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Friday, May 31, 2013

THE ANCHORMAN'S TIES

by Judith Terzi


Image source: The Nashua Telegraph


No matter what the news,
my neck is tied. The market
flies, the market plunges,
two thousand said I dead.
I wear white polka dots
on navy blue. Every night
a suit and tie. Citizens
coagulate fate, tie clothing
tourniquets. Amputees nod
goodbye to candy stripers.
Smoky gray geometric
shapes in a cool sea green
hang from my neck. I read:
brouhaha at the IRS, no
terrorism in Benghazi,
terrorism in Benghazi.
Every night a suit and tie.
Car bombs in Sadr City,
seventy dead in Tahrir
Square. Wisteria petals
float on an archipelago of
made-in-India silk. Our
government is tied down.
Arctic tundra will turn
to forest. The President
is fit. The President is fit
to be... I want to sever
ties with purple stripes,
yellow cloverleafs. I read:
human rubble in a garment
factory. Yellow and pink
palm trees and storks
and swans. Jewelry heist
at the Festival de Cannes.
I tie my thoughts way back
tight into my head. White
blossoms in an olive green
lake. I tie up my mind.
Exhumation of the Chilean
poet. The fires still roar.
Tie score for arson, climate
change, metaphor. Golden
bark, silver branches, ruby
berries. No matter what
the news. Bashar al-Assad.
Ferragamo. Collar and tie.


Judith Terzi holds an M.A. in French Literature. Her poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies and has been nominated for Best of the Web and Net. For many years a high school French teacher, she also taught English and ESL at California State University, Los Angeles, and in Algiers, Algeria. She is the author of Sharing Tabouli (2011) and Ghazal for a Chambermaid, forthcoming from Finishing Line.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

WHY WE'LL MISS YOU, MICHELE BACHMANN

by Chris O’Carroll


Michelle Bachmann - Swan Song


You spit on wimpy moderation
Like that zillionaire from Bain’s.
Your bulb’s less dim than Sarah Palin’s,
Your deck less full than Herman Cain’s.

You tried to out a State Department
Muslim mole, which was insaner
Than could win support from even
Right-wing stalwarts like John Boehner.

You’ve claimed the Founding Fathers were
Crusaders for Emancipation,
And anti-cancer vaccines are
A cause of mental retardation.

Gay marriage, like Obamacare,
Is something that you love to hate.
Your husband’s counseling helps queers
Become, like him, completely straight.


Chris O’Carroll is a writer and an actor.  A recent Flash 500 Humour Verse Competition prizewinner, he has also published poems in Angle, First Things, Light, The Rotary Dial, and The Spectator, among other print and online journals.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

PUSSY RIOT

by Peleg Held





Run your needles through, Maria.

Open the holes in the uniform of State Security.

Blessed be the easel of your frame, the canvas 

of your skin exposed to pigments of vulgarity.

The taste of power changes slowly in its madness.

Stalin still shows little care for poetry 

that bares its teeth to dominance.

Clean shaven, five blades deep,

his finger grubs grow thin and learn dexterity

from an acquiescent smile upturned in ritual purity.

Nadezdha, in the place of Joseph,

do you dream of hope and fury

while the catcalls waller on?

Hooligans. You shame them all


Peleg Held lives in Portland, Maine with his partner and his dog Emitt. There is also the semi-feral cat, Smudge. And a kid or two. He writes poetry, does woodworking and lately, dreams of the summer.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

THE GROWING DROUGHT

by William Cullen, Jr.


Image credit: kamchatka / 123RF Stock Photo


Pickup trucks filled with migrants
disappear into the mirage
down the long road
looking for farms
not yet turned to dust.
They say the distant backfires
are really thunder.

 
William Cullen, Jr. is a veteran and works at a non-profit in Brooklyn, NY. His poetry has appeared in Farming Magazine, Christian Science Monitor, Gulf Stream, Home Planet News, Pirene's Fountain, Right Hand Pointing, Spillway, Willows Wept Review and Written River.

Monday, May 27, 2013

STRANGERS IN WAR

by Howard Winn


Image source: Wodu Media: Inspired By Design


Comrades in arms says the convention,
through thick and thin, fire and ice,
bonding in the mud or the flak filled skies,
singing arm and arm through alcoholic haze
with your buddies because Uncle Same Wants View,
to see what can we say if we walk away
over dead meat, pulpy in decay,
from those who do not make it.
None of them are authentic friends, I am afraid,
the sort from your home town, perhaps,
grown up with,
who know your past.
Party-goers, guests, visitors
to the same happening, passing through,
but friends? I guess not.
Fellow victims of the same old men
with political ambitions,
perhaps.
Even years later, if some connection is made,
there is discovery of disassociation,
or we talk in different languages
even when the subject matter is the same.
The schools we went to are not the same,
nor is the curriculum, official and unofficial.
We are not friends although we survive
the great accidents concurrently.
Players of pinochle or poker together,
or observers of smoke and blaze,
even the illusion of buddyhood
in the stories of common encounters,
does not create friendship.
We do leave the dead behind,
whatever the code,
even if we scoop up the detritus
of life left behind.
I speak from experience.


