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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

GUNMAN KILLS 8 AT N. CAROLINA NURSING HOME

by Steve Hellyard Swartz


The article said the nursing home has 112 beds
With an Alzheimer’s unit
My father died of Alzheimer’s
He had Parkinson’s first and then he got worse
I used to visit him and he’d kind of grumble a little when I said
Hi, Dad
He’d grumble not like he knew me but like what I was doing to the morning sun
Was bothering him
He’d grumble, my Dad
And, his hand shaking, point at something – not at me, at something past me, how far past I never knew
When the gunman walked into the home past the healwoman and the healman and the sickmen and the sickwomen when the gunman began shooting the people at the nursing home in Carthage, N.C.
What did the Alzheimer’s patients see?
When my father was dying a nurse in hospice said we should keep talking to him
That he knew we were there
That his soul which was in transit
Still loved for us to visit
When the gunman shot the woman who was 98
What did the Alzheimer’s patients think?
Did they point their shaking fingers
The way my Dad pointed
A little past me
Or did they point
As the gunman did
Directly at what this life has come to be


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.
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Monday, March 30, 2009

GONE

by Spiel


your fingerprints
are threadbare from
sweat on grindstone

barely gripping
the skinny side
of a faceless dime

you wish tomorrow you could
sing that old song once again
how your dime was worthy of
               your hard time

and you could share your song
with multitudes
and that old song would last you
all day long


There is no NEA nor MFA influence in diverse writings of personal conflict and social consciousness by the poet Spiel, published frequently, internationally, online and in independent press journals. His latest books are: “she: insinuations of flesh brooding,” March Street Press and “once upon a farmboy,” MadmanInk. Learn more about Spiel at: www.thepoetspiel.name.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

RED SHIFT

by Peter Branson

Neither a borrower nor a lender be. (Hamlet)

Before this latest mess they pestered us
to use their cards, take out cute kit-your-home
out loans. Phone call, spam mail or snail, TV,
imprint; end of the day, we fall. Roll up,
ring out same tired theme tune: “It trickles down,
prosperity, so all do well, d’you see.”
Don’t say when they’ve recouped their share, be bare
bones left for you; blind rambling downturn blues.

They bind us to them heart and soul, refine
with clever marketing how we consume.
The bubble burst, black hole, the butterfly
effect, dark stuff; weird quantum alchemy,
base lead from gold. Though Jack’s all right, Next-door’s
redundant, fifty-two, requires CV,
asks you. No gay Antonio to bail
him out, needs money –"Mortgage, bills to pay."

Recession don’t change much ‘less you’re in debt
or on the dole. Destabilized, may be
too late; the toy balloon, inflated, grasped
by finger tips, released. No siren’s raised;
no fire engine, police car or ambulance,
that drop in pitch to signify you’ve flipped,
blue chip to sheer insolvency, worn out
your credit-rating stations-of-the-shop.

They’ll goose you while you’re healthy, salmon-pink,
try not to drain you dry; mostly you cope:
‘Consolidate your debts into one place.’
Then it’s red shift. Micawber’s “Something will
turn up” won’t do. You’re irredeemable,
can’t turn the tide. They take the reins: “The deal
was all explained to you before you signed.
See there, small print, the bottom of the page.”

They charge-you-till-you-bleed and when you do,
they seize what they already own: buy now -
pay later stuff, your car, your home. You’re in
a mental Marshalsea. They’re in control.
“I’m being reasonable. Don’t take that tone
with me. It’s here in black and white. What’s that?
You didn’t realise? Why? Can’t you read?
Those tears won’t wash. There’s nothing I can do.”


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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Saturday, March 28, 2009

WRONG SONG

by Martin Galvin


Some wars we seem to want we do not need to win
Despite the spite with which the fight is made,
Despite the call by those we call our leaders
Despite the shame imputed to the shameless many.
Some wins we want do not need a war.

A war began yesterday but does not end today,
Goes on for years, goes past all reason down
The road we didn’t want to go and past the road
Would take us back where we had been as boys

And girls safe in a place we could not place
Anymore for it is far foul gone for evermore
From mind and map, from war’s foul aim to win
Despite the difference between want and need,
Despite the love we could have won together.


