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Friday, July 31, 2009

MAD DOGS

A Sonnet
by Barbara Lightner


Foaming-at-the-mouth rabid,
the Blue Dog Democrats are running in packs
on the outskirts of town, uninterested in the center.

Slouched, crawling toward innocent bystanders,
eyes in a vacant stare, snarling
at those who have fed them, vicious mongrels;

gulping the offal left by Limbaugh malingerers;
greeding down campaign contributions left in the gutters
by insurance industry moguls.

What to do? These mad dogs have gold-plated health care
offered to the elected deserving and undeserving alike
(while denying the basics to others).

Have they become too mad dog to use it?
There is no rabies exclusion.


Barbara Lightner is a 70-year old shameless agitator, retired. After a career of community organizing and teaching at university, she turned her hand to poetry. As a bookshop owner, she sponsored poetry readings, and published chapbooks of local poets in Milwaukee, WI. Her poetry will appear or is forthcoming in the Table Rock Review, Poesia, Zocalo Press and New Verse News; as well as in Letters to the World, an anthology of women’s poetry.
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Thursday, July 30, 2009

GRIM CASUALTY IN THE STRUGGLE

by J. D. Mackenzie


Skip, an exceptional student
remembers the walls of his junior high
filled with images of inspiration
glossy photos of the Mercury program
and President Kennedy

The party line throughout his youth:
we live in a world without limits
caused him to wonder why that line
was sometimes dotted
sometimes jagged?

Codes to break
hoops to jump through
barriers wanting linguistic gymnastics
at high school, Yale, Cornell, Harvard
the world without limits still had plenty

But once in a while
meritocracies actually deliver
allowing for a colonial in Cambridge
a grateful audience for his great books
recognition in Time

So just how does a revered scholar
in the land of the free
in a “post-racial” society
get arrested for breaking in
to his own home?

And if you only stop
to consider the possibility
of this ever happening to you
what does that say
about each of us?


J. D. Mackenzie has written poetry and prose for Rogue River Echoes, the Moment, the Eugene Weekly and several other publications. He lives in western Oregon and spends his free time on rivers.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

R@NDOM REPERTORY

by James Penha


After Merce Cunningh@m (1919-2009)

Progr@m:      Cross Currents     Inlets     Ch@nging Steps

EVENT NO. 1: in current steps
EVENT NO. 2: lets cross steps
EVENT NO. 3: currents r ch@nging

Progr@m:      C@nfield

EVENT NO. 4: lets fiel ch@nging currents
EVENT NO. 5: c@n steps cross currents
EVENT NO. 6: steps c@n cross currents
EVENT NO. 7: currents c@n cross steps
EVENT NO. 8: i fiel u i c@nfiel ur currents ur ch@nging steps
EVENT NO. 9: steps r ch@nging u r ch@nging

Progr@m:      Squ@regame     Fr@ctions

EVENT NO. 10: i am ch@nging in @ctions n in steps i @m current
                              let me in

Progr@m:      Winterbr@nch

EVENT NO. 11: winter tions me i c@n step @ cross winter
                              i @m ch@nging i @m current let me in

Progr@m:      Rune

EVENT NO. 12: rune lets me in steps currents fr@ctions ions
                              can rune me fie run fie

Progr@m:      Westbeth

EVENT NO. 13: i @m h@nging on @ cross in @ field i @m rent
                              let me be inter me

EVENT NO. 14: cross currents i bet i win i run i @m ch@nging
                              @ctions @re ch@nging winter ch@nging g@me
                              ch@nging
                              ch@nging steps


James Penha edits The New Verse News.
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Monday, July 27, 2009

GRACE

by David Chorlton


At this the time of year the shadows
of clouds fall lightly on the mountains
and sit for a while on the slopes
whose rock pales and brightens
according to the sky as it threatens a storm
and promises rain. When it falls

it falls fast and it runs
over earth too hard for it to soak in,
runs like a river with no banks,
no name, no papers
to prove it belongs
on the map. But it’s real. It’s free flowing
fast moving water. When the afternoon

is dark the lights go on
in the house across the river
where a man believes in the integrity
of borders and in God. He keeps watch
for the disheveled wanderers
who sometimes stop
to ask for work, just enough to earn

a meal. Enough to prepare
to say Grace. So he lets them clean a barn
or do some chore to show
he is charitable. He gives them exactly
the time it takes for the truck
with patrolmen to arrive

then he sits down alone to begin
Our father . . .


