandy Hook, CT.
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Sunday, January 11, 2009

FOR OAKLAND: AN OPEN LETTER TO OFFICER JOHANNES MEHSERLE

by Emily Kagan Trenchard


Just a few days after, one of the wealthiest men in Germany
did it because he had lost his fortune to a con artist.
There was a man in Texas who did it after America
watched him ask a 13 year old for a blow job on television.
In fact, when a naked man, crazed, standing on the roof of a building
in Brooklyn threatened a group of police officers with a neon light bulb –
the kind with the long incessant buzz and the ability to wash
away your life under its glow – when this shriveled threat of a man
was tasered and fell off the roof to his death, the commanding officer
on the scene did it. Not the cop who pulled the trigger.
And I bet your wondering about him, too.

About that beat cop who took the order, unsnapped the taser from his belt,
shot it and thought, "Maybe this will shock some sense into the guy,"
A good joke he planned to share with the boys after they got the hell off that roof.
That cop who grinned as all that naked chaos stumbled backward,
tugging at the blue-charged hooks until the skin tore
like it was following orders. I wonder about that man,
on the night he found out his commanding officer killed himself.
I wonder if he felt like nothing more than a finger. I wonder if he had even considered doing the same before then.
And if he didn't, did that make him more or less of a man?
And so this is the question for you, officer:

Maybe this was a bad bet on how many people on a train might have camera phones.
Maybe you wanted to see, just once, what it would feel like to slip it in.
Maybe you were nothing more than a twitch of the wrong finger.
But now, you will never be anything but that boy, lying cuffed on the
train platform, stunned and flickering out.

Everyone has their part to play: the city of Oakland will burn and burn
again for another dead boy it didn't mean to kill.
The police department will issue statements and conduct safety training,
This young man's name will be in a rap song. His daughter will have a college fund.
And you: you are no longer police.

But when you wake up tomorrow, and you're standing in your kitchen
staring the coffee pot, your thick white thighs pushing against the hem
of your boxers, your face unshaven for three days now, your girlfriend away
at her mother's house, and you can't go outside because the news vans are there,
and your brother called again because the reporters are calling him too,
and suddenly you will need to find a job in this shitty economy and you can't
watch TV because they keep showing pictures of the kid you shot, there's no
bar to slump into and this city will not have you, you fucked up and you know that
but your lawyer says keep your mouth shut, you're 27 and you have a lawyer, and you
just want a god damn cup of coffee but you can't because your hands,
you hands have disappeared.
And will that be enough?



Emily Kagan Trenchard
is a poet and science writer who lives in Brooklyn, NY. She is co-curator of the louderARTS Project poetry reading series and the Project's Slam Master.
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Saturday, January 10, 2009

MATTERS OF CONTROVERSY

by Tony Brown


Gaza
is approximately
25 miles long
and between 4 and 7
miles wide, contains
around 1,500,000
people, is the 6th
most densely populated area
on the planet with around
4200 people per square kilometer;
due to issues
with access and administration,
many of those figures
are a matter of some controversy.

It is controlled
by Hamas
and that is a matter of some
controversy.

Hamas has frequently launched rocket attacks
from Gaza into Israel. In recent days
(speaking now at the end of 2008)
said attacks have killed 1 person
and wounded dozens,
although numbers may change,
and the figures remain
a matter of some controversy.

Airstrikes by Israel against targets in Gaza
have led to the deaths of at least 275 people
to this point, with the Israeli government promising that
operations will be continuing for some time.
This is a matter of some controversy.

The pronunciation of the word
"Gaza"
is a matter of some controversy.
Some pronounce it
"My Lai," or "Sand Creek,"
while others pronounce it "necessary
if regrettable" or "a situation that must be
closely monitored." Which pronunciation
will prevail, even who gets to choose
which pronunciation will prevail --
these are matters of some controversy.

