Guidelines



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Saturday, October 31, 2009

THOUGHTS FROM A MANHATTAN TRADE-STER

by Natasha Hunte


Harvard grads pimped houses on the               market
while airlines made jets nobody would        fly
     I need more dough to sleep safe.

All day I eat Cipralex® with no                                   prescription
My doc could acquiesce and rev up my          addiction
     swallowing feels only 50% free.

When my stocks dived, my wife lost her                                             interest
couldn’t stand up to a deep cut in                      pedicures
     love isn’t made free.

When I close my right hand, I want to feel some                                             green
don’t tell me less is more, about Buddha and planting          love
feed that to the Bronx.


Natasha Hunte graduated from the MA Literature program at the University of New Orleans. Her works “Free” and "Buttered Bread" were published in Yemassee, and “Buttered Bread” was nominated for The Pushcart Prize. Her essay, "Soccer, Jefferson and the Truth" won first place in the graduate division within the Louisiana Association for College Composition Statewide Writing contest, and her poem “Abandonded Abode” won honourable mention in the graduate division of that category. An American of Caribbean parentage, she currently lives in Switzerland and is a member of Geneva Writer's Group and Zurich Writer's Group.
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Friday, October 30, 2009

AGAINST THE TIDE

by Earl J. Wilcox


Beach walking today--shifting sands impressionable
     under my feet---I see two women Marines strolling,

holding hands, USMC stamped on black tees taut
     against their chests, a slight breeze ruffling the air.

Following at a short distance, I take fright when a middle
     finger is flashed in their faces by a jeering jogger,

though other beach loungers ignore the pair. The women
     face straight ahead, march like good Marines, smile

at toddlers building castles in the sand where
     grandpas play Corn Hole, grandmas read Romances.


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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Thursday, October 29, 2009

AUTUMN TURNS THROUGH STRATIFIED WARS

by Scot Siegel


A few little leaves alight on the sleeper wind
lemon, iron-orange, vermilion
but there’s no dive-swiping gnat-catching tonight

Some song birds sense the slack-season upon us
stillness readies the river, trees glimmer
and we lean uneasily into the quiet…

Three warblers balance on one blackberry cane
not ordinary warblers, Yellow-Breasted Chats
gone silent in the breeze –

There’s no yellow chip; no whistle, caw, nor rattle
just three imperceptible heartbeats screaming
through silver thorns & bramble –

*

Is their night not unlike our country?
Somewhere, a raptor hovers; drags her talons
over Arab neighborhoods, while we lie awake…

In my wife’s eyes a blue flame flickers
World News, a helicopter turns, delivering
or receiving the dead…

We hardly notice midnight passing over
as we tilt and spin on the dreadful wing of a hawk
who says she loves us?

Crows on our tail, relentless ––
I think I hear one say:
          come home…


Scot Siegel is an urban planner and poet from Oregon, where he serves on the board of trustees of the Friends of William Stafford. In celebration of Oregon’s Sesquicentennial, the Oregon State Library and Poetry Northwest recently selected Siegel’s Some Weather as one of Oregon’s Outstanding Poetry Books, one for each year of statehood. Pudding House released his chapbook Untitled Country earlier this year. Siegel’s poetry has received First Prize from the Oregon State Poetry Association and he was a semi-finalist for Nimrod International's Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize in 2008.
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

MODERN ART

by Bradley McIlwain


I see him sitting squat-legged
beside a cup of coins on the
sidewalk
looking up at me with glinting
eyes
in between puffs of a fading
cigarette,
his eyes were a blue glass hung
inside a stone cathedral that cut
you when the light would hit it,
and made you freeze if only for
a moment,
and forget again whatever it was
that you were thinking of.
In some ways he is Piranesi’s
Prison,
his frame a twisted staircase of
winding bone, hollow, ghost in
a machine,
epigraph of agony –
age has withered away the details,
a Godly sculpture crafted of the
finest clay,
this could have been Michelangelo’s
David, once,
one autumn morning before sunrise
sitting in a studio of shit,
his life reduced to a cup of coins.