Most recently Howard Winn has had poems and fiction published in Dalhousie Review, Descant (Canada), Cactus Heart, Main Street Rag, Caduceus, Burning Word,  Pennsylvania Literary Journal. Southern Humanities Review, Cutting Edgz, Borderlands, and The Hiram Poetry Review. His B. A. is from Vassar College. His graduate degree in creative writing is from the Writing Program at Stanford University. His doctoral work was done at New York University and University of California San Francisco. Howard Winn was a psychiatric social worker in California and also taught there for three years. Currently, he is a State University of New York faculty member.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

LIFE AFTER DEATH

by Howie Good


Image credit: monamakela / 123RF Stock Photo


“Boon,” our two-year-old says,
standing on the driveway
and pointing up at the sky.

He means “moon.” There isn’t one.

And in case you haven’t heard,
a suicide bomber in the Mideast
or Midwest or somewhere
detonated a dynamite vest.

My heart curls in on itself –
a matter, everyone just assumes,
not of character but chemistry.

At the first decorous drops of rain,
the leaves tremble, as if raised
on a bleak diet of curses and slaps.


Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of five poetry collections, most recently Cryptic Endearments from Knives Forks & Spoons Press. He has a number of chapbooks forthcoming, including Elephant Gun from Dog on a Chain Press. His poetry has been nominated multiple times for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net anthology. goodh51(at)gmail.com. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

KABUL, 5:30 AM, MAY 25, 2013

by Rick Gray


“Taliban Attack U.N. Affiliate’s Compound in Kabul, Testing Afghan Security Forces” By ROD NORDLAND and SHARIFULLAH SAHAK, The New York Times, May 24, 2013
KABUL, Afghanistan — In what appeared to be a concerted effort to test the capabilities of Afghan security forces in the capital, Taliban insurgents sought to penetrate the heavily fortified heart of Kabul on Friday, blasting their way into a residential compound of the International Organization for Migration, a United Nations-affiliated agency.

The Afghan forces managed to hold the attackers at bay, and hundreds of international agency employees in nearby compounds escaped harm. But at least two people were killed and 13 wounded, including an Italian woman, and it took more than six hours for hundreds of Afghan police officers to subdue no more than six attackers with suicide vests, guns and grenade launchers. Explosions continued through the night. The authorities said they were from booby traps the attackers had planted in the compound.

It was the first example of what the military calls a “complex attack,” involving both gunmen and suicide bombers, in the capital since insurgents attacked the headquarters of the unarmed traffic police force in January. It took Afghan forces nine hours to bring that to an end.




The morning after the attack
I'm woken by the rough voices of
men banging together metal scaffolding
and joking in a language
I'm too sleepy to learn.

I rise with them
to bang together a
rough draft of whatever
my aching brain can translate
from this wrecked mess.

Reaching open my thick, black curtain
I'm blinded with golden windows
exploding with a raging peace.
"Get out here, professor!" a Brooklyn voice leaps
impossible from an unfinished roof

and comes crashing into my space
riding a wild Afghan light, burning me
like a dead brother returning.
"We need your body!" he keeps singing
into my sunken chest, pounding. 


Rick Gray served in the Peace Corps in Kenya and currently teaches at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul. He was a finalist for the Editor's Award at Margie, and has an essay that will be appearing in the forthcoming book, Neither Here Nor There: An Anthology of Reverse Culture Shock. When not in Kabul, he lives with his wife Ghizlane and twin daughters Rania and Maria in Florida.

Friday, May 24, 2013

AMY’S BAKING COMPANY: NOT ENDORSED BY SANTA

by Rhiannon Thorne





On Saturday, I decided to sate my curiosity,

drive the half hour over to Scottsdale to gawk:

Amy's Baking Company, closed

after their distasteful run-in with Ramsey.
I was alternating between giggles and voyeuristic glee

at the closed sign hanging smugly in the window,

when up pulled a late model family van,

off-white and inconspicuous.
The driver's eyes twinkled, his cheeks were rosy,

as he leaned towards the passenger side and said:

“They deserved everything they get, and I'm Santa,”

he chuckled, “well, at Christmastime.”


Rhiannon Thorne’s work has appeared/is forthcoming in vox poetica, Your Daily Poem, Third Wednesday, and The Midwest Quarterly. She also co-edits the publication cahoodaloodaling with poet-in-arms Kate Hammerich.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

REOCCURING STORMS

by Marjorie Maddox



Marcus Yam for The New York Times


Searchers Find Body of Killed Child in Oklahoma Tornado --AP, May 26, 2011
Woman Finds Boy After Mother Drives Van Into Hudson --The New York Times, April 13, 2011



Wind/Water, Oklahoma/New York,
the domestically symbolic bathtub/minivan,
two mothers.

