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Saturday, March 31, 2012

THE SNACK GAMES

by David Feela


    “Why aren’t you at home studying
for the exam?”
    “My parents told me I was born to be
sacrificed at the government games next week.”
    “But you have the highest academic
standing in the class!”
    “Yeah, I wish I’d known about this
back in kindergarten.”
    “But you’re the only one in the district
who understands calculus!”
    “They say math skills aren’t a good
predictor of who will survive.”
    “But you’re my best friend!”
    “Then let’s switch places.  I take your
exam and you go to the arena.”
    “You’d really take my exam?”
    “Sure, what’s a little sacrifice.”
    “If I don’t pass this year, I don’t graduate!”
    “Well, I can say without equivocation
that you will pass.”
    “That would be so cool, if equivocation
means you won’t get caught.”
    “That’s what it means.”
    “And you won’t mind your exam getting
marked as a no show?”
    “Just so nobody from the arena comes
looking for me while I’m doing your calculus.”
    “I’ll cover for you.”
    “Here, take my knife, and my bow and
arrows; they won’t allow them in the exam room.”
    “Sure.”
    “And you might as well have these
cookies and cheese sticks too.”
    “But you’ll need every ounce of energy
you can muster just to think straight!”
    “I had a big breakfast.”
    “But it’s a six hour test!”
    “I know, but chances of getting a snack
once they let you into the arena are not that great.”
    “Well, if you think so.”
    “That’s what I’m here for, to do all the thinking.”
    “A kiss for luck?”
    “As if luck had anything to do with it.”


David Feela writes a monthly column for The Four Corners Free Press and for The Durango Telegraph. A poetry chapbook, Thought Experiments, won the Southwest Poet Series. His first full length poetry book, The Home Atlas appeared in 2009. His new book of essays, How Delicate These Arches (Footnotes from the Four Corners), has just been released through Raven's Eye Press.
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Friday, March 30, 2012

NOBODY WINS, EVERYBODY LOSES


Poem by Charles Frederickson; Graphic by Saknarin Chinayote 


nobody needs another unnecessary war
as first not last resort
iraq afghanistan 6,300 american troops
killed 50,000 wounded miscalculated casualties

nobody’s keeping tabs $3 trillion+
taxpayer greenbacks devastating human misery
sufi<->sunni warfare discounting welfare
diatribe not dialog manipulating mediation

nobody absolves outlandish oily motives
tit-4-tat revenge retribution retaliation undermining
hormuz strait gas guzzler overflow
global eke-conomy quicksand black-gold sinkholes

nobody can justify terrorist acts
endgame blame works both ways
covert proxy cold cyber-war meltdown
cooperative bargaining doesn’t compromise appeasement

nobody acknowledges untruthful falsehood consequences
military political bombastic nuclear reactions
cyber-espionage stuxnet computer worm virus
homespun dervishes swirling remotely out-of-control

nobody cares what you know
until they know you care
bringing outer world inner peace
premature judgments tipping powerless imbalance


No Holds Bard Dr. Charles Frederickson and Mr. Saknarin Chinayote proudly present YouTube mini-movies @ YouTube – CharlesThai1 .
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Thursday, March 29, 2012

LETTER TO ASMA AL-ASSAD

by Siham Karami


As you were shopping for designer clothes,
My child was tortured by your husband's thugs,
The price to keep his job to buy you shoes.

Because we stood and chanted, "We refuse
This tyranny!" the bodies piled like jugs
While you were shopping for designer clothes.

He fights with tanks that no one can oppose.
From neighbors' rooftops snipers sink their slugs.
That's the price he pays to buy you shoes

That walk in the machinery of a ruse
To hide the human rubble as he shrugs,
So you can keep on shopping for the clothes

That lighten up his heart before he mows
Down men like grass, lets hospitals pull plugs,
The price to keep his job to buy you shoes

Whose path is getting rougher as it goes
Down darker where you can't tell men from bugs
And guts are dropping on designer clothes
And God knows where you're stepping with those shoes.



Siham Karami owns a technology recycling company in Florida where she lives with her family. Her work has been published in Innisfree Journal, The Lavender Review, 14 by 14, and other publications.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

MY MOTHER'S VOICE

by Judith Terzi


          --after "A young Somali lured into a life of death," Los Angeles Times 11/11


I prayed for strength to flee, to be free again.     
I sold my guns to cattle traders, then fled
the camps. In Nairobi, I roam at night & beg,
share a mattress with other Somali teens.
We don't speak Swahili, can't read or write
or work. I sleep all day, don't dare to dream
I'll find a way to live a different life.
I hear my mother pray; I shouldn't lose faith.
Men lured me with camel milk, cash, & pride,
tried to harden our eyes, the ties, showed tapes
of killings, said that terror was only revenge.
I miss my mother--my feelings locked inside.
A rocket killed my parents, blew up our home.
No hand to hold, no nod, no hug. Alone.

