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Saturday, December 31, 2011

HOW LONG CAN YOU KISS AT MIDNIGHT ON 12/31?

by Lillian Baker Kennedy


days, weeks even…
on the beach
in the pool
cooking dinner
between bites of profiteroles on an Irish shore
just waking up, before fully coming to
looking up from a stretch on the couch
while the rooster crows day and night
in the shower
in bed
getting dressed
getting undressed
through my whole ipod list of “rooftop” music
watering the jasmine plant
watering the morning glory, too
maybe playing bridge
in the plane, waiting to take off
every time u try the soup...
to taste the wine on your lips
after laughs at a really good joke
I'll get audio books
must be a yoga position for this
dancing on the terrace
beneath each month’s full moon
until the clocks strike
another year anew.


Lillian Baker Kennedy is the author of Tomorrow After Night (Bay River Press, 2003) and Notions (Pudding House, 2004).  She has helped edit a number of poetry anthologies, including, A Sense of Place, Maine poetry, and Letters to the World, a women’s poetry listserve (WOMPO) collaborative production. Kennedy’s poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart, anthologized, exhibited with sculpture and her own photography and published in numerous small presses.  An interview, critical essay on poetics and numerous poems are available online.   An attorney and online English instructor, Kennedy abides in the beautiful creative community of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
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Friday, December 30, 2011

THE CORPORATION OPENS ITS MOUTH TO SCREAM

by Victor David Sandiego


Fence of law divides us
from the corporation
that opens its mouth to scream.

Fence divides us into camps, a wrathful
immigration king
guards the corporation
that opens its mouth to scream.

Corporation is dying
to scrape
newspaper holes in our shoes
proffers a single mug-shot mouth
when it screams.

Coin of our hands, a man
on a gurney gasps, clasps his contract.
Of meager years, a boy bleeds the tattoo
from his arm.

Pulse of our fingers
tap / tap
black stained factories and muffler shops
thrust
our frail paychecks
through the ravenous teller slot.

Ah, the gentle scampering of ledger sheets
rattle of courthouse doors, briefcase
justice walking by
canister-rolls-on-concrete sound of weeping gas
a lucky crunch of cheek bone, black
diesel engines coughing
walkie-talkie warlords laughing
drums and dance steps
god-damn paper declarations crinkling
mayors
blowing their air horns
on the tarmac.

And above the cacophony of grievances
above the  shouts of swine and truncheon music
above the swiveling sound of turrets:

an anemic plea, a simple ghost child
trapped
inside the desolate heartbeat
of the corporation
that opens its mouth to scream.


Victor David Sandiego – poeta, baterista, composer – was the winner of the 1st WordStorm Poetry Competition held on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, a winner of the Jeanne Lohmann Poetry Prize, and the winner of the 2009 Crab Creek Review poetry contest. His work appears in various journals and on public radio. He lives in the high desert of central México. For more, see: www.VictorDavid.com.
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Thursday, December 29, 2011

NIGHTMARE ON WALL STREET

by Ed Shacklee


In a land without hope, in an exclusive club
Where they cast gilded buckets of pearls before swine,
A judge was enjoying a warm shoulder rub
From a fat, happy banker who’d come there to dine,

While the banker was having his ample back patted
By a newly bought hand puppet up for election.
The banker, named Bags, remarked as they chatted,
“Let’s start with the snails — there’s a lively selection;

“And they're lovely to look at by candlelight
From these elegant candles by candlestick makers.
They were sliced up by butchers till ever so slight
And baked in their shells to perfection by bakers.”

“Oh, no!  Not the snails!” cried the judge.  “Not again,
Though I simply adore them in garlic and cream;
For last night during dinner I ate nine or ten,
And afterwards dreamed the most terrible dream.”

“A terrible dream!” gasped the banker, all ears.
“I, too, dreamed a terrible dream — it was awful.
Were the snails or my conscience the cause?  It appears
That one or the other one wasn’t quite lawful.”

“Rest easy,” the judge said, “the law is your friend:
As history shows, it’s no crime to have money;
Nor a crime to be poor — so, at least, we pretend.
Thinking back, I believe that those snails tasted funny.

“In my dream,” said the judge, “every cell in my jail
Wasn’t filled to the rafters with blacks and Hispanics,
But with Fortune’s Five Hundred, whose faces were pale,
In the pokey for creating financial panics.

“This once, the Five Hundred, it seems, had been caught
Red-handed while pilfering candy from babies
And pensions from grannies: I’d have freed the whole lot,
But the rabble reacted as if they had rabies.

“The law would have deemed it a small peccadillo,
But by voting the crowd took the law in their hands,
And threatened to string them all up in a willow
If they didn’t give back all their wages and lands.

“As I rode on that mare through the wildest of nights
I passed little people round circles of drums,
So many the cops couldn't trample their rights —
And none heard my cry of 'Imprison the bums!'”

“How strange,” said the banker, “I dreamed the same dream,
Where I lost every cent for perverting the laws,
And the meek got the earth: I awoke with a scream.
A good thing a surfeit of snails was the cause.”

“What else could it be but a surfeit of snails?"
Sniffed the judge: “For their wealth shows the rich are deserving.
To throw them in jails turns things head over tails,
That unbearable, terrible dream was unnerving.”

So the judge and the banker ate hummingbird tongues
With a blubber purée from the last pod of whales,
Plus arty choked hearts served on miner's black lungs;
But they never, no, never again ordered snails.


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, Light Quarterly and The Raintown Review.
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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

HONDURAS

by John Kotula


“The increasing drug and organized-crime violence in Central America has led the Peace Corps to pull out of Honduras…” --The New York Times, December 22, 2011.