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.
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Friday, March 27, 2009

HE WORKS WHILE I WATCH

by Meredith Escudier


The toothless man
across the street
can be found every day
of the week, Sundays included,
lying with legs in lateral display,
underneath a car.

With monkey wrenches, screwdrivers,
rags and spigots, valves and filters,
he tinkers away, doing lube jobs,
oil changes, wiring and re-wiring,
welding, gluing, sanding and painting.

Sometimes the hood is propped up,
over an array of dark metal parts,
an open cavern of coal-colored castings,
a battery with colored buttons,
a radiator with a screw-on cap.

Sometimes the dashboard is disentrailed
and a rainbow of spiky wires reaches out
like a limp porcupine, still impressive
if past its punchy prime.

The cars vary. There’s the silvery one with
no hubcaps and the run-down multi-purpose pick-up,
the once-white Tercel and a BMW with no lights in view,
a ‘72 Buick and a ‘75 Ford.

Everyday, my neighbor gets up and slips into his overalls.
Everyday, he sips consommé bouillon with rice balls.
Everyday, he lights a cigarette and contemplates a car that awaits,
a project that beckons, a vehicle that might run today
or not.
No bailout for him, no stimulus package in the offing,
no industry to save, no clauses to waive,
just keep puttering, just keep on puttering
'cause sooner or later, this baby'll sputter and purr.


Meredith Escudier’s non-fiction work has appeared in various literary magazines, anthologies, the International Herald Tribune "Meanwhile" column and as an ongoing column in a monthly based in the south of France. She has just started submitting poetry, which is a genre that suits her more and more.
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Thursday, March 26, 2009

WAITING FOR RELIEF

by Cary B. Ziter


Self confidence and the dove have flown.
Marrow swells in slumber, in the dizzy monotone.
Inane diplomacy rules cold slate clouds.

The flat water of my living room brings television
talk of adored warheads and subtropical pain killers
that no longer help abused genitals.

For three unemployed months the ringlet curl has unwound
and I have sat here missing my manager's daily interrogation,
his buffed leg irons applied to ankles, attitude, eye lids.

Crime over love, blood over heart; they'll never take
me back. The Brooks Brothers suit has given way to soap
opera as sick as the tobacco itching my yellow teeth.

Soon I will write down all my prime investments,
dine on stored sonnets, on disputes and tragedies,
live only to forget the recent past.

And shudder at the hissing sounds in my head, voices
full of falsity that roll in like wild funeral grief
each time I plead for new relief.


Cary B. Ziter is the author of three published books for young readers. He earned his MFA from Bennington College and currently resides in upstate New York.
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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

SACRAMENTO

by Eliza Kelley


I just sold
my mother’s diamond ring
to pay for last month’s heat.

This is no parable
wrestling angels with golden bows.

The lesson here must be
the terrible hymn of a pearl
become dust, too long bereft

of human touch, disintegrated
into its own dry weight
like the rising number of tent dwellers

sorting through
thin
garments
down
to the bottom
of the last supper city
mission bin: finding nothing to fit, just

the lost pearl, broken loose
from its button place.

We hold only this truth
self-evident, a bauble
crushed in the palm of our hand, stand
together, alone, wonder

who will lift us up?
We are suddenly wise
who find nothing left to pawn.


Portrait artist and writer, Eliza Kelley, teaches Native American and Minority Literatures, Human Rights Discourse and Creative Writing at Buffalo State College in New York. Recent poetry and fiction appears in CONTE, RKVRY, Origami Condom, and Trillium.
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

STIMULUS PACKAGE

by Alan Catlin


Smith & Wesson
reports
expected increased sales

revenue
in handgun
sales

to law enforcements
agencies countrywide
due to stimulus package

funds
& an anticipated spike
in crime rates

caused by hard economic
times after bad
quarterly earnings

following drop in
in discretionary
spending on shot guns

and hunting rifles
no impact statement
issued on expected rise

in private sales
to individuals
& criminals

was made
available
at this time


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.
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Monday, March 23, 2009

COMMISSIONER OF THE LATEST BLUNDER

by William Aarnes


Chagrined is how the news clip catches Kathleen
right behind me at my hearing--loyal disappointment.
They've had the sense to air my reading
of the passage I'd revised the most: " . . . miscalculated . . .
ignored the misgivings of my staff . . . misinterpreted . . .
unknowingly misinformed and thus misadvised . . .
then mishandled . . . ." They show the Senator
defending my honesty, only to have me respond,
"I'm sorry, sir, but you'll agree integrity
can't excuse or correct my bungling." They switch
to a story on the hurricane off the East Coast--
same name as mine, though not my worry,
nobody's error. Then a commercial for pain relief.