Judith Terzi's poetry has received nominations for Best of the Net and Web as well as awards and recognition from journals and presses including Alehouse Press, dotdotdash, Gold Line Press (USC), Mad Hatters', Newport Review and River Styx. Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in BorderSenses, dotdotdash, Qarrtsiluni, Raintown Review, Spillway and elsewhere. For many years a high school French teacher, she also taught English at California State University, Los Angeles, and in Algiers, Algeria.
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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

HEART

by David Chorlton


When it finally came out
into the light where everyone could see,
it looked less like a heart
and more like
a baseball catcher’s glove
soaked in blood
or a saddlebag, worn and full
of letters soaked
in bile. It didn’t want
to stop beating, but flopped
off the operating table
and onto the floor, where it bounced a few times
before laying down, deflated,
but still with the strength
to crawl away into a corner
the way a wounded animal might do.
The final spasms ended with a hiss
as the last air was released
and when the struggle was over
an acrid smell
rose from the stain
it left on the floor, yet it resembled
thousands that had stopped
before their time,
drawing for a moment the solemnity
reserved for endings. And then
came its replacement, selected for its dark
red and the impenetrable pericardium.
It was a perfect fit: a ruby
pressed into the velvet
where, it has been said, some
people have a soul.


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, March 26, 2012

EMOTIONAL BLUNTING

by Lynnie Gobeille


“People taking antidepressants and anti psychotics may not experience strong emotions in reaction to public catastrophes... the drugs cause ‘emotional blunting,’ a phenomenon that's widely noted and studied."  --from an interview (by Arnie Cooper) with Christopher Lane , The Sun, March 2012.


Slow to react I am
concerned though I might be
about Wall Street, Iraq, and Iran
I really try not to worry (much)
as what good would that worry do me?
My son, age 5, is on Adderall
to help regain his focus in school;
my daughter, she’s 12, is on Seroquel-
the med got her thru the spelling bee
until she was tripped up on “jewel” . . .
Slower to react, I am
not as concerned as I should be
by the unearthing of my husband’s latest tryst
(he had a fling with our young college boarder)
his behavior caused, or so I’m told
by his “hypersexual disorder.”
I really try not to worry (much)
really, what good times would my worry spoil?
Though I must confess the BP spill
those pitiful gulls
floating in all that messy oil
caused me great heartache and emotional toil.
My doctor said: “this too will pass”
said I have:  “post traumatic embitterment disorder.”
Still, there’s this dull ache of something off in the distance
a feeling that comes and goes with no reason . . .
some faint hint of memory; lingering just to my right
Vietnam, Kent State, Roe vs. Wade, Watergate and Treason.
I took my Xanax today; lay on my couch to repent.
Slow to react, I am,
concerned as I might be;
I really try not to worry (much)
as what good would that worry do me.


Lynnie Gobeille is one of the co-founders of  The Origami Poems Project, a world wide “free poetry event” based in Rhode Island. She 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.  Her  micro-chapbooks have been published by The Origami Poems Project.
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Sunday, March 25, 2012

PEACE NEWS


by Captain Barefoot


As regards Persia
versus the US & its Free World
allies in Empire

Sir Harold Evan’s The Week reports
“mixed messages”
Gen. Dempsey warns Tel Aviv

against blitzkrieg. “Let
the sanctions work,” he says
strong-arming Israel instead of Iran

Gen. Hejazi warns those with bases
like a nuclear necklace around its borders
“We do not wait for enemies

to strike us,” channeling Ali Khameinei
The One Percent’s Financial Times  wants Teheran
to submit to UN inspections, but

argues strongly for a civilian nuke industry
“which is popular with Iranian citizens”
The Wall Street Journal faults

the Dems as “weak” for publicly hooding
their Jerusalem hawks & argues our delay
“may drive Israel’s leaders to strike sooner”

The New York Post believes Obama’s
bit the Persian bait. Cut the line, they say
“Iran’s been playing this game since 2006”

Khamenei’s steeped in his “Death to America”
worldview, says Reuters & the Ayatollah
will stop at nothing defending Islam’s purity

But the international sanctions are working
according to the worldly New York Times
“crippling economic pressure mounts”

agrees the Ninety-Nine Percent
Some of whom still remember
the Cold War lesson

suggests the Washington Post
Do they want a bomb to strike first
or to keep the bombs from falling?