Honduras is green
In the same way that
Blood is red,
Snow is white,
The night is dark.
Essentially green.
Without the green
It wouldn’t be Honduras.

Honduras is poor
In the same way that
Babies cry,
Drunks stagger,
Dogs gnaw bones.
Essentially poor.
Without the poverty
It wouldn’t be Honduras

Honduras is joyful
En lo mismo manera que
Kids kick futbols above the tree tops,
Lovers dance close,
A gray haired woman swims in the sea.
Essentially joyful.
Without the joy it wouldn’t be Honduras.

Honduras is violent,
Too violent to wage peace.
It is violent como una muneca bailando
Jerked by red, white, and blue strings.
Como un trabajador with orders
To provide bananas, cocaine, t-shirts, sun tans,
And a high body count for the war on drugs.
This violence is not essential.
It is imported.

I visit Honduras
In the same way that
Los sacerdotes oran el rosario,
Los gallos gritar a la madrugada
Palabras cruzar los labios y forman frases.
My visits are essential.
I make these trips to know who I am.


John Kotula is an artist and poet who lives in Rhode Island. He was a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras from 2005 through 2007.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

MOTHER RUSSIA'S MOTHERS

by Richard Ilnicki

For Anna Politkovskaya, et al

Mother Russia is a surrogate
Impregnated geographically by God's seed,
Words that prosper and clearly speak
Though dropped beneath unholy frozen tundra.
Mother Russia is covered head to toe
By natural resources and an endless sky,
But she lacks a loving father. Instead,
Her paternal foundation has been laid
By the blood of martyrs, mostly poets
And writers/journalists who would rather die
By starvation, incarceration or assassination
Than succumb to the fearful quarantine
Of words.

Words of truth strung out on clotheslines
By men like Maksim Kovalsky and Andrei Galiyev.
They may not be draping Stalin's Siberia,
But they are now being hung by their necks
With Putin’s cruel clothespins.

In this modern gulag men and women
Who cherish freedom of speech
Have become human icicles in winter.
They hang like stalactites from rooftops
Frozen by fear or melt
Like wax dripping blood in the short hot summer.

Mother Russia’s rich resources
Have yet to be gathered and used
For the greater benefit of her many children.
Instead, Mother Russia’s mothers
Are still giving birth to orphans
And have been left out in the cold
Standing in the widow’s bread line.


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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Monday, December 26, 2011

WRAPPING PAPER

by Laura Rodley


Two parts hope, one part beauty
wrapped inside this gold tinged paper
four parts memory, one part gratitude
sending the package in time for Christmas,
the sliding board of enlightenment
the offering of inner light
three parts gentleness, one part tough love
one quarter teaspoon cinnamon,
one quarter teaspoon cloves,
the opening of the shells encased
around our bodies and wrapped
inside these packages we offer
with such great expectation.


Laura Rodley’s chapbook Your Left Front Wheel is Coming Loose has been nominated for a PEN New England L.L. Winship Award and a Mass Book Award.
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Sunday, December 25, 2011

THIRD ROCK OF AGES

 Poem by Charles Frederickson; Graphic by Saknarin Chinayote 

 
Imploding lonesome planet soiled earthlings
Perverse intolerant misunderstandings amongst Christians
Jews Muslims Buddhists Hindus Sikhs
Decidedly None of the Above

No Deposit No Return Recycled
Bad faith unseasonable changing climate
Anti-clockwise East <->West rotation Winter Solstice
Tilted Whirled farthest from Sun

12 days of Christmas solemn
Ramadan 28 Kwanzaa lasting 7
Hanukkah Menorah aglow 8 eventides
Overstuffed feasts celebratory tummy aches

Kwanzaa Swahili meaning harvest bounty
7 guiding Nguzo Saba principles
Umoja (unity) Ujima (responsibility) Imani
(faith) Kuumba (creativity) unmitigated joy

Hanukkah from Hebrew connoting dedication
Honors victorious revolt entering Jerusalem
Holy temple sanctified eternal flame
Oil lamp kindling black light

Ramadan most intensely worshipful time
Profoundly serious compassion giving charity
More about dependence than abstinence
Fasting from sunrise to sunset

Christmas Lord Jesus’ birthday bash
Upstaged by Un-saintly Nick commercialism
New Year’s evermore devout skeptics
Praying to whatever deity listens


Dr. Charles Frederickson and Mr. Saknarin Chinayote proudly present 28 YouTube mini-movies @ YouTube – CharlesThai1 .
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NEWT {on} VENUS

by Bill Costley


Newt whizzes to Venus,
opening a campaign HQ
believing it’ll B AOK
after reading VENUS,
INC. (Pohl & Kornbluth)
eager for mega-votes
from its New-t Frontier:
“New-t President VENUS”
bumperstuck everywhere.
Write-in: {Newt} Write-in!


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.
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Saturday, December 24, 2011

ROCK THE NATIONS AS A CRADLE

by Daniel Wilcox


“Look down”…
“Rock the nations as a cradle,”
Spoke the Quaker prophet to Cromwell
“Let thy soldiers go forth…” to kill,

"Look down"...
Another backwards Crusade with
The reversed cross on our hearts,
A swinging, bloody, atoning battle ax
Beheading those with wrong views.

Look “away…”
Not at all like the true cradled manger
Nor the bleeding Rock of Ages
Weeping through history for all
Who “Laid down ‘their sweet heads.’”

Look “away…
In a manager, no crib for a bed
The little Lord Jesus no crying”
Drowns the wailing of many slain.