And so fear gathers speed, swirls in
or out, grabbing—in its selfish velocity—each state
of who we are or were, what’s left
of our man-made lives holding tightly to the already-
born, the life still coming.

Temporarily wedged between faith and scream,
a mother sings reassurances as each
tree, board, sink, tub, life
twists and spins into the horizon
no one foresaw, grief beyond the boundaries
of such predictions, life splintered limb by limb,
like and not like (half a country away)

that other dream-turned-disaster:
depression’s dark tunnel twirling
beyond the imaginable, tires whirring
too quickly toward the Hudson,
fueling the speed of no-return,
a family’s last vision of sky flooded
with the damp wet of despair.

Except ten-year-old La'shaun,
who—between death and breath—
rolled down his window to let out fear,
then swam toward light.

And in Oklahoma, five-year-old Cathleen,
who, amidst the hurricane’s howl,
recognized hope in the heartbeat
of her unborn sibling:
that faint hum in the ear,
or that sudden surge toward possibility

into what one day even you and I—
after a particularly hard day of the ordinary—
might discuss as casually
as weather, as someone else’s life.


Marjorie Maddox is Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

REQUIEM

by Ed Bennett


FALFURRIAS, Texas (Reuters)  May 15, 2013 - Mounds of dirt decorated with fake flowers sit at the northern edge of the cemetery in this town about 80 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. Small metal placards mark the graves of the unknown, generally by gender, while others simply say "bones" or "skull case." Photo credit: REUTERS/Eric Thayer.


Quietly,
in the twilight breeze
of an unforgiving desert
we few are arranged
in a mourning group,
a broken minion
for the passing
of the nameless ones:
a young mother
or older sister,
a boy about eight

found between the cholla
and voiceless stones
that hid them from the road
where La Migra rules
and the crosshairs of
the militant ones
guards a sanctified border
in the darkness.

We left water
every mile or so
on the hidden route
where they sojourned,
the brown skinned tribes
of new Israelites
short one Moses and
a caring God’s sight

where the guardians
cut the water jugs
and these two died,
tongues swollen,
a mile south
of the springs.

Coyotes lament
to the waning moon,
a song for souls lost
in the eternity
of the killing night,
the calculus of death
for a too young woman,
a boy yet to live.

Adios,
nameless friends,
may your days be cool
beside Eden’s brook,
the fruit of God’s heavens
be your eternal bounty.

And may our days be riven
by our lost contrition,
may the appeals of patriots
weaken in the echo
of this desert marked
in the blood of innocents.


Ed Bennett is a poet and reviewer living in Las Vegas, NV. His works have appeared in The Externalist, Touch: The Journal of Healing, The Lavender Review, Quill and Parchment and Lilipo. He is a staff editor for Quill and Parchment Magazine, the recipient of a Pushcart Nomination and the author of “A Transit of Venus”.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

TORNADO ALLEY

by B.Z. Niditch




A funnel cloud
of warning
in the eye of a storm
presages high winds
over towns and villages
a mile over
these monster twisters
breaking us up
as a string of souls
become casualties
uncounted
trapped as in a war
under their homes
from a massive path
reported from the ground
in a few live pictures
wrapped in rain
from roofs
under cars
near now barren trees
of shelters
children salvaging
a few belongings
dolls, toys, firetrucks
from a leveled land
emerge as survivors.


B.Z. Niditch is a poet, playwright, fiction writer and teacher. His work is widely published in journals and magazines throughout the world, including Columbia: A Magazine of Poetry and Art, The Literary Review, Denver Quarterly, Hawaii Review, Le Guepard (France), Kadmos (France), Prism International, Jejune (Czech Republic), Leopold Bloom (Budapest), Antioch Review, and Prairie Schooner.  He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Monday, May 20, 2013

TEN SPEED NEWS CYCLE

by Frederick L. Shiels

Cartoon by Mike Luckovich


Obama’s second term is doomed they say
Six months in, Press coroners pronounce it dead
The IRS chastised for chasing Tea
drinkers, Hillary’s inattention slaughters our
ambassador in Benghazi then
her crew make up stories,

Associated Press, Boston left unprotected so it goes
The best offense Defense, GOP says
This Right-serves the ‘libral’ pack for Watergate
And oh harassment of those do-good folk,
J Edgar’s files on King Seegar Baez, other threats,

The endless gottcha nothing new we say
Why knaves betraying knaves is how it works
Honored tradition, remember Lancaster and York?
The Romanovs and Bolsheviks parade
Their antics and Rasputin laughs

And so they think Obama cries
All tied in knots, he sighs
Thoreau said read the papers once a month
You’ll ‘not a thing miss’, he implied
It’s May, such flowers! adopt an earthworm better still
Turn off newschatter, go embrace the Countryside.