Buying in perhaps
to the “protection” afforded us
in “mutually assured destruction”


Captain Barefoot identifies himself among the Union of Street Poets, Vincent St. John Local, Colorado Plateau, Aztlan Kuksu Brigade (Ret.), Cloud House, San Francisco, Shasta Nation, Pacific Rim.
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Friday, March 23, 2012

THE TREE CUTTER

by Rochelle Owens


At dawn the tree cutter
under an occult sky

of greens and yellows
climbing higher and higher

considers the trades
of butchers  dyers  sailors

considers the calling
of artists  dancers  musicians

the tree cutter hearing the blues
the blues of B. B. King

climbing higher and higher
into wilderness

a nomad and a wanderer
a wanderer in a strange land

seeing organic forms  forms
of stems  roots  a donkey’s tail

the faces of mummies
the curves of hardened sap

cutting into bark
the tree cutter seeing mobiles

geometric shapes  houses
of the Cyclades  the Bauhaus
   
changing shifting circles
a frenzy of wood chips  a spastic dance

a  spastic dance of wood chips
witnessed by grackles
the tree cutter hearing
staccato notes  lopping off twigs 

cutting away diseased parts 
raised bumps  bulbous deformity

into a vertical wilderness
climbing higher and higher

cutting cutting cutting
working working  the tree cutter

contemplating Particle Theory
resting in the crotch of the tree

in the tree cutter’s brain
the flow of hormonal forces

in the trunk of the tree
a flow of moisture and nutrients
an unearthly glow
like the effects of the moon

sitting cross-legged
in the crotch of the tree

meditating on the cutting
the selected branches

musing on the languid tendrils
of pubic hair

sorcery of his female brain
climbing higher and higher

a wilderness of curving rhythmic
forms  twisting  reptilian

rotting snakelike branches
chopping away the branches
emerald the leaves whirling
whirling above

redundant the leafless branches
useless the branches

the tree cutter hearing
a Bach Cantata

contemplating Particle Theory
a flush of wet hot air

burning his neck and face
the flow of hormonal forces

feeling a twisting  a binding  
a corset of pain binding

the pain a passage
glorious the pain binding      
  

Rochelle Owens, a frequent contributor to The New Verse News, 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.
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Thursday, March 22, 2012

NEWT GINGRICH ERODES EROS

by Susana H. Case



Soaking in our Jacuzzi in Lucca,
you soap my foot
with a buttermilk disk.
A psychic float
away from earth
that dissipates as I suddenly think
of Newt Gingrich
snarling at the House Energy and Commerce
Committee Hearings.
Democrats, he said,
want to regulate even Jacuzzis.
When the mantra hum of sensual resolve
kicks in, I give thanks
to the immigrant family from Friuli
whose name is on the agricultural pump
that was the basis for this tub.
Simple control of air and water
like breath.

Last night’s unrest. The promise
of cloud to cloud lightning.
Your heat lightning,
sheet lightning,
electric high in the cumulonimbus.
Five thousand meters up.



Susana H. Case, professor at the New York Institute of Technology, has recent work in many journals, including Hawai’i Pacific Review, Portland Review and Potomac Review. She is the author of the chapbooks The Scottish Café (Slapering Hol Press), Anthropologist In Ohio (Main Street Rag Publishing Company), The Cost Of Heat (Pecan Grove Press), and Manual of Practical Sexual Advice (Kattywompus Press).  An English-Polish reprint of The Scottish Café, Kawiarnia Szkocka, was published by Opole University Press in Poland. Her book, Salem In Séance (WordTech Editions) will be released in 2013.
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PRIMARILY

by J.R. Solonche

Poetry and politics
don't mix,
but they do, well...
mingle.

J.R. Solonche is co-author (with wife Joan Siegel) of Peach Girl: Poems for a Chinese Daughter (Grayson Books). His poems have appeared in many magazines, journals, and anthologies since the 1970s. He teaches at SUNY Orange in Middletown, New York.
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

TWO HUNDRED YEARS AND COUNTING

by Earl J. Wilcox


This past week, sheer coincidence,
within two days of each other

two old neighbors died. She was 104.
He was 96. In recent years they lived

with their children across the street
from each other. Near the end both

were still spry, resonating an innocent
vigor truly old and wise people have.

Friends and family did the simple math today:
between the two the ancients had lived two

hundred years. Born with smoke from
the Spanish-American War still fanning

the air, the Centenarian and Nonagenarian
survived wars during almost every decade

of their long, long lives. They went out
while wars still rage. Combined, the two shared,

alas, twenty decades of wars and  rumors of wars,
affirming the biblical adage once again.


Earl J. Wilcox writes about aging, baseball, literary icons, politics, and southern culture. His work appears in more than two dozen journals; he is a regular contributor to The New Verse News. More of Earl's poetry appears at his blog, Writing by Earl.
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

ALLEGEDLY

by Scott Woods

An undated photo of Trayvon Martin (Courtesy Martin family) at Mother Jones.