"Good job," my daughter assures me. My son nods.
They slouch on either side of me, both as far away
as knowing better takes them. What is good
is my parents are dead--they'd crowd me,
aware how commiseration castigates.

Kathleen keeps trying--tonight chicken piquant,
though I can't eat. I couldn't make love
if she wanted.
                                   Another man might shoot himself--
but tomorrow I'll be on the front page,
maybe the headline. I've scheduled interviews
where I'll elaborate on how I'm to blame.

Then other things will come--turning down the reporter
who'll offer to help with a book ("a cautionary tale,"
she'll call it), agreeing to the divorce, selling
this house, looking for less mistaken work.


William Aarnes’s first book, Learning to Dance, was published in 1991 by Ninety-Six Press, which also published his second collection, Predicaments, in 2001. His first published poem appeared in FIELD in 1969. Over the years he has had poems in such magazines as The American Scholar, The Southern Review, Shenandoah, Measure, Bateau, The Potomac Review and Poetry.
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Sunday, March 22, 2009

ON THE FLOOR OF THE EXCHANGE

by Scot Siegel


The room is full
of the smartest people
in the room

Doing their best
to invest the stimulus
that we keep counting on

Good thing
the room is full
of the smartest people

in the room


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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Saturday, March 21, 2009

LA ENTRADA PROJECT

by Andrew Hilbert


La Entrada Project - Wall1 from geraluzlove on Vimeo.


Despite the Wind,
the Interpreters worked
atop the scaffolding
which clung to the rooftops
and plucked Images
out of the Sky
and stuck them
on the blank Canvas
Building.

Interpreting
the message that the Earth
sings to Civilization
every day.


Andrew Hilbert has a degree in History at Cal State Long Beach and lives in Orange County, California.
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Friday, March 20, 2009

CONSIDERING

by Charlie Mehrhoff


Considering the length of time
that it takes light
to travel across intergalactic space –

Looking, often times, at stars
that have long since burned out –


Waving
goodbye to America.


Charlie Mehrhoff has sent out little work in the past decade. Survival issues. However, he was recently featured in ORIGIN 2, Sixth Series. Crafting the Word is a Web site window into his work.
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Thursday, March 19, 2009

DESPITE EVERYTHING

by Megan Webster

After Jack Gilbert

Though polar ice sheets shatter, slip
onto the ocean’s tongue
vanish as if they had never been
There will be music

though tyrants squander peace
claim what isn’t theirs — gods, temples
coins, the breath of innocents
There will be music

while smoke of one hundred souls
smothers the sky of Dora
& a belted youth turns to martyr
There will be music

while the ailing child moans
in tremors of malaria
& the exhausted mother expires
There will be music

for the bent rice planters of Somona
the grape pickers of Sonoma
for the deaf Nigerian gravedigger
There will be music

for the blushing desert sundown
the Afghan marriage feast
soon to follow
There will be music

for lovers roaming the fields of Provence
daisies swinging in swell
of summer — their buttons ablaze
There will be music


Megan Webster was an active member of SD Writer's Ink for many years as board member and poetry instructor. Her third chapbook, Bipolar Express, won a San Diego Book Award in 2004. Published by Finishing Line Press in 2006, it also was a finalist for the New Women's Voices Competition. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including, The Connecticut Review, Red River Review, ONTHEBUS, ROADS.poetry.com, Poiesis and Sunshine/Noir.
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

ENTREPRENEUR'S HANDBOOK

by Peter Branson


How does it work?

We flout the rules:
afraid our privilege
will be found out,
distort the truth
where there is scope for doubt.
Secret cabals,
meetings behind closed doors,
witch hunt our enemies,
settle new scores,
corrupt the law-
maker, march with the lout.


What do we do when things
flip inside out?

Mouth what’s appropriate,
sympathise, frown;
hope it won’t last,
a temporary blip,
then, when the coast is clear,
quietly jump town.
What happens when the rich
cats leave the ship?
Slowly we tire,
go under, some folk drown.