Frederick L. Shiels professored at Mercy College in history and politics starting in the Jimmy Carter years, 1977 and after. He has published poems in The New Verse News, The Hudson River Anthology (Vassar) and Wicker’s Creek (Mercy College), the latter two no longer publishing, and elsewhere. He has written on the bombing of civilians and, now, the future of progressivism in America.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

AESHA’S NEW NOSE

by Rick Gray




I don’t care if it’s fake.
Today I abandon all that is pure
In my highly-secured space
And race up to the sunlight blazing
On my Kabul roof to praise        
Aesha's new nose.

May it reach forever
like the stem of this artificial flower

I raise above the frozen mountaintops
Where cold, clipping blades are rusting
in the melting fragrance
of a true, blooming rose.     


Rick Gray served in the Peace Corps in Kenya and currently teaches at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul. He was a finalist for the Editor's Award at Margie, and has an essay that will be appearing in the forthcoming book, Neither Here Nor There: An Anthology of Reverse Culture Shock. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

ENLIGHTENMENT

by B.Z. Niditch


Image source: http://www.stopthesewars.org/


From his base
after Jack enlisted
he changed his mind
to be war resistant
trying to forget
the sand in his breath
and a thousand images
in a state of death,
What am I here for
he would ask
feeling out of breath
as Jack was handed
his appalling gas mask,
pulling his own weight
now hidden with his friend
Jackie in a trench
watching for an enemy
to what fateful end,
yet they became grateful
here on this park bench
when T.V. interviewed
even when AWOL
they called for peace,
their mind was renewed
and the world made sense
when all wars could cease
and they would make
a difference.


B.Z. Niditch is a poet, playwright, fiction writer and teacher. His work is widely published in journals and magazines throughout the world, including Columbia: A Magazine of Poetry and Art, The Literary Review, Denver Quarterly, Hawaii Review, Le Guepard (France), Kadmos (France), Prism International, Jejune (Czech Republic), Leopold Bloom (Budapest), Antioch Review, and Prairie Schooner.  He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Friday, May 17, 2013

THERE WILL BE PARTIES

by Atar Hadari




Margaret Thatcher has died. There will be parties
Up and down the seams of coal
At the Trades Club, the Workers’ Associations, tubs
Of ale will be up-ended, dominoes
Will click across the boards, foaming mugs fail
To capture what the people will try to carol
That she didn’t quite stamp the soul
Out of every seam of the remaining factory trail,
Out of every cup in a palm held out for some help.
But will they be rejoicing
Equally in the halls
Where those who ruled this country fully
Before Margaret now rule it all
And for a while they were haunted
By this girl who knew every call
Of the metallurgist’s numbered table,
She knew what was silver, what was gold
And the basest element – the fire
That burns in people’s soul
That she knew how to ignite with a lyre
And it is burning again, now that she no longer cares
Burning and turning, turning like a ribbon in the wind,
A flag, like something from the Wat Tyler rebellion
Before he was cut down by the King’s men.


Atar Hadari was born in Israel, raised in England, and studied poetry in the US. His Songs from Bialik: Selected Poems of H. N. Bialik (Syracuse University Press) was a finalist for the American Literary Translators’ Association Award, his collection Rembrandt’s Bible will be published by Indigo Dreams on July 8.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

THE WIRETAPPERS BALL

by Deborah Gang






An FBI internet surveillance unit will collaborate with the coming NSA data center in Utah to decipher and monitor email between private citizens. Homeland Security recently began to monitor social media using version 2.1.3 key words & search terms.*


Some are obvious. Do not use assassination, 
Taliban, bomb, bomb squad, bomb threat.

Al Qaeda (all spellings). But electric? Blackout. 
Metro. Power. Smart? Is it worth the risk to say

failure? Dock. Airport. Airplane and its derivatives. 
Cancelled. Delays. Flood. Snow. Blizzard.

Why, these are some of your necessary words--
everyone’s necessary words. If you suffer blizzards

you need to talk about them and if you don’t, you
need to gloat. Wildfire. Ice. Stranded. Stuck.
Temblor. All suspect. Use sleet at your own risk 
along with plague. Plume. Enriched. Collapse. 

They have marked the best words as hazardous. 
Including hazardous. Breach. Mudslide. Grid. San Diego!

Say goodbye to relief and closure. And cyber terror.
Cyber terror is not to be used.         Warning

is on the list. 



*Sources: 
  • "The Department of Homeland Security Is Searching Your Facebook and Twitter for These Words" by Joel Johnson, Animal New York, February 27, 2012.
  • "The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)" by James Bamford Wired, March 15, 2012.
  • "Avoid these words to prevent Homeland Security from spying on your social networks"
    --Technology News Blog by Tecca, Today in Tech, Yahoo! News, May 29, 2012.
  • "U.S. Terrorism Agency to Tap a Vast Database of Citizens" by Julia Angwin, The Wall Street Journal, December 13, 2012.

