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Thursday, June 30, 2011

REASONS

by Lauren Schmidt



“What strikes me about this case is the senselessness of it,” said prosecutor Erik Hasselman. “Usually there is a reason, however weak.”—KVAL.com, January 7, 2010



I hit because I’m bored,
I’m high,
I’m drunk,

because I’m twenty-three,
because I have
hot blood
and a hairy chin.

I hit because
I can, because
the old man
can’t hit back.

I hit because
I suck at math
and because I can
barely read.

Because nobody
ever liked me.

Because my father didn’t
teach me not to hit,
or because he hit me
on more than one
occasion. Because

the music I love
is angry. I hit
to smell blood,
to hear an old man cry,
to watch his skin split.

I hit because I want
one less of them
on the streets. Because

I didn’t kill enough
tadpoles as a kid. Because
I need to feel
something as good

as my cock
in my hand.

And at least
I didn’t hit
a woman.


Editor’s Note: This poem is part of a full-length collection of poetry based on the poet’s experience volunteering at a homeless kitchen, The Dining Room, in Eugene, Oregon, where several hate crimes occur each year against homeless men. The collection, Psalms of The Dining Room, is due out next year. The collection draws attention to an otherwise silenced problem: hate crimes against homeless victims.

Lauren Schmidt’s poems have been published or are forthcoming in The Progressive, Alaska Quarterly Review, New York Quarterly, Rattle, Nimrod, Fifth Wednesday Journal,  Ekphrasis Journal, Wicked Alice and other journals. Her poems have been selected as finalists for the 2008 and 2009 Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize, the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry and the Dancing Girl Press Chapbook Contest. Her awards include the So to Speak Poetry Prize and the Neil Postman Prize for Metaphor. In 2011, she was nominated for the Best New Poets Anthology. Her chapbook, The Voodoo Doll Parade (Main Street Rag), was selected as part of the 2011 Author’s Choice Chapbooks Series. Her second chapbook, Because Big Boobies Are Necessary (Amsterdam Press), and her first full-length collection, Psalms of The Dining Room (Wipf & Stock) are both forthcoming. Lauren Schmidt teaches writing at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, New Jersey.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

EXTINCTION

by Allan Johnston

                for Robinson Jeffers

From the tower he had built the poet
looked out on contingencies of oceans
and words, and reached through whiskey
and cigarettes toward understanding.
He was not far from the scene of disaster,
his and ours, and the underlying crystallized
fetish he drew from visions served
the way a careful teller is served
by spreading and backdating lending to hide
the paying out of small denominations,
a dry poem or a type of toad, the forests
turned into houses, tides of roads, the heavy
and overburdened atmosphere.
All need just be observable, reported,
leaned in on, as if one were at the banister
looking into the circles of hell
toward the great frozen lake, but instead
it was waving, the tightness gone out of it,
a loose death.  The wave was advancing,
a committee was reporting on extinctions,
warning of consequences from loss of species,
labeling what was called a way of life
as the culprit in demise.
And he watched it, sometimes conjuring
over a bowl of blood or a stone
as a prop in composing, watched the ways
death would fly in the room, as quiet
as a cat or a fog, come, vanish all,
lead into it, the nothingness of not
knowing, beyond the frame of every end
that would not change.  The blood drained; annihilation,
nihilism, each moment gleaming and crushed
as if by rigid stone, the social order spinning
into final chaotic survivalist
impulse, cracking the nut open, letting
the skull of the world ripple pointless
dreams of possession into phantom
realities, even as the end blossomed
in his thought.  Courage is not
in the air at such times, he thought, but requires
continuing into the light, recognizing
that it all teeters on the brink and shall
continue teetering, contingent, though thought
resist all that announces any
awareness of how it leans to collapse:
recognize, accept, understand at least once:
love our demise as we learn to foresee it.


Allan Johnston earned his M.A. in Creative Writing and his Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Davis.  His poems have appeared in over sixty journals, including Poetry, Poetry East, Rattle, and Rhino.  He is the author of one full-length poetry collection (Tasks of Survival, 1996) and a chapbook (Northport, 2010), and has received an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize nomination (2009), and First Prize in Poetry in the Outrider Press Literary Anthology competition (2010).  Originally from California, he now teaches writing and literature at Columbia College and DePaul University in Chicago.  He serves as a reader for Word River and for the Illinois Emerging Poets competition, and is the editor of the Journal for the Philosophical Study of Education.  His scholarly articles have appeared in Twentieth Century Literature, College Literature, and several other journals.
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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

WHEN YOU LEAVE, REITERATE THE ALARM

by Lauren Camp

New Mexico, June 2011

The earth is burning

and I am hiding down the hill, beyond a culvert
and through cottonwood roots.

The wild zigzag of leaves.

