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Monday, May 31, 2010

GOD BLESS . . .

by George Held


On Memorial Day I always hear Kate Smith
Belting out God Bless America in my ear

O those mountains, prairies, and ocean capped with foam
Now polluted with smog, fouled water, and spilled oil

But God bless our troops as they suffer for you & me
& BP in some foreign locale we can’t find on the map

And God Bless our Congress, the best Big Oil
And Big Finance and Big Agribusiness can buy

And God Bless Sarah P. and Newt G. and all the Tea
Partiers and NRA members and Pro-Lifers and golfers

Who strive to take our country back from the dark
Of skin, the Progressives, Free Thinkers, skeptics

Who love our Declaration and our Constitution
And admire this country as much as anyone

For its ever-changing promise and ever evolving
Mix of peoples and varied faiths and cockeyed ideas

And won’t let it become fixed in some ideologue’s dark mind,
A Father Coughlin or a Rush blowing in the wind,

And a century after Lady Liberty’s lamp first lighted
. . . la de da . . . . So let the Vets march and let the crowds

applaud and let taps be played and guns salute
our boys, our boys grown old, our flag, and even,

yes, old Kate as she belts out “God bless Amer-i-ca, my
Home sweet home!” Because I, too (sigh), love (sob, choke)

This fuckin’ country.


George Held has collected many of his New Verse News poems in The News Today.
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PALIN DEFENCES OUT

by Bill Costley


Palin defences out her new neighbor
who totes a loaded laptop, not
a loaded gun; fearing his armed

literacy, writing 24x7, publishing
ad lib., she starts to shudder
uncontrollably.


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.
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GOOD WALLS MAKE GOOD NEIGHBORS

by Earl J. Wilcox

               After Robert Frost

Something there is
that loves a wall,
that sends Alaska ’s
ex-governor into a tizzy
to get hers built before
the next door neighbor
can catch her tending
her grandchild’s birthday party,
or jogging in her compound
to shed a few pounds
she might have layered on
attending Tea Party buffets,
Glen Beck’s Ditto Head Breaking News,
Rush’s Sing Along---
or watch her
gazing wistfully into the sunset
far into Russia .
Building good walls
was ever her mantra.
One could do worse
than be a good wall builder.


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, May 30, 2010

TO MY WIFE, UPSET ABOUT THE OIL SPILL

by Jane Cassady


You came home talking about gasping turtles
so I Googled “oil spill animals,”
a dangerous search for a depressive;
the birds' bent necks,their weighted beaks.

I Googled “oil spill animals”
and found out, without divine intervention
for the birds' bent necks and weighted beaks
the oil enters the wetlands tonight.

We're not interventions, who are we
to suffocate nests and strand dolphins
to paint the beach in dead fish and globules?
The oil enters the wetlands tonight.

We suffocate nests and strand dolphins--
they swim like consciences beneath the grit.
We paint the beach in dead fish and globules
spell out “Paradise Lost” in humans and surfboards.

They swim like consciences beneath the grit.
She washes out a turtle's mouth.
They spell out “Paradise Lost” in receipts and jokes
fast forward the SNL sketch, too sad.

She washes out a turtle's mouth.
He reaches in brown mud to save a crab.
Fast-forward the SNL sketch, too sad.
(What's so familiar, this halfhearted rescue?)

He reaches in brown mud to save a crab.
She uses a tube to hydrate a pelican.
What's so familiar, this halfhearted rescue,
this apathy of reeds and water?

She uses a tube to hydrate a pelican.
He updates the drowning tallies.
This apathy of reeds and water,
muddy TV news, the constant background.

Drownings in the background,
fires in the foreground.
You can see the video of gushing.
(I won't Google “video of gushing.”)

Fires in the foreground, burn it off,
runaway carbon news, the constant background.
I won't Google “video of gushing.”
I never watched An Inconvenient Truth.

Runaway carbon, the climate of Venus,
we learned this in astronomy class.
I never watched An Inconvenient Truth,
and never wanted to live on other planets.

We learned this in Astronomy class.
The otters, the dragonfly with oil on its wing
never wanted to live on other planets.
If the carcasses zombify, will we react then?

The dragonfly flaps its oil wing,
an asphyxiated otter flicks its whisker.
If they zombify and come for us, will we notice them?
Will we react when the movie comes out?

An asphyxiated otter flicks its whisker,
a human flicks the “share” button.
An invite to pray for the gulf and I'm livid,
zombified by grief.

A human flicks the “share” button,
a dangerous search for a depressive.
When the movie comes out, I'll remember
you came home talking about gasping turtles.