Originally from Washington D.C., Deborah Gang moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan to attend graduate school and remained there, both for her work as a psychotherapist and the proximity to Lake Michigan. Her research has been published in Education and Treatment of Children and her prose and poems in Literary Mama, Encore, The Michigan Poet and J Journal (CUNY).

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

PICKING UP A HITCHHIKER IN MAY

by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer






"The burial of the dead is Humanity 101."
Thomas Lynch, undertaker and poet, NPR, May 6, 2013

It’s messy when they die
in winter, he says. The dirt
is too cold to work with then.
I tell him I will consider this
when I die. Just give me two-weeks’
notice, he says, quoting a joke,
and it occurs to me humor
must be an unwritten
prerequisite for a grave digger.
I ask him what he thinks
about the recent uproar in Boston,
no one wanting the bomber
buried in their own backyard.
Well, he says, I’ve always thought
we should have a special section
for the politicians. We could put
him here with them—in a place where
we let the dogs run.
In the space before I laugh,
I remember the story
the undertaker told about how
in the middle ages they considered
suicide the ultimate crime.
But since you can’t punish a dead man,
they took out their ire on his corpse
and buried it at a crossroads
to be trod on forever. He said,
“If we do not take care of dead humans,
we become less human ourselves.”
The man next to me says,
“You know, I give every person I bury
the gravedigger’s promise.”
We are almost to the cemetery gate.
“I say, I’m the last person who’s ever gonna
let you down, and the last one
who’ll ever throw dirt on you.”
He laughs a laugh so real
I can smell the earth thawing in it.


Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer’s poetry has appeared in O Magazine, in back alleys, on A Prairie Home Companion and in her children’s lunch boxes. She is a parent educator for Parents as Teachers. Favorite one-word mantra: Adjust.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

WITHOUT

by Shirley J. Brewer




Dancer Loses Foot in Boston Marathon Bombings
      from a newspaper headline

Smoke and glass,
hell sounds, her foot gone—
the amputation of a dream.
 
Just one day since
her toes painted
a promising pink.
 
She had asked for glitter;
severed sparkles
now rouged with blood.
 
They rush her off
without the limb that bore her
through every waltz, rumba, tango.
 
No time for farewells,
only a tourniquet
speaks for the ordinary
 
strapless-sandal-moments, a burst
of music—her footsteps light
on the safe and steady ballroom floor.

 
Shirley J. Brewer ( Baltimore , MD ) is a poet, educator, and workshop facilitator. Publication credits: The Cortland ReviewInnisfree Poetry JournalPearl, Comstock Review, Loch Raven Review, Passager, and other journals. Her poetry books include A Little Breast Music, 2008, Passager Books and After Words, 2013, Apprentice House/Loyola University. M.A. Creative Writing/Publishing Arts, University of Baltimore.

Monday, May 13, 2013

WIFE SOUGHT FOR QUESTIONING IN BLAZE

by Darlene Pagan



Image credit: defokes / 123RF Stock Photo


She never imagined the sheet she lit
would curl him in its hot tongue, never
believed he wouldn’t wake in those flames,
throw back the covers, and wash his feet like
she’d been asking him every night before bed. 

The air buzzed with a lightning storm.
The chickens refused to lay and no matter
how long or hard she kneaded the dough,
all morning, the loaves cooked up
dense and hard as baseball bats. 
At least, no child again this month. 

A photo of them as newlyweds, so young
they look like children playing dress up,
hangs in the hallway.  Too stubborn to quit
a decade later and now look where it’s got them. 

Black petals fall.  Bits of sheet, newly caught
rise like cardinals.  A door opens, the wind
roars, timbers spit and splinter until she finds
herself outside in the grass watching

lightning split a sycamore.  She looks from
the tree to the body they’re pulling too late
from the burning house.  She believes it
when she tells them she has no idea who he is.


Darlene Pagan teaches at Pacific University in Oregon, where she lives with her husband and sons.  A book of poems, Blue Ghosts, was published with Finishing Line Press. Her poetry and essays have most recently appeared in journals such as Calyx, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Madison Review, Poet Lore, Hiram Poetry Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, Memoir(and), Brevity, and Literal Latté, among others. Pagan recently completed a full-length poetry project tentatively titled, Setting the Fire. She loves to bike, hike, dig at the beach, walk in the rain, sing, and ride roller coasters now that her boys are just tall enough to ride. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

WOMEN'S RITES

by Tricia Knoll



Image: A Mama’s Day E-card available from Strong Families


The crossword puzzle clue for 2 down
required a word for women’s rites leader.
I couldn’t parse any cross-current lines.
I combed through suffragettes and freedom fighters.
Sojourner, Amelia, Victoria, Abigail, Elizabeth and
tried to cram their names in. Margaret Sanger? Shacklers
to the White House gates? Rosa? Jane Roe?

