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Friday, September 30, 2011


by David Thornbrugh

Somali pirates
skinny teens with Kalashnikovs
too ignorant to know how to say aargh matey
or cool enough to perch parrots on shoulders
thugs in small boats holding up our shipments
of Danish modern furniture for IKEA
or the latest Air Jordans for Nike or Puma
our way of life
depends on shipping and flights
and uninterrupted flows of food from foreign countries
who cares how it gets here or what shores it passes by

for twenty years off Somalia
factory fishing boats have been strip fishing
ignoring the local boats
sometimes shooting them up
for years ships from Europe have been dumping
toxic chemicals offshore of Somalia
that steaming pile of sand and ruins
landscape we know only from Blackhawk overflights
and Predator drone cameras

2004 the big tsunami washed mysterious barrels ashore
that burst open dumping radioactive waste
hundreds died
the West yawned

skinny black people sit on the shore watching the freighters pass
full of food and sneakers and clothes
while they starve and are naked
it’s great to shoot pirates
and not have to explain or respond to lawyers
or diplomats the great thing about anarchy is
having the biggest gun

David Thornbrugh is a Ring of Fire poet based in Seattle, Washington. In his poetry, he strives to make sense of existence, and to lessen some of the gloom he feels as the natural world fades further and further into the past and the future looks less and less viable. He finds life without humor not worth the effort, and the idea of being a poet in America pretty funny.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


by Scot Siegel
The single mother and her daughter, 
the same age as ours, whom we were just 
beginning to get to know, are gone now. 
We never saw the moving truck arrive
or depart. 

Last night the town council announced 
the commencement of a community visioning 
study. I wonder whether the mirror
they will use will be powerful enough
to find her.

Scot Siegel lives in Oregon.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


by George Held

They have retreated to their Sanibel Islands
and gated estates on PRIVATE roads.
They share our space only at swank cancer
centers and diabetes clinics, where they,
in their Gucci loafers and Lauren leather
jackets, fondling their Vuitton handbags,
have to sit and wait just like the peons
in their knock-off Adidas sneaks and sweats.

This is two-tier America, the few million
gauzy plutocrats securely sheltered
from the castoff citizens of the shredded
middle class and the 50 million poor.
Can you see a specialist for a cure,
or must you die among the uninsured?

George Held's new book is After Shakespeare: Selected Sonnets.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


by Bill Costley

A time-traveller asks
the R-presidential candidates
to discuss welfare: First
they call it workfare, then
they call it payfare.

Lacking any idea
of a life worth living,
they won't consider
population control;
finally reaching a really
Repugnant Conclusion:

A world of miserable people
is more affordable than
a world of happy people.

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. The latest volume ( Number Eleven)  of Costley's  New Verse News epic The Chen@id can be accessed by clicking here.

Monday, September 26, 2011


by Richard Schnap

The stars shine like rhinestones
On a black satin smock
Purchased at Walmart
With a pocket of change
By a dreamy-eyed woman
Who’s been unemployed
So long she’s forgotten
When dreams came for free

But now with her food stamps
And Section 8 home
She wonders if somewhere
The magic’s not gone
Where stars are still diamonds
And satin still silk
Where having a dream
Doesn’t mean going broke

Richard Schnap is a poet, songwriter and collagist living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His poems have most recently appeared in the Pittsburgh City Paper, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Calliope and forthcoming in Curbside Splendor and Red River Review.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


by Eileen Ivey Sirota

Cheney writes that after heart surgery in 2010, he was unconscious for weeks. During that time, the New York Times writes, Cheney had a "prolonged, vivid dream that he was living in an Italian villa, pacing the stone paths to get coffee and newspapers.”

Even unconscious, Dick Cheney paces,
restless, seeking coffee
and newspapers, in an Italian villa.

Did the fennel fronds along the path
bow and quiver at his footstep,
while Tuscan winds
whispered of waterboarding?

Did the latte sour in its pot,
deposit queasy lumps of curd
at news of his approach,
weep into the fazzoletti?

And what about the newspapers
with their operatic names--
Corriere della Sera,
Il Messaggero
Did the ink spill off the page
to escape his fatal touch?

Perhaps the stones he trod
broadcast their shivers to those other
stones, standing silent and sober
in Anbar, Helmand, Alabama.