Jane Cassady recently ended two years of AmeriCorps service in Philadelphia public schools and enjoyed a brief lacuna before returning to her preferred life as full-time poet and teaching artist. She is the Slam Mistress of the Philadelphia Poetry Slam. She's appeared in New Verse News, The November 3rd Club, The Comstock Review, Valley of the Contemporary Poets, and other journals. She's performed at such venues as LouderArts in New York City, Valley Contemporary Poets in Los Angeles, and The Encyclopedia Show in Chicago.
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Saturday, May 29, 2010

NATURE

by Steve Hellyard Swartz


I’m at a party and a friend of mine says to me:
See that fella over there?
He’s a civilian working for the military
Into bombs or something like that
A woman tells me that her great great-grandfather
Was a lighthouse engineer
She says that he lived and died in lighthouses
I confess that I didn’t know
Just how many people
Become embedded in their profession
But I guess it makes sense
When you see the oil-covered pelican
Trying the best it can
Against all odds
To fly


Steve Hellyard Swartz is Poet Laureate of Schenectady, NY. He is a frequent contributor to New Verse News. Swartz is a 2011 Pushcart Prize nominee for Poetry. His poems have appeared in The Patterson Review, The Southern Indiana Review, The Kennesaw Review, and online at Best Poem and switched-on gutenberg. He is the winner of a First Place Award given by the Society of Professional Journalists for Excellence in Broadcasting. In 1990, Never Leave Nevada, a movie he wrote and directed, opened at the US Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
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Friday, May 28, 2010

SLUDGE WE CAN COUNT ON

by William Aarnes


To end a war, send more of your troops.
To recover from a recession, make sure your bankers stay rich.
To provide health care for all, keep your insurance firms involved.
To win arguments with your opponents, let them set the terms.
To improve your schools, dismiss the teachers.
To end terror, joke about your drones.
To curb your appetite for energy, drill for offshore oil.
To save a coast, delay your ineffectual response.  


William Aarnes has recently had poems in The Vocabula Review, Forge, and The Dirty Napkin.
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Thursday, May 27, 2010

WHEN IN ARIZONA

by David Chorlton


There is a language at the border
whose meanings lie
in the pause between breaths.
You can use it

to express ambiguities,
for prayer,
even to answer when stopped
for no reason

except to be asked who you are.
Say you don’t know,
that you followed the letter
of the law

until it abandoned you
where nobody has names
and any one is as good
as another

when it has survived translation
into being here.


David Chorlton has lived in Arizona for more than thirty years and loves the landscape, but laments that the state legislature has more thorns than the cactus.
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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

FAST FOOD JAMAICAN STYLE

by Louisa Calio


Me love mi Jamaican River shrimp
All peppery in de mouth
Ah ummm, so delicious to eat.
Me head up to Annotto Bay regularly
to get some
near to de place Noel Coward used to stay
when him write him plays.

When me reach de river banks
after me walk a ways
through the river reeds,
looking at de flowing waters
me feel proud to be a Jamaican
blessed with all these waterways
me say me thinking of buyin’ a piece of land here one day
with some of dis river on it
catch me own shrimp den,
Til de men who live here say:
“Don’t you know the river polluted now
de shrimp catchers don’t use traps any more,
say dey too slow,
dey trow chlorine to stun de big shrimp and preserve em too
pick dem out fas fas 1,2,3
grabbing dem up and out
but the chemical stay and kill all de babies
and de algae too.
Soon de life of river gone
and there be no more shrimp.
Me not so keen on eatin fas food
made with chlorine, Mam
how ‘bout you?”


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.
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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

BAD TIMES BARBIE REDUX

by Donna Hilbert


Barbie never thought she’d live to see another financial meltdown.  She had put the 80’s and the S&L crisis away along with shoulder pads, Jazzercise, big hair, and her George Michael CD’s.  But, viola!  Like some smarty-pants French man once said, déjà vu all over again!  First Lehman Brothers collapses and Ken loses his job, but he doesn’t panic because he’s diversified their personal holdings.  Practicing what he didn’t preach to his clients, he invested a fortune in real estate—in actual houses not just buying up loans.  He said, “Don’t worry doll, no one’s ever lost a dime betting on Vegas condos!  Florida’s pure gold! The Inland Empire is hot!”  And, “the Euro, we have Big Bucks in Euros!”

Barbie tried to go about her business being cheerful and pretty, spending mornings at Hot Yoga and afternoons Pole dancing.  Ken spent all his time in his underwear sitting at the computer selling long, selling short, and periodically screaming out, “I’m leveraged up the ass!”  Barbie found that alarming.  More alarming still, that he hardly left the house any more.  She feared that he’d sink back into depression, start again with the booze and the pills.