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.
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Sunday, July 26, 2009

ECLIPSING A COOL JULY DAY

by Earl J. Wilcox


Days like ours recently when July weather
has turned cool as May we’re told global
warming is at work, though Apocalyptic
preachers use the drop in temps to parade
the Rapture around like a kid with a toy
he got last Christmas but only today decides
to show it to us. Moon watchers add other
layers to drama by linking chilly days
in Carolina to the moon walk of four decades ago
or to the total eclipse seen by millions in China
and India . I do admit my marigolds are looking
like someone gave them an infusion of gold
overnight, and my limp verbenas suddenly
seem like freckled-face wonders. Instead
of mowing my grass today, I pretend it’s on
hiatus from growing, walk across its lushness,
revel in my own theory of weather change:
summertime and the livin’ is easy.



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, July 25, 2009

IN FAR OFF ROME

by Kim Doyle


Cato pronounced their doom.
Concluding most of his speeches
with a Thor, son of Odin phrase;
like “Cathago delenda est.”
Carthage must be destroyed,
and in due course it was razed.

Politicians of today speak out
in the same way as Cato.
Their hammer like phrases,
however, always seem to start
with dependent clauses like “In no way,”
or “Can’t be done.”

Before, when it could be done
it was “not the right time.”
People are dying, denied succor
because they are poor.

I’m waiting for some thunder
from someone who starts out:
“It can be done,” or “We have the will.”
Where there is will there is way.

Easy for me to say. Each must lead the way
like Cato the Elder of Rome in its hay day.
It fell shorty thereafter; all dynasties pass away.


Kim Doyle says: "A little more fire and brimstone from the currrent administration may be called for. And let's get Dick Cheney in Federal Prison; I volunteer to strip search him."
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Friday, July 24, 2009

SLICES OF CLIMATE CHANGE

by Scot Siegel


When I reach for a basket of oranges,
why does my shadow conjure a face
bloodied by bees?

Sitting up in the dark, why do I see
a fleet of submarines burning,
bladeless helicopters falling from the sky?

What signal from the moon turns
the blue back of the damselfly
purple in the fire?

When human-kind
is pushed to the precipice,
will the crows keep going about their business?

If our mother cries out,
how long can our callused hands steady
the siren-flames that pour from her mouth?

Why do these bits of cantaloupe
burn like wasps deep in my throat?


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.
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

CALL TO PRAYER

by Susanna Lang


At nightfall the roofs
in Tehran
cry out to God

and candles whisper
in the windows—
Where

have they hidden
the bodies of our children?
Their portraits

hang on apartment
walls, draped
in green scarves.

By day
the roofs are silent
but they watch

from behind their veils.
Tonight
they will call out

what they have seen.


Susanna Lang's poem, “After One Hundred Years,” previously appeared in The New Verse News. Her collection of poems, Even Now, was published in 2008 by The Backwaters Press. More recently, her poem “Condemned” won the Inkwell competition, judged by Major Jackson. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in journals including New Letters, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, The Baltimore Review, Kalliope, Green Mountains Review, Jubilat, and Rhino. Translations include Words in Stone and The Origin of Language, both by Yves Bonnefoy. A poem published in The Spoon River Poetry Review won a 1999 Illinois Arts Council award. She lives in Chicago, where she teaches in a Chicago Public School.
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

IS THIS WHAT TURNING FIFTY BRINGS

by David W. Rushing


Is this what turning fifty brings—

rage, madness, and the realization
that much of one’s life has been squandered
in the half-fog of barely discernible reality,

and that with the arrival of yet more terrible layers of emotional hell
and physical pain comes the understanding that the once dreaded fear
of dying “too soon” has been replaced with a desire for death

before insanity reigns supreme?


David W. Rushing's articles and poems have appeared in over 100 magazines. His two chapbooks are Unrequited Love, Unfinished Lives. He is is now completing a non-fiction prose book on art.
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

THE HEALTH INSURANCE QUESTION AT BOUNTIFUL BREAD

by Steve Hellyard Swartz


Over there’s the old man who presides as if he were the host
He gets all his opinions in the pages of the Post

His wife sits to his right
She pretends not to hear when he asks for a light

The fellow who joins them says Are smiles still for free?
He’s busy grabbing brass rings in a down economy

The guy in the suit is talking about straight salary over commission
The woman he’s with says Starting Monday I’m a woman on a mission

A woman on her cell says They’ll tell you there’s no formula/There is a formula
Her baby in his high chair stares and thinks There’s so much I can learn from her

The redhead sits down and plays with her hair as if she knows she’ll end up in a poem
The man who can’t believe that the sacrifice of his coffee will afford him the luxury of
health insurance

Throws himself a bone


Steve Hellyard Swartz is a regular contributor to The 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, July 20, 2009

IN TODAY'S NEWS CYCLE

by Lylanne Musselman


There's no taming
a ventriloquist moon.
Mother Earth's little sidekick
seeks to shine
in headline news
eclipsing celebrities, dead or alive,
hiding the dark side,
always eager to dangle
full bright face
unfazed by a starless sky –
on path to wax fame
waning since landing center stage
July 20, 1969.
One moment of lunar magic
launched
hoax believers –
No Neil Armstrong on the Moon.
Skeptics
don't pull strings.
They know puppets
can't talk, never gaze
at the man (or woman)
in the moon,
dismiss silly nursery rhymes –
cats can't play fiddle,
cows don't jump,
and wouldn't a fork run away
with the spoon?