Cheney’s fantasy;
Italy’s sogno brutto.
Tell the unconscious Americans
to stay at home.

A career psychotherapist, Eileen Ivey Sirota has found that writing poetry, a mid-life discovery, has offered an additional vantage point for observing and commenting on the human condition in all its tragicomic variety.  She has been published in Lighten Up, a British quarterly, and on the Smith College alumnae poetry website.  When she is not sputtering rabidly over the newspaper, she attends writing workshops at the Writer's Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


by Nancy Penn
More to the Story . . .

Oh, wait a minute.
The blood disappears from the blade.
The guillotine becomes a sapling in the woods.
The blade lies deep in a mine.
The Nembutol separates into basic elements
and diffuses into the night.

They delay, not stay.
Dare I hope?

The second hand crawls.
We check in on the game.
The minutes become many.
The Georgia Supreme Court weighs the scales, a nice looking group of at least three African Americans and at least one woman, Southern belle with real gold jewelry, in chambers late tonight instead of at home with say, a book, a single-malt scotch from Scotland and a good sound system.
The hours become 1,2,3,4.
I hope and hope and pray; my gut twists on my cheeseburger.
And the verdict comes in.
"Proceed with the execution."
It happens one more time
at 11:08 PM.

Nancy Penn lives in Rhode Island with her husband and their dog and two cats, writes poetry and fiction. Over the years, her writing has appeared in local publications and she has read at various readings. She attended a workshop with Marie Howe, Mark Doty, Patricia Smith and Billy Collins at Omega last August and enjoys a wonderful network of poets from that workshop who continue to inspire and support each other.

Friday, September 23, 2011


by David Plumb

Hook him to the IV.
Shoot him three times
Innocent or not.
President wipes out thirty thousand
With the stroke of microphone
TV and a smirk he can’t hide.
So what?  Go ahead.
Whirl on your toes.
Spin the next kill
To your own persuasion.
Don’t matter no how
A forever Georgia Peach
You can’t wait for the next call
The next game, the next gas leak.
The next orchestrated know how
Kickback to when how
Take a bow
Do the American jig.
Needle him for good.
Dance like hell.

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 .

Thursday, September 22, 2011


by Roberto Christiano

“Jumping off the gw bridge sorry.”

I am writing to you, David,
as you bend over the slain
Jonathan and cry out,
“I have lost my one delight.”
I am writing to you,
Saint Bacchus of Rome,
as you appear in a dream
to your Sergius on the eve
of his execution and tell him
of the promised heaven.
I am writing to you,
you men who burn
as the disordered infidels
in the market place
of the auto-da-fé.
I am writing to you,
Oscar in Reading Gaol,
bowed and unable
to speak the name of love.
I am writing to you,
you who march the slow march
in the night of pink triangles.
I am writing to you,                      
Mayor of Castro Street,                                 
as your assassin slips in
through the basement window.
I am writing to you, Allen Schindler,
stomped out in a public toilet.
I am writing you, Brandon Teena,
raped and hiding under a bed.
I am writing to you, Alfredo Ormando,
burning in Saint Peter’s Square.
I am writing to you, Matthew Shepard,        
pistol whipped and tied to a fence
in the freezing night.
I am writing to you, Seth Walsh,                           
thirteen and hanging from a tree.
And you my brother, Tyler Clementi,
broken on a suspended bridge, I am writing to you.
See how I pick up your violin and begin to sing.

Editor's Note:
September 22nd marks the one year anniversary of the death of Tyler Clementi.

Roberto Christiano is a 2010 Pushcart Nominee for his poem "Why I Sang at Dinner" published in Prairie Schooner.  He won the 2010 Fiction Prize from The Northern Virginia Review.  Two short plays were produced by Source Theatre in DC.  Poetry has been published by Gavea-Brown, A Bilingual Journal of Portuguese-American Letters and Studies, Hiram Poetry Review, The Sow's Ear, and Poetry Quarterly.  His poetry will be anthologized in the upcoming Gavea-Brown Book of Portuguese-American Poetry

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


by Nancy Penn

JACKSON, Ga. — Troy Davis, who was convicted of gunning down a Savannah police officer 22 years ago, was put to death by lethal injection Wednesday night, his life prolonged by several hours while the Supreme Court reviewed but then declined to act on a petition from his lawyers to stay the execution. Mr. Davis entered the death chamber shortly before 11 p.m., four hours after the scheduled time. He died at 11:08. --NY Times

If this were the last day of my life and I knew it
would I hide under the wings of oblivion?
Take medication to blur out the end?
Go to the chamber uncaring?
Or would I stare at each dust-ball in the corners of my cell?
Regard that chipped pattern on the wall with affection; eat my last meal with gratitude?
Brush my teeth and floss too?
Would I walk that last walk or wish to be delivered on a gurney
too anesthetized to put one foot in front of the other
not caring if they cut off my head.