Suffocating gape
of sky. I could be anyone

watching satin red birds fly through
the mirror of knowing,
carting their single suitcase to the birdbath.

I breathe the leftover tang of Wallow dust.
Eighty-two percent contained.

I breathe the Conchas ash blown from the west,
then south by east.

44,000 acres.
Smoke: the way we tone down desert colors.
The only sound: the honking arc of ravens.

I sit in this swing rocking back and forth,
dry air cradled between my scissoring legs.

I press my face into the skin of dirt,
rest my cheek on clumps of cool ground,
pray for the clouds to leak rain,

a mountain of rain.


Lauren Camp is producer of Audio Saucepan, a music and poetry program that airs on Santa Fe Public Radio. The author of the poetry collection This Business of Wisdom (West End Press), she creates visual artist and blogs daily about poetry at www.laurencamp.com/whichsilkshirt.
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Monday, June 27, 2011

AFGHANISTAN

by Raud Kennedy


In bed, prolonging the moments
before pushing back the covers.
The voice on NPR, a reporter in Afghanistan,
refers to the spring fighting season
as if he’s announcing the opening
of ski season at Mt. Hood Meadows.
I brush my teeth, minty fresh, extra whitener.
Death tolls from suicide bombings.
Toweling off after showering, it’s total US casualties,
a number that could be the population figure
of a small city. A city of dead young men and women.
The refreshing lather lifts my beard
as my triple bladed razor shaves my face kissable smooth.
Tell me again why we are there while I am here.


Raud Kennedy is a writer and dog trainer in Portland, Oregon. To learn about his most recent work, Portland, a collection of short stories, please visit www.raudkennedy.com.
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Sunday, June 26, 2011

MARRIAGE EQUALITY

by Martha Deed

    for Millie

The two-page poem of grief and revelation
crashed on “Save” today
unusual in its complexity

gone as surely as its subject
My child's death is always there

an abstraction, constant

an empty hovering
the cliché of the empty room

the unused bed --
other mothers know it

no other way to say it
Is she there

among the deer

lying on wet grass
in full view of their predators
or in the House Wren
protecting its nest with 8-hour songs
from a nearby pine
the baby Goldfinches
falling out of trees
like yellow leaves
the child next door
born in the hospital

where you lay dying
I met his father
bright with expectation

outside the icu
he was carrying clothes for his baby
and flowers
the child is counting worms

in the grass after the rain

the child's height measures

the time since your death
today it is not enough to say
she would have loved this book/song/new technology
today she would have danced

she would have written a poem
she would have made a video
she would have celebrated the fact

that a flock of politicians
lay down their games long enough

to enact the Marriage Equality Act
here
and she would have carved her rage
that it took so long

into a song of laughter


Martha Deed lives in North Tonawanda, NY.  Recent publications include The November 2010 ProjectThe Lost Shoe (Naissance) and City Bird: Selected Poems (1991-2009) by Millie Niss, edited by Martha Deed. She has previously published at The New Verse News.
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Friday, June 24, 2011

ABECEDARIAN ABOUT WOMEN'S RIGHT TODAY

by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz


Abortion rights, that is what my mom and I fought about.
Babies, she says. And she’d know. Three kids in four years:
Caitlin, Kevin & me. That was the 1970s and this is the 2010s,
Decade of Instability, of Anxiety, of Anger. Laws are being passed:
Each abortion must be proceeded by an ultrasound; Listen to the
fetal heartbeat
, they say. It’s a baby. Your baby. Now it’s your choice.
Generation mom came from fought to be in the workplace. Now,
housewife is a career that women choose. Mom feels mixed.
In the 70s, we were born. In the early 80s, Mom raised us,
just her. In the mid-80s, she went back to work. She was both:
kitchen & nursery, stay-at-home, housewife, etc... And then,
latchkey & overtime, on sale business suits, working mother.
Mermaids and Princesses, my mom says, that’s all girls want to be
now
. I say that I think it’s about value. Women aren’t valued,
or aren’t valued enough. I say this ties into that heartbeat law,
pregnant women needing to jump through all these hoops, not
quite seen as being smart enough to realize they are pregnant.
right? Make them hear that heartbeat before the abortion,
so they can finally understand it? Mom says again, It’s a baby.
That heartbeat is a baby, is a precious life. And if they need an
ultrasound to understand, well…
We disagree, my mother and I.
Valuing women begins at home, I suppose. My mother and I are
women. My heartbeat once lived inside of her. Even now, I’m a
xerox copy of her as young woman. Well, almost. We fight & love.
Young women like you, she says, need to keep up the fight better.
Zealots shouldn’t be your focus. Look in the mirror. Start there.



Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Everything is Everything (Write Bloody Publishing, 2010), as well as the nonfiction book, Words In Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam (Soft Skull Press, 2008) which Billy Collins wrote “leaves no doubt that the slam poetry scene has achieved legitimacy and taken its rightful place on the map of contemporary literature.” Aptowicz is currently serving as the 2010-2011 ArtsEdge Writer-In-Residence at the University of Pennsylvania and was recently awarded a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry.
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Thursday, June 23, 2011

HISTORY: REAL (REVISED)

by Bill Costley


“The Framers didn’t use rolling papers.
The Constitution was real paper!.”
Chauvinistic twaddle sinks quickly
into the sensationalistic minds
of a susceptible high-school class
eager to see real American History.
The history teacher’s on furlough,
so a Tea Party re-enactor plays
Benj. Franklin in period costume,
carrying a 6’ Revolutionary Rifle:.
“Revolutionaries held their rifles
in their right hands, out of respect
for the Constitution.” Young heads
nod in approval as twaddle sinks in:
"Guns, right! In their right hands,
not their left! History’s easier
when it speaks right to us! This
is real American History! History;
books are just paper. This is real!"


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, June 22, 2011

DECONSTRUCTED CANARY

by Terry Wright


Extraordinary how
postmodern political debate came back.
Icon vaudeville is over all.  You guys
in old gangster movies regularly get cut
yet remain untroubled by failure.  Rhinestones help
frame you even when the Justice Department
says nothing.  What are you?  Yellow?
Even with that microphone?  You've given
the world sportswear     and strangled parachutes.  You have
a cable show.  Narrate away news
as private histories of lost love trifles     as magical
realist ephemera.

Down in the reddest states
photos and videos of you are tagged
surveillance authorized.  Every uppity canary
not much used to being used must
be caged     then crushed by magicians or gas.


Note: The poem and art are from a series called "Google Poems."  The art works are made first, and the poems are then collaged from Google using search strings of the poems' titles.

Terry Wright teaches creative writing at the University of Central Arkansas.  His most recent chapbook is Graphs (Kairos Editions).  Terry believes his sunrise can beat up yours.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

PRESS RELATIONS

by Gary Beck


Our troops are wounded,
bleeding, dying, killed
in far away lands,
sufficiently removed
from our daily concerns
so the deaths in combat
of our volunteer children
are completely unnoticed
by voracious media,
completely engrossed
in the commercial struggle
to retain the attention
of the fickle audience.


Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director and worked as an art dealer when he couldn't earn a living in the theater. He has also been a tennis pro, a ditch digger and a salvage diver. His chapbook Remembrance was published by Origami Condom Press, The Conquest of Somalia was published by Cervena Barva Press, The Dance of Hate was published by Calliope Nerve Media, Material Questions was published by Silkworms Ink, Dispossessed was published by Medulla Press and Mutilated Girls is being published by Heavy Hands Ink. A collection of his poetry Days of Destruction was published by Skive Press. Another collection Expectations was published by Rogue Scholars press. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway and toured colleges and outdoor performance venues. His poetry has appeared in hundreds of literary magazines. He currently lives in New York City.
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Sunday, June 19, 2011

GHAZAL FOR A CHAMBERMAID

by Judith Terzi


"Whatever the outcome of the proceedings against Strauss-Kahn, this high-profile case has brought the subject of sexual assault into the realm of public discussion . . . " --Los Angeles Times, June 7, 2011


Who is this woman confined between two fires?
She's taboo. An invisible line between two fires.

Prison of refuge, a parable for developing places.
Stripper man loans assigned between two fires.

G8 in Deauville, empty apartment 4G in the Bronx.
Will she accept payment or decline between two fires?

Dazed village, triste cattle & goats in Fouta Djallon.
Griots clutch koras, chant headlines between two fires.

Rain & three rivers carve canyons, valleys into sandstone.
"Rock of Vultures"--Petteh Djiga. Sign between two fires?

The faux prince is grim, grime, bottom of the pond.
Princess: Your Fulani name sublime between two fires.


Sharing Tabouli (Finishing Line, 2011) is Judith Terzi's latest chapbook. Her poems have been nominated for the Best of the Web and Best of the Net anthologies and have appeared widely in print and online. She lives in Southern California where she taught high school French for 25 years.
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Saturday, June 18, 2011

PALINELLE

by Ed Shacklee


Fiddle badly long enough, you'll learn
if you will give your heart; but, if you can't,
people simply love to watch things burn.

Feed the sharks to make the waters churn,
or ride upon the whitest elephant.
Fiddle badly long enough, you'll learn,

the gullible go crazy if you spurn
the facts and entertain them with a rant.
People love to simply watch. Things burn;

like books you skimmed by journalists who yearn
to find those flagrant gaffes you won't recant.
Fiddle badly long enough, you'll learn

how sweat and study reap a scant return —
the grasshopper is smirking at the ant.
It's simple: people love to watch things burn.

