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Sunday, February 28, 2010


by Richard Ilnicki

Pablo Neruda once said,
“I explain a few things.”
Who wouldn't sit at his feet
and hang on every word
and swallow his explanations?
This man, this revered poet,
this king of clay to the world
threaded filaments of gold into his poetry
to make rich men out of poor men
and queens out of female peasants.
His verse, more fecund than the good earth,
poured life-bearing fruit into our hungry hearts.
He could remove the ache better than a doctor.

Pablo Neruda's most excellent Chilean voice
would bring stars down for us to touch,
reverse the trajectory of planets,
calm a raging sea,
control thunder and lightning,
bring down dictators!
bloom flowers, dry eyes, plant hope,
and so many other marvelous things,
but this one thing he would not do;
he would not cause an earthquake
because he loved to laugh and to hear laughter.
Remember when he said,
“Deprive me of bread, if you want,
deprive me of air, but
don't deprive me of your laughter.”

There are some things
even the great Pablo Neruda can not explain.

Richard Ilnicki is husband, father, grandfather, health club manager/personal trainer whose best friend, besides his wife, is his dog Jimmy.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


February 25, 2010

by Steve Hellyard Swartz

Shovel with your legs and save your spleen
Scrolls across the bottom of my tv screen
On the left margin of the Health Care Summit
My IQ and the Dow are seen to plummet
Dr. Sanjay Gupta warns shovelers to be kind to their heart
Mitch McConnell fights back a fart
Obama smiles, but he's losing patience
All across America, doctors are losing patients
The good Senator from Tennessee pleads for more-of-the-same, a moribund sanity
While the good Senator from New York questions her good friend's polls,
     while never questioning
his heart and soul
The pundits all agree that America is voting with its feet
While the weatherman predicts a killer storm, smiling through his teeth

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.

Friday, February 26, 2010


by David O’Connell

but in two hundred years, they’ll sit for the play
with an Iraqi in the attic who sweeps and does dishes
then heals the dysfunctional American family,

because there is no wisdom like the wisdom
of the conquered, because, like us,
they’ll fear being conquered. In two hundred years

enough time will pass to meet this Iraqi with reverence,
for her long black shroud and sandpaper language,
for her tentative step and sharp blue eyes.

By then it will have dimmed— the IEDs, the secret prisons—
and they’ll weep in the dark when her proverb strikes true,
because it’s ancient and foreign and, like us,

they cure their shame like meat for the winter.
And when our grandchildren’s children’s grandchildren
burst from the theater, tucked into collars, bundled

to lovers, they’ll say out loud, to anyone listening,
how they’re blessed to live then, at the dawn of the century,
to be wiser than us, and ashamed at the manner

that we triumphed and crowed and were needed.
And that September, in lower Manhattan,
when the bell is rung and the names are read out,

some will remember,
some will be curious,
and some will race on toward the day.

David O’Connell’s poetry has previously appeared in Fugue, RATTLE, Drunken Boat, and Poet Lore, among other journals. In 2009, he was awarded the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts poetry fellowship. He has an MFA from Ohio State University.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Volume Ten

by Bill Costley


"Surviving 5 heart attacks makes Cheney unusual, showing that he has good medical care as well as a particularly aggressive form of heart disease."
(AP Feb 24, 2010)

CHENEY walks taller now in a District
that has long known him all too well,
from White House to GWU Hospital.

He’s ‘He Who Walks Tall,’
taller than all of his enemies,

taller than his breaking wave of well-wishers,
admiring his ability to navigate political currents
as political sharks drift lazily down every street,
intent on drawing political blood daily.

Once again, Cheney’s the day’s top story,
thanks to his heart. Thanks to his heart;
thanks to his heart. “Thank you, heart,”
he prays as he falls to his knees again.


CHENEY wins the 2009 Prize
for Most Obvious Dictator
in the English-speaking world
& smiles crookedly:

“Maybe next year, the whole
wide world; it's watching me,
wanting to see how I’ll topple
that college professor Obama
who works from lecture notes;
me, I work by long-range plan.”

& locks up the transparency.


After CHENEY fell,
he rose again on the 3rd day
& shuffled to the windows,
beholding the fed.District
laid out before him:

“I have finally conquered
this & all that this controls;
I only have to raise my hand…”

& stopped mid-sentence, his
crooked grin straightening,
& leant on the windowsill,
remembering his heart or
what was once his heart.