Barbie had worries of her own, though she tried not to show it.  Lately she’d found a few hairs on her pillow and her eyelashes were starting to thin.  Nerves are hell on the looks!  Her knees were stiff in the morning and her shoulder was permanently wrenched.  And, just as Fox News had predicted, Death Panels rule!  Her insurance plan refused to  cover plastic surgery—as if for her it was optional!

Barbie had her thumbs poised on her Blackberry to text Blaine in Australia—nothing like sexual tension to cheer a girl up—when Ken screamed from his office, we’re under water! Under water everywhere!  She ran around the house looking for leaks, finding none, she looked out the window, the ocean was still in it’s place.  Ken had clearly lost his mind.  She couldn’t in good conscience cheat on him now.  Under water?  Whatever could that mean?


Donna Hilbert
's latest book is The Green Season, World Parade Books, 2009.
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Monday, May 24, 2010

THE KAGAN CHRONICLES: I

by Anne Davies


Red-meat Republican senators
Deplore the choice of Kagan
They have dreams of a jurist
Far to the right of Reagan.

Even before Obama
Named her to the Court
The GOP went searching
For a record to distort
        
Since she’s never graced the bench
There‘s no judicial trail
Of suspect  thoughts and opinions
Antagonists can assail.

They cite this fact as evidence
That she’s juridically unsuited
Though they concede her legal smarts
Cannot be disputed.

Red-staters may be spooked
By her Ivy League luster
Could that push them over the edge
Into  a filibuster?

An opponent has raised the issue
That the lady’s never been wed
It’s only due diligence to ask
With whom she‘s shared her bed.

She didn’t like “don’t ask, don’t tell“
They frown on this position
Will they continue digging
To find reasons for suspicion? 

The arguments are now laid out,
At least the underpinning;
Keep your media tuned, folks,
This may be just the beginning.


Anne Davies is a fund-raising writer by profession and a writer and versifier by avocation. Her work has been published in local and regional papers. She lives in Lexington, Massachusetts.
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Sunday, May 23, 2010

DR. NO

by George Held


Government is nothing
but simple for Dr. Rand Paul,
the new Laissez Fairey,
tousled hair and boyish grin

disarming voters
as he slides his KY-
slathered finger up
their receptive assholes.

Named for Ayn, he’s
the new Dr. No, saying No
to restrictions: he’s for No
financial oversight No

progressive taxation No
health care No
rules for polluters, gun
owners, businesses, etc.

When the TV gal asked,
“Are you a racist?” he never
said “No,” but oozed the sly
affability of anarchy.


George Held has collected many of his New Verse News poems in The News Today.
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Saturday, May 22, 2010

BEYOND PETROLEUM

by Brigitte Goetze


Big problems. Booming

poisons. Blame passing bastard
prevaricator.


Brigitte Goetze spins her yarns in Western Oregon where she gardens and tends goats. Still an apprentice of Rumpelstiltskin, she is trying to transform the prickly straw of experience into the shining gold of awareness.
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Friday, May 21, 2010

COMPROMISE IS FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE WRONG

by Ian Demsky


We believe we’re headed for the end of life as we know it in America—
the tyranny of the government, the threat of socialism.
We’re here to make a statement. We’re very concerned about our country.
We don’t like big spending.  We don’t like big government.
Why push healthcare on people who have excellent health care?
We’re here to help change America

because we love America.
We want to ensure that America will always be a great country.
We’re out here because we actually care.
Give away your money, fine. But give away my money, that’s socialism.
We don’t have all the answers but we know government
is not the answer.  God bless this country.

McCarthy and John Wayne had the right idea for this country.
People are taught generation after generation not to go out and work.  That’s unAmerican.
We’re tired of the spending.  We’re tired of being lied to by the government.
We need to get back to the Christian vision our founding fathers had for America,
and stop the spread of fascism and socialism.
There are terrorists in the country and Obama doesn’t even care.

We want to stop the government takeover of health care
We want to see the U.S. Constitution again governing this country.
Mr. Obama is a socialist
and by definition socialism is not American.
The Constitution says the president must be born in the United States of America.
Everyone knows that the government

can’t run anything effectively and if you think the government
can run health care, then my friend,
you’re smoking the funny stuff. His mother was white, so he’s not an African American—
but he’s going that way because it pays off for him. We’re losing our country.
We don’t believe Obama believes in the Constitution or America.
Health care? That’s not a bill, that’s socialized. 