Lylanne Musselman resides in Indianapolis, Indiana. She's an Associate Professor of Writing at IUPUI and she teaches creative writing classes at Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis and at the University of Indianapolis' School of Adult Learning. Her story feature, L WordS, is aired live monthly on BloomingOUT, a weekly broadcast on WFHB radio. An award winning poet, Lylanne's poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in PANK Magazine, Flying Island, New Verse News, Ichabod's Sketchbook, Tipton Poetry Journal, Poetry Motel, among others. Lylanne's chapbook, A Charm Bracelet for Cruising, is forthcoming from Winged City Press.
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Sunday, July 19, 2009

LIP SERVICE

by Andrew Hilbert


Today
the biased,
celebrity media
hounds
bow to Cronkite
as he goes down.

Still,
there is news
about the state of things
between Brangelina,

And
there is news
about Janet Jackson
dumping her boyfriend
nobody knew she had.

To the most trusted man in America,
that's the way it is.


Andrew Hilbert has a degree in History at Cal State Long Beach and lives in Orange County, California.
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Saturday, July 18, 2009

CONFIRMATION HEARINGS

by Helen Padway


The gentlemen in dark suits
and conservative ties,
red, blue, striped or checked,
keep throwing stones
into a deep pool of calm water.
The stones splash, sink and leave
concentric conversational circles
that soon fade, the stones
disappear and the pool is unchanged.


Helen Padway writes or thinks about writing most of the time. She lives in Milwaukee, WI and her work has appeared in both printed and ejournals.
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Friday, July 17, 2009

ROBERT MCNAMARA IN HELL

by Jon Wesick


Wire-rimmed glasses               brilliantine hair
map on an S-shaped country
Strange whiz kid
taming the yellow-eyed wolf of war
with punch cards and slide rules

Bomb pattern analysis               statistics of enemy dead
game theory     think tanks      Mutual Assured Destruction
Numbers don’t lie
Victory’s just around the corner

But the wolf slipped the chains of cool reason
for a sweaty jungle
Behind yellow eyes the enemy measures
calculates with alien mathematics
jagged steel                         napalm smell
morphine               MEDEVAC               58,000 dead
Numbers don’t lie

In an air conditioned office
tired eyes behind wire-rimmed glasses
checking and rechecking equations
for an algebraic error   a dropped minus sign
Unable to turn away
Not resting until he finds the reason
Still staring at that S-shaped country


Jon Wesick has a Ph.D. in physics, has practiced Buddhism for over twenty years, and has published over a hundred poems in small press journals such as American Tanka, Anthology Magazine, The Blind Man’s Rainbow, Edgz, The Kaleidoscope Review, Limestone Circle, The Magee Park Anthology, The Publication, Pudding, Sacred Journey, San Diego Writer’s Monthly, Slipstream, Tidepools, Vortex of the Macabre, Zillah, and others. His chapbooks have won honorable mentions twice in the San Diego Book Awards.
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

THE READING

by Lynnie Gobeille

after reading Charles Bukowski's "poetry readings"

She arrives in patterned flower pants
floppy sea green sweater, clogs,
her hair loose and matted
beaded woven bracelets dancing on her arm.
Introduces her first poem with the rambling saga
of her divorce, the recent death of her cat, how just
today she discovered a mouse had chewed through
small wires in the ice maker of her mother’s old refrigerator…
Her mother’s death resurfacing in all that water.
All of us are flattered when she remembers our names.
Talks to us as if she knows us. Or we know her.
I have been to enough of these to know
we are merely shells in the game.
People whose identity gets moved from here to here…
chair to chair ..reading to reading. We all sit in silence.
Witness her weave her star- like magic
Are her poems fabulous?
Or are they fabulous because we hear her read them?
My friend falls in love and buys two books. Hopes to have
them autographed and waits in line. Watches closely as the poet
signs each one with regal grace…
  I am asked to fetch more books
and dash off eagerly, honored by the task. Opening the car door,
overwhelmed by the sweet scent of spice and onions….I wade
through bags of garbage. An empty wine bottle rolls around at my feet
wrappers from a half eaten grinder slip through my fingers,
her children’s clothes and toys covering the back seat…
I kneel there breathing in all that is the magic of her life.
I recall the last poem she read.
  The one about the birds.
How they fly up and move from spot to spot,
three feet up to down.
She read it with such energy and amazement.

