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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

MPG

by Dawn Corrigan


Oil Refineries at Night


For 6 years I didn’t own a car.
Then I bought a Jeep Cherokee.

It got 11 miles to the gallon.
As my friend Cameron said

when he took the job
at the missile factory

“I’m part of the problem now!”
Yet how quickly I settled

into driving again,
humming along

to Gnarls Barkley
on the 44-mile commute.

How the oil refineries
of North Salt Lake

glowed like enchanted castles
on the way home at night.

How snow packs formed
on the undercarriages

of the cars, then fell off
in blackened chunks

that dotted the highway
like sleeping birds.

How I imagined those birds
waking up, shaking the snow

from their feathers,
taking off for someplace else.


Dawn Corrigan's poetry and prose have appeared in a number of print and online journals, most recently at DIALOGIST, So to Speak, and Digital Americana.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

WHO AM I TO JUDGE?

by James M. Croteau





I guess it's better,
your tone and all,
but get back to me
when you're ready
to end your claims
to nature's law,
and calls to chastity.
Rescind your stance
on who's "intrinsically disordered"
and I'm all ears.
I think your conscience
needs closer examination--
you have to know
that catechism words
like "grave depravity"
are the nails
in the coffins
of too many Catholic boys.


James M. Croteau lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan with his partner of 28 years, Darryl, and their two Labrador retrievers. Jim grew up gay and Catholic in the southern United States and loved his mother very much. He has had poems published in Hoot: a Postcard review of {mini} poetry and prose, New Verse News, and Right Hand Pointing.

Monday, July 29, 2013

IN TEXAS THE WORD WAS REDNECK

by Martha Kaplan
Image source: NPR code switch: “The Secret History Of The Word 'Cracker’” by Gene Demby, July 1, 2013


we sat on a wall above a bayou
on the edge of a large public square
thronged with the night crowd, neon
lights reflecting kaleidoscopic colors
on my fair and his dark epidermis,
when we were surrounded by white
thugs, threatening him, threatening
me, no one in the witnessing multitude
moving, when in an exchange of words
with the ringleader, I uttered, cracker,
and he blushed, surprising me, surprising
him, surprising those others, ignorance
of the meaning of that word deflating
him, dispersing the others; and I wonder
was it gender, class, or race that lent ignorance its sting?


Martha Kaplan now lives in Madison, WI. She has published with Branch Redd Review, Blue Unicorn, Hummingbird, Verse Wisconsin, Hospital Drive, Möbius The Poetry Magazine, and Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women’s Studies Resources among others.  She has received a number of awards and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

COLORED

by Sanford Fraser
 




Alone on the elevator
I press the ground-floor button.
Just before the door closes, you step in.

I turn my head
keep my eyes on the sinking numbers
and feel the floor falling.

In the street, we raise our  arms
to hail a cab. One slows, passes you,
stops for me.

A bilingual edition of Sanford Fraser’s first book of poems, Among Strangers I Have Known All My Life was published by Editions Tarabuste, France 2007 and by New York Quarterly Books, New York 2010. Tourist, his second book of poems, was published by New York Quarterly Books in 2009.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

TO END HUNGER

by Darrell Petska



“The United States has higher rates of hunger and poverty than any other industrialized country. We may feel embarrassed, but we haven’t built the political will to actually do something to improve the situation.” --2013 Hunger Report


President Obama said:
Senator Reid said:
Senator McConnell said:
Representative Boehner said:
Representative Cantor said:
Representative Pelosi said:
The governor said:
The mayor said:

Tommy said: “I'm so hungry my stomach hurts.”
Tommy's Mama said: “Try to sleep.”
Tommy said: “Will we eat tomorrow?”
Tommy's Mama said: “I don't know, Honey.” And sotto voce:
“Some folks don't care if we live or die.”

The Senate Dining Room said come feast on our vermouth-braised
salmon with fingerling sweet potato salad, tarragon dressing,
sugar snap peas, and radishes.


Darrell Petska, writing from Madison, Wisconsin, is a freelance editor in adult education who previously worked as a mental health caseworker, nursing home evaluator, and university editor. Past publications include Modern Haiku, Verse Wisconsin, ProtestPoems.org and others.

THE MEASURE OF A LEADER

by Ed Bennett



SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Well, Bob, we should not be judged on how many new laws we create. We ought to be judged on how many laws that we repeal.


And each broken bridge,
each rutted road paid for,
abandoned by our indolence,
these are the marks of progress.

Every hungry stomach rumble,
every second job to meet ends,
every idle worker without benefits,
these are the stories of self reliance

by those of us, four hundred fifty strong
(more or less)
who get full time pay
for part time legislation
(or none at all)

and nothing to show except
a blockade of obfuscation,
an obdurate session with
our greatest strength:
a calculated, orchestrated
shout of "NO!".