SANFORD, Fla. — Police have released audio 911 tapes in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed teenager allegedly killed by a neighborhood watch captain while walking home from a store. In eight chilling recordings, made the night of February 26, listeners can hear the frightened voices of neighbors calling to report screams for help, gunfire and then that someone was dead. – Huffington Post 3/16/2012


“Allegedly killed” must mean
someone is allegedly dead.
I didn’t see the body, so I guess that’s possible,
except there is a woman on television
who swears up and down
her son was shot.
Not allegedly. Shot for real.
And dead. Quite dead, for real.
Of course, she wasn’t there either.
All she saw was a body.
We assume.

Perhaps we assume he was killed,
assume the worst, like we desire to jump
to these conclusions. To what end?
To move on? To get to the forgetting part?
Allegedly, someone stopped living.
Ergo, what? Nothing is true until someone says it is.
Body can’t speak for itself.
Body’s just a guess.
You weren’t there.
Bullets don’t mean anything.
The only thing that matters
is the truth you can prove.

We can prove dead.
We can prove bullet.
We can prove child.
We can prove pocket full of Skittles,
a hand full of iced tea.
We can prove pleading for one’s life,
but not that life. That life is alleged.
Have yet to verify that life.
Could have been anyone passing through,
pleading for their lives on a Sunday night.
You can’t prove that.
We can prove only
dead.
Only bullet.
Only child and Skittles and sweet tea.
That is the truth you can prove.

The truth is: I don’t even look at the pictures anymore.
Already seen that album, know there will be
a dozen pictures of him ten years old,
smiling, not at all like the kids I see everyday
who hate everything, wear disinterest like
school uniforms. Family don’t got none of those.

One picture will be a Halloween costume.
One will be so young you won’t even recognize
the alleged victim, just the wood paneling
in the living room that is, yes, that old.
One, two little league football pictures.
A picture of him washed in a kitchen sink.
If there is enough alleged mystery here,
enough traction for our attention,
there will be a picture of him
that doesn’t look like a black boy at all:
smiling, holding a stack of books,
his arm around a white friend no one
remembers anymore.
Lots of baby pictures. Elementary graduations.

Never sweat pants.
Never jogging suits.
Never that sneer that allegedly says nothing is worthy.

That’s not a sneer, his father corrects.
That’s just a bad angle.
His son never looked like that. His son
only knows brotherhood, candy vice,
only knows the backyard way to a convenience store,
knows now the plugging of a hairless chest
with a steel fingertip.

But then, his father wasn’t there either
even though everything in him
cried out to make it so.

We must assume.

We can prove scream.
We can prove cry for help.
We can prove gunshot.
We can prove silence.
What we cannot prove
never happened

allegedly.


Scott Woods has published work in a variety of publications, and has been featured multiple times in the national press, including multiple appearances on National Public Radio. He was the president of Poetry Slam Inc. and in April of 2006 became the first poet to ever complete a 24-hour solo poetry reading, a feat he has bested every year since by performing without repeating a single poem.
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Monday, March 19, 2012

AFTER THE OCEAN LEFT TOWN

by Lynn Hoffman

                          Rising Sea Levels Seen as Threat to Coastal U.S. 
                                                             --NY Times March 14, 2012

last saturday morning at a quarter past two
the tide left town and it stayed
we were mostly glad to be rid of its mess-
we cheered, though a few of us prayed

pressed for years by the weight of brine
protected from the vulgar air
everything once too gross to float
is lying open, dry and bare.

where once was heaving water
is now shell and sticky land
shortly to be wind-dried
then wind-buried in the sand

from the curve we used to call the beach
we look to where the water's flown
at new real estate with ocean view
at retail space we'd die to own

soon, the lawyers and the cops
will lay out borders: metes and bounds
we'll compete with others up the coast
with their own dried up bays and sounds

of course we'll miss our seafood
and children playing in the waves
and perhaps we'll never notice
when new land turns into graves

or maybe there'll be a moment
when the sea takes back the shore
when we cry and wish we'd prayed for less
and not poisoned life for more.


Lynn Hoffman is the author of The Short Course in Beer and The New Short Course in Wine.
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Sunday, March 18, 2012

LET'S DO THE TWISTER

by Daniel Wilcox

“Jesus rules the wind. The tornadoes were his.” --John Piper

Check(er) it out:
Pastor John (not the Baptist)
Drowns us again
Like he did last year
With his ‘God did it’ claims on the tidal wave—
To hell with drowned Japanese
(My paraphrase).

Last week, again
He Pipe(r)s up from
Bethlehem Baptist Church
On the cause of the 90 tornadoes
Which slaughtered 38—
(‘Twist and shout!”)
That tragic destruction is from Jesus.
Including the dying babe
Found in the cornfield
Not in the manger?

How twisted of it all--damnation
Across the Midwest
Because of the crossness of our Father;
Yes, God’s raking
His “fierce fingers” over,*
Fingering
Virgin land,
Soiling all hope
Of God’s love
For us.
(‘Not blowin’ in the wind’)

Belt it out!
What a sick, twisted,
Piped-piper.