“Look down”…
When Luther proclaims to the State,
To the German princes during the revolt,
“Therefore, whosoever can, should smite,
Strangle, and stab…and wash our hands
In their blood.”

“Look down”…
You “may more easily win heaven
By shedding of blood than
Others by prayers” not so different
From Taliban now calling on God
For their ‘great’ deeds of slaughter
“To live with thee there.”

“Look down where He lay…
Condemned to repeat, not remember,
‘Blast’ all the dear children” of men
And weep.


Author’s notes: Including lines from Martin Luther’s Christmas hymn “Away in a Manger,” his statements commanding the slaying of the revolting peasants,  George Fox’s statement to Cromwell along with others Reformers who made heads roll, and the famous phrase from George Santayana on history

Daniel Wilcox's wandering lines have appeared in many magazines including The Write Room, Word Riot, and Unlikely Stories. His life is an unlikely story--hiking through Cal State University Long Beach (Creative Writing), Montana, Pennsylvania, Europe, Palestine/Israel...working in a mental institution while living on an island and fording a stream each day, helping on an Indian reservation, and teaching many students literature for years. He now lives with his wife on the central coast of California where he ages but doesn’t petrify.

Friday, December 23, 2011

WINTER SOLSTICE, OTTAWA

by Elizabeth Kerlikowske
 
 
Quiescent air supports incandescent globes
around Parliament, that halo skaters
on the Rideau Canal. Cold shrinks street lights
to star powers. Not just cold but Canadian cold
pulls high beams into eyeless needles
ices native eyes with rock salt--
citizens muted by wool, heads clasped
by toques, such red cheeks, so alive! 
Dark exhilaration masses on the horizon, 
snow fever and the low glow of an implied world  
like this one    but temperate.
 
 
Elizabeth Kerlikowske spent three winters in Ottawa, Ontario, and understands why the stop signs are so high tall.
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Thursday, December 22, 2011

The CHENI@D:
Volume Twelve

by Bill Costley


Book CXXXIII: CHENEY DRONES
[newspoem]

CNN journalist Erin Burnett debuted her show “OutFront” in early October by mocking Occupy Wall Street & defending the industry that destroyed the economy. On Monday night Burnett gave a platform to a man almost as loathed as his Wall Street buddies, former Vice President Dick CHENEY

CHENEY, predictably, contemptibly,
bashed POTUS Obama for not
authorizing “a quick airstrike” to
retrieve a predator drone that
was recently downed in Iran.

"The right response to that would
have been to go in immediately &
destroy it. You can do that from the air.
You can do that with a quick airstrike,
and in effect make it impossible for them
to benefit from having captured that drone.
I was told that the POTUS had 3 options
on his desk. He rejected all of them.[
They all involved sending somebody in
to try to recover it, or if you can’t do that,
admittedly that would be a difficult operation,
you certainly could have gone in &
destroyed it on the ground with an airstrike.
But he didn’t take any of the options.
He asked for them to return it
& they aren’t going to do that."

The former VPOTUS has been insulting
Obama since Inauguration Day, insisting
his policies will make the country “less safe.”
2 months into his administration, CHENEY

charged that the new POTUS “is making
some choices that, in my mind, will...raise
the risk to the American people of another attack.”

He’s accused Obama of “half measures”
& “dithering” on foreign policy. More than once
he’s criticized the POTUS for not taking a
tougher stance on Iran. Even after Obama
authorized the successful mission to kill
Osama bin Laden, who Bush & CHENEY
essentially let run free thanks to their...
war with Iraq, CHENEY wasn’t happy.
“I still am concerned about the fact that
I think a lot of the techniques that we had used
to keep the country safe for more than 7 years
are no longer available. That they’ve been
sort of taken off the table, if you will.”

So CHENEY's carping is nothing new.
But suggesting that the POTUS launch
a quick airstrike” to retrieve the downed drone
is ridiculous, even for CHENEY. There’s
no such thing. CHENEY has to know
that any new U.S. incursion, following
on the drone discovery, would sharply
escalate tension with Iran, & to do that
to recover a drone isn’t at all worth the risk.

Rebecca Jarvis this morning asked a follow-up question:
“Would not, though, an airstrike on Iran have potentially
led us into a war with them?” 

CHENEY: "Well, if you look at what Iran
has done over the years, they’ve been
the prime backers of Hezbollah, Hamas,
the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut
in 1983 that cost us 241 American lives.
These were Iranian-supported ventures.
It’s not as though they haven’t already
committed acts that some people would
say come close to being acts of war.
For us to go in and take out the drone
that crashed would have been, I think,
a fairly simple operation, & it would have
denied them the value of the intelligence
they can collect by having that aircraft."
“But the administration basically
limited itself to saying, ‘Please give it
back,’ the Iranians said No."

CHENEY was bullish on Newt in 2012,
though he hasn’t endorsed anyone formally.
“I wouldn’t underestimate him,” CHENEY said,
praising Gingrich’s political skills. “The thing
I remember about Newt, is we came to
Congress together at the same time, ’78,
& when Newt showed up, he said, "We can
become the majority. We can take back
the House of Representatives. We hadn’t had
the House since the 1940s & initially,
none of us believed it, but he was persistent.
& he was tenacious. He kept it up & kept it up
& kept it up &  finally by ’94, he’s the newly-elected
speaker of the House of Representatives
with a Republican majority.” CHENEY declined
to describe the way Gingrich crashed & burned
in the years that followed. You’ve got to count
that among the nicest things anyone who’s
worked with Gingrich has said about him
during the whole campaign. Stay tuned.