Might death be better than spending the rest of my life
waiting in line
caught in a traffic jam
hearing the ring of bars and metal gates?
“Rest of my life,” is the operative phrase here.

What would I have for my last meal?
What would appeal at a time like this?
Crème brulee.
But would the chef be allowed a torch here
to sear the crust of the pudding just so?
If not, tapioca would be fine.
Roll the pearls around on my tongue.

My body is perfectly good.
Some cancer patients wish they could have it.
My body bearing the cross of a faith I cling to now
at the hour of my death.
They will kill me deliberately.

At 4:28 am would I be awake
waiting for the rising of the sun one last time?
Or would I sleep through it regretting nothing?

7pm comes too soon and yet not soon enough.
The executioner punches in but not yet.
First breakfast, walk the dog
but not before the alarm sounds into a sleepless room.
All the while he doesn’t think about it.
The dog poops in the neighbor’s yard and he has forgotten to bring a plastic bag.
Time to get his act together.
And go in.
Use an alcohol swab not just out of respect.
It makes the vein pop.

My heart will stop by lethal injection.
My mother will know this
will try to lie down in my place
stretching out her arm offering her vein.
They’ll smile sadly.
Make her go home.
Then get on with business.

At 6:58 pm
will my heart know what’s coming
and beat the last beats in terror?
(I’d like to be the one to declare my life over
before or after the lethal injection.)
I forgive the hooded executioner as he kneels before me.
I hear the whoosh of the sword as it whips back taking aim.
The rope scratches and chafes my neck.
I can’t reach it.
The guillotine blade drops blood on my face as I look up.
The blade falls.

The rest of us will wait ‘till tomorrow
to get away from this day.

Nancy Penn lives in Rhode Island with her husband and their dog and two cats, writes poetry and fiction. Over the years, her writing has appeared in local publications and she has read at various readings. She attended a workshop with Marie Howe, Mark Doty, Patricia Smith and Billy Collins at Omega last August and enjoys a wonderful network of poets from that workshop who continue to inspire and support each other.


by Buff Whitman-Bradley

The bewildered and stunned
Are filling the streets
The heat is unbearable
The storms terrifying
The turtle that carries
The world on its back
Is looking for another job
The rich and powerful
Cannot conceal their contempt
Nobody can get
A straight answer anymore
And the wars go on and on
And on

Buff Whitman-Bradley's poetry has appeared in many print and online journals.  With his wife Cynthia he is co-producer/director of the award-winning documentary film, Outside In,  and co-editor of the forthcoming book About Face: GI Resisters Turn Against War (PM Press, 2011).  He is also co-producer/director of the documentary Por Que Venimos.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


by Howie Good

General Grant lit a cigar.

Living human beings of beauty
waded back and forth
across a field knee-deep
in Union dead.

General Grant sat down
on a tree stump and began
to whittle a stick.

Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of the full-length poetry collections Lovesick (Press Americana, 2009), Heart With a Dirty Windshield (BeWrite Books, 2010), and Everything Reminds Me of Me (Desperanto, 2011), as well as numerous print and digital poetry chapbooks, including most recently Love Dagger from Right Hand Pointing, To Shadowy Blue from Gold Wake Press and Love in a Time of Paranoia from Diamond Point Press.

Monday, September 19, 2011


by Gil Fagiani

Sierra Vista, Arizona

We spotted rose-throated
becards, vermillion flycatchers,

while the Border Patrol
stuffed into holding cages,

handcuffed migrants:
young, brown, terrified.

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, 2010) and Serfs of Psychiatry (Finishing Line Press, pending 2012).