"It will be necessary for us to be a nation of men, & not laws," Dick Cheney said. 
The Guardian 11 MAR  10

CHENEY’s pinstriped daughter Liz spearpoints
Keep America Safe (KAS), calling a spade a blade;
calling lawyers who defended terrorists
“the al-Qaida seven", renaming 
the department of justice (DOJ) 
the "department of jihad".(DOJ);

Kenneth Starr, former solicitor general
& independent counsel who investigated Bill Clinton,
& Dubya's former acting attorney general, Peter Keisler
describe her attacks on the 7 lawyers as "shameful"
& undermining the struggle against terrorism:

"As attorneys, former officials, & policy specialists
who have worked on detention issues, we consider
her attacks both unjust to the individuals in question
& destructive of any attempt to build lasting mechanisms
for counterterrorism adjudications.”

Keep America Safe (KAS) dir. Aaron Harison rebuts:
"The American people have a right to know
who in the department of justice (DOJ)
is setting policy regarding detention
of terrorists & related national security issues,"

"Lawyers in private practice have the right
to volunteer pro bono to defend terrorists.
However, membership in the legal profession
does not immunise a person from questions
or criticism of their prior actions."


an edited newspoem

Rove didn't want CHENEY
to be Dubya’s  running mate:.
"I thought it was a bad idea,"
Rove told CNN's John King :

"I told Dubya the campaign didn’t
need "Wyoming's 3 electoral votes" &
would be better off not worrying about
"CHENEY's voting record, health, &
having been Bush 41's SecDef – we were
trying to develop a separate image for 43."

CHENEY was reluctant. Rove saw him
"squirm as Dubya pressed him to accept...”
CHENEY had a clear understanding of what

John Nance Garner, FDR's 1st VPOTUS said:
it was 'not worth a bucket of warm piss,'" but
"CHENEY was too much of a patriot
to act on that (pissy) knowledge."


CHENEY (R) Q-backs the redhot
U.S. Senate R-campaign in FL,
saying Obama-friendly FL Gov.
“Charlie Crist (R) cannot be trusted to
even remain a Republican,” implying
Crist’ll run as an Independent against
FL House Speaker Marco Rubio (R) &
“that would only benefit Democrats” so
CHENEY backs Rubio, the TeaParty fave.


CHENEY sits in a FL bar
far from where liberals are,
nursing a Shirley Temple dry,

listening to local AM radio
for news of Crist vs Rubio,
smirking at its internecinity.

“Thank God for ex-Cubans”
he murmurs, cheerily; nearby
2 bar-flies stare blankly.


CHENEY wipes his red
nose with a smooth napkin
pretreated by a brand of oil
he knows the name of but
won’t say ‘cuz it’s a rival’s.
“I will never ever say BP
Oil for the Manly Nose,
g-dammit, there, I’ve done it!”
Brand loyalty among oil-men
is intense; some dump rivals’
oil on the sand rather than
wipe their aching asses with it.


CHENEY burps at the chaos
caused by uncontrollable oil
in the Great American Gulf.
“That’ll teach’m to drill there.
Obama’s a fool to authorize it.
My own oil’s in the Persian Gulf
where they know how to do it!”
thinking of his Winter vacation
in beautiful, oil-rich Abu Dhabi
far from such bubbly troubles.


CHENEY feels for his balls
in his sleep, thinking: how they
were once as hard as pool-balls
when he racked the WH baize.

“It doesn’t really matter @ all!
I have lots of new balls in play
now that Scooter’s boxed, &
Petraeus replaces McChrystal.

I still have my own 2Q balls!”


 CHENEY laughs when he reads that
Karzai “warmly praised” McChrystal.
“F’n right he did. That lame-ass s.o.b.
is right out of the CHENEY playbook!”
"Can it get any better?” (he thinks), I
own'm all, coming & going; I make'm
all say & do just what I want, when.”
CHENEY's the dramaturg of oil wars,
(but not oil-accidents; those he avoids)
“I want that oil to flow & burn, I want
to see those columns of black smoke
rising on the desert & the battlefield.”


CHENEY spits as the AM-radio
says Crist polls 42%, Rubio 31%.
“Where the f’r  all  those greasy 
ex-Cubans?” forgetting it’s only
angloradio, not radioespanol
where Rubio polls a cool 110%.
“I’m told Rosy Ruiz is 100% for
that greasy bag of plantain chips!”.
2 bar-flies stare blankly as he raves;
neither understands English, both
are (indeterminate) war escapees.

Click here for Volume Eleven

Bill Costley has served on the Steering Committee of the San Francisco Bay area chapter of the National Writers Union. He lives in Santa Clara, CA.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


by Ed Werstein

At concerts in Rockefeller Center
sensitive ears can still hear the cries and wails
of the Ludlow miners
and their wives and children
slaughtered on the picket line in Colorado, 1914.

Without opening a book,
keen eyes can read
the lost lives of unschooled steel workers
on the facades of thousands of libraries,
part of the Carnegie bequest.