Breathing in one last blast of lunch
  and sweat and disaster,
I gather up her treasures.
Head back into the library…
Praying someday to be of equal measure


Lynnie Gobeille has been published in the Sow's Ear Review, Crone's Nest, Clear Creek Courant, The Avatar, The Prairie Home Companion, This I Believe (NPR) and New Verse News. She is the editor for The Poetry Corner in the Providence Journal South County section. Currently part of the Origami Poems Project, a state wide "free poetry event" based in Rhode Island.
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

JUDGING THE JUDGE

by Anne G. Davies


The GOP had well laid plans
For interrogating Judge Sonia;
From the outset they’ve treated her
Like an acute case of pneumonia.

She shouldn’t take it personally,
Or overdo placating;
No matter who Obama chose,
The long knives would be waiting.

Her opinions have been subject to
Minute examination;
Any hint of minority bias
Is grounds for condemnation.

Can a Latina with life experience
Know as much as a law-trained male?
We know many an ethnic mama
Wise as jurists from Harvard and Yale.

Many Republicans will continue
To nitpick, carp, and upbraid;
We trust that others will rise above
This unbecoming charade.


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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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

LINT HEADS' LAMENT

by Earl J. Wilcox


Today, the last big mill in our town
burned down, almost to the ground.
It was a vast factory once, employed
thousands---textile heaven during its day.
Vandals probably started the fire,
as they usually do, though who can
know why they want to destroy this
last big building where their whole family
worked over the years. Dozens pour out
to watch the dark, coiling smoke climb
so high in the sky a city twenty-five
miles away sees one of our landmarks
go up, make a menacing cloud.
Friends who’ve not seen each other
since the mill closed decades ago
watch firemen douse the blaze.
Some recall teen years spent in spinning
rooms, some sweeping up cloth fragments,
others shed tears, glad they’re no longer
called lint heads.


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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Sunday, July 12, 2009

THE INTERROGATORS

by Christopher Woods


Christopher Woods has published a prose collection, Under a Riverbed Sky, and a book of stage monologues for actors, Heart Speak. He lives in Houston and in Chappell Hill, Texas. He shares an online gallery with his wife Linda at The Texana Review.
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Saturday, July 11, 2009

SARAHTUDE!

by Bill Costley


She's so got it! Look @
any colorfoto of her:

teeth & skin & hair
2 absolutely die 4!

All she has 2 do is say:
"I'm just so...available!"

Like, I'm not kidding!
It's so...totally obvious!

Go, Sarah; Go-Go. Go.


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

CURIOUS AT THE SMITHSONIAN

by J. D. Mackenzie


As the litany of useless details
began to reach Olympian proportions
what was to be a service became a circus

The grieving father moved
to ensure complete financial control
of more numbers than he could count

Two remaining Beatles
seeing an opening for justice
pondered buying their songs back

Three confused children
became even more so after
another strange day in their strange lives

The remaining four brothers
wondered through tears what they’d fetch
for a nights’ gig at the Aladdin

While millions tuned in to glimpse
how commoners send royalty
into the great beyond

But the Curator, paid to think of these things
could only watch and wonder
what ever happened to that damned white glove?


J. D. Mackenzie is a poet, college administrator, and improving organic gardener. His work has been widely published, generally when he remembers to submit it to online and print publications.
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Thursday, July 09, 2009

BURIED WITHOUT HIS BRAIN

by Janice Keough


Sorry, Michael,
but the brain stays
outside the remains.

They need time
to see the chem trail
written by you

To maybe explain
what you took
but never why

That would take
an interview
you’ll never give.

Your life was always
outside your control
then and now.


Janice Keough has published in the RI Writer’s Circle 2008 Anthology. Last January, the Bay Area Poets Coalition awarded her 1st Honorable Mention for the 64-count poem, "Lemon Life". Her "Billing Queen" appeared in New Verse News in April. Her poem ‘A little encouragement’ is being published in the Providence Journal.
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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

OFF THE WALL

by Andrew Hilbert


today Michael Jackson will be buried
but not
Joe Jackson or Al Sharpton

they're sure to be
                                        there
advertising whatever it is
they're selling

today on facebook
a friend (but i don't really know him)
compared getting tickets to see
the King's memorial to getting
the golden ticket to see Willy Wonka

some comparison.