Saturday, September 17, 2011


by Kim Baker

Cereal helps.
Especially Shredded Wheat
smothered with honey and blueberries,
And corn muffins, fresh from the oven
next to the table holding
up the weight of the newspaper
smoldering with World Trade Center
tenth-anniversary sentiment,
screaming with the kid struck by a truck
driven by a driver with a suspended license
and criminal record,
drowning with the tales
of the rain-soaked state of Vermont.

Mother never said living in the world
would require so much sugar.
Especially at breakfast.
Waking up used to be about
lunch boxes and algebra
and whether I’d be taunted
for carrying my cello to school.
A bowl of plain oatmeal was all I needed
to face that kind of day.

Now, pancakes help.
Especially with real Vermont maple syrup,
like Cousins Willis and Tina used to make
the way Augustus did before them
before the mortgage crisis and Hurricane Irene.
Tastes like the tree with the swing
that used to be down near the stream.
Tastes like tears.
And the amber odor of devotion and loss.

When she isn’t teaching the abundant virtues of the comma, writing about big hair and Elvis, and doing the Cha Cha, Kim Baker works to end violence against women. Kim performs in the annual Until the Violence Stops Festival Providence.  Her poems have been published online and in print, and she is proud to be a part of the Origami Poems Project.

Friday, September 16, 2011


by Charlie Mehrhoff

The school bus of democracy
stuck in high gear,
out of control,
heading for the wall.

No driver.
Or too many drivers –
the school board,
miles away
from the screams
of the children,
over which way
to go.

Hope: being a swift U-turn
upon the razor’s edge.

Charlie Mehrhoff has sent out little work in the past decade but has occasionally offered some words to The New Verse News.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


by Aaron Gillego

What I remember most is not the smoke
billowing and enveloping downtown
as I looked left across the Harlem River
through the window of the bus heading
to school.  At that point on the Major Deegan
we were just passing Yankee Stadium
and from that elevation I could see Lower
Manhattan: dark plume swallowing the bright
morning sky, twin smoke stacks incinerating lives.

It's not the old man whom, as I think back
to earlier that morning, I dismissed as a crazy
bum.  I hadn't woken up yet.  He had mumbled
words I only later deciphered: "plane hit World
Trade."  This was  on 86th and 3rd Where I waited
for the nine o'clock Bx1 Express.  It hadn't struck
me as odd that I would wave to a stream of fire
trucks careening southbound in the wrong direction.

It's not the gasping cry of my friend, who then clasped
my hand tighter as we stood watching the television
when the towers collapsed.  We were in the dining hall,
not eating our breakfast, letting our coffee get cold.

It's not the vigils that followed, the thousands
of candles melting tears, as if crying for those who held
them, the countless strangers who'd gathered at Union Square
that first night after: each one with a desperate want
to do something, to console, to commiserate--all
utterly helpless except to buy an American flag
and light a candle.  And all the Missing posters
proliferating on every blank wall throughout the city...

It's not the image of autumn leaves falling like silver
confetti.  It's not the metallic smell of New York
that entire month.  September usually brings a crisp air,
redolent of changing foliage.  But this time around it was stale,
like that which lingers after an extinguished fire
or the smell of dead and dampened leaves
raked after they've fallen and summer has ended.

It's not the quiet that pervaded the city--a strange
noise to us all; the silence in the subways,
a peaceful surrender to a changed world.

Aaron Gillego pursued his MFA in Poetry at the University of Miami.  He received his B.A. in English at the College of Mount Saint Vincent.  He resides in Miami, FL, where he has been teaching high school Language Arts for 9 years.  He's been published by The Advocate and has contributed several poems to The New Verse News.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