I am their leader,
the New Moses,
who would rather
sit in the desert heat
than move on to promises.

Let me lead you, brothers and sisters,
away from the evil of the Common Good;
kneel with me here in this desolate 'scape
to worship the imaginary calf
of a Laughing Baal.


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”.

Friday, July 26, 2013

ON THE VACANT BRANCH OF THE SPOTTED OWL

by Tricia Knoll


Killing barred owls will aid recovery of Oregon's spotted owls, federal wildlife officials believe. --The Oregonian, July 23, 2013


Talons withdrawn, nests gone,
the spotted owl loses its grip
on security, abundance, old-growth,
silenced victims of manipulated
moaning forest. The wind hears
loss

in the call of the barred
owl, manifest west from the east,
filling a niche
like the coyote
jumping at chance, taking bets

to eat what the wolf wouldn’t,
go where the wolf couldn’t.

An answer: slaughter 3,600
barreds. Invite spotteds
to return and they will
say biologists managing trays
of barred dead. The wind
puzzles out wagers of kills
to save life.

A croupier spins the wheel.
Wrenching bets on black, and the ball
explodes.


Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet. In these days of dwindling biodiversity, she was recently thrilled to see a barred owl on a highway stanchion in Seattle, a place the spotted would never light.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

THE CANDIDATE MAKES A PUBLIC STATEMENT ON A PRIVATE MATTER,
HIS WIFE AT HIS SIDE

by Michael Cantor





There’s something in the rules, I guess, to make
them brave the scene, dead pale, beside the jerk,
because they all endure it; none will shirk
the role, not one has said, Give me a break,
you asshole, can’t you tell how much I ache –
you’re on your own  – instead, she takes her place
and stands there, shaking,  life drained from her face
as hubby asks the world for time and space.  

There is no way, José, I am forewarned,
you’d ever see me shame myself like that.

I change the channel, give her knee a pat, 

suppress a little joke on women scorned.

I'd like to think she’d stand by me, but still, 

I’ve never run for office, never will.


Michael Cantor’s full-length collection, Life in the Second Circle (Able Muse Press, 2012), was a finalist for the 2013 Massachusetts Book Award for Poetry. A chapbook, The Performer, was published in 2007; and his work has appeared in The Dark Horse, Measure, New Verse News, Raintown Review, SCR, Chimaera, The Flea, and numerous other journals and anthologies.  He was also a finalist for the Nemerov (twice), Richard Wilbur and Robert Penn Warren poetry competitions; and has won the New England Poetry Club Gretchen Warren and Erika Mumford prizes.  A native New Yorker, he has lived and worked in Japan, Latin America and Europe, and presently resides on Plum Island, north of Boston on the Massachusetts coast.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

OUR DATE

by Maria Lisella


Skittles-covered Bicycle. Image source: Foodbeast.


My stepson spent
the afternoon in detention
for lying to a nun.

I told them my name means
pheasants in Italian,
but no one believed me.


Half white, half Puerto Rican,
Italian last name, nappy hair,
said otherwise.

At the perfect age of 10,
my stepson and I
had a date one afternoon.

Determined to teach him to fly,
forget nuns, divorced parents,
over-protective mother,

or, just ride a bike.
A two-wheeler, banana seat,
shiny, chrome, bells, streamers.

He’d run alongside it
throw one leg far and wide
in time to find the pedal

on the other side.
I clutched the back of the seat
sent him off as far as I could.

Like my father did for me,
knowing spills and harm
would follow.

Years later,
a knot in my heart,
his dusty, tear-smeared face

lips quivering, telling me
of a quick ride to Pelham Bay
where he was chased down

by taunts of "You don’t belong here."
            I tried to tell them my name
            but no one listened.


I think of all I don’t know
about courage ­– how to build it,
pass it on, when to fight, to flee,

and when to leave your bike
behind, save your life,
find your way home.


Maria Lisella's Pushcart Poetry Prize-nominated work appears in Amore on Hope Street and Two Naked Feet as well as a number of journals such as Feile Festa, LIPS, Paterson Literary Review, Skidrow Penthouse and online at DanMurano.com and First Literary Review East. Her forthcoming collection, Thieves in the Family, will be published by New York Quarterly Books in 2014. She is a charter member of the online poetry circle, Brevitas and co-curates the Italian American Writers Association literary readings at Cornelia St. Cafe and Sidewalk Cafe in NYC.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

MUSCLE FAILURE

an unrhymed blues, an unformed villanelle
by Sadie Ducet


Image source: Black Agenda Report


Somewhere between his death and the time it took
for outrage to find my community we lost
an hour in the morning, gained an hour in the afternoon

so the sun hangs, belting a disbelieving blues.
I join the suburban ballet shuttling kids
between activities and lessons, between his death

and the time it took a young writer
to ask me How do you write about violence?
I don’t, I say. Not violence per se. Not about it.