Then I read it right -- rites.
The woman priest, absolver of wrongs?
Desolver of woes? Healer of hurts? 
End-of-days angel? Candlemaker?
Coiler of the womb cord? Doula?
She-who-washes-the-dead?

Nothing fit.
     Peacemaker
     Apple plucker
     Palm reader
     Stonemason
     Bread baker
     Bee tender
     Bed maker
     Caretaker
     Crone
     Godmother
     Goddess
     Sorceress
     Star eater

The answer in the next day’s paper: mother.



Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet and a proud mother.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

OUR RUIN

by Amy Holman




Today, all the old houses
have hidden harrowed humans,
and the midden of their captors,
their own enduring bodies--

or so it seems when the flask
from the inside jacket pocket offers
us our ruin: society on the news.
Even the laureate of Fresno

turns a stick-up into stature,
lines of brutal fighting in his corner
market. As usual the armed forces
are a locked room in a foreclosed

house with a girl pounding
on a dirty window. We wonder
who she is, but not ourselves,
frowning on the doorstep.


Amy Holman is the author of Wrens Fly Through This Opened Window, published in 2010 with Somondoco Press. The news is one of her favorite sources for topics, and poems have previously appeared in New Verse News. Recent poetry and prose is in The Same, Marco Polo Arts Magazine, and Zocolo Public Square. She teaches poetry at The Hudson Valley Writers Center, and is a literary consultant in Brooklyn, NY.

Friday, May 10, 2013

OF CARPENTER BEES AND BENGHAZI

by Earl J. Wilcox


Cartoon by Steve Sack


Frankly, I am intimidated by the size,
   the sounds of big black bees.
though experts say these loud, raucous
    insects are not dangerous,
seldom sting, even if cornered in a hole
   or near my seat on the pergola
where these Genus Xylocopa systematically
   burrow deeper and deeper
into the cross pilings of my shady nook.
   Yet when I glance up
from my book, see the pilfering pistons
   drilling a shaft to lay
their dark and sinister eggs, I am dazzled,
   and damned at the same time.
No Yin and Yang moral for me this May, 
   or in any month when
these bees egg on my impulse to swat
   them down as though
they are a swarm of clever- tongued
   bellicose Republicans bedazzling
the universe about Benghazi.



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 TheNew Verse News. More of Earl's poetry appears at his blog, Writing by Earl.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

UNTHINKABLE

by Ed Bennett





COLLEGE PARK, Maryland (Reuters) May 7, 2013 – Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Tuesday decried Buddhist monks’ attacks on Muslims in Myanmar, saying killing in the name of religion was “unthinkable”.

East and West,
different in temperament
and religious thought
yet closer than imagined,
Enlightened One.

We bear the stink
of murdered saviors in
our advanced Western tribes;
our savagery worshiped
as an act of commemoration
that leaps from holy texts
to pretexts for slaughter
in the name of an abandoned God.

Good and Evil
wrap their tendrils
at each other’s throat and fist
so say your Wrathful Budhisattvas

and now your children bring fire,
bring wrath to every infidel
as a liberation for their soul.
It is, Enlightened One, eminently thinkable
when night obscures starlight
and flames quench the darkness.
One must consider the unspoken precept:
human nature trumps a tranquil soul.


Ed Bennett is a poet and reviewer living in Las Vegas, NV. His works have appeared in The Externalist, Touch: The Journal of Healing, The Lavender Review, Quill and Parchment and Lilipo. He is a staff editor for Quill and Parchment Magazine, the recipient of a Pushcart Nomination and the author of “A Transit of Venus”.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

AT THE BANKRUPTCY HEARING

by Matthew Hummer




We sit in plastic chairs in a hotel
conference room, overflow
for the flood of contracts ruptured
while Wall Street and Washington
bought  “get out of jail free.”

The judge grills a mechanic: his assets,
tools, tow truck, garage, lift
will liquidate to satisfy the banker’s need.
We are all next.                              
    The judge calls
a name.  Consuela walks to the front
and sits at the table, skirted for brunch.
We hear her debts read aloud—
the public shaming the Constitution allows,
having banned debtor’s prison.
The officer of the court rattles off names
like a hostess calling parties for seating.
I tell my wife to remove her rings.
We take our turn at the stocks,
and then slip out the side door,
 without looking back at the rest,
debtors, whose communion we’ve joined.