Thinking wrinkles brows, and makes you stern,
but dimples and you betchas will enchant.
Fiddle badly long enough, you'll learn:
simple people love to watch things burn. 



A Note on Form: Not nearly as refined as its elegant French cousin, the villanelle, the palinelle is an Alaskan repeating form created in honor of Sarah Palin, more or less, in which 2 mistakes are repeated on multiple occasions, followed by a strong double down at the end. Associated with a mental state called Palinoia, more successful palinelles condense 15 minutes of fame into 19 lines. 

Ed Shacklee is a public defender who represents young people in the District of Columbia. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in 14 by 14, The Flea, The Raintown Review and Shot Glass Journal, among other places.
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Thursday, June 16, 2011

SOLDIERS AT ISHINOMAKi

by Alan Catlin



after a photo by William T. Vollmann

dressed like the ghost platoon
in Kurosawa’s Dream segmented
movie, only the ruins they walk
through are modern day Japan after
Fukoshima reactor meltdown,
rather than Asian island movie
sequence, jungle nightmare,
the dead restored to eternal life
to continue fighting lost cause war or
like seekers questing what lies within
an Unknown Zone in Tarkovsky’s
“Stalker,” undertaking a journey
whose only tangible reward is a small
piece of death’s half-life in a nutshell,
a concrete bunker melting down, or as
modern day spirit patrol in forbidden
radioactive zone, dead-men-living as police,
guarding an inner ring of hell’s half-acre
precisely subdivided into personal plots,
open graves for all who come here,
all those they must scare away.


Alan Catlin has published numerous chapbooks and full length books of poetry and prose. Pygmy Forest Press is publishing the collected "Deep Water Horizon" poems.
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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

THE INDICATION

by Lauren Schmidt


“'We don’t have any evidence that a weapon was used,' said Detective Jeff Donaca. 
'The indication is that [Herbert Bishop] was beaten to death.'”---KVAL.com, June 17, 2009


The next morning, we went out for breakfast.
Any other Sunday, eggs, sausage and buttered bread
to sop the beer from last night before it sinks in,
what we did. We washed our hands in the river.
Red blood streamed Willamette green, but you can’t see
color in the dark, can’t see your reflection either.
The waitress snapped her gum, stared at my knuckles,
cut and dried in blood. Last night, blood throbbed in my head,
greased the machine of me, as my windmill fists smashed
head and chest,

then head
and head
and head.

She stared, but took our order instead: eggs, sausage and buttered bread.
The bridge of a nose crushes like a Styrofoam cup,
but the ribs don’t give, and the skull is soft like a stone
is soft till finally, the bleeding. All it takes for egg yolk to break
is a toasted crust of bread. Yellow fans out like blood
in the brain from blow after blow after blow. Yolk-thick,
his tongue twitched with slugs of blood. Black like the river
was black, like my coffee is black, like the night was black
before dawn was red and we were a Sunday-kind-
of- hungry, craving some eggs. We stuffed our stomachs
like the pipe we took off him. We went back to get that pipe,
packed it, pulled and held our purple breaths, let them go
like ghosts from our throats, the way life goes out
but we didn’t stay to watch. Couldn’t watch that part,
something wrong about that, the way jerking off feels
wrong the first time you do it till it doesn’t anymore.


Editor’s Note: This poem is part of a full-length collection of poetry based on the poet’s experience volunteering at a homeless kitchen, The Dining Room, in Eugene, Oregon, where several hate crimes occur each year against homeless men. The collection, Psalms of The Dining Room, is due out next year. The collection draws attention to an otherwise silenced problem: hate crimes against homeless victims.

Lauren Schmidt’s poems have been published or are forthcoming in The Progressive, Alaska Quarterly Review, New York Quarterly, Rattle, Nimrod, Fifth Wednesday Journal,  Ekphrasis Journal, Wicked Alice and other journals. Her poems have been selected as finalists for the 2008 and 2009 Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize, the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry and the Dancing Girl Press Chapbook Contest. Her awards include the So to Speak Poetry Prize and the Neil Postman Prize for Metaphor. In 2011, she was nominated for the Best New Poets Anthology. Her chapbook, The Voodoo Doll Parade (Main Street Rag), was selected as part of the 2011 Author’s Choice Chapbooks Series. Her second chapbook, Because Big Boobies Are Necessary (Amsterdam Press), and her first full-length collection, Psalms of The Dining Room (Wipf & Stock) are both forthcoming. Lauren Schmidt teaches writing at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, New Jersey.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

TEA PARTY TUTORS

by Phillip Barron


He sees in us a Babylon
of limitless growth and greed
of world-class furniture and more
colleges than we need
"Alexander, turn that down"

He says alligators swim flooded streets
when the NAACP gathers in posh hotels
and Reagan helped the Pope
knock down the Soviet Union
"How do they turn the train around?"