And who remembers
the abandoned artistic ambitions
of the aluminum smelters, the oil riggers,
and the bank tellers who labored
so the Mellon family could endow
the National Gallery of Art?

Ed Werstein, Milwaukee, spent 22 years in manufacturing and the last 15 years as a workforce development professional helping job seekers. Ed practiced writing sporadically over the years, but only recently has started to write more regularly and to submit his work to public scrutiny. Ed's work has appeared in the 2009 Mark My Words collaborative art show in LaCrosse and in the collection Vampyr Verses published by Popcorn Press.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


by Mary Krane Derr

My dream of the third night, over orange sodium-lamped Chicago snow, with brick buildings unjarred by pushes of wind off the Lake, with taxi drivers out in raw cold still desperately running up against busy signals on cellphones to Port au Prince, twisting crosses around their necks. My third eye curved around hundreds of thousands of Haitians, dark skins chalkily white and thick with concrete dust. Sprawled and half-smashed beneath unidentifiable miles of mad stonish chunks with no rebar jutting out of it: all just tumbles of fissure, collapsed or ready to at a sneeze or a groundripple of aftershock. Lit-up winged beings came and went, went and came, freely and quickly through the wreckage, not grazing a thing. Encircled in soft firm feathers the nowhere-else-to-go, helped them keep themselves together, as they babbled or whispered their bloody-toothed, dry-tongued pleas. Accompanied their souls forward whenever the rupture could finally not be held in and embraced away. No human, the staying or the leaving, exempt from this singular, enfolding purpose. No one. All swaddled in it as if for burial or birth, to whatever end or start. Even as the humans and the angels together sang or spoke or feebly bubbled or simply thought weakly within almost stilled voice boxes, shiversome African hymns of prayer. For the human angels to arrive en masse with their hands full of pickaxes, cranes, bandages, splints, surgical knives, medical ointments, bread rations, bottles of water, news and faces of home. For nothing and no one else to ever break so again with the tree-shorn, sliding red poverty of earth. Out in orange sodium lamped Chicago snow, in pushes of raw wind off the Lake, the cab drivers prayprayprayed this, too, their litany the dialing of 011+country code 509...011+ country code 509…011+country code 509….

Mary Krane Derr is a writer, musician, multi-issue nonviolence activist, and fourth generation South Side Chicagoan. Most recently her poetry has appeared in a collection for International Day of Climate Action; Canary: Literary Journal of the Environmental Crisis, and Kritya's tribute to Polish Diaspora poets. Her disability rights, anti-militarization of youth poem "At This Address" appeared in the November 17, 2009 New Verse News. Her family's donations for Haiti have gone to WorldVision, UNFPA's aid to mothers and babies, and INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence's longterm development plan.

Monday, February 22, 2010


by Robert M. Chute

Cpl. Candide returns from his fourth
Afghan tour to find Pangloss in command.
Pundits say, since this is the only world
there is it’s the best he’s going to get.
Reading the paper while waiting in line
at the unemployment office the veteran
finds good news: the market shows signs
of life. He turns to the comic page.

Tiger of the fairways calls from the clubhouse
to apologize for his frolics in the rough
but redemption will depend on ratings.
His trophies have already been discarded.

Off Hyannisport a phantom sailboat
has been seen, fully rigged, unmanned,
outward bound across Nantucket Sound.

Robert M. Chute's book of poetry based on scientific articles, Reading Nature, is available from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


by Laura Rodley

Low into the woods he drives his skidder
the seat patched with silver duct tape,
black grease upon the wheels.
It emits a blue smoke that he
does not worry about, a noise he wears
no shields upon his ears to guard against.
He’s been chopping logs for thirty years,
growing apples just the same.
Now they’re sending apples from China
packed in Washington , and bought the train station
between the west and east coast,
at prices lower than he can give.
But here the woods, the prices dropped here
too, wood coming in from Russia ,
but here the woods, the beeches bend down
to him, their tiny burnt orange cones
sidle along the rust red of his skidder,
and the red lines where the forester left
his painted mark tell him which tree to cut.
And he knows how to hold the chainsaw
hefting its weight in his thighs
holding it like a woman caught in a mid-dip swing
her body cutting into the tree, rhumba, rhumba,
the wedge he must cut first, then on the other side
he slices the saw’s teeth through to the heart
where the tree gives way, heaves
with a sigh to the ground, then crashes
snow fliffing up, leaves and branches scattering.
He knows how to do this, to let them down so easy,
he lets them down all over the woods.
The hard maple bends to him, take me,
she says, take me, I want to rest now and he
holds his saw tight, his thighs perched and cuts
straight into her heart, never missing.