Matthew Hummer is a teacher, father, and husband.  He is also an M.F.A. candidate in Creative Writing at Sewanee, The University of the South.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

TOLERANCE PERCHANCE

by The Bangkok Bards
Charles Frederickson & Saknarin Chinayote


 
 
ACCEPTANCE
Buddhists Christians Hindus Jews Muslims
Believe in compassionate multiversity values
Humility kindness dignity mutual respect
Civilized compromises agreeing to disagree

BALANCE
Same-same yet somehow different
Seen through refocused laser gaze
Cherish our commonalities honor discrepancies
Superiority complexes falling through cracks

ENDURANCE
Religions teach empathy not enmity
Universal red blood donor brotherhood
Imperfect beings inhabiting peaceful planet
Sacred principles uncovered deep within

FORBEARANCE
Education learning life-altering lessons
One’s enemy the best teacher
Common sense accepting forgiveness as
Rare as quality of mercy

SUFFERANCE
True lie lovers worshiping freedoms
Telescopic visionaries modifying radical approaches
Irrespective of perverse background perspectives
Matter-of-fact conscience conviction not convenience

REASSURANCE
Acknowledging disowned zero level tolerance
Bent on hateful fear violence
Distorted mirror image shattered stereotypes
Up-tight bigoted assholes prejudicing mindsets


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

Monday, May 06, 2013

THE CICADAS ARE COMING

by Joan Mazza





Seventeen years they’ve been burrowing deep in tree roots,
waiting for their time to wriggle out of their exoskeletons
and take wing, males singing to attract females. The woods
in the afternoons transformed into a noisy singles bar.

The last time the red-eyed brood emerged, I was visiting
in Virginia, guest from Florida, not a resident.
I slept with windows wide, welcomed that chorus
louder than frogs, natural and shrill, an improvement

over motorcycles, sirens of ambulances and fire engines,
Fort Lauderdale’s ceaseless traffic spewing exhaust.
A bonanza of a buffet for wildlife, they dropped
from trees onto our lunch tables. Delighting in delicate

segmented wings, I photographed portraits. Listening now,
I anticipate the din, thunderous as a jackhammer,
with earplugs and an extra feather pillow for over my head,
ready to welcome the natural world I moved here to love.


Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, sex therapist, writing coach, and seminar leader. She is the author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Perigee/Penguin/Putnam), and her work has appeared in Cider Press Review, Rattle, Off the Coast, Kestrel, Permafrost, Slipstream, Timber Creek Review, The MacGuffin, Writer’s Digest, The Fourth River, the minnesota review, Personal Journaling, New Verse News, Playgirl and many other publications. She ran away from the hurricanes of South Florida to be surprised by the earthquakes and tornadoes of rural central Virginia, where she writes poetry and does fabric and paper art.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

DISCONNECT

by Rick Gray


Image by Joe


In this dishonest script, my brother,
We must pretend no one is listening in,
and we are not men, but children
Put to sleep with lullabies so sweet
You’ll want to scream
When the next bombing hits
and our connection breaks into a
quagmire of static.


Rick Gray served in the Peace Corps in Kenya and currently teaches at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul. He was a finalist for the Editor's Award at Margie, and has an essay that will be appearing in the forthcoming book, Neither Here Nor There: An Anthology of Reverse Culture Shock. 

Saturday, May 04, 2013

CRUEL APRIL

by Judy Kronenfeld





                          after the Boston Marathon, and after seeing
                                the documentary, “Syria behind the Lines”



Crystalline cool days—bougainvillea
spills from our walls like rivulets
outdoing one another, like lavish
manes of brilliant, curly scarlet
tossed flirtatiously by the wind—
and in our yard, exploding galaxies
of snow-in-summer; popped up orange liqueur
poppy cups; torches of white iris…

Exploding fire, and the red ochre of blood

spattered over Boylston Street, as if a dark perversion

of Holi came frenzied through—no playful

faces splashed marigold, indigo,

saffron praising spring—leaving behind shreds

of clothes, glass, flesh…

And in Syria, somewhere, again
and again, convulsed young faces
buried in the chests of older men,
whose hands pull the faces in to blot out
what they’re seeing and their screaming,
so the fighting can go on.

Still in Syria somewhere—opulence
of nets of oranges and grapefruits
hanging above the fruit-juice stands piled
with lemons, carrots, melons? Is there hope
for cool sweetness in the throat—intensities
of blended watermelon, strawberry,
banana, milk, honey, mint—families strolling
in the cooling midnight streets, old men
playing chess on 2 A.M. sidewalks…?
             
On a talk show two broadcasters

argue almost raucously over

whether a newspaper was right

to cut off at the knees a photo

of a man’s legs blasted off below

the knees, in Boston…

And, somewhere, in Syria, again,
and again, a dreamy, peaceful
sweetness sweeps over the bearded face
of a very young man, many times wounded,
many times returned to the rebel lines—
who has already or will join al-Nusra—as he speaks
of his hope to become a martyr.

Here, at home, in California,
where the bougainvillea bursts
in a frenzy of bloom, two friends—a relative,
a poet—dead in the ordinary old way,
of early cancer, of old age.