ObamaCare is euthanasia, it’s rationing, it’s socialism.
They’re turning the country into Amerikastan: Of the Gov’t, by the Gov’t, for the Gov’t.
We need to get rid of the Department of Education, the EPA, the IRS, to take back America.
There’s free clinics, emergency rooms. You can go to any hospital and get health care.
It hasn’t even been a year yet and he’s already destroyed most of the country.
Did you know President Obama is considering banning fishing in America?

Now you know the truth behind America’s march toward socialism.
You can see how the liberals who run America are using their power to implement their radical agenda.
Ask yourself, how much do you really care?  What will it take for you to fight for this great country?


Author’s note: This sestina is adapted from footage of Tea Party rallies and events shot by New Left Media.
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Ian Demsky, a longtime investigative newspaper journalist, often draws from public records to help make visible what J.G. Ballard called the "invisible literatures" of our society.  He is enrolled in the MFA program at the University of Idaho.
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

NEWT ERECTS

by Bill Costley



Newt erects a snakeskin tent,
pulls on his snakeskin boots,
& sings a snakeskinny song:
“Ssocialissm! Ssocialissm!
I ssee it ssurrounding me!” as his
band strikes up “Snakes R US!”
& the crowd greedily slathers
as red mice are thrown into it...


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.
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

THE TEA PARTY NEXT DOOR

by Jon Wesick


Sarah Palin throws her trash
into my democracy. I’m sick of cleaning
her George Bush posters, empty six packs,
and ad hominem attacks off the Astroturf.
Tired of the music blaring from her stereo
the lyrics     always the same
some poor multinational
oppressed by the big, bad government.

My mom says to ignore her but
more and more of her relatives move next door
to ride skateboards off the roof, shoot BB guns,
and feed marshmallows to the musty, bull elephant
trumpeting his rage in the drained swimming pool.
Someone’s going to get hurt

but the man at animal control has Alzheimer’s.
Each time I call he forgets my complaint.
If not for the falling property values,
I’d move.     Who wants to live
on a street lined with junk cars
Drill Baby Drill stickers plastered on bumpers
their oil pans leaking into storm drains?


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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DREAM OF A NEW PATRIOTISM

by Michael Graves


In the interrogation room,
A man behind a desk.
I am standing before it.
He looks up from the folder
That contains my file.

Like the cloud-covered dawn of a sun
Over bare mountains
In a desolate winter.
His lean-jawed face
Break’s into a sadist’s smile.
Each of his eyebrows is a word.
The left is republican.
The right is democrat.

He says, “I am going to ask questions
Impossible to answer.”


Michael Graves is the author of a full-length collection of poems, Adam and Cain (Black Buzzard, 2006) and two chapbooks, Illegal Border Crosser (Cervana Barva, 2008) and Outside St. Jude’s (R. E. M. Press, 1990). In two thousand four (2004), he was the recipient of a grant of four thousand five hundred dollars ($4,500.00) from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation. He is the  publisher of the small magazine PHOENIX. Many years ago,  he was a student of James Wright and organized a conference on James Wright at Poets House in 2004. With Victor Schermer, he is the co-author of “The Wounded Male Persona and the Mysterious Feminine in "The Poetry of James Wright: A Study in the Transformation of the Self” (The Psychoanalytic Review, 1998).
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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

GOETHE AS A FOETUS

by Rochelle Owens


A poem for nefarious times is a knot
not a definite form in these
evil days
only a different shape
for deplorable uses
And the knot’s refusal of self-definition
makes it an inescapable master
in these evil days
and the poem like the knot
like the knot is always seizing seizing
                   .  .  .
Here are eight imaginary views of a world
without poets
A scorpion indifferent to shock waves
Sharp blades of a lawnmower
A shark without its fins
Storms of swirling plastic particles
A cell phone landing on a rock
A voice without a turtle
No shaman incantation
And Goethe as a foetus
flushed 
from his mutter’s uterus


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. 
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Monday, May 17, 2010

THE CHOICE

by George Held


The dark minds of the republic
curdle for fear Elena Kagan is gay.
Who cares how strong her intellect,
but what if she swings “that way”?

Fifty and unwed, trouser clad,
she irritates like a ripe boil
on the red necks of the pure products
of American fundamentalism.

They love their country right or wrong
but not straight or gay. Homos, take note:
“Don’t ask, don’t tell” is military,
not judicial. No Southern senator

will ask the nominee her sexuality
and she will never tell him; she
could die in battle, her lips sealed
and her preference unrevealed,

but to serve on the highest Court,
she must seem hetero whatever
the case: for her to be confirmed,
her deepest self must stay unconfirmed.