Laura Rodley's chapbook Rappelling Blue Light was nominated for a Mass Book Award. Nominated fora Pushcart Prize, her work has been in anthologies, Massachusetts Review and many others. On the advisory board of the Collected Poet Series, she works as a freelance writer and photographer.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


by Art Goodtimes

Repubs and Dems
they both boost nukes
One of the reasons I'm a Green

Can't get those grubby little
fists of the power brokers
out of their existing cookie jars

As I told a good donkey aide
in calling for a tour through
Uravan and up out to Paradox

where Canadians want to
build the country's first new
uranium mill in decades

(him thinking we should link it
to a Telluride whistlestop
to celebrate a bill to preserve

large tracts of wild lands)
“If you think mixing a victory lap
with a downer spin through our

backyard slickrock sacrifice eddy
might fly, I’ll try. I just think
before our congressionals

take sides
& make up their minds
on a nuclear future

they ought come visit
the front end of the horse.
Not just champion the backside”

Art Goodtimes was the founding poetry editor of Earth First! Journal (1981-1991) and poetry co-editor of Wild Earth (1991- 2000). His first book was Embracing the Earth (Homeward Press, Berkeley, 1984) and his most recent As If the World Really Mattered (La Alameda Press, Albuquerque, 2007). He's founder/director of the Talking Gourd poetry gatherings in Colorado and New Mexico since 1989 and poet-in-residence of the Telluride Mushroom Festival since 1980.

Friday, February 19, 2010


by David Feela

No chance for the gold
he settles for the white,
a medal of no distinction
awarded for not finishing

anything. He lugs
his blanket to the park
and unrolls it like
a toboggan on a hill

then climbs aboard
and shouts, Here I come,
won’t somebody
please stop me?

David Feela's work has appeared in regional and national publications. He is a contributing editor and columnist for Inside/Outside Southwest and for The Four Corners Free Press. His first full length poetry book, The Home Atlas, is now available.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


by Louisa Calio

Look at de earth, mon;
see how it work;
it work by itself
without your help.
Now watch de moon, mon;
watch de sun;
see de patterns
how dey go, how dey come.
What is nurturing dem?
Not just woman need to know dis.

Look at de people, mon;
how dey get locked in dey ways;
Look at you man
now look at your folks,
you are just dem mirror
in opposite strokes.
Just caus” de seasons change
and de prime ministers change
don't mean a ‘ting, mon.

Yeah, mon.
You so busy, always on de run,
working from your birth;
got so many things to work;
working for what de others need
a real politician, constant E-motion.
Hey mon, how you know what we need?
You never ask me.

Louisa Calio is an award winning poet, performer, and photographer. Director of the Poets and Writers Piazza for Hofstra’s Italian Experience for the last 8 years, she was Winner of the 1978 Connecticut Commission of the Arts Award to individual Writers, the 1987 Women in Leadership Award, Barbara Jones and Taliesin prizes for Poetry, The New Voices Trinidad and Tobago, and most recently honored at Barnard College as a feminist who changed America. Founder of City Spirit Artists, New Haven, CT, she has spent a life time bringing arts to people of varied economic levels. Her writings have appeared in the anthologies I Name Myself Daughter, She is Everywhere, Italian Heart American Soul, dark mother, Shades of Black and White, More Sweet Lemons, as well as in journals and newspapers. She has traveled to East and West Africa, lived in the Caribbean and documented her journeys in photographs and the written word, recently completing an epic poem Journey to the Heart Waters which was also the title of an exhibition of photos and poems that opened at Round Hill Resort in Montego Bay in 2007.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Poem by Charles Frederickson; Graphic by Saknarin Chinayote

Jaded chessmen 64 uprooted squares
Opening gambit soiled groundless rules
Changed same reason as diapers
Emissions target practice passing gas

Barefoot critic-tac-toe naughts & crosses
Draughts not droughts flooding checkerboard
Grandmaster plan game set match
Spidery stratagem Camelot of humanure

Tunnel vision global worming Skeptics
Greenhouse of cards Jokers wild
Environmental case missing full deck
Media maniacal ex-spurts snake-eyes crapshoot

Objective El Nino king carbon capture
Sustainable La Nina Mother nature queen
Bio-bishops pairs of knights rooks
Overtaking isolated eco-pawn en passant

Untimely bomb keeps on ticking
Glacial meltdown taking last licks
Nuclear proliferation arms beyond control
Do-or-dioxide fossils fueling phobic at-most-fears

No Holds Bard Dr. Charles Frederickson & Saknarin Chinayote together comprise PoeArtry. Flutter Press has just published Charles’ new chapbook fanTHAIsies.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


by Jean Thurston Liebert

"Now you see it. Now you don’t."
     Magic on the Old Water-Front.
Eighty years ago, Boardwalk Way
     Was not unlike politics today.
First we watched John McCain
     Then came clouds and signs of rain.
We dashed home to get the hay in,
     But when we returned, there was Palin.
Where did she originate?
     Did someone forget to close the gate?
John, himself, was not too sure,
     But he welcomed her allure.
Confused, too, as the bells pealed,
     We weren’t sure how we should feel
When all those kiddies were trundled out.
     Was that something to cheer about?
Then, at last, the atmosphere
     Seemed to be much more clear.
McCain went down in defeat.
     Palin , to Alaska, made her retreat.
Today Palin is in high gear.
     She thinks her future is finally here.
Busy with tea-parties and a mop,
     Biting and scratching her way to the top!
It’s still the old shell-game.
     Palin intends to use her fame!
Let’s go down to the water-front.
     "Now you see her. Now you don’t."