Bradley McIlwain is a Canadian based writer and poet. His work has appeared in The Copperfield Review, Frostwriting, Rope and Wire, Wanderings Magazine, New Verse News, and others.
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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

DOCUMENTARY

by J. R. Solonche


The CEO of Interface,
the world’s biggest maker
of commercial carpet,
has had an epiphany, “a spear
thrust into my chest,” as he
was reading E. O. Wilson
on the extinction of species,
who called it, “the death
of birth,” and now what?
Now this – pull out that spear
which has done its work,
and thrust that spear into
the chest of the next CEO,
and thrust it into the chest
of the CEO after that, and
then into the chest of the next
one and the next one, and
then what? Then this – keep
thrusting that spear, keep
thrusting and thrusting
that epiphanal spear. Name
it “The Death of Birth.”


J.R. Solonche is co-author (with wife Joan Siegel) of Peach Girl: Poems for a Chinese Daughter (Grayson Books). His poems have appeared in many magazines, journals, and anthologies since the 1970s. He teaches at SUNY Orange in Middletown, New York.
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Monday, October 26, 2009

A-TEN-SHUN!

by Leah Shelleda


Turn it on     turn it on
you’ll see
a million chicks beaks wide open
for crying out loud
a guy says his kid’s been carried off by a silver balloon
says it so he can ride a magic carpet
and the 24-7 follows nothing into the empty sky
this boy didn’t fly too close to the sun no wingmelt
but its still Daedalus and Icarus
scheming to leave the earth to ride
not rise not rise up not hitching genius
to the largest cart that holds the many not like
Prometheus who felt for us stole dad’s fire
got nailed for it
Turn it on
a million chicks beaks wide open
tell us nothing happened


Leah Shelleda is Professor Emeritus of Humanities and Philosophy at the College of Marin. Her poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies, and her chapbook, A Flash of Angel, was recently published by Blue Light Press.
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Sunday, October 25, 2009

BIRD LADY

by Michael Lee Johnson


They call her old maid Misty, as in fog, she misses the sun.
She runs a small pet store, more for the injured and lame,
alone and half the light bulbs have burnt out.
In the backroom everything smells of dust and feathers.
The cockatoo is cuddly and named Brenda, but has bad toiletry manners.
The macaw is well hidden, and fetches a high price on the open market, called Ginger.
Misty is surrounded by wired bird cages,
jungle noises in unfamiliar places,
and sleeps on a portable cot.
When parrots or parakeets shout shrills in the night,
her eyes squint and flash out in the dark but no one sees it.
Squinting is a lonely habit.
Misty works alone and is getting old.
On a wall, near her cot, hangs a picture-
but is it Jesus, or St. Jude Thaddaeus
carrying the image of Jesus in his hand or close to his chest,
difficult to tell darkness dimmed at night.
Misty sometimes sleepwalks at night from small room to the other-
she bumps, sometimes trips and falls, her warfarin guarantees bruises.
Misty tosses conjectures: “I’m I odd, old school, or just crazy?”
Her world is eye droppers, bird feeders, poop in cages, porcelain knickknacks.
Love left Misty’s life years ago, when World War II ended and so did her marriage.
As she ages everything is measure in milliliters, everything seems short and small-
medications in small dosages day by day.
Early in morning a young homeless boy knocks on the store front window
desperate for a job, he lies about credentials.
Misty desperate for help asks for no references.
Today is dim, raining outside, and old maid Misty still misses the sun.



Michael Lee Johnson is a poet and freelance writer from Itasca, Illinois. His new poetry chapbook with pictures is From Which Place the Morning Rises, and he has a new photo version of The Lost American: from Exile to Freedom. All of his books are now available on Amazon.com. Michael has been published in over 22 countries. He is also editor/publisher of four poetry sites, all open for submission, which can be found at his Web site.
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Saturday, October 24, 2009

BRAIN DRAIN

by Lucille Gang Shulklapper


Too bad Dick Cheney, far from brainy, slithered and dithered for eight long years, and willfully instigated fears. While others fought and died, our “Vice” decried the attack on his watch; was willing to botch the war on Al Quaida. He was the real deciduh , who tried to cover-up in Iraq, flexing his muscles like a super-charged jock. Even tricky Dick, didn’t stick to his schtick, but resigned, kept reality in mind, while Cheney still thinks like a hawk, send in more troops, why bother to talk, just call Obama a name, say Obama’s to blame, call him slow to the task, listen to Cheney, who knows how to answer what he couldn’t ask.