Book CXXXIV: CHENEY GETS HE@RT

after waiting 20 mos.
for a transplant @ 71,
after 5 heart-attacks
since 30. His well -
& ill-wishers view
this as overdue.
Doctors & reporters
describe it without
dread & awe, few
lip-slipping that
CHENEY’s really a
heart-receiver, not
heartless deceiver

Book CXXXV: YEARS LATER, CHENEY

prepares to discover
who his heart-donor was.

Fearing it was a black lesbian,
he asks his gay daughter
to accompany him.

“This way there’ll be nothing
sleazy about doing this,” he says
as they walk the long corridors
of Walter Reed Hospital, past
its crumbling walls, great rusted
window-grates, closed bathrooms.

CHENEY begins to realize
it might have been a soldier
who might have served in Iraq,
& trembles uncontrollably. His
daughter holds him tightly.

They finally arrive at
the janitors’ slack-room.
Nobody there is white.
Some are women.

CHENEY blurts out:
“Anybody here a lesbian?”

One woman speaks up:
 “My wife was.”

CHENEY’s heart thumps,
more than, more than once.
 


 
(to be continued)


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, December 21, 2011

BRIGHT SEASON

by Karen Neuberg


They call this the bright season though darkness comes
early, in whiffs of chattering teeth and chills
from winds that blow and howl. Sun in a trivial reign.

But here in this interim hold, this small batch of weeks
around the winter solstice, we adorn the night with lights
and a festive mood of celebrations keeps us warm

Some hail the days as leading to a holy hour. Others
see a miracle of oil. Here in the winter world this side
of earth, we keep the days of darkness in abeyance

with colored lights, twinkling lights, shapes of our homes
outlined in lights, our windows decorated in lights
until we feel a ho ho ho suspend the coming plight

of dark that ekes into our bones, our frame of mind
during the long stretch of shortened daylight and cold
cold dead things around. No matter that we know

spring will arrive. We need another holiday to keep lights
calling to our hearts. Or perhaps we need a way to take
the dark times and listen to earth resting. Hear her

lullaby, keep her faith. Swear allegiance to her wellbeing,
feel her sighs of relief and restoration when we turn down the lights
allow her – and ourselves – to search darkness for its insights.


Karen Neuberg lives in Brooklyn and West Hurley, NY. Her chapbook Detailed Still was published by Poets Wear Prada Press. She has previously published at The New Verse News. For links to more of her work, go to www.karenneuberg.blogspot.com.
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

VACLAV HAVEL FREEDOM FIGHTER 1936-2011

by Barbara Lightner


Child.    Man.    Of his time.    Beyond time.    May he rest.
            dogged impish eloquent unkempt dissident
from the Magic Lantern        and the Civic Forum
            empowered     never tamed
rumpled jeans to the dress for dignity
            riding the hallways on a children’s scooter
signature with a heart             crudely drawn
            women, smoky rooms, flamboyant topless vampire wife
his loves           and “the specter of what in the West is called dissent.”
            Mick Jagger Rolling Stones Bush the son Clinton and Obama

until philosopher EX’s politician
            struggled opposed foundered diminished
Velvet Revolution, and he does not survive.
            ‘Til the last clash of time, he prevails.


Barbara Lightner escapes the daily drudge by writing poetry in the vein of ever-hopeful. She lives in Milwaukee, WI.
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Monday, December 19, 2011

POEMING THE BAMBINO

by Rochelle Owens  
       

Biting the apple
hungrily
the little wooden bambino
animates

his rosebud mouth an irregular shape

playing with blocks
the little wooden bambino
predicts
disease  famine  torture  war

divination
a handful of earth flung down
beyond the edges
of a page

is a spider rendering light

texture and surface
an irregular shape
neither floral  foliation
nor avian  undulates

identity unknown

writing on the wall
the 24th letter of the alphabet
Xenophon and Xerxes

like a rapid chemical change
the deed neither good nor evil

a viper searching
a viper flinging itself searching
its barbed tail an innovation

the circumstance orbiting
orbiting the sun
like a whirling dervish

the little wooden bambino
an apple and a knife

paring the apple
without breaking the peel
spoiling three apples

throwing the parings
the letter X

the farmer’s wife
with a carving knife

in a bucolic setting
a philosopher begins devouring
a light meal  sweet cakes
sake and thick tea

in her gut
a rapid chemical change
in a fat fold of her abdomen
sacred writ

in a fold of rock strata
destruction

the weight of the viper a thought


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' twenty-fifth New Verse News poem.
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Sunday, December 18, 2011

PANTOUM: NEE MEER OCCUPY

by Kenny Fame

December 17, 2011: Occupy Wall Street protesters demonstrated at Duarte Square in Lower Manhattan Saturday to mark three months of the movement, and several of them were taken into custody by police. --NY1


Occupy Wall Street Photo, December 17, 2011


November 20, 2011: Several hundred Occupy Wall Street protestors on Sunday evening were determined to continue a demonstration near Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Upper East Side home into Monday afternoon. --NY1

demonstrators rally outside mayor’s home
protests outside mayor’s home are nothing new
it was unclear if the mayor was at home
rally retaliation for an early morning raid on zuccotti park

protest outside mayor’s home are nothing new
some danced & a few played on wind instruments
rally retaliation for an early morning raid on zuccotti park
mayor booted these occupy wall street protestors

some danced & a few played on wind instruments
brass instruments & others banging on snare drums
mayor booted these occupy wall street protestors
he is the personification of what this protest is all about

brass instruments & others banging on snare drums
pots & pans a 24 hour drum circle outside building
he is the personification of what this protest is all about
bloomberg is the one calling all the shots

pots & pans a 24 hour drum circle outside building
police blocked off the sidewalks on bloomberg’s street
bloomberg is the one calling all the shots
corralling the demonstrators on fifth avenue

police blocked off the sidewalks on bloomberg’s street
kettling the demonstrators into a pen
corralling the demonstrators on fifth avenue
he is a self-funded plutocrat

kettling the demonstrators into a pen
it was unclear if the mayor was at home
he is a self-funded plutocrat
demonstrators rally outside mayor’s home