Jean Thurston Liebert became a Democrat when she discovered she could attend the University of California for five years but couldn’t earn a living wage without organizing to deal with CEO’s. She believes all one needs in America is a job with a living wage. At 91, everything she writes is colored by this philosophy. Her favorites in High Places are Barack Obama and Al Sharpton.

Monday, February 15, 2010


by Ray Brown

Just 19, I was ferried through the desert
in a copter, where we worried that the eternal sands
of this enemy’s land would choke the intakes.

I had prepared for this,
sharpened my shooting eye,
learned to clean, assemble and disassemble,
mastered the correct hold
to choke the air intake of the enemy, to bring death.

Honed my physique,
fine tuned my body to pain,
practiced war games on the video screens,
bonded with these comrades
with whom I would shortly alight.

Now as we step onto the battle field
I am taken aback by the immediacy
of the enemy’s onslaught.
I had worried about how it would feel
the first time -

But found there was no time to feel – or think.
Instinct and reflex governed.

I simply killed for you.

Ray Brown lives in Frenchtown, NJ. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey. His poetry has appeared in the 13th Annual Poetry Ink Chapbook, Moonstone Publishing, Philadelphia; The Star-Ledger of Newark; NJ Lawyer Magazine; and previously in The New Verse News. He received a NJ Poetry Society 2009 Recognition Award, and will be published in upcoming volumes of the Edison Literary Review, the Big Hammer, FreeXpresSion, and the River Poets Journal.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


by David Chorlton

At a desk between Spanish literature
and music scores in the reading room
a man has unpacked his belongings
on a bright winter day
when the sun shines through the wide windows
to illuminate the orange
he takes from one of a dozen
plastic sacks lying, some empty some full,
around his feet, and places it next to
a candy bar in a bright metallic wrapper
while he turns the pages in a stack
of fashion magazines each with a glamorous smile
on its cover, and he warms his hands
on the photographs inside them.
He has some coins and a view across downtown.
A can of food best served warm
but better cold than nothing. He has
a pair of gloves with holes
to let his fingers through to count
five grapefruit in a canvas bag.
He has a crumpled dollar bill, a handkerchief,
a yellow box of salted crackers
beside a Styrofoam cup imprinted with the logo
of the fast food chain for which it stands,
one grapefruit under the table,
indivisible, in a library
with blank cards and pencils
for all.

David Chorlton lives with his wife, four cats, a dog, and some birds in central Phoenix, where he also organises a monthly poetry series at The Great Arizona Puppet Theater. After thirty-one years in the USA he continues to appreciate being an outsider, which sharpens vision and makes otherwise mundane observations meaningful. His new chapbook, From the Age of Miracles, appeared in 2009 from Slipstream Press as the winner of its latest competition.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


by Tony Brown

I'm trying to decide
what to do with my old broom
because I haven’t had the money
to buy a new broom yet
and I’ve been exhorted
to sweep clean. Should I
toss it out and let the house
go to seed with dust and grime
until I get the new one
or keep using the old one
knowing I’m out of compliance
and could be seen as a reactionary?

Cup of tea,
I ask myself? Certainly,
I reply. Don’t feel like making coffee,
but I need the boost. And though
I’m alone here, no reason not
to think of this as a party.
People like me are doing the same
across the country. Except
maybe they aren’t like me,
maybe they don’t really like tea
and are drinking it only because
there’s nothing else? Because
it beats mumbling to yourself?

This slow laptop full of spyware
and crappy ads and dead files?
It wasn’t always like this. It used
to sing and scream. That it picked up
so much debris along the way
has to be someone else’s fault:
I can’t be expected to think about this stuff
every time I download a movie
or open my mail, or to upgrade
my protection regularly
and be perpetually vigilant.
That’s not my job –
it’s just supposed to work for me.

“No, I’m an American,”
I tell the attendant at the gas station
who asks if I’m French
after I thank him, on a whim, in Italian.
He regards me with suspicion.
That’s the problem with this country:
none of us know enough languages
to be able to identify
genuine expressions of gratitude.