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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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NEWS ON A MARCH FULL MOON

by David Plumb


Mid morning and the news reads
Sarandrea, Jessica Y., 22, Pfc, Army; Miami
First Cavalry Division. Killed in Iraq.
Somewhere in a nearby yard, a blue jay
yaks and yaks the morning quiet
way beyond the clicking news of smiles
signatures and banks washing profits off casket walls.

Marjorie Pollock is text messaging
by the organic oranges at Whole Foods.
Neal Ballenger holds a two pound
ground buffalo package in his left hand
a cell phone in his right.
The newlyweds contemplate organic cane
sugar as second ingredients in yogurt.
Daniel B. Hyde, 24 First Lieutenant army,
Modesto California is dead in Iraq.

Beyond the three dollar collard greens
traffic zips and tears the afternoon.
No need to signal or cut off the competition.
It’s only three lanes and four hundred yards
to the gas station and a cheap hoagie.
A homeless man passes out a newspaper
at the traffic island. Put a little in the pot
please, and God Bless you Jeffrey Reed 23
Army Sergeant, Chesterfield, Virginia dead in Iraq.

Late afternoon stuffs the mind, wipes
pleasure off a job that may or may not
exist in a few days, or tomorrow.
Lorna Guzman, social worker for Women
in Distress hopes Day Care is taking care
Keisha wants to tell the M.D.
with 40 patients a day that
she missed another period.
She has to get home.
She has a class tonight.
Patrick DeVoe, he’s dead in Afghanistan
Twenty-seven, Private First Class
from Auburn, New York.
You know where that is, but then

It’s almost dinner time and Shirley
brings in take out hot and sour, low mein
a side of barbecued wings.
Did you hear Tiger’s back?
TVs blink the news, the news, the news.
Who did what and who said if?
She’s a democrat underneath.
How about that short horse in England?
They think it’s stuck in mud.
You know Rush and the other one
who took all the rich guy’s cash.
He’s going to plead, but Leno
will have his say later on.

By the way, it is a full moon.
Look out the window at the perfect sky.
George Clooney may show up
on ER, don’t forget and don’t
forget the names whispered in the stars.
Jessica, Daniel, Jeffrey, Patrick
echo in blood, in guns, in storms
They’re coming home.


David Plumb’s latest fiction book is A Slight Change in the Weather. He has worked as a paramedic, a cab driver, a, cook and tour guide. A long time San Francisco writer, he now lives in South Florida . Will Rogers said, “Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.” Plumb says, “It depends on the parrot.”
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MEMO TO AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL GROUP

by Earl J. Wilcox


Yo! Sir King Croesus!
Some say you’re rich,
You know, richer than,
Well…you.

Reality check, Sir King!
Aren’t you the one
Who--- you know---
Laid the Golden AIG?


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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Monday, March 16, 2009

DOWNTURN

by David Radavich


The brown leaves curl—
it will be a long wait till spring,

even wind seems
to have abandoned earthly

suffering, still
and beneath hope—

mud sinks in the grim weight
of rain and politics,

ideas are exhausted,
the self wants love, love

but clouds deny
even the imagination

its sour
substitutes.

Let us leave this deadening
forest we cannot

leave but somehow find
new life and light

beyond detritus
and the game all spent,

beyond the carousel
of grub and greed.


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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Sunday, March 15, 2009

SCRIM NEWS

by Robert H. Bunzel


The world news a
theatre scrim, an
opaque screen gone
ghost in front of
shadows mouthing
Yeats and beasts.
It is a time when
Rumpole dies and
no reprise makes
comedy of fate.
When walls we
built deleverage as
if the mortar
were sucked out.
So hard to see and
say goodbye to
striven folk who
join the lambs
in bread lines of
consultancy.
And confidence
when split and
dried will be the
stick to snap a
once proud west
to wars we’ve only
visited since TV
news went color.