Kenny Fame, the poet also known as K*Fame, is a black writer born and raised in Paterson, New Jersey, the hometown of one of his favorite poets, Allen Ginsberg. Fame currently resides in Harlem and Brooklyn. He is an English Major attending CUNY Medgar Evers College in NYC. He is a recent graduate of Cave Canem’s 2011 Poetry Coversations with Bakar Wilson writing workshop and the winner of The Tenth Annual Black Writers Conference Poetry Writing Award. His work has appeared in Steel Toe Review #7. He has performed his work at CUNY Medgar Evers College, Daddy’s Basement, Abigails Café & Wine Bar, La Pregunta Arts Cafe, Nuyorican Café, Cave Canem, and Poetry Super Highway live on the radio.
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Saturday, December 17, 2011

A TEXAN REFLECTS ON AN OLD CEMETERY

by John Palen


It's hard work running a lake,
commodifying water. Thousands of facts
sit in filing cabinets and hard-drives --
pumping costs, acre-foot allocations.
Dealing with them every day
you get into a routine of thinking
and hold your mouth a certain way,
and then seven years of drought
undoes it all. A forgotten cemetery
emerges along the shoreline,
water falling away like a gray blanket,
uncovering wooden coffins, bones
of former slaves, mostly children.
It’s as if they woke and rubbed
sand out of their eyes like sleep
and came down to the courthouse
to testify about a terrible crime,
and then, being children, tumbled out
among bird song and dry grass
to play a while in the free air.


John Palen’s poetry has appeared in literary journals for more than 40 years, including Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, The Formalist, Kansas Quarterly, Passages North and in anthologies published by Milkweed Editions and Wayne State University Press. He was a finalist in the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Competition in 1995 and a Pushcart nominee in 2003. His Open Communion: New and Selected Poems was published in 2005 by Mayapple Press. Since then he has had chapbooks published by March Street Press and Pudding House, and poetry and short fiction appearing or forthcoming in Sleet, Press 1, Gulf Stream,  and Prick of the Spindle. His first collection of flash fiction, Small Economies, is due out from Mayapple in January, 2012.
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Friday, December 16, 2011

YADA YADA

by The Poet Spiel


some nobody rises to say:
we gotta do something before this thing gets worse!
                                                       
and from the outback some other nobody shouts:
worse! it’s already got worser.
                                                 
and the we the people rise up in one voice saying:
and it’s gonna get more worse   
as the crowd gets loud:
we gotta do something NOW NOW NOW

the chair pounds the table to say:
yada.
                                                      
and the committee to fix things says:
yada yada. yada yada yada. yadayadayadayada.

and the chair concludes:
yada. yada yada.
                                                                                              
but the we the people shout:
NO. NO. NOW. NOW.

so the chair and the committee to fix things
closes its eyes to fart and mutter among itself:
yadayada. yadayadayadayadayadayadayadayadayada

and the chair pounds the table
to adjourn
then the chair folds its legs and declares:
yadayada wegotta yadayada kaboom yadayada BOOOM

then the we the people recover certain historic splinters
from the boom debris
and drive them as a line of stakes
into the shattered floor

and along that line
in blood they write:
BEGIN HERE… WE …


The Poet Spiel is a tight-wired maverick painting naked word portraits of humankind, thin-layering its hirsute beastiness and occasionally revealing its humanity in scores of independent press publications. His most recent book, barely breathing, a ten-year Spiel anthology, published by March Street Press, is available at www.thepoetspiel.name.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

TESTAMENT

by Nedjo Rogers

Source: http://www.sicsal-usa.org/2008/10/at-the-foot-of-the-cross-rufina-amaya-presente/

We are all Rufina Amaya
lone survivor of the massacre of December, 1981
in El Mozote, the haven where everyone had come
since Marcos Díaz the shopkeeper heard from his army officer friend
that in the impending military campaign this town would be spared.
We are all Rufina Amaya
hiding in a tree from which she can hear
the cries of the hundreds being dragged
away by soldiers to be butchered by machine gun or machete, and among them
her own four children, her son
screaming Mama, they've killed my sister and they're coming for me and later
a silence worse than the screams
except that afterwards most of us
will say nothing, will
turn quietly to our accepted ways.
We are all Rufina Amaya hearing
through the Voice of America
radio broadcast that rumours of a massacre
are unsubstantiated and merely
more propaganda spread by the enemy.
We are all Rufina Amaya, brought to Washington
under such intense pressure that she will recant
every truth she knows
for a time
except that most of us won't find our voice again
to continue steadfastly to name the terror
bearing witness against the silence of decades.
We are all Rufina Amaya
harbouring fragile truths of unbearable pain
but also unspeakable beauty, the beauty
of all that was but is no more
of all that may some day be reclaimed
except that few of us hold out hope
that in our lifetimes we will see our El Mozotes
rebuilt, inhabited once more
in a triumph of everyday courage.