A workshop Leader for The Florida Center for the Book and the Palm Beach Poetry Festival, Lucille Gang Shulklapper writes fiction and poetry. Her work appears in many publications, as well as in four poetry chapbooks, What You Cannot Have, The Substance of Sunlight, Godd, It’s Not Hollywood, and In The Tunnel. Recently, she has been teaching college preparatory reading at Broward College.
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Friday, October 23, 2009

USING BOTH HANDS NOW, THIS BULB

by Simon Perchik


Using both hands now, this bulb
flickering the way goldfish
reckless in the inflammable water

--this clouded bulb is dangerous
without a name --I call its light
Old Blue and the Earth just beginning

is cooled by firestones
that would become rainwater
--I call this lamp Smoke

play it safe, a second name
alongside the other :my hands
filled with light

even before there were eyes
before fingers would beg for curvature
and the watchful hand on my forehead

--I close my eyes :a fast
to allow my skull --the change
is so slow --there never was enough room

for the eyes, for the tears
the storm after storm --you dead
are always thirsty and I can't fix

this throwaway bulb, throwaway light
--I just give it two names
and more darkness, wait for you

near these loving candles, loving matches
and the glass cage with still more water
locked in as if one explosion more

would lay open another sun
and this ice into a clear stream
into your brief happiness.


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, October 22, 2009

BROTHER WAS A PILOT

by Scott Simpson


In the yard

that year we played,

we danced like patriots

until the afternoon our

strings and fingers stopped,

our voices caught,

we grew ashamed of

our own steps

even as we stared.

Brother came home

with one leg 

missing—a flash in his eye

like the afterimage of a wing 

clipped.



New songs descended

among us, or perhaps they rose

up from the soil where he planted

his crutch,

hymns both eternal and practical

for each of our waking

and sleeping moments

taking up residence on the

bitter tips

but never quite leaving

our tongues:



               To whom do we owe,

               this gracious honor of loss?



               What place is there 

               that grows legs for grounded brothers?



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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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

PILES AND PILES OF BLACK FRIENDS

by Steve Hellyard Swartz

Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, refuses to wed interracial couples. "I'm not a racist," Bardwell said. "I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, I let them use my bathroom..."

Fact is, there's a Black fella in there now
Hey! What you up to, Willis?
Ha, ha, he's okay, just takin' a piss
Gotta be careful around Hispanics
I said - Careful - no need to panic
A-rabs and Jews is like Abel and Cain
But I'll marry the desert thieves, all the same
America went straight to hell thanks to de-segregation
Worst damn abomination on this nice little nation
Liberals like to lisp about piano keys
Your Ebonys, Your Ivories
But lissen up, son, and old Keith'll tell y'all where it's at
White is sharp and Black is flat


Steve Hellyard Swartz, a regular contributor to New Verse News, has piles and piles of poems ready to be published. He has won Honorable Mention in the Allen Ginsberg, Mary C. Mohr, and Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards. In 2009, poems of his were published in The Paterson Review and The Southern Indiana Review. In 1990, Never Leave Nevada, which he wrote and directed, opened at The U.S. Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. He was recently selected Poet Laureate of Schenectady County in upstate New York.
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

GENERALS' TALES

by Bill Costley


In the off-limits tea-houses
the story-tellers are adding
mythicized names to the tall-tale
of invaders of Afghanistan:

from Sikandar (Alexander) to
Macnaughten, Elphinstone,
Pavlovski, Nawroz, as

McChrystal, their latest addition,
stands at the tail-end of history,
his tall-tale barely beginning.


Bill Costley serves on the Steering Committee of the San Francisco Bay area chapter of the National Writers Union.
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Monday, October 19, 2009

NIGHTMARE

by David Radavich


How can anyone sleep
knowing the poor suffer
like dogs?

Pills, potions, vital surgery
have vanished in bogus
insurance claims

refused yet again by
corporate apparatchiks
who know well
their own precarious hands.