George Held has collected many of his New Verse News poems in The News Today.
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Sunday, May 16, 2010

AT MY ALL-BOYS CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL

by Steve Kissing


First the priest-principal
and then his successor, both

arrested for sexually abusing
shy, nearly invisible classmates,

the ones who move quietly in the hallways
and score no points on the field.

So much to learn in high school, even
from the pedophiles:

Silence and camouflage, so effective
in the jungle, attract

the black panthers on the prowl
at my all-boys Catholic high school.


Steve Kissing is a Cincinnati-based writer and poet, and a very happy former member of the Catholic Church.
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Saturday, May 15, 2010

APRIL WAS THE CRUELEST MONTH FOR POETS

by Janice D. Soderling


The cruelest month's gotta be April
Cause you can't write a limerick on April.
There's not one smutty rhyme 

for erotic springtime
.
There's not even a clean rhyme for April.


Janice D. Soderling has contributed several poems to The New Verse News. She has current and scheduled work at Magma Poetry, Borealis, Horizon Review, Bard (England), Tilt-a-Whirl, The Pedestal, Literary Mama, Left Hand Waving, Innisfree Poetry Journal, Barefoot Muse, Willows Wept Review (USA),  Lyric Poetry Magazine (Scotland), The Centrifugal Eye, ditch (Canada) The Chimaera (Australia), and the recently released Best of Our Stories anthology. Her poetry was nominated by the Australia-based Shit Creek Review in 2009 for Dzanc Best of the Web, Sundance Best of the Net, and Pushcart.
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Friday, May 14, 2010

TEA PARTY WITH WALT

by Esther Greenleaf Murer


The country’s on the brink of doom.
Surely this doesn’t need to be said;
what I shall assume you shall assume.

Our course is clear: we must exhume
the founding fathers, the hallowed undead.
The country’s on the brink of doom.

There’s every reason to fret and fume,
so start your fuming, you slugabed!
What I shall assume you shall assume.

Get out there and consume! Consume!
The mall’s where all true patriots tread.
The country’s on the brink of doom.

We’ll sweep away with a brand new broom
each pinko liberal pointyhead.
What I shall assume you shall assume.

Rev up  your ATV, vroom vroom!
Your Uzi makes you a man to dread.
The country’s on the brink of doom.
What I shall assume, you shall assume.


Esther Greenleaf Murer lives in Philadelphia.  Her poetry has appeared in the New Verse News and numerous other places.  She was the featured poet in the February 2010 issue of The Centrifugal Eye.
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Thursday, May 13, 2010

RED FLOOD, BLUE FLOOD

by Steve Hellyard Swartz


The dodo posts a video
On You Tube
So America can see
The Cumberland in brown and red flooding Nashville's streets
He shows us stones and sticks, he posts a snarky graphic
The gist of which is that in Nashville the folks (unlike some other southern cities he could name)
Just got to work and didn't cast blame
The folks he shows
Are white and wet
Paddling their kayaks
Over cars parked at Target
The folks in Nashville are white and wet and don't complain
They're hard at work, that's very plain
The dead in New Orleans can take heart from the dodo's demonstration
You die - you die alone
In this great nation


Steve Hellyard Swartz is Poet Laureate of Schenectady, NY. He is a frequent contributor to New Verse News. Swartz is a 2011 Pushcart Prize nominee for Poetry. His poems have appeared in The Patterson Review, The Southern Indiana Review, The Kennesaw Review, and online at Best Poem and switched-on gutenberg. He is the winner of a First Place Award given by the Society of Professional Journalists for Excellence in Broadcasting. In 1990, Never Leave Nevada, a movie he wrote and directed, opened at the US Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

MOURNING WASPDOM

by Bill Costley


Mourning the potential
absence of practicing Protestants on
SCOTUS (U.S. Supreme Court)

fluffs the less admissible possibility
of 6 Christians, no WASPs, dis-
ingenuously mourning Yankee Bankers

or the Ruling Class, omitting Muslims,
Mormons, Masons, or Crackers
or Ba'hais, animists,  or agnostics . . .


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.
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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

THE FLOOD / AFTER THE FLOOD

by Laura Eklund


THE FLOOD

When the cold heat from the outside comes in
It is raining and I cannot feel it
I want only to lie with you in our guttural darkness
Still heavy and insane, feeling the rain expunges all sins.
The picture is of you bending down
Wiping up water diluted by a pen.
I cannot wipe away the image of the red checked shirt
And how many buckets of water were carried to spin in the washer.
It was all day and all night, and part of the next day.
When the trees fall I think how well they look overgrown
How heaven started without me and the earth moves toward you.
Hands, voice, the air is hidden that holds-
All moving toward an eternity
Big hands that is strong and needy
Falling like ash all around me.
The neighbor came and the road had been carried away.
It seemed outlandish to have a spill.
I don’t want to forget the sound of all that rain
Or the feeling of abandonment by nature.
I kept imagining myself with you and the red checked shirt
But I was already there.
The sun is bruised upon your face
It cannot know of your weight
And how one imagination dies within the other.
The sound of the morning birds I will always hear.
The air becomes hollow, it is a thief of light
Clawing the air in sadness
A unity that will not break or fade away.
It is a splendid way to touch how things cross.