If there’s violence seeping up out of the poem,
like night coming on, that’s called losing an hour
in the morning, gaining an hour after noon

in the slow descent. What I mean is,
let me tell you about the workouts at my gym:
between his death and the time it took,

it’s all resistance. We push and lift against ourselves
until we can’t go further, holding the pose,
suspended for an hour in the afternoon.

Teeth gritted til the count is done,
that’s where I’m at, sidled up
somewhere between his death and the time it takes.
Between his death and the time it takes.


Sadie Ducet's poems appear here and there, curated by Sarah Busse, who is one of two current Poets Laureate of Madison, Wisconsin, and the co-editor of Verse Wisconsin.

Monday, July 22, 2013

UNAFRAID

by Caroline Harvey



On tour in Ireland, Bruce Springsteen dedicates "American Skin (41 Shots)," his song protesting the death of Amadou Diallo, to Trayvon Martin.


                Boston. 2:05pm, April 19th 2013.

my father, an attorney,
represented the new york state police bureau in the 80's.
when I was a child we had police stickers on our cars
and police license plates sat smug on our bumpers.
the officers and captains knew him by first name,
which meant we were waved through all the
barricades, the checkpoints, the
I’m sorry I was speeding, how's it going Jim, tickets.
I grew up imagining that
I was something remarkable,
that the cops had my back, especially.

I did not know
what my body meant.

I did not understand, not really
until Amadou Diallo
not until I lived in Oakland
not until I watched old women get beat down
for their purses
watched innocent black boys get cuffed and kidney punched
saw three year olds of every color huddle next to crack addicted moms
not until I learned to dance the orisha prayers in LA
got god-drunk with Maria, who was brown and Cuban
and her husband Alex, who was white and from Chicago
not until I traveled alone in Thailand, in Guatemala,
got spit on and kicked and attacked for my ignorance

not until I lived as an adult did I know
what it meant to be a child
white
and female

and to come from enough privilege
enough money
enough education
to grow up unafraid
of the police.


While the Boston Police, The FBI, and The National Guard hunted the Boston Marathon Bombing suspects, poet and educator Caroline Harvey endured the terrifying and mandated "Shelter In" by writing three poems every 90 minutes. Caroline has been featured on Season Five of HBO’s Def Poetry, and has shared stages with Melissa Ferrick, Livingston Taylor and Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), among others. Most recently, she was featured at the US Embassy in Serbia where she performed original work and led workshops about free speech for the first generation of youth to grow up post-Milosevic. Her work has been published in national and academic literary journals, including the National Poetry Slam Anthology “High Desert Voices,” Gertrude Press, Radius, The Legendary and The Lowestoft Chronicle, and she was nominated for a 2012 Pushcart Prize. Currently Caroline lives in Boston and teaches at Berklee College of Music.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

AFTERMATH

by Elizabeth Kerlikowske

 

Image source: PostcardCollector



Birch postcards scattered on the lawn this morning.
They’re for me though I can’t read them.
Zinnias all spindled in the storm’s path.
My neighbor rakes the street because he hires his yard done.
A downed limb arches over a small tree, very St Louis.
An empty nest means the storm came late enough.
Air so fresh there’s still cellophane on it.
Spider webs scoured from the shrubs.
Thanks for thinning the sunflowers.
We can all start over.


Elizabeth Kerlikowske reports here on what is happening in the Midwest.

REMNANTS OF A 100 DEGREE DAY

by Don Kingfisher Campbell



Image source: Brain Pickings


I. Walking to the market

Moist wipe on the sidewalk
and a matchbook that says Thank You

In the mortuary planter
an empty Menthol Marlboro

And a Funeral car window sticker folded
on a parking space looks like Fun

No surprise, a discarded used cigarette
and a Popsicle stick in the other planter

Farther, on the driveway, a straw wrapper
and a pack of Camel Menthol in a flowering bush

At the corner gutter a plastic twisted
shopping bag waits for any flow of water

Across the street a trail of toilet paper
forms an S in a rectangular planter

On the church steps an opened veggie bag
is imprinted Stay Open To The Possibilities

Bus stop planter sports a half-used Arby's
Tangy BBQ Sauce tublet and what I believe
is a mangled Kit Kat wrapper next to a
torn four tablet package of Pepto Chewables

There is also a balled up sandwich wrapper
printed with the word Comment inside

II. At the market

Parked next to a car an almost clear McCafe cup
and next to another one a barely sipped
El Pollo Loco drink might be lemonade

G Series Gatorade Prime 01 packet squeezed
out and discarded on a parking lot median

On the asphalt between the lines of a space,
hard plastic container used to hold
Home Grown Sweet Flat Peaches

A concrete space bumper has the ripped off
label of a pack of Value Soft White Facial Tissue

A classic crushed in two red plastic drinking cup
reflects late afternoon Alhambra sun

And what's this? A soiled menu for a Chinese
restaurant and another crushed cup (this one
was a Golden Mini Oreo Bite Size Go-Pack!)