A three-point turn, maybe
Backs of buildings, precipices of parking lots,
fences, fields, and falling roofs
the backporch of North Carolina

Phones erupt, tempers hush, giggles jingle
A lone brick wall stands without counterparts
Suspension squeaks like chirping
birds nest between the iron horses.
"Alexander, plug it in so it charges up."

Swamps become wetlands but
forests become tree farms because
citizens become consumers and
"Alexander, Alexander..."
"Dad, this is our stop."


Phillip Barron’s first book, The Outspokin’ Cyclist, is a collection of newspaper columns written over a four-year period and will be published this month. His poems and short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Hinchas de Poesía, The Blotter, The Raleigh Hatchet, and Urban Velo. He has taught philosophy at the Chapel Hill and Greensboro campuses of the University of North Carolina as well as at Duke University. Barron currently live in Davis, California where he works in the digital humanities at the University of California. 
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Monday, June 13, 2011

HOMO COMMERCIALIS

by David Radavich


I am the sub-total
of what I buy.

Nothing personal,
but that’s what matters.

What corporations
are keeping track of.

Almost like the eye of God
weighing sins and merits,

positioning
for potential profit

in competing schemes
of doctrination.

I hardly know
what to say. 

Perhaps: Watch me,
study my every
expenditure

and know
the partner of this dance

will step on ice.


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.
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Sunday, June 12, 2011

LAISSEZ-FAIRE

by Esther Greenleaf Murer


Laissez-faire maissez-faire,
Senator Goldwater
wanted the government
out of our hair.
Fifty years later the
neoconservatives
poison our minds, food,
water, and air.



Esther Greenleaf Murer's new poetry collection Unglobed Fruit is now available.
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YOU CAN BANK ON IT

by Bill Costley

According to JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon,
the recovery has stalled because of strict banking regulation. --Robert Reich

When bankers wail
workers should wonder
Q: What happens next?

A: When bankers wail
they communicate like
wild animals caught in

regulatory traps, crying:
“Regulate us less!” &.
“Keep the workers out
of our deep pockets!”


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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Saturday, June 11, 2011

CHICKEN LITTLE

by Jean Thurston Liebert


                                    “The sky is falling!” he cried as he ran.
                                    Panic spread quickly across the land.
                                    Paul Ryan assured him it wasn’t so.
                                    He would use a little ‘Sleight-of-hand.’

                                                Entitlements had to go.
                                                Social Security and Medicare
                                                Cost more than we could bear.
                                                He would put an end to this nightmare.

                                    Soon Chicken Little will have vouchers galore.
                                    Privatization will be here to stay.
                                    My advice to all chickens I know:
                                    Stay alert.  Your vouchers are next to go.


Jean Thurston Liebert
, age 92, lives in Corvallis, Oregon. She writes poetry, short stories and a novella, Another World.  Her published work is included in Apricot Memories, a non-fiction history of the apricot industry in California; Linn Benton Community College’s Collections; the Oregon Writers Colony anthology, Take a Bite of Literature and The New Verse News. Her 2010 fiction was cited as notable by Oregon Writers Colony. 
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Friday, June 10, 2011

MAN DIES TODAY IN DUBAI

by Elizabeth Cleary

An unidentified Asian man jumped to his death on Tuesday
from the 147th floor of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. --Al Bawaba

Today, in Dubai, a man jumped off the world’s tallest
tower. He worked in the building; his job taking him
thousands of miles from his home and over a mile
into the sky; he asked for time away from his glass
cage full of corporate high flyers but his boss said No.
He could have called in sick or quit or cut off his leg
but being a responsible employee, he jumped from
the 147th floor; he could have winged himself from
the roof or the top floor, 160 levels above ground
adding 13 accomplishments to his total but he didn’t
and then he landed on the roof of floor 108, below
corporate suites and above the residents still at work,
so in all he only fell 39 flights without wings, far below
the world record and one has to ask if someone goes
to all that trouble to make a statement about personal
leave and leaves by leaping from the tallest perch
like a bird without a parachute, golden or otherwise,
wouldn’t it have been worth going for the record, maybe
make his sacrifice notable so they’d bother to mention
his name in the morning paper or maybe he did think
of that and left some room to beat his personal best,
as if daring his coworkers to follow him home.


Elizabeth Cleary is an American poet employed by a multi-national IT firm. Her poems are published in many journals including Tipton Poetry Journal, Boston Literary Magazine, Off the Coast.  Recently nominated for a Pushcart, she is co-chair of The Poetry Institute-New Haven.