December 11, 2011 was the 30th anniversary of the El Mozote massacre in El Salvador.  Nedjo Rogers read this poem at an event put on by the FMLN in his hometown of Victoria, Canada.
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

NOTES ON VINTAGE 2011

by Robert Farmer

Source: http://artisticglassdesign.net/products/political_logos.htm

It’s been a weak year.
Several old chateaus and rising stars
out of  market competition altogether.
Others’ expectations dashed by late spring freezes.
Some negative summer crop surprises.
Connoisseurs still scouting for acceptable varietals in December.
Recent assessments:

Great Northern

Whites exclusively.
Green grapes and inexperienced vintner
produced a shrill, tart, lean wine.
Backward and closed,
too young even for whites.
Short hard finish.
Generally a premature offering.

Old Pauli Boy

An older independent red,
stock brought out from 2008 and earlier.
Previously consistent, simple and straightforward,
but now musty,  some corked to faultiness.
Occasionally a few strong residual hints of oak
which loyal followers may enjoy again.

Cambridge Estates


Variable whites
occasionally dry to emptiness,
but mostly smoothly sweet.
Inconsistent, light to heavy bodied,
but without weight.
Sometimes a sickly sweet finish.
 
New Venture Vineyards


A harsh, bold new red
that is premature,
though intense and earthy.
Chewy and overly big for its age.
Withdrawn after marketing reconsideration.

Chateau Potomac

Whites,
unusually complex, occasionally to point of confusion
and inconsistent with earlier vintages from here.
Heavily acidic to astringent usually.
Harsh, bitter, long finish.

Alamo Ridge

Single red released from 2000 vintage.
Newcomer nationally, but with good local reputation.
Strong horsey barnyard aroma,
more than a bit of Brettanomyces.
While bold and big, has poor balance,
leaning to strong tannins.
Long astringent finish.

Salt Lake Vineyards

Sensible limited offering of  whites.
Smooth, with solid structure,
lightly dry and highly aromatic.
Hints of blueberry and citrus.
Pleasant short finish

Western Reserve

Single red,
probably a sneaked-in rerun of 2008 vintage.
Once adventurous, oaky, spicy with hints of pepper,
now lacks structure, is musty,
flabby to point of probably being corked.
Almost no finish.


Robert Farmer is a retired university professor of forest ecology who views the world from Cleveland, Ohio. 
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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

OCCUPIED

by Rachel Kellum


I have been occupied, my friends,
by some American dream
from which I cannot wake, a mother
of three caught up in the bed sheets
of eighty grand, the price
I will have paid for the license to teach
thousands of students to fall asleep,
lulled by the cost of their shiny new minds,
banking on hopeful employability,
liberated by education, enslaved by debt,
while the rich take another vacation,
and unemployment lines lengthen.
I tell them: corporations are in bed
with your government. They giggle.
I ask them: what if, what if, you don’t
find work, what will make you rich?
I hand them a pen, a brush,
and say, you will only get rich
with this. They blink, don’t believe me.
They see my job as a beacon, but
I am only broken, caught up in the works,
a well-greased gear who can’t seem to shed
the Sisyphean machine long enough to stand
with you on Wall Street, on any street,
my own deserted Main Street.
Diffident internet activist,
I only read and click, click and read.
Forgive me. I’m occupied, my friends,
by an American dream I was sold
before I was old enough to know
what was at stake, or how
to tell a real dream from a fake.
In it, while I feverishly sleep
to feed my children, for my children, you
are shaking the dream
state awake.


Rachel Kellum lives on the eastern plains of Colorado where she teaches college writing, humanities and art. She stares at the sky a lot. Her poems have appeared in Barnwood Magazine, Blood Lotus, Slow Trains, The Telluride Watch, Four Corners Free Press, and other online venues.  She blogs at wordweeds.com.
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Monday, December 12, 2011

THE NEW REGIME

by Simon Jackson


It is sleek, well groomed,
it has a black gloss to its fur
as it purrs out assurances,
rubs itself lovingly against the doorway
in its throat the sound of a thousand engines.

It extends a velvet paw to guests,
leaps barriers, eliciting gasps of admiration
at the agile power in its body,
its limbs a well rehearsed orchestra.
A rough tongue licks fur into line:
clean, ordered, presentable.

At night it shows another side
stalking the streets to tear the roofs
off smaller creatures' dwellings,
claws extended to fish out prey
it toys with them, maims, feigns disinterest, releases
only to pounce once more.

The morning comes and it purrs reassurances,
its throat thick with blood.


Simon Jackson lives in Edinburgh. He has been a journalist, teacher, musician and director of Living Arts Space Theatre Company. His poetry is published internationally and translated into several languages. He has had more than twenty plays performed and won several awards including British Gas Young Playwright of the Year, The Grace Dieux Writers' Prize 2009 and The Writers Bureau Poetry Award 2010. He is currently working with Billy Bragg on a music video and his series of short films based on Scottish poems have been used by the BBC and shown in Film Festivals around the world.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

WASHINGTON, DCEIT

 Poem by Charles Frederickson; Graphic by Saknarin Chinayote 


Wooly fleece pulled over sheepish
Droopy eyelids wide-closed false eyelashes
Mascara running for purplish cover
Smearing cheeky dimples bottomless pits

Almost truth serum antidote perfected
Hypnotic trance uninhibited vainglorious superegos
Deceiving selves into hoodwinked fake-believe
Pleasing vagary facts fanciful fiction

Unnecessary warfare immaculate deception based
Common good welfare virgin birthright
Blown chances pregnant bubbles burst
Capsized whitecaps ivory soapsuds sink

Ya gotta hava gimmicky act
Glittery nipple tassels bare-naked striptease
Gypsy moth flaming lunarocity attraction
Hairy caterpillar larva tickling fancy