Daniel Wilcox's wandering lines have appeared in many magazines including The Danforth Review, The Camel Saloon, Word Riot, and Unlikely Stories. Before that he through Cal State University Long Beach (Creative Writing), Montana, Pennsylvania, Europe, Palestine/Israel . . .. He now lives with his wife on the central coast of California where he ages.
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Saturday, March 17, 2012

UPON ALL THE LIVING AND THE DEAD

Poem by Charles Frederickson; Graphic by Saknarin Chinayote 


 
No Holds Bard Dr. Charles Frederickson and Mr. Saknarin Chinayote proudly present YouTube mini-movies @ YouTube – CharlesThai1 .
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Friday, March 16, 2012

RACHEL IN RAFAH, GAZA

by Antony Johae

Rachel Corrie (b. 1979) was a member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). She went to occupied Gaza during the Second Intifada and joined protesters there. She died on 16th March, 2003.

It is a sunless day
with light harsh on the dog tags of uniformed youths
M16s
tank turrets
lone bulldozer
and young Corrie’s watch-glass – with the sand running out.
It is she who is standing her ground
before a home to be flattened.
Earthmover.
It belches into the blue
into suburban quiet,
and on plated tracks treads to
her on mound, erect, ten thousand miles from mother,
conspicuous from the cab.
She can see his face at the window
young soldier at the gears
hoping for a week-end pass
thinking of the girl in his pocket – the one his mother likes –
and of a larger future
with this woman in the way.
He’ll frighten her to make her move
with time to brake
miscalculate
and in the evening weep at his levity.
Or would he see her die
in duty’s line
all-pliant to Authority
and having served as soldiers must
shrug away responsibility?
Or is his an obscured view?
Now it’s one tread too late
the earth’s moving
and Corrie’s gone
lifted first
then buried without box
on a demolition job.
Storied houses are razed
dust’s thick in the air
and when it’s clear – ground zero:
prostrate concrete, frenzy of wires,
a wilderness without distinction
except that Rachel’s there                                                               
raised in insurrection
her spirit risen
from Rafah.                                                             


Antony Johae Ph.D. is British; he lives in Lebanon where he is writing freelance. Previously, he taught Literature in England, Ghana, Tunisia and Kuwait. "Rachel in Rafah, Gaza" comes from a recently completed collection entitled Poems of the East.
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Thursday, March 15, 2012

WAR STORIES

by Alan Catlin

Operation Homecoming Troy Arts Center Panel
        10 March 2012

Thinking of high school,
of walking with Glenn Scharaldi
East Rockaway Class of ‘65,
soon-to-be,West Point Class of ‘69,
thinking of what a laid back,
intelligent, nice, non-confrontational
guy he was in line to be a second
looie, combat ground troop, Vietnam.
Thinking of seeing his name on
author’s list for his “Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder: A Guide to Healing,
Recovery and Growth.” Thinking of
Michael Casey, self-described doofus,
Yale Series of Younger Poets winner
early 70 for Obscenities and lines
from his poem “Bummer”
'If you have a farm in Vietnam
And a house in hell
Sell the farm
And go home.'
Thinking you can never go home
as long as there are wars to go to
and leaders to send soldiers
to fight them.


Alan Catlin has published numerous chapbooks and full-length books of poetry and prose, the latest of which, from Pygmy Forest Press, is Deep Water Horizon including several poems originally published in The New Verse News.
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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

WE DIDN'T START THE FIRE

by Buff Whitman-Bradley


At least 72 protesters arrested in March 5 occupation of state Capitol building--The Daily Californian

                                                                     -- for Emma and Six

Sitting in jail
With several dozen other practitioners
Of the fine and urgent art
Of insubordination
Arrested for refusing to disperse, shut up
And meekly acquiesce
While a monstrous conflagration threatens
To turn all our lives to ash

The world is in flames
There are no emergency exits


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, March 13, 2012

THAT IS NOT WHO WE ARE

by Ed Werstein


Clinton On Afghan Murders: “That Is Not Who We Are” (March 12, 2012) by reuters


that is not who we are

sixteen innocent civilians shot dead 
in Kandahar
a soldier snaps
and sixteen die
mostly women and children
a soldier snaps
three tours of duty in Iraq
now deployed in Afghanistan
he snaps
sixteen dead

and Hillary says
that is not who we are

who are we then?

are we the Marines who
unzipped and pissed
on their victims?

are we the soldiers who
burned the Quran?

are we Navy Seals who
steal across borders, 
a midnight invasion,
to assassinate our prey
and anyone who gets in the way?

are we predator drones
piloted by remote joystick jockeys
raining terror on guilty
and innocent alike?
they see their kids each night
and never snap thinking 
about the ones they’ve killed

are we people who fight
terror with terror?

who send young parents
on continuous deployment
to unending wars
against undefined enemies
(the war on terror)
and then act surprised
when one of them snaps?



we didn’t foresee that happening
no one could have seen that coming


nobody except anybody
that is not who we are.