Robert H. Bunzel was born in 1955, and lives in Piedmont, California. He is a practicing trial attorney in San Francisco, and 1978 graduate of Harvard College. His poems have appeared in local and national journals including Soundings East, Legal Studies Forum, Block’s Poetry Journal, Orphic Lute, Oxygen, Illya’s Honey, ZYZZYVA, White Pelican and Poet Magazine. He was president of the board of the literary tri-quarterly ZYZZYVA, “the last word in west coast writers and artists,” from 2002-2006.
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Saturday, March 14, 2009

PARTS IN A BOX

by Lori Desrosiers


Heather McNamara, 7, will be discharged from a New York hospital today after a daring, high-risk operation last month in which doctors removed six vital organs so they could take out a baseball-sized tumor that had invaded her abdomen and threatened her life. The marathon Feb. 6 operation lasted 23 hours. It was the first of its kind in a child and the second in the world, said the lead surgeon, Tomoaki Kato. In effect, the young cancer patient was both the donor and recipient of her own organs. . . . Kato's team removed and chilled the child's stomach, pancreas, spleen, liver and small and large intestines as they would for transplantation, so they could be restored after the tumor was taken out. --Steve Sternberg USA Today (March 10)


a stomach in a box
next to a spleen
along with a liver
intestines
on ice like soda
or picnic potato salad
in a box not in me
while they cut it out
mean old cancer ball
goodbye parts
goodbye stomach
pancreas, spleen
yet here I am
going home to my sister
and my dog Angel
leaving my parts
in a box.


Lori Desrosiers' chapbook Three Vanities is being published by Pudding House Press. Her poems have appeared in Common Ground Review, Big City Lit, The Equinox, Ballard Street Poetry Journal, November 3rd Club, Blue Fifth Review, Gold Wake Press' mini-chapbook series and others. She is the managing editor/publisher of Naugatuck River Review, a journal of narrative poetry. She lives in Westfield, Massachusetts.
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Friday, March 13, 2009

IF I WERE A WOMAN IN THE SUDAN

by Allene Rasmussen Nichols


If I were a woman in the Sudan
who must leave the camp each day
to get water
and face rape
again and again
because my husband
would be killed outright

And if my country’s betrayal
had been beaten and starved into my body
and the dead bodies of my friends

I wouldn’t know
about the International Criminal Court
or care about my country’s leader’s bruised ego

But when those aid trucks rolled away
and I knew
that my children had suffered so long
only to die

I would curse the nations
who allowed the trucks to leave
who knew we would die
and did nothing.


Allene Rasmussen Nichols lives in Arlington, Texas, where she teaches English and drama at Gateway School. Her poems have been published in Philament, Ariel, Sylvan Echo and other journals and the anthology Dance the Guns to Silence: 100 Poems for Ken Saro-Wiwa. Her plays have been produced in California, Dallas, and New York.
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Thursday, March 12, 2009

15 10 33 28

by Steve Hellyard Swartz


Could be the lucky numbers in a fortune cookie but
They're not
What they are
Is one day's noted dead
Killed in Germany, Alabama, Iraq, Sri Lanka
We discover what the German teen was wearing
Combat black so it seems
We discover that the Alabama killer had tried but failed to land a job as a cop
We discover almost nothing about the killers in Iraq and Sri Lanka
Other than they had strapped bombs to themselves
In Las Vegas a man entered an ER and threatened to kill himself
The police were called and he was told to lower his weapon
When he refused, the cops shot and killed him
My mother told me yesterday that she thought her luck was turning
She said she didn't know why, she just did
In e-mails all around the world today
People east and west
Will relate the grisly details of the mass murders in Germany and Alabama and Iraq
and Sri Lanka
I'll call my mother this afternoon
She was eighty-three just the other day and she thinks her luck is turning
Isn't that something to be happy about?
Proof positive that it's never too late
When I call my mother today
I don't need a fortune cookie to know what she will ask me
She'll say my name, the name she's called me
For almost sixty years
She'll say my name as if I were still her little boy
And in a voice
A little too loud
With a little too much urgency
She'll ask of me:
What's the good news?


Steve Hellyard Swartz is a poet, playwright, and filmmaker. His poems have appeared in New Verse News, Best Poem, Haggard and Halloo, switched-on gutenberg and The Kennesaw Review. He has won Honorable Mention in the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards twice (2007 and 2008), The Mary C. Mohr Poetry Awards, and the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards. In 1990, Never Leave Nevada, which he wrote and directed and in which he co-starred, opened in Dramatic Competition at the U.S. Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

RUSH

by Andrew Hilbert


you may think
that sticking a pin
to him
would deflate him

after all, he looks empty inside

but you forget
the man is full of shit
and shit is quite a bit
heavier than air

the weight of it all
keeps him firmly anchored
to his foundation
and its followers
will beg forgiveness
of all their transgressions
against him
until they can be sure
his voice will never
haunt them again


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

by Bill Costley


Rush sniffs his manicured fingers,
stealthily reinserting them deep
into the source of his inspiration,
dreaming of a bubbly high-colonic
capable of purifying his thinking.