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Thursday, June 09, 2011

TOO EARLY, TOO LATE

Poem by Charles Frederickson; Graphic by Saknarin Chinayote

Tug of paix pull pushed
Comes to shove might underpowered
Forever branded acid Coppertone etching
Blurry indelible dreams eternal tattoos

Parchment scribble crops gone unharvested
Fishnets torn divining rods retracted
Aborted fetuses swaddling manger tombs
Embalmed mummy felines grave reminders

Droopy morning glories tilt bowed
Heads withered edges forsaken leaves
Unanswered happiness prayers begging salvation
Dead Sea corpses floating face-down

Wailing concrete walls bullet riddled
Whitewashed bloodstains shameful humiliation cover-up
Sprig poking through jagged crack
1948 preoccupied claims unsettled grievances

Unveiled threats averted parting glances
Glossy manes brushed by Fate
Unkissed chap virgin flesh violated
Flutter lashes blurry mascara focus

Last chance garbage heap scrapped
Soiled stench pleas cavalierly ignored
Pesky flies hovering over refuse
Thumbsucker chewing nails swallowing pride

TOO LITTLE, NOT SOON ENOUGH


Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Dr. Zeinab Nour hosts a trilingual (Arabic, French, English) Art Chat originating in Cairo on tutamon.net/tv1.php. On 10 June from 22:00 to 23:00 Cairo time, guest International Poet & Artist Dr. Charles Frederickson will be joined by his color specialist Saknarin Chinayote to show 2 videos and read poems about humanity & peace, including the above New Verse News offering translated into Arabic.  

No Holds Bard Dr. Charles Frederickson & Saknarin Chinayote together comprise PoeArtry. Flutter Press has just published Charles’ new chapbook fanTHAIsies.
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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

SACRED PLACE

by Rochelle Owens


Drawing a straight line in the air
a baldheaded pilgrim
from Belgium
singing ‘on the road again’
journeying to some sacred place
journeying to Santiago di Compostella
seeing dollars
drachmas euros  francs liras
marks pesos pounds
 renminibi shekels yen
singing ‘on the road again’
journeying to some sacred place
journeying to Santiago di Compostella
hitting the thrift stores
estate sales flea markets
remembering a woman
smashing herbs
with the side of a knife
singing ‘on the road again’
journeying to some sacred place
journeying to Santiago di Compostella
piled up sketches
the crucified one
the scourged martyrs
slapping flying insects
insects far and near
singing ‘on the road again’
journeying to some sacred place
journeying to Santiago di Compostella
debeaked chickens in cages
the tracks of wild ducks
slapping flying insects
insects far and near
dollars euros pesos
drachmas francs liras marks pounds
renminbi shekels yen
a baldheaded pilgrim from Belgium
singing ‘on the road again’
journeying to some sacred place
journeying to Santiago di Compostella
slapping flying insects
insects far and near
tracing his nerve endings
the roof of his skull
the shape of his brain
slapping flying insects insects far and near
like passionate lovers
thirsting for his sweat
dollars euros pesos
filling his money belt
sweet lucre under his heart
like an unborn babe
in its amniotic sac
a baldheaded pilgrim from Belgium
weeping praying
spiritual soul animal hole
spiritual hole animal soul
journeying to some sacred place
journeying to Santiago di Compostella
weeping praying
animal soul spiritual hole
animal hole spiritual soul
journeying to some sacred place


Rochelle Owens is the author of twenty books of poetry, plays, and fiction, the most recent of which are Solitary Workwoman(Junction Press, 2011), Journey to Purity (Texture Press, 2009), and Plays by Rochelle Owens (Broadway Play Publishing, 2000). 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. This is Rochelle Owens' twentieth New Verse News poem.
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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

THE PERPETRATOR'S GUIDE TO THRILL KILLING: LESSON ONE--PRACTICE ON A KITTEN

by Lauren Schmidt


[Herbert] Bishop was one of three local homeless men to die violently in Eugene this year. Gerald Francis Wudarski, 53, died from bleeding inside his brain after a west Eugene man chased and assaulted him…James Pelfrey, 36, died in an August 25th stabbing near Eugene’s Washington-Jefferson Park…In another serious assault, a homeless man was set afire October 3rd as he walked on East Broadway near High Street.---The Register Guard, December 23rd, 2009


First, be a boy always too big for six:
too tall, too loud, too wide.

Wear out words like asshole, prick,
and dickhead, make your daddy proud.

Know what his beer tastes like.

Stink like cigarettes and sweat rings.

When you don’t get your way, say

            Don’t be such a scaredy cat. What he said to me
            when we were boys, six, with a box of matches
            behind the pool. I watched my neighbor snap
            the stick against the box strip. The flame hissed
            into a slight blast of gold. Before long, it malformed
            into a shattered face, climbed down the stick,
            almost singed his fingertips. He flung it
            behind the deck. I shivered, pretended to keep
            warm by shaking pool water from my ear.
            I tilted my head and hopped on one foot.