Where will it end?

Schools close like eyelids
of saints twisting
in their final ecstasies.

Politicians are stick
figures for whom applause
greases palms

and limousines grow
long as Pinocchio’s nose.

Truth now is a refugee
homeless yet silent,

not even a tent
but a night of snow
and no blanket.

Someday a society
will emerge we cannot
recognize,

bodies will be
disinterred in unmarked
graves, no one will
admit guilt

and the gods of history
will almost laugh
at those who assume
time will heal
all wounds.

Blue night turns over
with no dawn.


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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Saturday, October 17, 2009

HOMELESS IN SAN FRANCISCO

by Camincha


holding his plastic bag
reaches 15th and Harrison, one
more corner, just like all the
others he’s passed tonight, empty.
His eyes roam the street like an
orphaned child looking for his
mother. He exudes desolation,
loneliness, despair, anguish.

All doors are closed.
No lights at the windows.
No one’s waiting for him.

He stands, feet firmly planted
as if wishing to sprout roots.
Somehow make himself belong
Taking just a little space,
wishes standing at the street
corner, wishes he could sprout
roots. Wishes had a little space
belong to him. A little warm,
safe space waiting for him in
this foreign land. Wishes he
could sprout roots.

His eyes roam the street, an
orphaned child looking for his
mother. He exudes desolation,
loneliness, despair, anguish.

All doors are closed.
No lights at the windows.
No one’s waiting for him.


Camincha is Peruvian. She was selected by KDTV for their segment “One of Ours” to honor her contributions to the Latin American community. Her poems, short stories and literary translations have been published in Lit & E-Zine magazines. She has desktop-published three bilingual chapbooks and her novella, As Time Goes By, was published in ‘05. The San Francisco Bay Guardian, says: “Camincha frames the ordinary in a way that makes it extraordinary, and that is real talent.”
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Friday, October 16, 2009

CHOICES

by Christie Sargent


The same people
who wouldn't sell
my 16yr old friend
condoms at the supermarket
are the ones I see
standing outside the clinic
with signs that say
"You have other choices"
"Make better decisions"
"Murderer"


Christie Sargent is currently majoring in Comparative Literature at the University of Utah and living in Salt Lake City, Utah.
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

LITURGY

by Rob Lewis


Let the past follow the past. The beautifully faded map
wants to dissolve, to become fragments and leaves
for the wind. Let the wind have them.

We are wanderers again.
There is no place
that must not be freshly seen.

A glossy black beetle lifts its antenna
into the humming air
and waves them at the mountains
which gaze at the sun
which invites all things
to sing their names.

The listening among these,
and the cells rearranging,
that is the trail,
discerning what is real
from what we’ve merely made,
with hominid
humility, blessed

by the trillion voices, finding and
singing them back
to the centers of our prayers.


Rob Lewis is a natural materials painter and plasterer living in the northern Puget Sound city of Bellingham, Washington. His poem "The Painter" received the 1999 International Poetry Award in Atlanta Review.
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Rob Lewis's "Liturgy" is a New Verse News contribution to Blog Action Day, 15 October 2009.


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SONS OF KONG

by James Penha


South Pacific ripples used to tickle
with cool fingers
the toes of island children
who’d giggle with paradise
and smile in satisfaction when grown
they harvested their crops and fished the reefs
until tides rose like a slow tsunami,
never receding,
to salt their wells,
blanch canals,
fields and throats,
and tear the white sand beaches
from the atoll’s heart.
Now the hot sea stands panting and licking
at the last refugees
who tread water
as their world sinks
beneath them.


James Penha edits The New Verse News.
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James Penha's "Sons of Kong" is a New Verse News contribution to Blog Action Day, 15 October 2009.


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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

POLITICAL GHAZAL: THE GREAT PACIFIC GARBAGE PATCH

by Thomas R. Smith


What are we, if not our dream of a better world?
Feudal times have returned to mock us, the names
of the new fiefdoms Halliburton and Exxon.

In the Pacific there's a floating mass of garbage
twice the size of Texas. (Google it.) It's spreading,
the first state of the country of the future.