Ed Werstein, Milwaukee, spent 22 years in manufacturing and union activity. He now works as an employment counselor helping job seekers. His sympathies lie with the poor and working people of the world. He advocates for peace and against corporate power. He is a proud member of the Hartford Avenue Poets. His poetry has appeared in Verse Wisconsin, Blue Collar Review, Mobius Magazine and a few other publications.
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Monday, March 12, 2012

SAYING GOOD-BYE TO FOOTBALL

by Martha Deed



I played my clarinet in the rain

and prayed Roger Brown wouldn't drown 

from a tackle on Pearl River’s muddy field

that the Nyack Indians would prevail again

And when I outgrew the band

I did not outgrow my pleasure in a game

that let me stare at muscled bodies
without guilt
Until the drugs began to show
The shootings, the after-game dementias
Yet I remained steadfast in my fascination

with the rhythms and twists

of fighting for a ball

as if life depended on carrying it

across chalk lines – the pointless enterprise
welcome distraction from bills and divorces and sick children,
unemployment, crime, and bad-ass motel chains
Until the game itself became a string of injuries

with gurneys and breathing tubes and useless muscles

And still I watched bending conscience only slightly
to accommodate violence replacing chesslike beauty
Until
I finally said I cannot watch this blood sport anymore

said it with regret until today I watched a tough guy cry
over too many hits, and surgeries and complications

An old man at 35
Juncos don't offer bounties for injuring
the neighborhood's Cooper's Hawk
or Great-Horned Owl

nor play clarinets in the rain
They sing their own songs

play their own games

Me, too


Martha Deed lives in North Tonawanda, NY.  Her most recent book is The Last Collaboration (Furtherfield, 2012),  a mixed-genre story of her daughter, Millie Niss's encounters with health care in the final year of her life, presented as Millie would have wanted it to be done. Companion piece to City Bird: Selected Poems (1991-2009) (BlazeVox, 2010) by Millie Niss, edited by Martha Deed.  Martha Deed has previously published at The New Verse News.
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Sunday, March 11, 2012

SAVING DAYLIGHT

by Lewis Gardner


Clocks move ahead, one hour less sleep,
but the mornings will be darker longer,
the days brighter. Crawling from our caves,
hungry as bears, ready to lap honey
wherever we find it.


Lewis Gardner has published poems and plays in a number of anthologies and magazines, as well as more than 60 poems and light-verse pieces in the New York Times. Originally from New England, he lives in Woodstock, New York.
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Saturday, March 10, 2012

WHERE ARE THE ADULTS?

by Jon Wesick


 C’mon! We’re throwing dirt clods at Iran.
Herman can’t come. He’s grounded
‘cause some girls said he gave them cooties.
He said, “I’m rubber. You’re glue,”
but they said he needs the anti-cootie shot.
Stupid girls don’t know that’s against the Bible!

Bam! Pow! Look at Iran run!
Hey, let’s pee in a bottle
and make any Haji we catch drink it.
Why don’t you want to?
Are you a Haji too?
Bam! Pow!

After we run out of dirt clods
wanna ride our bikes to the store?
I’m getting that new F-22 Raptor game.
They asked me to give to UNICEF at school
but screw that. It’s my allowance.
I’ll spend it how I want to.
Hey, if you come over,
we can put my game in the Xbox. Just remember
not to give my little brother any Mountain Dew
and whatever you do
never let him play.


Host of the Gelato Poetry Series, instigator of the San Diego Poetry Un-Slam, and an editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual, Jon Wesick has published over two hundred poems in journals such as the The New Verse News, New Orphic Review, Pearl, Pudding, and Slipstream. He has also published forty short stories. Jon has a Ph.D. in physics and is a longtime student of Buddhism and the martial arts. One of his poems won second place in the 2007 African American Writers and Artists contest.
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Friday, March 09, 2012

BAD NEWS

by Captain Barefoot

Japan’s Nuclear Energy Industry Nears Shutdown, at Least for Now 
--New York Times March 8, 2012

Nuclear power’s
a Faustian
paradox

Hiroshima. Fukushima
The next Black
Swan in the wings

Is an all-Uranium
boom schtick
really back, lit?