by Susan Gabrielle
September 14
your order-of-call number determined by a blue plastic capsule,
malformed Easter eggs resembling those once gathered in a Teaneck backyard
drawn from a deep, glass jar
a fairer way to induct young men
drawn by a congressman from Pulaski
more fair than the original system of oldest first
with short arms and dark-framed glasses
dressed as if for the coming funerals
How could your parents have known on that day
September 14, those twenty-some years ago
cradling you in blue bunting
lowering you into the newly-painted white-slatted crib
radiant faces, so pleased you’d arrived a few days early
a single son to wash away the years of waiting
You listen to the radio announcer
call the fated number, September 14
as you shower and shave for your night job at Lombardi’s
you wash and wash and wash the blade
wash the blood from a nick near the ear
Pall of silence follows you onto the windowless bus to Ft. Drum
your mother having tucked a neatly-trimmed scrap of the blue blanket in your pocket
for luck, for protection she said
snow and ice ill-preparing you for the tunnels near Cu Chi
where being the smallest guy is now valued
chosen first in this game of cat and mouse
mouse and mouse
Descending into that hole two-and-a-half by two-and-a-half
with only a pistol and flashlight for comfort
it doesn’t take long to meet a set of eyes
frighteningly similar to your own dark ones
shoot or be shot
kill or be killed
no time to ask
if it makes sense
no time to ask
if there’s a family waiting outside the tunnel
no time to ask questions
Again and again you descend
until there’s nothing left of you except
the scrap of blanket still in your pocket, bloodied around the edges now
sent back home to the mother waiting
your bunting now a field of white stars
on a dark blue background
September 14

Susan Gabrielle is an adjunct writing instructor at a university, and obtained her MFA from University of San Francisco.  She has had work published in the The Christian Science Monitor, TheBatShat, and local publications.  Susan is currently at work on a poetry chapbook, War Games.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


a differentiation primer
by Ed Werstein


                           World Trade Center Tower #1
                           United Airlines Flight 93
                           6,236 American soldiers have died in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Not Specific:     
                           Targets could include bridges, tunnels and public buildings.
                           Attack methods could include planes, automobiles, trucks or cargo vans.
                           Our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan are paying off.

                           Religious zeal leads to hatred, violence and war.
There are differences in beliefs and desires among human beings.
                           Humans will resist being attacked and having their countries invaded.

Not Credible:    
                           Your god is the one true god.
Everyone wants to live like an American.
                           Our soldiers will be welcomed and cheered wherever they go.

                           Religious fervor
                           Patriotic fever

                           A god that cares
                           Hope for America
                           A chance for peace

Ed Werstein, Milwaukee, spent 22 years in manufacturing and union activity. He now works as an employment counselor helping job seekers. His sympathies lie with the poor and working people of the world. He advocates for peace and against corporate power. He is a proud member of the Hartford Avenue Poets. His poetry has appeared in Verse Wisconsin, Blue Collar Review, Mobius Magazine and a few other publications.

Monday, September 12, 2011

11 SEP 2011

by Bill Costley

September 11, 2011 by Carlos Latuff

Like chloroform-soaked sponges
gravestones silence questioning;
grief extends from year to year,
decade to decade,  necessarily.

The perpetrators are long dead.
but the exploiters remain alive
with ever-expanding strategy.
Nobody wants this to end.

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. The latest volume ( Number Eleven)  of Costley's  New Verse News epic The Chen@id can be accessed by clicking here.


by David Radavich

Photo credit: New York Skyline

Can we choose
not to remember?

Push rewind
and pretend our world
has not been tilted?

History has a way
of driving forward whether
we’re driving
or just passengers,

a road stony
and crumbling

smooth as oil

just laid down
in the sand.

I’m not going back
to towers

and lifting
bodies back up

to their windows.

That blue sky
can never

be unclouded.

David Radavich's new book of poems Middle-East Mezze (Plain View Press, 2011) focuses on Iraq, Palestine, and Egypt. Previous poetry publications include Canonicals: Love's Hours (Finishing Line, 2009),  America Bound: An Epic for Our Time (Plain View Press, 2007), Slain Species (Court Poetry Press, London), By the Way (Buttonwood Press, 1998), and Greatest Hits (Pudding House Press, 2000). 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.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


 by James Penha

Photo source: NYRemezcla.com -- “An exhibit by Catalan photographer Francesc Torres will be kicking off this year’s Catalan Days Festival. '9/11 Artifacts at Hangar 17' will be part of a larger exhibit at the International Center for Photography titled 'Remembering 9/11.' The exhibit, on view through January 8, 2012, explores how New Yorkers of all walks of life, from firefighters to regular citizens, have responded to the infamous events of 2001."
an address undelivered--and unimagined--by the President of the United States on September 11, 2001:

Attacked, appalled, humbled, 
ready to respond with all the power
of our principles
and destiny
to make manifest
a better world than that
smoldering here today.