When did we become a trash island filling
space between oceans? Was it when that foolish
actor's voice filled the space between our ears?

I felt sad hearing about Teddy Kennedy's brain
cancer. In Nineteen-eighty the door was still
open to a higher road we might have taken.

We killed our King and dumped his wealth in the sea.
Our talk became wind keening through the mouth
of a plastic bottle washed up on the beach.

Thomas, you cried listening to Al Gore's concession
speech because it meant that the lovers in the song
really were going to die hiding on the back streets.


Thomas R. Smith
is a poet and teacher in western Wisconsin. His most recent books of poetry are Waking Before Dawn (Red Dragonfly Press) and Kinnickinnic (Parallel Press).
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Thomas R. Smith's "The Great Pacific Garbage Patch" is a New Verse News contribution to Blog Action Day, 15 October 2009.


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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

POETRY UPDATES

by David Feela


Version 5.1 used rhyme
and a cadence in metrical time
to lyrically consider the death of a child.

Version 6.8 left the child dead
but revised the last stanza
to prove the mother was unwed.

The release of version 7.6
buried rhymes inside the lines
so the reader could listen, say,
to a torrent of rain against a pane of glass.

The floodwaters rose in 8.7,
the lines expanded to accommodate the flow
and the natural rhythm of speech surfaced,
forcing readers to question if poetry
had reached its last form of expression.

Confessional verse evolved by version 9.2,
where the child narrated her own catastrophe,
then died when the poem was through.

The latest version promises
to fix all the glitches,
to turn the tragedy into love
and leave the reader in stitches.


David Feela is a poet, free-lance writer, writing instructor, and book collector.. His work has appeared in regional and national publications, including the High Country News' "Writers on the Range," Mountain Gazette, and in the newspaper as a "Colorado Voice" for The Denver Post. He is a contributing editor and columnist for Inside/Outside Southwest and for The Four Corners Press. A poetry chapbook, Thought Experiments (Maverick Press), won the Southwest Poet Series. His first full length poetry book, The Home Atlas, is now available.
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Monday, October 12, 2009

SAY THE MOON

by David Plumb


The year 2022
Your kids can go.
Too crowded here.
Not enough fast food
or rice for that matter.
It stinks, the air does.
No one walks without crutches
or a little cart that
scoots the forever aisles
in search of owner.
So why not the moon?
A station to STOP
Take care of the body business.
Johnny on the Moon Spot.
We can call it that.
Proceed to Mars later on.
Use caution.
Leave germs at home.
It’s for sale.
But watch the red sand.
It might be communist or worse.
Why wait?
Sign up now.


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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Sunday, October 11, 2009

DOUBLE DIP

by Janice D. Soderling


We grabbed hold of summer
like a kid grabs an ice cream cone,
gobbled the sweet days,
the smooth, crunchy nights.
Time ran in rivulets.
We gorged.

But before we knew it,
autumn, in her stout shoes,
loomed over us,
dishing out cold oatmeal,
shouting,
"Clean off your plate, kid."


Janice D. Soderling is a previous contributor to New Verse News. Recent work appears at The Pedestal, The Flea, Concise Delight, Horizon Review, Shakespeare's Monkey Revue. She was nominated for Sundress Best of Net 2009 by Shit Creek Review.
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Saturday, October 10, 2009

THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

by J.R. Solonche


The Nobel
Peace Prize
went to the wrong man.
It should have gone
to the student
who wrote on
the wall
of the men’s room stall:
My American eyes
see all,
so I wait for God
to make me blind.


J.R. Solonche is coauthor (with wife Joan Siegel) of Peach Girl: Poems for a Chinese Daughter (Grayson Books). His poems have appeared in many magazines, journals, and anthologies since the 1970s. He teaches at SUNY Orange in Middletown, New York.
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Friday, October 09, 2009

THE HUNGRY

Image by Linda Woods; Text by Christopher Woods


Christopher and Linda Woods live in Houston and Chappell Hill, Texas. They share a gallery at Moonbird Hill Arts.
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Thursday, October 08, 2009

CONTRADANCE IN A GOOD SQUARE OR CIRCLE

by Nickolas Butler


We leave our liquor at the door when we see
               the neighbors and dancers are indians
the band is all white beards
               the shoes are bare feet
the punch bowl is filled with virgin punch
               the child with down’s syndrome is smiling
and reaching for my strange hand
               which is reaching for his little hand and too far-away eyes.