AFTER THE FLOOD

It was uncommon language to talk
To rummage through things all wanted forgotten.

We only wanted to make a thief of the morning moon.

Everything seemed cast in shadows.
Even the ride through town was rainy

The old women had everything they owned
Littered upon the sidewalks

Their faces furrowed like feathers
Looking as if they carried pigeons on their shoulders

Rumors have given what things they lost.

Can you find what you remember?
The voices seem hollow in the air.

Time was confusing
And hurt was all they knew.


Author’s Note: I wrote these two poems last week about the horrible flood that  destroyed so many homes and affected so many in my Tennessee and Kentucky region. I live in Olive Hill, KY, where all homes within the city limits were destroyed.
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Laura Eklund is a painter and has been a poet since she was in third grade. Her poems have appeared in Tears in the Fence, ABZ, and Inscape. She published her first book Pine Needles in 2009.
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Monday, May 10, 2010

CHOOSE ME

by Margaret S. Mullins


I'd like, oh please, to be appointed
a Supreme Court judge
so I could slam down my fist
and outlaw extraordinary rendition,
so I could write a majority opinion
that would bring discrimination against
gay men and women to a screeching halt,
so I could uphold lower court decisions
that would instantly redistribute wealth
of corporations that pollute and cheat and lie,
so I could lift the hem of my robe
and kick John Roberts in the shin.


Margaret S. Mullins splits her time between the quiet of rural Maryland and the rumpus of downtown Baltimore.  Her work has appeared in Prairie Poetry, Loch Raven Review, Welter, New Voice News, Manorborn 2008, Sun, Chesapeake Reader, Gunpowder Review, Asahi Shimbun, Long Story Short, and Persimmon Tree.   She is the editor of Manorborn 2009: The Water Issue (Abecedarian Press.)
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Sunday, May 09, 2010

THE GULF OF MEXICO GUSHER FROM THE SEA

by


It didn't come from outer space
as some had suspected,
an alien with a BIG head and one eye.
Instead, it came up out of the earth
like some prehistoric creature
from the Black Lagoon,
some hydra-headed hydrocarbon.
And, it didn't come all at once
with one huge ominous looking body
covered with scales, armored plates,
muscled limbs and grotesque head.
No, it came continuously
like a violently opened wound
oozing as if there were no tomorrow.

It didn't speak.
However, it did communicate
by making a series of slick signs.

Was it out of control and gushing with anger?
Yes, it was out of control, and
of course, it was angry.
You would be too, it said,
if someone had drilled a huge hole
into your skull
and emptied your lifeblood into the sea,
one bloody gallon after another.


Richard Ilnicki is husband, father, grandfather, health club manager/personal trainer whose best friend, besides his wife, is his dog Jimmy.
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Saturday, May 08, 2010

TWO BOMBS

by Linda Lerner


one bomb went off across the country
as we sat in Lindy’s having  dinner on 53rd & 7th,
another at Times Square failed to detonate---

the first of May, hot, more like August
people crammed the nine block space
between where we were and the theater
we headed toward on 44th & Broadway,
---head turning human sized comic creatures.
a torch blazing in the fleshed arm of
the statue of liberty lit the way

In L.A. someone  brought in a 100 lb mk4
to detonate in cities across America---
the plan: to target as many as possible;

swept up by the crowd, the dizzying sound images
of clowning absurdity, a streaming billboard of people
brought to a sudden halt--

In New Mexico, birthplace of the Atom Bomb
a seven foot long warhead was transported in a van,
in NYC,  brought in a Nissan Pathfinder

metal barricades  coraled  a sprawling crowd
toward 8th Ave. no explanations as we
walked between police & fire trucks
rumors of kid’s pranks, security for Ahmadinejad  at the UN, etc.

across the country, a cold war practice bomb
purchased on Craig’s list and filled with poems
traveling at the speed of free thought
began exploding dissenting ideas