Born innocent dying guiltless pretenders
Stifled anima desperately begging release
Treasonous betrayals election rapeseed victims
Shrunken head skullduggery crafty stratagem

Horny ovine flesh insider outcasts
Shearling tanned skin reversible lining
Dull finish sheen artificial oxidization
Corrosive patina grime scraped off


Dr. Charles Frederickson and Mr. Saknarin Chinayote proudly present 28 YouTube mini-movies @ YouTube – CharlesThai1 .
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Saturday, December 10, 2011

(OCCUPY POEM IN MY BODY)

by Adrian Arias
Translated from the Spanish by Nina Serrano



I would like to be quiet but instead
I look in the mirror and discover that I'm shouting into the void
my mind has occupied my body and does not tell it a thing …

This life is a little complicated for telling the world
that it does not matter who was the first to throw the stone
that finally broke the silence of the inverted pyramids
there always  needs to be someone to blame so (play)
do not hide in the shadows that's where I look first ...

I want chocolate ice cream smokes alcohol and an overdose of red meat...
(pause) I think there are too many toxins involved in a single verse
How about a good breath of fresh air?
How about a hug from someone you do not know? ...

Do not kid yourself, do not keep on kidding yourself
You know that you are the same as all those
who look in the mirror and keep quiet in their spider webs
in their future grieving in their remote controlled caves (fast-forward)
without lifting a finger, without refreshing their dry mouths so close to the water ...

And the world opens like a flower
it peels like an orange, it breaks like an egg ...

Oh my dear mind, what I can tell you (stop)
dreams are there for you to cherish
and in case you don’t remember people are occupying the plazas
the streets the beaches the seas the mountains
and there are smoke signals that begin to tell the story
just be careful not to get burnt
light a candle from time to time
you do not have to believe in anything (rewind)
save only a scream and stop fearing your own silence ...

Now it seems that my body has Occupy my mind
and I take it for a walk in the world (frame by frame)
to re-learn that there are  thousands of doubts to share
in the warmth of a tent
in the embrace of a poem.


Adrian Arias is a Peruvian poet, visual artist and cultural aRtivist living since 2000 in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has 13 books and booklets published in Peru and the US.
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(POEMA OCUPANDO MI CUERPO)

original Spanish version
by Adrian Arias



Quisiera callarme la boca pero en cambio
me miro al espejo y descubro que estoy gritando al vacío
mi mente ha ocupado mi cuerpo y no le cuenta nada…

Esta vida es un poco complicada para poder decirle al mundo
que no importa quien fue el primero en lanzar la piedra
que finalmente rompió el silencio de las pirámides invertidas
siempre se necesita un culpable así que (play)
no te escondas en la sombra que allí es donde primero buscan…

Quiero helado de chocolate humo alcohol y una sobredosis de carne roja…
(pause) creo que hay demasiadas toxinas involucradas en un solo verso
¿qué tal una buena bocanada de aire fresco?
¿qué tal el abrazo de alguien que no conoces?…

No te engañes, no te sigas engañando
tu bien sabes que eres igual a todos aquellos
que se miran al espejo y se quedan callados en su tela de araña
en su luto adelantado en su caverna a control remoto (fast-forward)
sin mover un dedo, con la boca resecándose tan cerca del agua…

Y el mundo se abre como un a flor
se pela como una naranja, se quiebra como un huevo …

Oh querida mente mía, qué te puedo decir (stop)
los sueños están allí para que te abrigues con ellos
y por si acaso te recuerdo que la gente ya está tomando las plazas
las calles las playas los mares las montañas
y hay señales de humo que empiezan a contar la historia
sólo debes tener cuidado y no quemarte
prende una vela de vez en cuando
no tienes que creer en nada (rewind)
sólo ahorrarte un grito y dejar de temerle a tu propio silencio…

Ahora parece que mi cuerpo ha ocupado mi mente
y se la lleva de paseo por el mundo (frame by frame)
para que vuelva a aprender como hay miles de dudas que compartir
al calor de una tienda de campaña
al abrazo de un poema.


Adrian Arias is a Peruvian poet, visual artist and cultural aRtivist living since 2000 in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has 13 books and booklets published in Peru and the US.
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Friday, December 09, 2011

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO NEWT

by Ed Shacklee

“Suffer the little children . . . ”  --Matthew 19:14

You can’t afford the golden rule:
so, children, go to work at school,

and humbly study my example,
for as examples go, I’m ample.

I learned my history.  It led
to teaching Fannie Mae and Fred.

Now fellow fat cats never balk
to pay me sixty grand to talk

and clap and cheer to hear what’s true:
your father’s sin’s belong to you.

It’s your fault if your dad’s a slob
and will not wash or get a job;

or if he looks but fails to find
employment, children, pay no mind --

it’s still his fault, and you’re to blame
for growing up to share his shame

if you forget your William Blake
and will not sweep, for pity’s sake:

what finer way to learn your letters
than cleaning hallways for your betters?


Ed Shacklee is a public defender who represents young people in the District of Columbia.
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Thursday, December 08, 2011

LADY GODIVA SPEAKS

by Lynnie Gobeille

from the painting by John Collier

no greater feast
was ever offered to the people of his Kingdom.
they stood in line for hours
for this moment of redemption.
steaming soup, ladled as he saw fit
into each subjects bowl.
wanting their tax money
wanting their wheat
wanting their very souls
he proclaimed:
eat, and each bite will bring you knowledge
drink, and each sip will make your spirits soar.
chew each bite slowly
savor its flavor on your tongue
and it will bring you peace.
once i was a mere child.
chosen to be his bride
would sit for hours
gazing at his face
in wide-eyed amazement
willing to open my mouth to eat….
until the peasant boy taught me how to ride.
now i am galloping-
freed of all restrictions
my path well lit by stars and moons.
no need for force fed mind food
ladled so gently with his wooden spoon.