“My load’s greater than the masses
can carry,” he silently maunders,
knowing it would be fatal if heard
outside the hard castle of EIB:
Excellence in Broadcasting

where resonance validates all.


Bill Costley serves on the Steering Committee of the San Francisco Bay area chapter of the National Writers Union.
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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

HOUSE OF FEATHERS, A LAMENT

by Chad Rohrbacher


I

My wife tells me they’re fearless and bold
Will goad you if you stumbled too close
Their nests the work of solitude
Who needs a beak closing in on your ears
A claw going for the tangle of child’s hair?

II

Shouldn’t I feel something
Concerning the four Iraqis calling for killing?
Blood their new national pastime,
The money they’ve earned firing rifles,
Keeping peace,
Going to the poor with cheese, and bread, and IEd’s.
We can’t go on like this,
Says one twenty year old
Wearing jeans and a cotton scarf around his mouth –
The fluttering wings, color the wind, defy the sky
Behind him.

III.

Plaster and plumage.
One formed, dried, cut
Into the body of a house.
The other is just a good word.
No correlation. No metaphor.
Just feathers,
A peacock's underbelly.
The boy’s feathers are unfurled.
Strutting in front of his house,
He steps in blood. He kicks,
Lose a few colors.
His house won't miss a thing.
A poem is a feather
Torn loose from a house.
He dreams in wings.


After graduating from LSU in 98, Chad Rohrbacher continued to refine his craft and published poetry, interviews, and book reviews in periodicals and journals nationwide including Spillway, Faultline, Sunstone, Blue Collar Review, New York Quarterly, Amelia, and others. He won won a Louisiana Division of the Arts Grant and an Ohio Arts Council Fellowship for poetry. Currently he is completing a book-length manuscript The Stories Neighbors Tell.
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Monday, March 09, 2009

TODAY’S PAPER

by Robert Stewart

– for Ralph

Newspapers are so quiet,
I can’t help respecting that.
At most, the sheets luff
and crackle when turning
directly onto something
like wind in our throats,
then regain composure.

Even the two-inch banner,
F O R E C L O S U R E S,
turns its back respectfully
to a page with my friend’s
photo beside his obituary,
and gives me time, there,
to think about him.


Robert Stewart’s books include Outside Language: Essays (finalist for PEN Center USA Awards for 2004, and winner of the Thorpe Menn Award) and Plumbers (poems), and others. He is co-editor of the collection New American Essays (New Letters/BkMk Press, 2006), and editor of New Letters magazine, which won a 2008 National Magazine Award.
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LOST HOPE DIET IN HAIKU TRIPLET

by Neal Whitman


cinnamon toast and tea
in our jim jams
     Inauguration Day

bread and water
under the covers
     State of the Union Address

humble pie
at Wit's end
     Last Paycheck Today


Neal Whitman is a featured author on www.shortpoem.org where he posts one haiku per season and is a frequent contributor of fibs to www.fibetry.com.
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WITH WHAT WE OWN

by Brandon Pettit


Economy has found a chair to climb
with its oil slick feet

& the educated homeless
have already begun setting up living-rooms
beneath palm trees.

Goodbye Everything
hello to a change of clothes,

a pair of sandals,
& converse shoes
               that’ll be talking along the strip

when the noose breaks
and we are alive again
with what we own.


Brandon Pettit is a former small town New Yorker now living in Florida as a 27 year old snowbird working on his MFA in poetry, although there are many afternoons he feels he is studying the art of disc golf.
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Sunday, March 08, 2009