Be the first among us to spot her.

Watch her.

Pretend to love her, newly born,
like us, barely furred.

Squat down.

Make your shadow small.

Wait for her.

Whisper sweetness as she approaches
your hand, empty of its offering.

Watch her tongue curl against your fist
as if to open it.

Then be quick. Cat-like.

            He held the matchstick to me, Don’t be such a scaredy cat.
            Nearing my face, my neighbor taunted me,
            I could feel the pop and purr
            of the quivering flame and when I sprinted away,
            my blood gunning with dread,
            he clapped against me, dragged me
            across the gravel drive: my stomach, scraped
            and bloody. After a bath of Bactine
            and water from the hose, I pulled stones
            from my shredded skin, swore I’d never see him again.

Rise.

Shed a heavy darkness.

Hop to your left foot.

Cock your right.

            Don’t be such a scaredy cat he said again,
            this time, to his cousin at age thirteen
            because None of the guns in the house
            are loaded.
Stones come easily when bubbled
            in peroxide, but a boy can’t empty bullets
            from his brain the way he shakes water
            from the inner-ear. I couldn’t help but shiver.
            I stood there, curious and waiting.

Draw your leg forth to lift and crush
the skull into a shattered blast of light.

Watch, wide-eyed, as blood hurls
through the sky.

Delight.

Watch the corpse crash to the ground.

Or be a boy too scared to stop it.


Editor’s Note: This poem is part of a full-length collection of poetry based on the poet’s experience volunteering at a homeless kitchen, The Dining Room, in Eugene, Oregon, where several hate crimes occur each year against homeless men. The collection, Psalms of The Dining Room, is due out next year. The collection draws attention to an otherwise silenced problem: hate crimes against homeless victims.

Lauren Schmidt’s poems have been published or are forthcoming in The Progressive, Alaska Quarterly Review, New York Quarterly, Rattle, Nimrod, Fifth Wednesday Journal,  Ekphrasis Journal, Wicked Alice and other journals. Her poems have been selected as finalists for the 2008 and 2009 Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize, the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry and the Dancing Girl Press Chapbook Contest. Her awards include the So to Speak Poetry Prize and the Neil Postman Prize for Metaphor. In 2011, she was nominated for the Best New Poets Anthology. Her chapbook, The Voodoo Doll Parade (Main Street Rag), was selected as part of the 2011 Author’s Choice Chapbooks Series. Her second chapbook, Because Big Boobies Are Necessary (Amsterdam Press), and her first full-length collection, Psalms of The Dining Room (Wipf & Stock) are both forthcoming. Lauren Schmidt teaches writing at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, New Jersey.

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Monday, June 06, 2011

TORNADO ALLEY

by


On tv, the damage is miniature and confined
to the screen. The houses are toys that were kicked
around the sandbox, and the trees?  Twigs resigned
to future campfires. Scavengers in night clothes pick
through belongings, stopping only long enough
to grant interviews that don’t conclude until they cry.
The money shot. Big piles of smoldering stuff:
that’s what the Twin Towers were. Even when I tried
I couldn’t make that real, but driving through Battle Creek
after the tornado, seeing with my own eyes
what winds had done, evisceration of trees, the quick
stroke of spring hell and roofs whirling into skies--
That was real. We don’t fear terrorists or earthquakes.
We fear air where the Great Plains meet the Great Lakes.


Elizabeth Kerlikowske drives to teach and listens to NPR.
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Sunday, June 05, 2011

CONVERSATION WITH GOD #43

by John Kotula


God, Are there any Republicans in heaven?

You mean, for example,
The ones who preach a sourpuss, lock-jaw morality in public
Then in airport washrooms, DC condos and limo backseats
Do anything they can to get their dicks wet?

Yeah, those guys!

How about the ones who say
The bible is their favorite book
And Jesus is their greatest hero,
But do anything in their power
To make rich people richer
And poor people poorer.

Yeah, I’m talking about them!

Don’t forget the ones who say they want a limited government
That stays out of people’s lives
And off their backs,
But pass laws that say
A woman has to look at an ultrasound of the fetus
She has decided to abort.

Yeah, you got it!

You’re asking me are any of them in heaven?

Yeah! Are they?

Well of course they are.

What?

Of course they are.

Unbelievable!

Wait a minute. I thought you believed in a merciful God.
I thought you believed vindictiveness would be very
Un-God like.

Yeah, but, but…

I forgive them!

Yeah, but, but…

That’s why I’m God
And you’re not.


John Kotula is an artist and writer who lives in Rhode Island.
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Saturday, June 04, 2011

THERE IS A SOUND

by James Bettendorf


There is a sound in St. Paul
Like the tearing of heavy cloth
Where people make laws that snap
Crutches over their knees, that rip
Texts from small hands, that flatten
The tires of wheel chairs, crush
Safety glasses under their heels and
Red tipped white canes are broken
in pieces and thrown in the gutter.