Captain Barefoot identifies himself among the Union of Street Poets, Vincent St. John Local, Colorado Plateau, Aztlan Kuksu Brigade (Ret.), Cloud House, San Francisco, Shasta Nation, Pacific Rim.
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Thursday, March 08, 2012

IN FASHION

by Tom Lennox



on the runway of winter
fur was playful
its guard down
it never felt a thing
when we embraced it
drew it close to our
cold breast
taking its
breath away


Tom Lennox is the author of Aerial Acts, a book of poems from Words4Now Press. His poems have appeared in online journals, including Miriam’s Well. He has a poem, by invitation, in a forthcoming multimedia work by the artist Kevin Greeland. He lives in Sarasota, Florida.
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Wednesday, March 07, 2012

BOOTS AND DRONES

by Erle Kelly


Plutocrat’s wages to worker’s 400 : 1.
“Tug on your bootstraps,” the rich reply,
as boots are put on foreign soil
and drones survey the enemy sky.

All-male panels make war on the vagina
while the penis still wears the crown,
as drones survey the enemy sky
and boots are put on foreign ground.

Neo-cons would voucher away people’s health:
“Healthcare is a privilege, not a right,”
as boots are put on the ground
and drones watch over the enemy, day and night.

Corporations are ruled as individuals.
Now corporate maneuvers make profits abound
as drones hover over the enemy sky
and boots are put on the ground.

We’re that shining city on the hill,
an empire with exceptional flair,
with heavy footprints on foreign soil
and drones to survey the enemy’s air.


Erle Kelly lives in Long Beach California and attended California State University at Long Beach.  He attends a poetry workshop conducted by Donna Hilbert, a renowned writer and poet in the Southern California area and in the UK.
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Tuesday, March 06, 2012

THE INVITATION

by Kara Provost


I should have stopped for tea.
She introduced herself
as Persian, not Iranian,
Iran the bad guys in America—
crazy strangers with covered faces
and bombs strapped to their bodies.
Most of us had it all wrong,
but Persian sounded softer on the tongue.

As I walked past my neighbor’s house
delicious scents would waft
through the screen door—cardamom,
coriander, and spices unknown    
waving a greeting like
the American flag
flapping from the front porch.

She invited me in
through the side door, like family,
not the front, portal
for strangers and salesmen.
      Your little daughter, such big eyes—
      so beautiful. She and my grandchild
      could play together—
dark-eyed girl same age as mine,
dancing through the kitchen.
      I watch her while my daughter works
      at the bank—she has her degree.
      I have a son, too, still working on his—
I had seen him coming
and going in his dark sunglasses
and dark Mercedes.
but my husband...
her voice stopped—
      still back in Iran.
      My son needs a father’s hand.

But I was busy, had to go
before trying her barbari bread, warm
from the oven, like nothing
you could get in the store.

Perhaps if I’d come back,
accepted her invitation
to stop by for hot mint tea,
sweet, green-tinged in tall glasses,
as I always meant to,
I would have learned her secret
sadness—the husband behind bars
who would never leave Iran,
the son who refused
to speak Farsi or live
at home anymore—
and her little Ariana
would have taught my daughter
the words for bread, for tea
as we sat together, our voices
floating in the honeyed steam.


Kara Provost has published two chapbooks, Topless (Main Street Rag press, 2011) and Nests (Finishing Line Press, 2006), as well as five microchapbooks with the Origami Poems project.  Her poetry and memoir pieces have appeared in Connecticut Review, Main Street Rag, Hurricane Alice, The Newport Review, Ibbetson Street, The Aurorean, and other journals, as well as in an anthology edited by David Starkey and Wendy Bishop, In Praise of Pedagogy: Poetry, Flash Fiction, and Essays on Composing. Kara earned a PhD in English from the University of Minnesota and a BA from Hampshire College. Currently, she teaches writing and directs the First-Year Honors Program at Curry College (Milton, MA) in addition to conducting creative writing workshops for elementary students through adults. She can be reached at kp85(at)hampshire.edu.
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Monday, March 05, 2012

SONNENIZIO ON A LINE BY EDWARD THOMAS

by Esther Greenleaf Murer


This is no case of petty right and wrong,
of "I am right and you are sinister."
The issue's deeper, much more frightening.
The rich, the sybarites, the comfortable
triturate the faces of the poor,
equating poverty with unrighteousness:
"The jobless and the homeless aren't contrite,
or else they'd lay themselves right down and die."

We march, we tweet, write letters, sign petitions,
adapt time-hallowed rites to new occasions,
striving to thwart the frightful sly erosion
and outright theft of our entitlements,
our birthright given by the founding fathers—  
golden promises now revealed as pyrite.       


Esther Greenleaf Murer lives in Philadelphia.  Her work has appeared in numerous online zines; links can be found on her blog.  She published her first poetry collection, Unglobed Fruit, in 2011.

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Sunday, March 04, 2012

SYRIA

by Janice Lynch Schuster

I cannot find it on a map
other than the one the human
heart inscribes. The widows'
basement, full of sorrow,
the bereft mother huddled
over the lifeless child.
The days-long bombardment
and our blind eye cast
on a world so foreign.
On no map but my heart,
I circle it.