We shall not memorialize our innocents with death
against innocence. Oh
have no doubt we shall pursue
criminals who plan
and execute
mass murders,

but not
with endless war
that feeds hate
and sees our own souls
and bankrupt.

Against yesterday’s wrongs
our rights
stand unshaken still
and tall
as towers.

Things will never
be the same.

James Penha edits The New Verse News.


by F. Rutledge Hammes

“City worker takes it in.” Photo by Ryan Brenizer from Osama is Dead; Photos from a historic party at Ground Zero.

The day they killed Bin Laden,
I had to answer for it.
My sixth graders came to class,
alive with all the borrowed excitement of their parents.
It was clear, by their looks of blind enthusiasm,
that they were certain something extraordinary had happened,
though they couldn’t – for the life of them – say what.
They couldn’t have been two-years-old
when the Towers came down.
Too young, by my count, to see history
as something you live through.
But old enough to consider the concept.

They had questions, and lots of them.
                 Why is everyone so happy? a girl asked.
                 My dad was dancing, said her friend. What’s the big deal?
                 Wait, I don’t have a TV, added another.
                 What happened? Is Osama still president?
It would’ve been good of me to start from the beginning,
start with the day the worst of mankind quaked
the blue mornings of New York         like a Golgotha evening.
I could’ve described the thin white jet streams
that crossed the towers like a Crucifix
or the fireman the president tucked under his arm
and bullhorned his promises of vengeance across lower Manhattan.

There were warnings in the wind, for months to come.
I could’ve said that.
I could’ve told them we made mistakes
in the sixties, in Southeast Asia,
and yet still found reasons to forget the wisdom of our fathers
and venture off rashly into another war.
I could’ve taught them to hear the wind themselves,
explained it’s the whisper-thin moments that forecast the most.
I could’ve described how everything was draped in patriotic bunting,
as if solidarity, in any respect, was ever that easy.
I could’ve told them, once the battalions shipped out,
the truly devoted church-folk of this country
started to see a wide range of miracles,
                 from the apostle Paul eating a sandwich at the altar
                 to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse trotting past their window.
I could’ve told them that,
when a parade of caskets came marching home,
even God’s chosen stopped negotiating with the dead.

It would’ve been easy to share a few positives,
tell them stories of Rick Rescorla and Flight 93,
how the best of humanity saw the face of evil that day
and spit in its eye.
Teachers live for chances like these,
for those rare gems of history
that allow us to impart a little wisdom,
a little insight into our station in the world.
But I had seen what no man should ever have to see,
                 a mother burying her child,
                 a girl staring up at her lost balloon,
                 a soldier glazed over in a thousand-mile stare,
and to that day, my ears were still ringing
                with voices on the line,
                             with the calls they made just to say,
                                          We’re storming the cockpit. This is goodbye.
And so, I just sat there,
counting the times I’ve found myself
returning to those wingless angels
                  who leapt out – hand-in-hand – into the eternities of sky.
It’s still a struggle to escape my sense of that day,
the feeling I got that something vital (in all of us)
had been lost along the avenues of steel and glass and bone,
where colonies of wide-eyed pedestrians
pleaded with the heavens for a saving grace.

To a student, there’s nothing more terrifying
than what a teacher cannot bring himself to say.
But some things in this world cannot be explained.
So, after a while, I just shrugged,
smiled a little what-do-I-know smile
then offered a hapless,
                 Let’s just say it’s a good day
                           to be alive.

In 2004, F. Rutledge Hammes earned his Master of Fine Arts from Old Dominion University, where he worked closely with several National Book Award winners, NEA and Guggenheim fellows as well as New York Times Bestsellers, including Janet Peery, Sheri Reynolds, Bob Shacochis, Dorothy Allison and Bret Lott. He is a contributing writer in the recently published book, Postwar Literature 1945-1970, which is now one of Amazon’s top selling resource books. Over twenty of his short stories, essays, articles and poems have been published in various journals across the country. Hammes won the Cypress Dome Fiction Award, six Addy Awards and was a finalist for both the Montage Poetry Award and the Paul Laurence Dunbar Award for Poetry. Also, he was recently named the best up-and-coming writer in Charleston by the city paper. Hames serves on the oversight board for the Lowcountry Initiative for the Literary Arts and is presently a writer-in-residence and award-winning writing teacher at the Charleston County School of the Arts.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


by Lynnie Gobeille

Francesc Torres, Folded Steel Column, 2009. © Francesc Torres
Memory Remains: Artifacts at Hangar 17 by Francesc Torres is presented at New York’s International Center of Photography in association with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as part of Remembering 9/11 an exhibition on view September 9, 2011–January 8, 2012.