In N.Y.C. a propane type bomb meant to kill
as many as possible, failing to explode
smoked itself out in a car purchased
on Craig's list, setting off relief and fear

the other bomb“surfing across America...”
keeps growing more powerful

Linda Lerner is the author of twelve poetry collections, the most recent being Living in Dangerous Times (Pressa Press) and City Woman (March Street Press). Recent poems appear in Tribes, Onthebus, The Paterson Literary Review, The New York Quarterly, Home Planet News, and Van Gogh’s Ear. She has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. In 1995 Andrew Gettler and she began Poets on the Line, the first poetry anthology on the Net for which she received two grants for the Nam Vet Poets issue. Its anthology remains on line although new publication ceased in 2000.
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FAT FINGERS

by Barbara A. Taylor


fat fingers
taking the world
for a fall


Barbara A. Taylor's haiku and short form poems have appeared on Poemeleon, Umbrella, Tattoo Highway, Kokako, Eucalypt, The Heron's Nest, Lynx, Ginyu, Simply Haiku, Presence, Frogpond, 3Lights Gallery, and others. She lives in Northern  NSW, Australia. 
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Friday, May 07, 2010

AT THE GREEK RESTAURANT

by Earl J. Wilcox


I go to find genuine gyros,
souvlaki, village salads,
hearty chatter, sounds bouncing
off the walls like broken plates
at a wedding celebration.
 
Today, the buzz is about
Greece ’s great debt,
bankruptcy held off against
all odds because
France and others---
especially Germany---
agree to rescue the country.
 
Once in Thessaloniki
I visited the enormous Jewish
cemetery where now a great
Greek university stands,
as Takis told me of the
horrific days when Hitler’s
tribe almost obliterated
Jewish Greeks during WWII.
 
Neither side would have
believed today’s Germans
have not only heart and mind to
see that Plato & Aristotle
do not rest in destitution,
but also have the will
to insure Greek children,
live a long and happy life.


Earl J. Wilcox writes about aging, baseball, literary icons, politics, and southern culture. His work appears in more than two dozen journals; he is a regular contributor to The New Verse News. More of Earl's poetry appears at his blog, Writing by Earl.
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Thursday, May 06, 2010

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT

by Robin E. Sampson


Detached, I read the news, let my cynical side write
the screenplay, coping mechanisms firmly in place
to keep me from wondering, what if?
Late Saturday afternoon, we emerge from dark
cinema to unseasonably warm New York City
streets crowded with tourists. Times Square
is rarely quiet. We grab a quick dinner, after,
get smoothies, sit for a bit in Bryant Park, watch
families, lovers, theater-goers, picture-takers.
Nothing seems out of the ordinary.
Just blocks away, a drama plays out.
My friend and I sit talking, unawares.
Later that night, after I ride my train home
to Connecticut, I hear the news. Times Square.
Car bomb. Propane. Gasoline. Fireworks. Failed.
I pull up a map on my computer, compare locations;
where my friend and I were, where the car was left.
Realize I do not remember what times we were where.
Thankful for observant street vendors,
not quite reassured by pronouncements
of even if it had of gone off
Over the next few days, as clues are sought anxiously,
suspect identified from a trail of crumbs, caught
just before making his getaway from a life lived
not so far from mine, a half hour, that's all, and despite
the constant news, I don't succumb to terror, can't let
myself imagine any other outcome for that day.
While the media conjectures, tractor-trailer rollovers
influence my life more. Which is good I guess.
Still, I'm discomfited.


Robin E. Sampson writes poetry, fiction, essays, etc. She's been published in the New Verse News, Bent Pin Quarterly, Connecticut River Review, Bitter Oleander, and more, as well as contributing to the book Poem, Revised: 54 Poems, Revisions, Discussions (Marion Street Press, 2008). She recently self-published a chapbook, Lacuna. She's co-curator for the Wednesday Night Poetry Series, a member of the six-woman poetry performance troupe, Shijin, and the editor of Poetry Liner Notes.
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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

A POLICEMAN'S LOT . . .


by George Held
 
JAKARTA (Reuters) - Forget about getting a job as a police officer 
in Indonesia's Papua if you have had your penis enlarged.

Coppers who would serve in Papua
Mustn’t grow their genitalia:

A penis enlarged by wearing a gourd,
Which stretches it mightily groundward,

Or wishfully wrapped in the leaves
Of the gatal-gatal (“itchy”) tree

So it swells as if stung by a bee,
Is irregular paraphernalia

And will make applicants, inter alia,
Unfit as personae non grata.