Under the arc of rockets and bombs
there is little to debate.
A limb severed is a limb severed.
A hat still moist with scalp
and brains is irrefutable.
A baby's arm dusted
in the matte silver of concrete dust,
protruding from rubble and still twitching,
is described the same way in every account,
with wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Controversy
is the art of saying something
that is in opposition
to what someone else is saying.

Silence
is the art of saying nothing.

War is the art of attempting to end
controversy. It works best in concert
with silence.

Whether a particular war
is a masterpiece of the art form
is frequently
a matter
of controversy for a few,
a matter upon which
the majority
is mostly silent.


Tony Brown, from Worcester, MA, is a veteran poet and performer whose most recent chapbook, Flood, will be published shortly by Pudding House Press.
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Friday, January 09, 2009

AND NOW THESE CHIMES

by Simon Perchik


And now these chimes
have that stench the dead --all night
the rain falls for them, calling out

till even the sky wants to fly
followed by armies.
What's left is some mountain

a stream falling backward
and the sky again a star, its light
too slow --what you see

already passed --soldiers
need this mud, a climbing starts
and whoever looks up now

hears these slow chimes
lifting the Earth loose
from its first death
and the stillness.


Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. Readers interested in learning more are invited to read Magic, Illusion and Other Realities at www.geocities.com/simonthepoet which site lists a complete bibliography
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Thursday, January 08, 2009

THE INVASION OF GAZA

by Buff Whitman-Bradley


Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.
--Hosea 13:16

The strong always crush the weak and call upon
The court poets and priests to invent fairy tales that justify the carnage
And to hire some two-bit god with bad breath poor impulse control
And serious personality disorders to consecrate the slaughter

Once upon a time God chose us because we are the righteous ones
He tells us we can have whatever we want

Even if we have to take it from the Others because

The Others are wicked and deserve none of God’s treasures


The powerful blame their victims while claiming to be victims themselves
At night they grow transparent and cannot see themselves in mirrors
But they hear their own heavily armed shadows everywhere in the streets
Whispering secrets and sneaking up on them in the dark

The Others are not beloved of God and wish to annihilate us
To drive us into the sea to wipe us off the face of the earth

Merely because we protect ourselves against their irrational violence

For we are just and merciful and massacre only in self-defense


The imperious always steal from the downtrodden and explain
That they are simply claiming what is rightfully theirs
That only they are capable of using God’s gifts wisely
That only they know how to make the deserts bloom

In our sacred bargain with God we have promised to flatter only Him
And He has promised us that the land of the unbelievers is ours

And has instructed us to kick their asses to decapitate their children

To turn them to dust and live happily ever after


As the corpses pile up the people dance in the streets celebrating
A great victory praising their bleary-eyed accommodating god while he sits in a
Downtown gin joint with the court priests and poets tossing back shots
Trying to get drunk enough to keep the nightmares away


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.
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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

GAZA

by David Radavich


The terrorist aggressors
have no homes, no food, no hospitals.

The victims have warplanes
and bombs, tanks and body armor.

The terrorists bury
their dead.

The victims fly over
and hold press conferences.

The terrorists seek
martyrdom through God.

The victims seek
territory with no Other.

The terrorists have elected
the wrong leaders.

The victims won’t tolerate
the choice of terrorists.

Now they meet
as dark brothers.

Rubble
and aggrieved.

One day they will home
in the same earth.


David Radavich's poetry publications include Slain Species (Court Poetry Press, London), By the Way (Buttonwood Press, 1998), and Great Hits (Pudding House Press, 2000), as well as individual poems in anthologies and magazines. His plays have been performed across the U.S. and abroad, including five Off-Off-Broadway productions. He also enjoys writing essays on poetry, drama, and contemporary issues. His latest book is America Bound: An Epic for Our Time (Plain View Press, 2007).
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DOG YEARS

by Howie Good


The war has entered
its second decade.
Maddened by the futility,
the dogs run away.
Few people seem to notice
that they’re gone.
Three times a day,
if not more,
their former owners
take empty leashes
out for a walk.
Just this morning
the old widow stopped
to let a polite little boy
on his way to school
bend down and
scratch behind the ears
of what wasn’t there.


Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of six poetry chapbooks, most recently Tomorrowland (2008) from Achilles Chapbooks. He has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize and twice for the Best of the Net anthology.
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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

SNAKES AND LADDERS

by Peter Branson


Your mother smiled:
"In constant fear of debt
your grandparents."

Back there the shame
it bought bit deep
enough; twice shy
of something worse.

She'd used her 'never-never' plan
for leatherette armchairs
and cheap broadloom,
few bob a week
salting an old tobacco tin.

These days folk surf big waves
on credit cards.
The market drives:
rich get first pick, but some
will filter through;
false prophets feed closed minds.

When things go critical
down the old 'Bull an' Bear',
monopoly with loaded dice,
lives fall apart.

Cards marked, quick change of hats,
the dark ones and their acolytes,
jump ship unscathed, loot stashed
in virtual carpetbags.


Peter Branson is a creative writing tutor. Until recently he was Writer-in-residence for "All Write" run by Stoke-on-Trent Library Services. He began writing poetry seriously about five years ago and has had work published by many mainstream poetry journals, including Acumen, Ambit, Envoi, Iota, 14, Fire, The Interpreter's House, Poetry Nottingham, Red Ink and Other Poetry. In the last two years he has had success in several competitions including a first prize in The Envoi International, a second place in The Writing Magazine Open and a highly-commended in The Petra Kenney. His first collection, The Accidental Tourist, was published in May 2008.
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Monday, January 05, 2009

THE LAYOFF

by Mary Kathryn Morgeneier


Security Guards were on the march
Telling people to pack their stuff

The rest of us watched in fright
Like involuntary new paratroopers
Never imagining we would be here

Waiting anxiously on the jump flight
Surprisingly, few scream as they fall
They say some made it safely to ground

I wait my turn and try to stay cool
Until the next layoff comes around
Sure hope the chute opens when I pull

Will I enjoy floating into freedom?


Mary Kathryn Morgeneier from Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, has been published in TrendMad and Poet's Review. She is co-host with Joseph D'Orazio of the Phoenixville gathering of Mad Poets Society on the first Tuesdays of the month at Steel City Coffee House in Phoenixville
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Saturday, January 03, 2009

ECO-NOMICS

by David Chorlton


I pinch myself to prove
I’m real. There, I felt it
as a flash of grief
for the tigers in a habitat
shrinking around them
like a noose, or for the birds
returning from migration
to a forest smaller
than they remembered.
Never mind; the game show

host is smiling
as he raises the stakes
and the audience holds its breath
the way investors do
when they roll dice
with people’s faces where
the dots once were. It’s all

play-station economics
shrink-wrapping imagination
for a market in which
anything’s for sale
from happiness pills to the fur
off a fox’s back.
It’s virtual money
with genuine debt

when the price is right for a deal
or no deal will occur
when the wheel of fortune spins
out of control
and we can’t afford to save
even what sustains us.


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.
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Friday, January 02, 2009

ON THE BOMBING OF GAZA

by Judy Katz-Levine


and though I am a Jew, and am sure I am hated,
in Gaza, I see the image of a Palestinian child wounded, with limbs
scarred or torn,and know its wrong
the war machines churn, and though I pray
for peace in Israel, and know the rockets spew forth
from an underground resistance, and I know nothing
of the suffering of the Palestinians, only
from where we come, from what horrors we come from
we should not create horror, the prophet Micah said
"walk humbly with your G-d" but this is an arrogance
built on arrogance upon arrogance, that cannot
be understood by this Jew who hears a Gypsy violin
wailing, "NO, No, this is a rage that creates more pain
than one can understand"


Judy Katz-Levine's most recent book is Ocarina. Her poems have appeared in The Delinquent, The Sun, Salamander, 96 Inc., and many other magazines and anthologies.
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