September 11th
“God, this is good coffee.”
Let freedom ring
Let the peace flag fly
Let God, in all his infinite wisdom,
Love us deeply.
Let our planet keep spinning.
Let us seek a means to honor each other.

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 ), her essays can be heard on NPR public radio. She is the co-founder of The Origami Poems Project, a state wide “free poetry event” based in Rhode Island . Her “micro chapbooks” can be found on their website: .


by Howie Good

Based on sentences in the online edition of The New York Times, August 9, 2011:

The flames get worse.
There’s these silver pieces
just floating in the air

and dust and broken glass.

It’s kind of beautiful in a way.
I start crying.

Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of the full-length poetry collections Lovesick (Press Americana, 2009), Heart With a Dirty Windshield (BeWrite Books, 2010), and Everything Reminds Me of Me (Desperanto, 2011), as well as numerous print and digital poetry chapbooks, including most recently Love in a Time of Paranoia from Diamond Point Press, Inspired Remnants from Red Ceilings Press and The Penalty for Trying from Ten Pages Press.

Friday, September 09, 2011


by Wendy Thornton

AP Photo from The Daily Mail.

My son calls from Ground Zero
from the place the buildings fell
the hole that stole his innocence,
the place that bored into his soul
and stayed festering, though he
                      never  talked about it.

They never talked about it,
none of the children who graduated
from that moment of despair.
And yet he was there, celebrating,
singing with the crowd
“Na na na na, Na na na na
Hey hey hey, Goodbye.”

Oh, don’t show me the body –
Don’t gouge my eyes
With the empty sockets
Of a dead man.

We celebrate the darkness –
stand on the corner and sing
to the darkness.

Don’t ask any questions.
Should I care that my child looks cold
celebrating the death of any man?
Yes, I worry for the sanctity of his soul.
But that’s the price you pay
when you blow 3,000 people away.

Still, wouldn’t it be better to let him lie?
Wouldn’t it be better to forget his name,
let his face disappear into history,
never speak of him again until the last tear runs dry?
Come on, kids, “Kiss him Goodbye!”

Lyrics from: Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye
Songwriters: Paul Leka; Gary Decarlo; Dale Frashuer

Wendy Thornton has published in The Literary Review, Poetry Quarterly, MacGuffin, Main Street Rag, Riverteeth and others.  She has been an Editors’ pick 3 times in two years on, and nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  She is President of the Writers Alliance of Gainesville, in Gainesville, FL.


Thursday, September 08, 2011


by Scot Siegel

wow! that big white butterfly
must be colorblind

it keeps alighting
on the sickly rockrose

and those little blossoms
of spent oregano--

if only congress, with its odd
hawks and dumb doves,

would be so magnanimous,
it might make honey

for the rest of us.

Scot Siegel lives in Oregon.


Wednesday, September 07, 2011


 Poem by Charles Frederickson; Graphic by Saknarin Chinayote 

How’s Wonderland Alice looking glass
Myopic blurry retina lost focus
Distorted reflection bent on destruction
Shattered image jagged edgy slivers

Mad Hatters stirring withes brew
Shriveled teabags steeped in vitriol
Nothing’s the Earl Gray matter-of-fact
Concocted Lipton panaceas fraudulently exposed

Uninvited party crashers overflowing brim
Simmering bubbles burst pointless boil
Perfect temperature labeled several Fahrenheit
Degrees hotter than just right

Misread fortune uncivil wrongs retold
Upended saucer no flight zone
Residue swirled overhead clockwise thrice
Spilt eke-onomic downturn clogs drain

Momentum adapts as fast as
Everything else stays the same
Light up your tunnel vision
Things don’t change we do

Liberty’s torch song diminished afterglow
Bright shining example snuffed out
In Gold Wet Rust corrosion
Disillusioned genie tarnished lamp victim