Long underwear will cook me
               if this dance does not
tell me where the cold water is hidden
               show me a snowbank to dive in
i am embarrassed of my hands which leak so much salt and sweat
               i am enamored with your breasts which bead so much salt and
                              sweat
we have a quorum
               that is raising its hands in a democratic way
but my lungs are too tired to dissent.

America was once like this assembled hall
               a place for farmers to feed with gourds and pork
behind the church in the lee of the lake’s wind
               an eddy for cigarettes and the politics of seed and milk
and here is your hand in mine
               promenading through the night
one-two, one-two, one-two go our dirty feet
               on those ancient beams and planks
and when no one is looking
               we can shoot spitballs at the moon
and kiss like we were beneath the bleachers of this old town.


Nickolas Butler's writings have appeared in: The Progressive, Wisconsin State Journal, Wisconsin People & Ideas, Madison Magazine, Roast, and Fresh Cup. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin with his family.
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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

RELIC

by Judith Terzi


The last barbarian took his seat.
The cymbals clashed,
and the first man spoke.
The barbarian held up a hand-written sign.
The first man glanced his way,
surprised that he was wearing
a gray Oxxford suit and well-tended loafers,
not the season's deerskins,
and sandals strapped around his calves.
The last barbarian stood up;
he began to weep.
Tears streamed down his striped tie
onto the chamber tile.
No one knew why he wept,
but soon, other barbarians were weeping, too.
A blue lake pooled from their tears.
The weeping men, over their heads in the sudden lake,
dog paddled, gasped their last barbarian breath.
Miraculously, not one drop of this flood
flowed upstream where legislators sat.
Ties, shoes, shirts, toupés drifted
back and forth like toy sailboats.
Then, every relic vanished.
All was still except for the voice of the first man
and the swish of a water lily springing up
every now and then.


Judith Terzi's poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Aries, Alehouse Press (2009 Happy Hour Awards Runner Up), Borderlands, The New Verse News, The Pedestal Magazine, Quarrtsiluni, Raving Dove, Red Rock Review, the Her Mark 2010 Calendar and elsewhere. She lives in Southern California where she taught writing at California State University, Los Angeles and high school French for many years.
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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

KABUL INITIATION: A LETTER SENT BACK HOME

by Earl J. Wilcox


Dear Folks:

Today we arrived in Kabul
to teach for the next three years.

In back of our tiny compound
a lovely rose garden. Out front,

several charming guards with
AK47s, keen eyes, serene, alert.

Our bed tonight is hard, our
nerves of steel tested hourly

by barking dogs, roar of planes
powering overhead. When morning

at last comes, we are surprised
to find ourselves safe and sound.


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, October 05, 2009

JESUS, MAPS

by David LaBounty


the lady on the TV screen
has credentials beneath
her red red lips &
motionless hair. she

talks about Iran in
a stream of
rhetoric & opinion
that sounds like
a drum beat as
her words echo
off her shiny
teeth & alabaster
double chin

she says

Iran has launched
missiles even
though the
rest of the
world said no, how

Iran has launched
missiles even though
Israel is in the
neighborhood.
& how Israel
already
has nuclear
weapons &
isn’t afraid
to use them,

and

she says if
Israel uses
nuclear weapons
against Iran
the battle lines
would be
drawn
across the
Middle Eastern map,
a battle that
would turn into
Armageddon

as if to say

Jesus is
sanctioning
all of this

I yell at the TV and say

the Jesus
I know
never bothered
to read maps

never had
boundary lines
crossing
His heart
or His face.


David LaBounty's prose and poetry has appeared in several print and online journals. His third novel Affluenza has just been released. Affluenza is a tale of debt, consumerism, vanity and sexual addiction told through the financial rise and fall of an insurance executive who lives beyond his means.
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Sunday, October 04, 2009

PRAISE TO THEE, MY LORD, FOR ALL THY CREATURES

by Steve Kissing


My friend remembers the exact
Day he left the Catholic Church:
It was October 4th, the feast of Saint Francis,
The patron saint of animals.