HOPE COLONY

by Peter Branson

Fall, Year of Our Lord, 1608

One of our oxen perished yesterday.
Please God the rest survive to work the ploughs
required to service our sustaining corn.
And Goodwife Holt's new born died unbaptised
at three hours old. Sweet Jesu, save us all.
The local Indians are pacified,
though much reduced of late, laid low by pox
and pestilence. Their women cover up
their nakedness with cheapest calico
and dyed cheesecloth: this fallen paradise.
The men have taken from our ways, proclaimed
Our blessed Lord saviour above all things,
yet secretly still conjure heathen rites.
The shaman told me of a dream he caught
last night as if mere fletchings on the air.
He scattered relics from his doeskin pouch,
foretold the slaughter of great grazing beasts
in numbers far too large to calculate
beneath the settled sun. He spoke of ships
steering the heavens to the moon and back
on sails like dragons' wings. And at the helm
white folk like us, determined to destroy
our commonwealth, fledge Satan's acolytes,
and mock the principles that drove us here,
those freedoms sacrosanct. Men strode on clouds
high overhead, releasing thunderbolts
to shake the earth below; enormous fires
burned hot and brilliant as a thousand suns,
smoke stacks like mushrooms arching heavenwards,
all living things spun out to so much dust.
These visions trouble me, crawl round inside
my thoughts like scorpions, a sign perhaps
God's judgement is at hand. He saw lost souls
hard at the devil's work, Christ's precious blood,
enslaving freeborn peoples far beyond
this terrifying void we limped across.
Black bile rising as sap from underground,
a huge white flag made evening at noontide,
striped by scourged blood, with fifty flashing eyes
like musket wounds, rents in a starless sky.


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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Saturday, March 07, 2009

BILL GATES AND THE POET

by Earl J. Wilcox

for Richard Wilbur on his birthday

In his Frost-country cottage, the poet
and his trusty L. C. Smith typewriter
labor in clear harmony this morning.
The machine does its clacking act
when the writer pounds the keys.

Only one whose finger muscles
are still strong enough to clutch
an axe handle or milk a cow, if need be,
can muster strength to strike with
force worn-down letters like y or z,
and others when pressed into action.

Here there is no angst or desire
for the ease which a chichi computer
keyboard could offer to curtail
the constant pain in the right hand
or the left one, too, for that matter.
Poet and typewriter conspire, create
a new song amid the view from the
open cottage window, where Bill Gates
seems irrelevant, does not intrude.


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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Friday, March 06, 2009

SLOW SURGE

by Steve Parker

based on statements made by the Taliban and Al Qaeda

This is surge lite—Maj. Gen. Ret. Bob Scales (2009)

Don't give me another Vietnam—George.H.W. Bush (1990)

Chinese HN-5 anti-aircraft missiles are with the Taliban, we know this . . . and we are worried where do the Taliban get them, some of these weapons have been made recently in Chinese factories—Unidentified senior Afghan government official reported by the BBC (2009)


the new president
the apostate president
whose grandfather's soul
cries from his grave
for the blood of the unbeliever
who brings shame upon his house
this new president
says he will surge quietly
in Logar, in Wardak and Helmand
in the holy provinces
where the Russians sent their sons
to die miserably where the British
sent their sons to die miserably

our weapons are from China
the old USSR the US the UK
(we like the weapons of our enemies)
from our brothers in Syria
in Saudi Arabia and Iran

surge quietly Hussein Obama
this land will eat you quietly
we will be here when you have gone
when you have taken the flag-wrapped
bodies of your sons
home in shame and defeat

you will never be enough
you will never have long enough
before your nation weakens
grows weary again

send us your unwanted sons
Hussein Obama
this dry earth needs their blood
surge lite surge quiet
we will devour all of you
lite and quiet and slow


Steve Parker is a UK poet working near Haworth in Yorkshire. He’s been published in various journals and zines etc, including Underground Voices, The Chimaera, The Cleave, Ditch, Dogzplot, Cause and Effect, Admit Two, Chaos International, Machenalia etc etc, with more forthcoming. Published in a couple of anthologies, with two poems forthcoming in the Cleave Anthology this Spring. Also published a couple of short collections, with another coming soon. Parker was a founder-member of the Orzel Collective experimenting with transtextual poetry. He also runs a poetry and critique forum and has a lively poetry blog.
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Thursday, March 05, 2009

FOUR MORE WARS?

by Anne Bryant-Hamon


Blood darkens the stones of the city.
For ashes and dust there’s no lack.
The world seems a place without pity
as children lie dead in Iraq.
Obama has ordered more sorties
to carpet bomb Afghanistan
young men from their teens to their forties
must wipe out the damned Taliban.
You’ll know when this World War is over
when grass roots weave into your head
and red clay and iron ore and clover
form a crazy quilt for your cold bed.