There is a sound in Minnesota
Like the tearing of heavy cloth
Where angry men and women are bent
Their backs used as stepping stones
Feeling powerless in the face of money
Neighbors denied rights and
Darkness isn't dispelled
By the light of reason.

There is a sound in America
Like the tearing of heavy cloth
Where eyes of honest people
Are covered with blindfolds
Made from the flag, ears deafened
With tower babbling and knees
Bent by heavy wooden crosses
While more coal is shoveled
Into the furnaces of the wealthy.

There is a sound in the world
Like the tearing of heavy cloth


James Bettendorf is a retired math teacher and just finished a two year Poetry internship at the Loft in Minneapolis, Minn., after having taken many classes over the years.  He has been a member of various writing groups throughout the years and his work has been published in Verse Wisconsin, Rockhurst Review, and Light Quarterly.

Friday, June 03, 2011

ON THE EFFICACY OF MEMORIAL DAY

by David Feela


When I cut my lawn the cows
next door gather along the fence,
drawn to the fresh cut grass

like I’m drawn by my neighbor’s
grill as he cooks his holiday steaks. 
What better way to describe how

we get by as neighbors, turning death
into a redolence that sustains us.


David Feela's work has appeared in hundreds of regional and national publications. His first full length poetry book, The Home Atlas, is now available.
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Thursday, June 02, 2011

YESTERDAY’S TOMORROWS

Poem by Charles Frederickson; Graphic by Saknarin Chinayote


Despite Obama's 'clarification' speech, neither he nor Netanyahu
succeeded in convincing the other to change his stance.
From the Israeli's point of view, that's just fine for now.

Childhood memories grow-up without within
Refugee camps blood-let rainbows drained
Eternal dusk sunset unsettling dawn
Fallen crescent stardust ember ashes

Youth wasted on disillusioned young
Eternal life stale old farts
Mortality too close for comfort
Shattered mirror image staring back

Born to somebody else’s outlaw
Becoming yet another homeless vagrant
Second-coming neither thereby nor hereafter
In-denial transfigured status displaced lost

What should’ve been chances will-‘o-the-wisp
Fugitive clouds spoiled rations disclaimed
Hardened pillars for lonesome lot
Kismet kisses smacking of salt

Green pitted olives turn black
Mulberry tree refusing to relinquish
Right to bear bittersweet berries
Overripe figs pungent coffee swirls

Marble shadows blend-in midst rubble
Borderless stonewall cracks barbs snipped
Prideful fury enraged falcon gaze
Homeland macrocosmic focus proclaiming “Salaam!”


No Holds Bard Dr. Charles Frederickson & Saknarin Chinayote together comprise PoeArtry. Flutter Press has just published Charles’ new chapbook fanTHAIsies.
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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

CHEVRON ANNUAL SHAREHOLDER MEETING 5/25/11

by Buff Whitman-Bradley

                                                                        -- for Thomas Evans of  Nanwalek

The man tells us he came to the annual meeting from his tiny seaside village in Alaska to explain to the shareholders and executives that by dumping toxic chemicals into the water they are killing his people.

The man tells us he expected that once the shareholders and executives understood this they would put a stop to the dumping.

The man says that when the shareholders and executives dismissed what he told them with the wave of a hand, he realized that they had no intention of making things right.

The man speaks what is sacred. The shareholders and executives listen only to what is profane.

The man speaks in whales and eagles, in walruses and salmon and bears.  The shareholders and executives do not understand him.  The shareholders and executives listen only to money.

The man speaks in family and community and ancestors, in dignity and decency and tradition. The shareholders and executives do not understand him.  They listen only to money and corpses. The crisp snap of $10,000 bills.  The dull thud of the bodies of the poor and powerless as they are stacked on top of each other like barrels of oil to be turned into cash.

The shareholders and executives have themselves become corpses, barbered and manicured cadavers in expensive silk suits. The man assumed he would be meeting with living human beings, not with the living dead. He was not prepared for the absence in their eyes.  He was not prepared to see that the lives of his people mean less than nothing to the shareholders and executives who wield such great power.

As the man from the tiny seaside village in Alaska speaks of this, we think, He must be very angry.  But he is not angry.  We watch him weep.  We have never seen sorrow so pure and entire, like the very last sadness at the end of the world. We are watching his heart break right in front of us and all the cameras.  We don’t know what to do except to say that we are sorry.

Inside the corporate palazzo, the hollow oligarchs wrap up their annual meeting, patting each others' lifeless backs, shaking each others' lifeless hands, congratulating themselves on another profitable year.


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.
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