George Held has collected many of his New Verse News poems in The News Today.
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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

THAT THEY WOULD

by Mel Brake


If they can call him a nigga they would
If they could get away with it they would
If they could insult and offend him his father and all black people
They would

If they could scandalize his reputation they would
If they could call his preacher a racist they would
If they could call his wife a militant they would
If they could drag America back to reconstruction
They would

If they could reverse Brown vs The Board of Education they would
If they could sell drugs to his kids in the name of freedom fighters they would
If they could prostitute his mother to turn against him they would
If they could hang him near the tallest chapel of a thousand points of light
They would

If they could denied they are not haters they would
If they could disseminate misinformation about him on the airwaves they would
If they could hire a white woman who does not know that black Russian is not a cocktail
They would

If they could be the party that allegedly freed black people who were born free
They would
If they could say in all earnest that America is the home of the brave and the free
They would not

If they would not panhandle to America’s business class but work for the working class
Who voted them in office
They would

If they could not believed in their red white and blue Christian hearts that they are not
God’s anointed and chosen people
They would

If they could call him a nigga they would
So instead they call him
A socialist
They call him
A fascist
They could not call him
A racist
but they call him a cheater
That they would

Mel Brake is a Philadelphia-based poet and founder of MPW (Mel's Poetry Works).
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Monday, May 03, 2010

IMMIGRANTS

by


We are a protest that screams
tearing the silence of conformity.

We are a protest that screams
revealing our talents: contributions
to progress, peace, innovation, solidarity,
like a magenta flower, an aphrodisiac
we seduce with ideas, its perfume
wrapping you, in bright elixir swaying
opinions with its maddening scent.

We are a protest that screams
memories brought with our luggage
from other lands: Flower petals hidden
between pages, of a book. Letters
turned dried-up-ink-flakes on worn
out paper. Broken doll, childhood
companion. Mother’s watch with worn
out silk band. Father’s moment of glory
in faded yellowed photo. Veil and
ribbons of most Sacred Day, of her
First Holy Communion. Prayer book
with blessed stamps of Guardian Angel
wings spread out protecting little girl.

We are a protest that screams
against organized Holiness, organized
Glories, organized Truths, Frauds.

We are a protest that screams
tearing the silence of conformity.

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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Sunday, May 02, 2010

CANOEING THE TCHEFUNCTE RIVER

a revised Louisiana tourist guide
by David Feela


Birds of one feather
literally stick together
when coated with oil.
Frogs lubricate their croak.
Snakes sputter instead of hiss
and the insects shine.

Alligators finally keep their jaws closed.

Grass in the delta appears
as if it was mowed.
Hardwood trees shed their leaves
so tourists can see up the coast. 

Wax-myrtle can be burned
like a candle
and the black willow
is easy to identify.

As the sun goes down
on the Louisiana coast
the shore rocks will gleam
like gold. 


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.
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THERE WILL BE BLOOD: ONE . . . TWO . . .



ONE
by Barbara A. Taylor

into the marsh lands       
a slippery sludge
sheens on birds’ wings


TWO
by Charles Portolano

We'd grown too slick
for this
ever to happen.


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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Charles Portolano lives in Fountain Hills , AZ.   He started writing poetry 14 years ago to celebrate the birth of his daring, darling, daughter Valerie.  He wanted to preserve all the memories of the first time she walked, talked.  Valerie was born with many obstacles to overcome giving him much to write about.  Writing soon became his way of saving his sanity.  Valerie is doing great now; she is quite the young writer. This year he has been published in The Clark Street Review, Plato’s Tavern, Poetswest, Nomad’s Choir, Bellowing Ark, PKA’s Advocate, Pegasus, The Saturday Diner, The American Dissident, The Pink Chameleon, The Back Street Review, The Storyteller,  and Soundings Review.  He has a new collection of poetry out, Storytelling.
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Saturday, May 01, 2010

UNNATURAL DISASTERS

Poem by Charles Frederickson; Graphic by Saknarin Chinayote

 
 
In Terra Veritas Good Earth
Awash in claims of green
Building trust among ex-spurt skeptics
Mass serial killer smudged thumbprints

Droughts idiosyncratic floods annual events
Too little yet too much
Tides falling rising hours apart
Future oily struggle over water

Relief camps cholera dysentery hotbeds
Sewage pollution black plague epidemics
Swollen blue corpses overpowering stench
Snakes swim under springy coils

At least five isolated island
States risk ceasing to exist
Sea level quicksand devastating Maldives
Sinking Tuvalu Bangladeshi expectations displaced

Gradual accelerated warming will disastrously
Impact America ’s national park glaciers
Imminent meltdown Joshua trees imperiled
See you later Everglades alligators

Climate change fossil fuel driven
Arrogance and ignorance jeopardize thousands
Ignoring ecologically destructive stopgap measures
Living in overcrowded harm’s way


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