I don’t recognize the blond woman
on the front page of the paper
whose bruised shin may keep her
from five gold medals in Vancouver,
just as a few weeks ago
I didn’t recognize
any of the brown people
pictured standing around homeless
in Port-Au-Prince after that earthquake.
But I do feel
a similar sense of loss
so overall, I’m good.

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

Friday, February 12, 2010


by Judith Terzi

Wires spill out from plastic bags in seat pockets.
His children wear earphones like telephone operators.
Transfixed by music, they sit speechless.

He pulls out what I think are more earphones.
The wires are not wires but thin, black leather straps.
He rolls up a light green shirt sleeve, binds the straps

around his left arm, left-hand fingers. He positions
a small leather box on his left biceps, then another one
above his light brown hair line between the eyes.

A flight attendant stares at the small black boxes.
She tells the pilots that a terrorist may be on board––
25D is wearing possible explosive devices.

The man prays at an altitude of 35,000 feet in the middle
of bluest sky, as we fly at 504 miles per hour.
In a dark corner of a brownstone kitchen in Baltimore,

I watched my grandfather lay the same mysterious
tefillin every morning, the same ancient signs
that I never asked about or touched. His red curls

spilled out from under his kippah, a standard black one––
unlike the green-shirted traveler's skullcap, its silvery
threads meandering through deep purple velvet.

My grandfather stopped praying fifty years ago.
The traveler prays above the wings of this jet,
above the solemn chasms of the Grand Canyon;

he prays amidst a jumble of clouds. I want him to lean
across the aisle, tell me we're closer to angels,
closer to God, but the plane is diverted and lands.

Agents question the man in the light green shirt.
His children are speechless; they listen to music
while other passengers wait and google "phylacteries."

Judith Terzi lives in Southern California where she taught high school French for over twenty years. Her poetry has been widely published in print and on line. She was a runner up in the 2009 Alehouse Press Happy Hour Awards. A new chapbook, The Road to Oxnard, will be published by Pudding House Press as a finalist of note in the 2009 competition.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


by Lynnie Gobeille

Surrounded by liars
and thieves of the heart
how do you learn
where do you start
where do you go
when reasoning fails
the room filled with mirrors
that echo the tales…
You’re spinning a web
out of control....
One has your mind.
One has your soul.

Surrounded by liars
(off with their heads)
you turn off the lights
crawl back into bed.
Reasoning out
what might really matter
listening in fear
your heart pitter- patters.
The left brain knows
but the right
won’t allow it.

Surrounded by liars
and thieves of the heart
attempting to breathe,
not fall apart . . .
when evil is King
where does the Queen go?
Your love is the thing
that no one controls.

Lynnie Gobeille has published in The Sow's Ear Review, Crone’s Nest, The Avatar, The Prairie Home Companion, This I Believe (NPR), The New Verse News, The Providence Journal (Poetic License) and The Naugatuck River Review. Editor of the Providence Journal Poetry Corner (South County Edition ). Member of The Origami Poems Project, a state wide “free poetry event” based in Rhode Island.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


by Rochelle Owens

Hearing that an actor
dying after falling
despairing over his balancing act
falling off a metal stool
changing a light bulb
shattering his glass skull

Applauding the audience viciously and hypocritically
casts lots for his robe
a drunken slumming suburban crowd
women and men garbed
in opulent fur coats sable mink chinchilla
trafficked leopard

From out of the digital age come the entertainers two by two
also three by three they come
also four by four they come
comedians riffing on politics
jeering at the religious
monotheist pantheist and atheist idealists
ogling small boys with blissful faces
gyrating in spandex and leather
little girls smiling and pivoting
pivoting on crocodile stiletto heels
male and female wrestlers
preening laughing and cracking whips

From out of the digital age come the politicians celebrities profiteers
also the moral and depraved
they come also

And in the actor’s dying brain––
Behold!---a triptych a single image
a fetal skull sprouting tooth-buds
a pelvis riddled with arthritis
light shining through the porous bones

An old man with a pink face his sequin dress glinting
under a fat lustrous brown mink
bidding on an illuminated manuscript
and a python wallet
the dead actor’s delusions
etched into the skin
his obsolete convictions stitched
into the seams
obscure details of dying a poetics of Space and Body

You feel your skull and spine shrinking inside the skin
your wrathful hands
tearing up prehistoric forests
you hear volcanic gases

The dead actor’s windpipe filling with vibrating words
his neck twisting to the side
and bleeding into his brain a thousand images
fish insects mammals
turtles crustaceans
a dense montage of broken stage props
bleeding into his brain