Anne Bryant-Hamon has had poetry published in both print and on-line poetry journals including Bumbershoot, Lucid Rhythms, Romantic Hearts Magazine, The Chimaera, The Green Tricycle, 2 River View.
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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

IN MEAN TIMES

by Barbara A. Taylor


in mean times
kansan death sentences
transmuted to life --
humanity's values
measured by a balance sheet


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

Editor's Note: See "McGinn Proposes Suspension of Death Penalty".
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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

AMERICA AUGHTS ZEITGEIST

by Mike Harper


This is our legacy: a city constructed of empty wallets,
a country whose borders are lined with digital wealth
which floats above our heads as sure as it is ironclad plastic.
our futures, vaulted beneath our voluptuous APR, hopefully might gain interest
from our new saviour, Stimulus – let's not crucify him on our dollar sign cross we've
hung around our necks like a soft curved noose in which we trust (it says so on the bill);
the gallows are under eye of penthouse suite and corner office,
while the slack on the rope lessens cent by cent, a biweekly thread from our paychecks –

This is our legacy: no riots for bread, no countrywide drought, no proletarian fists,
but the necessary fasting from multimedia lattes where we have no famine.
the eighth wonder of the world will be our excess retail lying dusty on the shelves
of our local, neighbourhood, WALMART, the beauty of the overcast sunrise under GM clouds,
our Debt, holding the belt for heavyweight champion of the world! for decades running.
Cast your eyes away from the Pyramids and the Sphinx, Stonehenge and The Acropolis!
They are only tangible and crumble, unlike our Dream Manifest,
which is set with stone checkbooks and credit mortar,
the Eiffel Tower only mimics our oil fields,
the Hanging Gardens of Babylon do not hang so elegantly as the ties of our beloved CEOs,
and the Great Wall is almost as long as the receipt for our Debt.

But our excess exceeds!
like the rambling tangent of geriatric memory, like mediation of a Buddhist monk,
like grandpa's Thanksgiving prayer pit against hunger,
like rush-hour peppered by the red sea of lights on car backs and intersections,
like library codes, like Mass, like politician's speeches, like celebrity murder trials,
like the moment between "will you?" and "yes!", like graduation ceremonies,
like waiting for the bus, like The Velvet Underground and Nico,
like waiting for the doctor to tell you the truth, like pulling the plug,
like a museum when you're seven years old, like finding a light in a church parking lot,
like the crescendo, like the aria, like Southern California sun or Portland rain,
like all the things we hate and love, that are, and will be, it goes on,
and on, with them, in place of them, written into our history like a declaration of dependence;
we are woven to our wallets, spent by their emptiness.
This is our legacy.



Mike Harper graduated with a BA in English at Cal State Fullerton and works to sustain a community of local artists in his corner of Orange County, California. He poetry is a palimpsest of questioned suburban imagery. Ingredients: 2 shots of espresso, 1 carefully rolled cigarette, 1 bicycle, a dash of modernism, a touch of dissent, and continual immersion in the community of his environs.
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Monday, March 02, 2009

PULL QUOTE FROM A DELHI SEWER WORKER

by Kerol Harrod


He works all day in the sewage line
"I live smelling death, but it is fine."
Two dark hands, his only tine
"I live smelling death, but it is fine."
Caste and curse his days assign
"I live smelling death, but it is fine."
Day after day in the sewage line
"I live smelling death, but it is fine."
Delhi sing, city shine
"I live smelling death, but it is fine."
To his fate he does resign
"I live smelling death, but it is fine."
His labor there makes light of mine
"I live smelling death, but it is fine."
Day after day in the sewage line


Kerol Harrod lives in Denton, Texas with his wife and two daughters. He has published news and opinion articles in a variety of forgettable publications, such as The Denton Record-Chronicle, The Flywheel, Inside Track, and The Denton Scramble magazine. In 2003, he recorded and toured a CD of protest music, Police State of the Union, which dealt with current events (at the time), specifically the Iraq War. It enjoyed some airplay in the Austin and Houston area. He currently works in the reference department of the Denton Public Library.

Editor's Note: The poem was inspired by a BBC From Our Own Correspondents story.
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Sunday, March 01, 2009

CRISIS

by Tony Brown


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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