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: www.origamipoems.com .
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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

MARCHING FOR ECONOMIC JUSTICE
#Occupy SF

by Buff Whitman-Bradley

Black Friday Occupy SF Demo -- IB Times SF Photo

Walking the streets
Of the glittering city
With a band of the disregarded
From the village of colorful tents
Untroubled
By the snarling motorcycles of the cops
The opulent indifference
Of the shoppers
We know who the angels are
And which side they’re 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.
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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

THE GUARDIANS

by David Chorlton


When the night
is a blue ring of police
and the stars
shine through a visor;

when the moon
is an alarm bell
set to announce
the eviction of sleepers
from homes they do not have;

when lights
spin too fast
to create even shadows
in which to hide;

when men
are shields walking;

when the baton
swings
like the tongue
of freedom’s bell

it strikes
not with a ring

but as a thud
that soaks
into the darkness

to observe
the moment when
supply meets demand
in a market
that trades

in hunger
and obedience.


David Chorlton has lived in Arizona since 1978, when he moved from Vienna, Austria. While much of his poetry is about the Southwestern landscape, his newest publication, and first work of fiction, is The Taste of Fog from Rain Mountain Press, reflecting a darker side of Vienna.
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Monday, December 05, 2011

MONDAY, UNEMPLOYED

by E. F. Schraeder


A dream of new beginnings marks
the calendar, but a blank schedule

opens the day like a cracked foul egg
leaking fluid into lifeless oblivion
another week of dread
and avoidance begins

ripe with unapologetic regret
while the sun shines on and on
spreads its optimism into the busy
world around me

people move on, get up
go to work
but the clamoring emptiness
pounds in my ears like a dirge

as a child for two weeks I couldn’t eat
without vomiting after
then I learned how to ignore,
to bounce back


E. F. Schraeder's  creative work has appeared in On the Issues, Haz Mat Review, New Verse News, Blue Collar Review, Kicked Out, and elsewhere.  She currently lives in the midwest and hopes for the best, sometimes despite reason.

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Sunday, December 04, 2011

TO EACH HIS OWN

by David Radavich


America is no longer
according to some a country.
Only a collection
of individuals occupying
the same land-mass.

We don’t need
to care about children,
the poor, elderly, or homeless.
Only about ourselves
and our own special orbit.

Air doesn’t belong
to us all
but only to those
who emit and charge.

Water is bought,
soil sold, forests hewn

according to
personal preference.

There’s nothing left
to defend:

Only stars
in the night sky

who’ll never
reach
or encounter
or embrace one another.


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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Saturday, December 03, 2011

IN THIS STATE, CAPITAL REFERS TO LOSING YOUR HEAD

by Risa Denenberg

for Troy

When you were a child,

more than likely
at least once, maybe often
you were punished

for some misdeed

you didn’t do. You may have been guilty

of something,

but not what you were accused of.

And indeed, while you maintained that you were innocent of the crime,

you were made to feel guilty.
It’s like that, guilt mixed with blamelessness,

bafflement, the horrible injustice of it all

leading to loathing, or worse, blind surrender to power

and it stays with you

and marks all your laurels and fiascoes
from that moment.

Now imagine being at the rope end

of a judicial lynching,

swinging your integrity.


Risa Denenberg is an aging hippy currently living in Tacoma, WA. 
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Friday, December 02, 2011

EYE OF THE BOTANIST

by Rochelle Owens


                         In memory of Joy Walsh and Theodore Enslin       

Amid the sameness he blinks going out
feeling in front
of his face

and landing on his right eyelid
sunlight  blood vessels  
a seed of the larkspur

under the eyelid
a seed of the larkspur
under the eyelid

the hind toe of a lark   
scratching the cornea
stinging  lacerating  penetrating

a seed of the flower
blue color is the larkspur
the eye of the beholder

a fireball  e x p l o d I n g
the eye of the botanist
a dwelling

the universe  e x p a n d I n g  
amorous the greedy seed amorous
the greedy seed

a uterus its sweet nest
a triumph of genus desiring
desiring to fecundate

be fruitful and multiply
a seed of the larkspur flowering
s p r e a d I n g

the eye of the botanist  e x p a n d I n g
the grandeur of the cornea
Jesus saying—

suffer the larkspur children
beautiful children
luring the hummingbirds and bees

joyous the seed of the larkspur
in the heat of summer
joyous the song of the lark

glorious the eye of a botanist
lit with flaming torches


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' twenty-fourth New Verse News poem.
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Thursday, December 01, 2011

NEWT GINGRICH EXPLAINS HIS ADULTERY

by Chris O’Carroll


Because I was hot for my country,
I couldn’t stay true to my wife.
My private parts throb with a passion
That’s engendered by my public life.

The vows I have made as a husband,
Like those I have made as a pol,
Go limp when my patriot fervor
Is aroused to stand rampant and tall.

My record is full of betrayals,
Backtracking, and words that are weaselly,
But my God is forgiving, and voters
Are rubes.  I can hustle them easily.


Chris O’Carroll is a writer, an actor, and a stand-up comedian.  His poems have appeared in Barefoot Muse, Folly, Light Quarterly, Literary Review, Umbrella, and other print and online journals.  He has performed on stages in more than half of the 50 states.
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