Rochelle Owens is the author of eighteen books of poetry and plays, the most recent of which are Plays by Rochelle Owens (Broadway Play Publishing, 2000) and Luca, Discourse on Life and Death (Junction Press, 2001). A pioneer in the experimental off-Broadway theatre movement and an internationally known innovative poet, she has received Village Voice Obie awards and honors from the New York Drama Critics Circle. Her plays have been presented worldwide and in festivals in Edinburgh, Avignon, Paris, and Berlin. Her play Futz, which is considered a classic of the American avant-garde theatre, was produced by Ellen Stewart at LaMama, directed by Tom O’Horgan and performed by the LaMama Troupe in 1967, and was made into a film in 1969. A French language production of Three Front was produced by France-Culture and broadcast on Radio France. She has been a participant in the Festival Franco-Anglais de Poésie, and has translated Liliane Atlan’s novel Les passants, The Passersby (Henry Holt, 1989). She has held fellowships from the NEA, Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and numerous other foundations. She has taught at the University of California, San Diego and the University of Oklahoma and held residencies at Brown and Southwestern Louisiana State.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


by Barbara Lightner

The hullabaloo careened
through confused hearts and minds,
and into the interstices of the internet;
the pundits, the bloggers,
the huff-huffs and puffers;
unworthy of the sad tale it encumbered.
If you didn't know the story
there wasn't any story
to speak of.

Some millions spent on an ad:
an interesting-looking woman,
her grown-up son,
and fall-flat humor
about how she was tougher
than a quarterback.

That's the way
giving birth has been
since the beginning of time,
all of us birthing-woman
would agree;
taking it tough,
tougher than a quarterback,
no matter the circumstance.

Good to see homage being given,
the message finally got right
(though they didn't mean it that way,
ignorance casting its light).

Barbara Lightner is a 70-year old shameless agitator, retired. She is an avowed pro-choicer who currently lives in Milwaukee, WI. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Table Rock Review, Poesia, the Zocalo Press chapbook series, the feminist poetry anthology Letters to the World. Several of her poems will be set to music by composer Larry Smith.

Monday, February 08, 2010


by Bill Costley

“Ask God’s Help”
Palin urges Tea-Party Convention.

coming soon:

"In God We Trust"
as a rider on all new mortgages.

Next, a new national silver dollar
with Jesus’ profile on both sides.
Early adopter Las Vegas' strip
declares Jesus’ Dollar new min. coin.
"Whenever Jesus spins, we all win!"

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

Sunday, February 07, 2010


by Kim M. Baker

if jesus had lived
had flown off the cross
like superman
just as the pharisees thought
she would be this
white hair
dark circles
under eyes alive
with social justice
and why
she would pick the scab
of uncertainty
from thin skin and grimace
when the phone rings

if jesus had lived
she’d laugh at methuselah
every time she blew out candles
from atop chocolate crazy cake
offering the first slice
to homeless joe
crave cheese and beef
and sneak the doll-sized
cosmetics from corporate
hotel rooms
for the needy down the street
around the globe

if jesus had lived
she’d wear purple and rage
at no health care reform
read mary oliver
to old ladies and golden retrievers
raise money and lower the boom
on hypocrisy
bring home the woes of those
we don’t know
find them safe space and dignity

and when god emailed
for a progress report
jesus would shake her Achilles head
wondering whether
two thousand years of being
human made enough difference
in anyone’s life

Kim M. Baker has been teaching writing in academe and business for 17 years. She currently is a writing coach at Roger Williams University School of Law in Bristol, RI. Also an advocate to end violence against women, Kim has performed in the Until the Violence Stops Festival Providence: 2008 and 2009. She has been published online and in print. Kim's first play was chosen for the Culture*Park Shorts Plays Marathon, New Bedford, MA, November 2009.

Saturday, February 06, 2010


by J. D. Mackenzie

Let us prevent clear logic to despoil
Our tenuous love for Sarah-the-Led
She, cherished maven of gas and big oil
Deserves a much higher honor instead
Cloaking her history, she won our hearts
Mother of multitudes (ornaments, props)
Courageous and skilled in the killing arts
Hopeful McCain’s second guessing soon stops
Truly, such powers we cannot ignore
Hers is a clear path, self-righteous and true
How could we commoners not love her more?
Perhaps if she quit again halfway through
          Sarah, deprive not your most thirsty folk
          You, bottomless well of side-splitting jokes

J. D. Mackenzie divides his time between work as a college administrator, kayaking Oregon rivers and writing poetry with an occasional political perspective. He recently celebrated the birthday of William Stafford by reading at a Friends of Stafford gathering.

Friday, February 05, 2010


by Earl J. Wilcox

should be better made
than boxy so-called cars
running in the Soap Box Derby.
For kids
it’s OK
to have a brake pedal
made of soft plywood,
glue, nails, and chewing gum.
For grownups,
we really need brake
made of steel.
not toy autos.