Janice Lynch Schuster
is the author of a collection, Saturday at the Gym, and has been published in various print and online venues, including Poet Lore, Your Daily Poem, and The Broadkill Review. She writes about health care and public policy, lives in Annapolis, MD, and works in Washington, DC.
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Saturday, March 03, 2012

UN PEUPLE, UN BUT, UN FOI

by Timothy Baker

                                Senegal elections: President Abdoulaye Wade 
                                fails to secure outright win
                                             --Associated Press 1 March 2012


Source: Africa Review

Again in tropics deadly, still
With whispers that batter and boil
Berber’s silence to submission,

In flowing garb and Lite-Brite colors
a white skullcap's tip breaks
blowing sociopathy on the laws of the land.

The skin between his wrinkles is smooth
splatters from the fountain of youth
itching to be cut by soldier’s hands in
the coup that was always someone else's.


Timothy Baker is based in New York where he has been working since attending Hunter College for undergraduate studies in Media.  His work has appeared in The Monarch Review, as well as in  online publications such as dearind.com and 6mix.com.  He has work forthcoming in Saveur Magazine.
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Friday, March 02, 2012

PREVENTS CONCEPTION / BY HER VERY OWN CHOICE

by Mary Krane Derr


If pregnancy is two lifebodies, what does this make of the woman who through her very own means of choice aspires to prevent that innermost doubling off, its sundering through abortion?

She is no feckless snapping open that shears off all man and child flesh and bone: no vagina dentata, no “hostile endometrium.”

Nor is she a crushed in caved in carton that leaks its nothing, just kick it to the curb.

Nor is she is a symphony score whose patrons should rustle with disgruntlement because in their clueless notation system, she follows clef sign after clef sign with whole-rest measures, and they itch for her to produce the "real" music, they cannot revere her otherwise.

No, she is always her own singular lush orchestration, her own spacetime curvature of fall and rise of fullness unto herself.

Whose bright glad unbankrupt default option is so modern a wonder of the world, it has not arrived into its real name yet.

How to condense it into one word or phrase: Prefers the swish and boom of an added baby heartbeat: under her own only sparingly: if ever:
and yet does not go raging or empty or lifelessly silent: unless any man/church/state shears off the very flesh and bone of her right to this very sovereignty over *her own* person.



Mary Krane Derr does not understand why some people who profess to oppose abortion are so out to sabotage voluntary family planning rights, when expanded contraceptive coverage is essential to reducing abortion. She is a poet, writer, and musician from the South Side of Chicago. She read her work at India's 2011 Kritya International Poetry Festival. Her poems "Rubble Dream"  and "At This Address"  previously appeared in The New Verse News.
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Thursday, March 01, 2012

SCARLET LYRICS

by Sandra Sidman Larson



                                                                          Yalla Erhal Ya, Bashar,
                                                                          Yalla Erhal Ya, Bashar
       
                                                        Come on, it’s time to leave, Bashar
                                                        Bashar al-Assad, it’s time to go.


                                                             --the chorus of a new Syrian protest song


You cut out the throat of a singer, Bashar,
who was singing a song of freedom.
Bashar, you cut out the voice of a singer
and threw him into the river.

His neck was wrapped in ribbons of red.
The ribbons were formed from the skin of his neck.
The blood created the color that day
you cut out the throat of this singer.

The singer crafted this song for his people.
They sang it into the mouths of your guns.
Come on, it’s time to go, Bashar
Come on, it’s time to go.

But you can not cut out the words
of a song, or the song from its singing.
A song that breathes is still living
and doesn’t depend on the body

it doesn’t depend on the vocal cords, and all
the people keep singing out loud,
the verses and the chorus,
Come on, it’s time to leave, Bashar.

Bashar al-Assad your singing is done.
Come on, it’s time to leave, Bashar.
Bashar, they’ve cut you out of their song,
You’re gone, Bashar al-Assad, you’re gone.


Author’s note:  It is not confirmed that Ibrahim Kashoush, the man brutally murdered on July 4, 2011 was the writer of the song, but he was certainly one of its singers.  Some sources credit the writing of the song to Abdel-Rahman who was, as far as we know, still living at the time this poem was written on November 11, 2011.

A native of New Jersey, Sandra Sidman Larson is a retired manager and leader from the nonprofit world in the Twin Cities of Minnesota who has lived and traveled coast to coast and across the seven continents for work and for adventure. She’s been writing poetry for a quarter century and most recently she was selected for the Foreword Program at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, a program established to assist promising writers produce a manuscript for publication. Along the way she has seen her poems appear in magazines and journals and she also has three published chapbooks.  In 1996 poet Naomi Shihab Nye nominated her for a Pushcart Prize.
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