Willy Wonka was alive.

in his death,
Moonwalker is still treated as an
item
a commodity


Andrew Hilbert has a degree in History at Cal State Long Beach and lives in Orange County, California.
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Monday, July 06, 2009

I LOVE MY FEET, OR OVERLOAD OR SOMETHING ELSE

by Kim Doyle


Uyghur American Association is news to me;
never heard of them before the troubles
came to Xianjing. They (Uyghurs) are the n-word
to the Han Chinese majority it seems.

Muslims in a “buffer state” in central Asia
buffering, I guess, the world of Han
from the burgeoning world of Islam.
This is sometimes called “East Turkestan.”

It’s hard to keep up with everything reported
24/7. I used to know what to worry about
but now am confused. So I sample all the channels;
clicking, flipping, wanting to know and knowing
that what I get will just cause me to fret some more.

News is a whore feeding at the tit of the dead
Michael Jackson. I forget, wasn’t he a pedophile
or something like that; you’d never guess it’s a fact.

And who elected him ‘King of Pop’?
And was the election held in Iran?


Kim Doyle reports: "I try to know everything, but only Jorge Luis Borges did that; and he's long dead. Uneasy is the head that wears the crown."
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Sunday, July 05, 2009

SPIRITUAL PRACTICE

by Buff Whitman-Bradley


Every morning
For more than six decades
I have gotten out of bed
Put on my clothes
Eaten breakfast
Brushed my teeth
Opened my front door
And stepped out of my house
Into a world that men driven mad
By money and power
Threaten to blow to smithereens
Or otherwise render unlivable

Who can say I am not
A man of faith


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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Saturday, July 04, 2009

PIT STOP

by Catherine McGuire


This is no tourist trailer parked beside us:
a cold dawn fingers
rusted ladder rungs curving
up to the dented roof, open-air “attic”
piled with summer clothes in garbage bags,
a coil of hose, buckets that might hold oats
or old shoes. Their featureless aluminum box
wheeled onto blacktop off the main road,
to the fringe of this roadside park,
among the Bounders' and Outlanders'
expandable rooms and sleekly furled awnings
hasn’t moved since Wall Street hit a pothole
got a flat and swerved
sending their lives off the edge
they‘d spent years clinging to.

The bike tied to the back
is unhooked for the graveyard shift
at the Highway Gas ’N Grill.
She cooks silently at a charcoal grill
the hot plate burnt out, she told me last week.
The white poly deck chairs and tv trays
create the dining room
that doesn’t fit inside. They eat
with their backs to the rest of us - she's slim,
he's hefty, with long gray-streaked hair.
They don’t socialize; don’t use the concrete clubhouse
or showers, or play bingo or cards.
Brown and green empties roll loose
tinkle like windchimes under the wheels
as cedars waggle admonitory fingers
over the rust-speckled, once mobile
home.

I hear them inside, though.
Morning is just another excuse to drink;
noon a rendevous with Oprah;
evening a cold bike ride to the edge
of the interstate which is endlessly
leaving them behind.


Catherine McGuire now peeks at the news through sheltering fingers. A third of her poetry is political; the rest is about Nature - before it's too late.
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Friday, July 03, 2009

NO TRESPASSING

by Janice D. Soderling


A carefully trimmed hedge
behind a fence.
Two ornamental stones
like runway markers.
A tailwind.

Dandelion seeds flying in low.


Janice D. Soderling is a previous contributor to New Verse News. Her work appears in many online and offline publications including nth position, Boston Literary Magazine, Alba, Right Hand Pointing, Shakespeare's Monkey Revue, JMWW, Literary Bohemian and Anon. She lives in a small village in Sweden.
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Thursday, July 02, 2009

EQUAL RIGHTS

by Barbara A. Taylor


gaydar demands
under the rainbow
hand–in–hand
remembering stonewall
forty years on


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.
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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

CONFIDENCE IS A DUTY

by Kim Doyle


I am confused, I don’t know whether
it is better to spend or save. I am
naïve about this, as I am about many
other routinely political things.

As a generation we have been castigated
for not putting enough away for a retirement
that might entail eating cat food, or spending
time in a nursing home where we will be abused.

Now we are told to spend, this swirling tail
eating circle never ends, and I am not amused.
Spend or save; each conflicting wave assaults
me, sapping the strength remaining.

There are fearful lessons in this Great Recession;
if I could only cipher out their true meaning.
I’m leaning towards spending; never ending questions.

Life’s a beauty; confidence is a duty.


Even now Kim Doyle is not confident he’s got it right. However, he does have a new bath room, his contribution to the coming economic boom.
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