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

Tuesday, September 06, 2011


by Jon Wesick

 Not FDR but Herbert Hoover not the Marshall Plan but the Great Leap Forward not a doctor but an eviction not a bandage but another wound not Thomas Edison but Charles Ponzi not Henry Ford but Bernie Madoff not Apple but Enron not Lincoln but Torquemada not Jefferson but Joe McCarthy not Churchill but Milosevic not Hannah Arendt but Adolf Eichmann not Mandela but Mobutu Sese Seko not Mother Theresa but Gordon Gekko not Mahatma Gandhi but Indira Gandhi not the Bill of Rights but the Alien and Sedition Acts not Habeas Corpus but the Nuremburg Defense not the First Amendment but the Salem Witch Trials not Mr. Smith Goes to Washington but Wag the Dog  not Citizen Kane but Happy Gilmore not Hemmingway but JT Leroy not A Brief History of Time but The Secret not oxygen but phlogiston not biology but phrenology not Galileo but Ptolemy not Einstein but Lysenko not tortillas but cornbread not Louis Pasteur but Typhoid Mary not penicillin but thalidomide not Jonas Salk but iron lungs not 60 Minutes but Access Hollywood not Edward R, Murrow but Perez Hilton not Miranda but Dred Scott not Frederick Douglas but Jefferson Davis not MLK but Father Coughlin not Dublin but Belfast not Rome but Carthage not Paris but Mogadishu not Spartacus but Crassus not a republic but an empire not Patton but Montgomery not Grant but McClellan not D-Day but Diem Bien Phu not Appomattox but the Maginot Line not the Interstate but the Trail of Tears

butCharlesPonzinotHenryFord butBernieMadoffnotApplebutEnronnot

Host of the Gelato Poetry Series, instigator of the San Diego Poetry Un-Slam, and an editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual, Jon Wesick has published over two hundred poems in journals such as the The New Verse News, New Orphic Review, Pearl, Pudding, and Slipstream. He has also published forty short stories. Jon has a Ph.D. in physics and is a longtime student of Buddhism and the martial arts. One of his poems won second place in the 2007 African American Writers and Artists contest.

Sunday, September 04, 2011


by Bill Costley

When you think of it
(if you do think of it),
money's relative:
small amts. of money
prime the dry sump
of crushing poverty;
obscene money builds
enormous balances.
Redress the disparity.

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.

Friday, September 02, 2011


by Susan Gabrielle

This year marks the driest period in the Eastern Horn of Africa region since 1995, with the lowest level of rainfall in more than 50 years and more than 10 million people in some way affected by the growing crisis. As a result, food security -- the access to and availability of food, as well as its utilization -- has deteriorated for most households in all arid and semi-arid regions in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia as well as other countries in the region.   --AlertNet

Guizotia abyssinica
nyjer seed, blackseed, inga seed
harvested from the Highlands
their taut darkness
like the skin of your children
drawn tight over melon-shaped bellies

your monthly ration in the camp
15 kg of wheat
a bit of cooking oil
pushing, jostled, begging
the baby’s head
lolling from side-to-side
five hungry mouths by your side
water?  sorry, not today

at the feeder the golden green finches
perform acrobatics
feast on your country’s seed,
your country’s need
20 pounds for 20 dollars
on sale at Walmart

after dining
they bathe in the
luxurious waters
of the backyard fountain
purchased at the garden center

Susan Gabrielle is an adjunct writing instructor at a university, and obtained her MFA from University of San Francisco.  She has had work published in the The Christian Science Monitor, TheBatShat, and local publications.  Susan is currently at work on a poetry chapbook, War Games.

Thursday, September 01, 2011


by James Cronin

Secretive, self-chosen black-lit shadow
of a dim leader, you found all so easy
to control, angling them to each mistake;
puppet-like they jerked to your furtive shake.
And who knows what hid behind your grumpy
glare, sneering lips, and alabaster brow,
as you exposed all of us to spying
and countless souls to torture and dying.

What evil did you, an officious man
do, when bypassing your jerry-rigged heart,
you embraced the dark side in politics?
An unjust war and more were in the mix,
but now that you’re paid to tell all (in part),
you’ll  slyly blame the puppets for your plan.
Sneaky might throws right not even a crust
as it hides black lies in history’s dust.

James Cronin is enjoying the view of folly from retirement, after a four decade career in the law.