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.

Thursday, February 04, 2010


Poem by Charles Frederickson; Graphic by Saknarin Chinayote

Let US decide what’s best
For IOU declaring independence upon
Tio-Taco Bell rusty hollow clanger
Resonating echo Salvation Armageddon struck

Dunkin’ DoNot’s listless emotionally disturbed
No Deposit – No Return nobodies
Fleeced goody-goody shepherd willful powerbrokers
Enticingly remove shearlings from flock

Know-it-alls claiming Divine hotline intervention
Put on a Ha-Ha-Happy White-face
Minstrel show don’t tell farce
Villains masquerading as MarveloUS heroes

Shotgun mirage bribe end gloom
Awfully wedded blessed depressed bliss-ters
Everything turned inside-out sliver lining
All-American-can XS greedy mo-motives ceremoney

Greenbacks tarpapering Pizza Hut shacks
McHaiti ho-humbuggers 7-11 crapshoot snake-eyes
Walmart True-Values uncommon cents markdowns
Penny-pinching TLC ethics sold out

Let US prey net prophets
Jesus saves green food stamps
Spellbound Hoodoo-Voodoo enchanting elixirs
Facing final judgment wreckoning alone

No Holds Bard Dr. Charles Frederickson & Saknarin Chinayote together comprise PoeArtry. Flutter Press has just published Charles’ new chapbook fanTHAIsies.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


by Scot Siegel

"Oregon Newspapers Agree, Measures 66 & 67 Are Job-Killers . . . We Encourage You to Vote Against Them . . . This Is A Paid Advertisement"

-- after an ad running in The Oregonian
through the month of January 2010

I am a small business owner and have a family
to feed and I am conflicted over these measures
that would keep the mentally ill off the street
and lengthen the shortest school year in the nation

I am conflicted because the anti-tax fiends, 'ahem,
were right to point out the proponents lied to us
about the measures' effects on partnerships, sole
proprietorships, and other small family-owned

businesses, like my wife's tutoring center and
the guy down the street who presses the banker's
suits for a buck seventy-five, and his wife the seamstress
who mends those black dresses of the mayor's wife

I am confused and conflicted because Oregon
schools are the butt of Doonesbury jokes, because
The Oregonian is owned by a republican and edited
by democrats, because I have enough food

but don't know how to give some to the people of Haiti
who have no government and few ways to receive
our gifts; and because, despite my degrees and regrets,
I must confess to being stupid for having voted

with my conscience, for consenting to working harder
year after year, for the same less pay, as I have done
my entire adult life.

Scot Siegel is an award-winning urban planner and poet from Lake Oswego, where he lives with his wife Debbie and their two daughters. Siegel 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 selected Siegel’s first book Some Weather (Plain View Press, 2008) as one of Oregon's Outstanding Oregon Poetry Books. Pudding House released Siegel’s chapbook Untitled Country earlier this year. Siegel edits the online poetry journal Untitled Country Review.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


by Gil Fagiani

In Trivigno, Don Gigi
believes we're all God's children
lets immigrant Muslims
perform sadat in the church's oratorio.
The bishop thunders: Santa
Maria Assunta will not be used
by the islamaci for prayer meetings.

In Padua, militants from the Lega del Nord
declare Pig Day
unleash a Yorkshire porker
to bless the grounds
where a new mosque is to be built
taking back the gift
the Communist mayor gave the infidels.

Gil Fagiani's poetry collections include: Rooks (Rain Mountain Press, 2007), Grandpa's Wine (Poets Wear Prada, 2008), A Blanquito in El Barrio (Rain Mountain Press, 2009), Chianti in Connecticut (Bordighera Press, pending 2010) and Serfs of Psychiatry (Finishing Line Press, pending 2010). He is on the Board of Directors of the Italian American Writers' Association and is the Associate Editor of Feile-Festa.

Monday, February 01, 2010


by Bill Costley

". . . the Senator from Du Pont Chemicals with his forty-five votes
. . . the Senator from Nash-Kelvinator with his six."

--Pohl & Kornbluth, The Space Merchants (1952), pages 13-14.

Money talks. Politics calls:
“Steve, I need to know where
what’s left of GM stands on this.”
“I hope you’re recording this,”
asks GM Senator Steve Steeves.
“Yes, I am,” says UAW Senator
Paul ‘Polack’ Propulski. Silence;
neither realizing they’re tapped
by Ford Senator Henry Ford IV.
who thinks “Those jerks don’t
realize all this is legal now” with
corporate masters humanized,
according to SCOTUS, free to
exercise 1st-amendment rights.
“Speak up, you 2!” says Ford,
breaking their cautious silence,
"Be freemen in a freecorporate
world. You're finally…free!
Let's work a corporate deal.”

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