Judy Kronenfeld’s most recent collections of poetry are Shimmer (WordTech Editions, 2012) and the second edition of  Light Lowering in Diminished Sevenths, winner of The Litchfield Review Poetry Book Prize for 2007 (Antrim House, 2012). Recent anthology appearances include Before There Is Nowhere to Stand: Palestine/Israel: Poets Respond to the Struggle (Lost Horse Press, 2012) and Love over 60: An Anthology of Women's Poems (Mayapple Press, 2010). Her poems have appeared in many print and online journals such as Calyx, Cimarron Review, The American Poetry Journal, Fox Chase Review,  Foundling Review, Innisfree Poetry Journal, Hiram Poetry Review, Natural Bridge, New Verse News, The Pedestal, Poetry International,  Spoon River Poetry Review, Stirring, and The Women’s Review of Books.

Friday, May 03, 2013

THE POVERTY OF PHILOSOPHY

by Howie Good


 Image source: archaeology & arts

I waved a dollar
out the window.
We brushed hands
as he took it.

Thank you,
he said.
I said nothing,

just rolled
my window up
and waited

with renewed
impatience
for the light
to change.

You know
how it is,

I couldn’t help
but doubt,
at least a little,

the crudely
lettered sign
he held.

Then I remembered
that cavemen
depicted
running animals
by giving them
eight legs.


Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of five poetry collections, most recently Cryptic Endearments from Knives Forks & Spoons Press. He has a number of chapbooks forthcoming, including Elephant Gun from Dog on a Chain Press. His poetry has been nominated multiple times for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net anthology. goodh51(at)gmail.com.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

LITTLE THINGS AND BIG THINGS

by John Kotula


Northern Lights in Alaska


A terrible, terribly damaged boy nearly bleeds to death in a boat, under a tarp, in somebody’s back yard. Yes, he has blood on his hands and worse. How have we let this happen to one of our boys? But no one will say they are broken hearted. They will only say they are strong. “You picked the wrong city this time,” they say. I just want to cry for a while and hold each other.

My granddaughter is fussing in her car seat. I corkscrew my arm back and grope around for her blinky. I help her get it to her mouth. My beautiful daughter smiles at her beautiful daughter in the rearview mirror. The baby grabs my index finger in her damp, four month old fist and goes back to sleep. Something to suck on, the purr of the motor, someone within reach who loves her, is all she needs for contentment.

Way up in the mountains of Honduras there are plans to build a dam that no one needs or wants. It will make rich Hondurans richer. They will siphon off their share. It will make rich Americans richer. They will sell unsustainable technology to the rich Honduras. Some how the Chinese are involved. Some rich Chinese will get richer, too. The thatched roof houses of the poor people who live along the river will be thirty feet under water.

There is a young man who trusts me to give him advice. His mother is suddenly in the intensive care unit at the hospital. He is ashamed that he doesn’t understand her condition and doesn’t know how to make things better for her. I take the young man to the hospital and help him talk to the social worker. I joke with his mother in my bad Spanish and make her laugh. He feels a little better. I would be proud to be this young man’s father.

Automatic weapon fire blows apart a whole school full of tiny, fragile bodies. Even with the knowledge that they will never hold their own children again, the parents go to Washington and say please don’t let this happen to some one else. But the Republicans have so blatantly sold their souls, you got to wonder why God doesn’t strike them down. Hey God, where is the fire? Where is the brimstone? Where are the frogs and boils?

I am three floors above sea level in an old, old building. Looking out through wavy glass I can see the beach curve away to the north. A poet is reading about her memories of living in Alaska. I know many people in the room. Some of them I’ve known for forty years. In that moment, The New York Times and National Public Radio are far away. I don’t think so much about the little things. The big things are more important.


John Kotula
is a writer and artist who lives in Peace Dale, Rhode Island.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

MAY DAY RECOLLECTION

by B.Z. Niditch


may day hd photo (for more click this link)


The other name
safeguards
your identity
life's green card
matches the form
of a poem
and works to shelter
our absence
from betrayal
with an urgent
wish to be not an exile
but an open door poet
scenting no caution
to live among others
in sisterhood
as a brother lip syncs
his soul music 
with a solace of speech
here in an open air
labor festival
I am asked
to urban read
my fierce verse
for all soaring singers
peace partisans,
consumers of the sun
survivors of fascism
and freedom rides,
lovers of natural species,
animal shelter providers
and to recollect
those who stood here
before us.


B.Z. Niditch is a poet, playwright, fiction writer and teacher. His work is widely published in journals and magazines throughout the world, including Columbia: A Magazine of Poetry and Art, The Literary Review, Denver Quarterly, Hawaii Review, Le Guepard (France), Kadmos (France), Prism International, Jejune (Czech Republic), Leopold Bloom (Budapest), Antioch Review, and Prairie Schooner.  He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.