The entire congregation was encouraged
To bring their pets and cows and chickens
To an outdoor Mass for a special blessing.
My friend stood with the rest of the parishioners

As Father McGivens sprinkled the dogs and cats,
The hamsters and snakes, the goats and sheep
With holy water while making the sign of the cross
In a large, sweeping manner just as the Pope

Does from his perch above St. Peter’s Square.
My friend, who months prior had been told
By Father McGivens that he was a despicable creature,
Left the Mass even before Holy Communion.

“They’ll bless a ferret, but not a fag,” my friend said,
“Maybe they’d feel better about me if I fucked horses.”
My friend has never been back to church since,
And he refuses to go to the zoo or to date anyone with a pet.


Steve Kissing used to be possessed by the devil. At least that’s what he believed as a child, and he wrote about that in his memoir, Running from the Devil (Crossroad Books). His poems have appeared (or soon will) in such print and online journals as: Thick With Conviction, Best Poem, Poetry Friends, Boston Literary Magazine, The Blue Ash Review, Bolts Of Silk, and Paterson Literary Review. Kissing’s first print-based chapbook, Survival Of The Fittest (Big Table Publishing), will appear in early 2010. Steve is no longer possessed by the devil. Or so he believes.
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Saturday, October 03, 2009

VALEDICTION FOR PADANG

by James Penha


Fall in Sumatra comes with trepidation
of the sphere, its rain
of terror, and so cities
collapse like towers in seconds,
smothering slowly
over days
invisible
cries
for help.

The rest remain to forage
among crimson leaves
and rotting timbers
for years on the floor
of a jungle again for green
sprouts, signs
of some
spring.


James Penha edits The New Verse News from Indonesia.
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Friday, October 02, 2009

60

by Barbara A. Taylor


sixty years on
our china today
watch it, or else . . .


Barbara A. Taylor's poems appear in international journals and anthologies: Landfall, Atlas Poetica, Modern English Tanka, Haiku Scotland. Canadian Zen Haiku,, Ginyu, Riverbed, Lynx, Presence, Sketchbook , qaartisiluni, Ribbons, Frogpond, Wisteria, 3lightsgallery, Shamrock, Eucalypt, Lynx, Simply Haiku, Kokako, Moonset, Magnapoets, Poetic Diversity, and elsewhere. Poetry with audio is at http://batsword.tripod.com.
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Thursday, October 01, 2009

THE BLACK PROFESSOR AND THE WHITE COP: NO APOLOGIES

by Carol Lem

Even before we sat down for the beer, I learned
that the two gentlemen spent some time together
listening to one another, which is a testimony to them.
– Barack Obama

We will listen to each other lie
before cameras, reporters, and the president,

eyeing this “teachable moment” when I
take your hand in mine, and we say

we’re sorry. But listen, grabbing a beer
in the sunny Rose Garden – and not your face

in the night shadows of my front porch,
gun and badge wrapped around your words,

I hear a man in a plain suit and tie
talk about his life growing up with black kids

and white thugs and how he wanted to stop
the beating. But listen, that night –

you were hearing those kids cursing
the thugs in one kid’s home.

That night, with history lining the bookshelves
behind me and shoving my Harvard I.D.

into the accusing lens of your flashlight,
I remembered in school getting A’s

on my essays and the white teacher saying,
“Who’s been writing these for you, boy?”

That night, you were that teacher.
And I was getting back at all you guys

who can’t hear the words of a man
that was once that boy, a black man

standing before his own class
teaching white folks about the law.

And I heard only those handcuffs
click against our separate histories,

how in the eyes of your law
I was still that uppity schoolboy.


Carol Lem teaches Creative Writing and Literature at East Los Angeles College. Her poems appear in Chrysalis, Tebot Bach, and Red Rock Review. Practicing shakuhachi, Japanese bamboo flute, inspires her poems. Poems from Shadow of the Plum may be heard on her CD, Shadow of the Bamboo, at www.carollem.com.
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