III. On the walk back

A banana peel in a parking space
looking like one of Prince's guitars

A Popsicle stick partially stained orange
and stuck in its plain white wrapper

An upside down In-N-Out smashed cardboard tray
with equally flattened red palm tree emblazoned cup

I think I found the clear plastic lid
that belonged to that soda

Yellow soda cap, another Arby's wrapper,
another moist wipe, another emptied clear cup

Finally!  A single dandelion on the mortuary lawn
ready for a confused child in need of fun

And not far away two tossed Super Heavy Duty
Eveready batteries in the grass below the viewing room

IV. Back home

One apartment's got 14 cigarette butts
resting on the window air conditioner

Another has three recently finished
plastic bottles: two water, one Coke Zero

And the pool below our apartment supports
two broken parts of a blue Styrofoam noodle
floating near an un-tethered life saver 


Don Kingfisher Campbell has recently been published in Statement, Poetry Super Highway, Writers At Work, The Bicycle Review, Crack The Spine, Lummox, Poetic Diversity, The Sun Runner, and Poetry Breakfast.  He is currently working on an MFA in Poetry at Antioch University in Los Angeles.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

AFTER THE VERDICT

by David Radavich


Howard University Medical Students (Image source: Carmar Descamento-Park)


There’s no end
to the battles.

My heart
can’t take
so much fighting,

yet it goes on
spinning
and spinning

like silk
of a forgotten
tapestry.

I am not alone.
You are not alone.

The ramparts
are worth climbing.

The ramparts
are life,

the moat death,
slow and inexorable.

We must
carry our swords

as if we
were masters,

cross the
infested waters,

call out
justice
to the wind,

sing our
blood home

in unison
climbing high

into
the fortress.


David Radavich
’s recent collections include America Bound: An Epic for Our Time (2007), Canonicals: Love’s Hours (2009), and Middle-East Mezze (2011).  His plays have been performed across the U.S., including six Off-Off-Broadway, and in Europe.  His new collection, The Countries We Live In, will come out later this year.

PIED AUTHORITY

by Ralph La Rosa





           after Hopkins

Glory be, he is by God a dappled being—
His house now couple-coloured as a brindled cow;
For faces all a-stipple standing by him;
For words he says for burnt-brown Trayvon’s dying;

Statescapes gutted,pieced—white, black, & now
A verbal fight in which Floridians mock him.
All things countered, North & South estranged;
Wars un-civil embers; inscaped Jim Crow.

With words puzzled, clear, sweet , sour, bright, dim
My president insists this will be changed:

Praise him.


Ralph La Rosa is widely published in print and online journals.

Friday, July 19, 2013

DINNER AT THE HOMESICK

by James Penha




My name is Doc; you can call me Sir. I'll be your server tonight. The maitre d' tells me our regular menu holds no interest for you. But we will not let you starve. Or find another restaurant. Or review us at TripAdvisor. And so I am here with the specials. Sit back as we tuck you into this special chair. Like business class on American. A few extra belts maybe, and, no, no champagne. But we do take one page from Larousse: the foie gras page. The starter is something like a sausage casing. Even empty, it fulfills from nose to stomach. What's good for a goose is good for a gander. This bib we set just so around your neck and over your lips. No mastication necessary. And no more talk. It's dining as you have never dined before: more like breathing in a whole lobster liquified in drawn butter. Nutrition in charge! So very special.


James Penha edits The New Verse News.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

TOWARDS FREEDOM

by Mervyn Taylor


In the cell where Mandela languished for years,
President Obama stands, tall enough to see
from the window the rocks of Robben Island
where the gulls slip and stumble, like the
former prisoner’s lawyers, when their cases
grew weak and fell apart. Alone, the American
leans, in chinos, his forehead against the bars,
his wife and kids allowing him a moment to reflect
upon his hero, whose fancy shirt is now covered
by the shadows of birds swooping low outside
his room, doctors in the hallway conferring.
The world awaits one leader’s passing, while
the other bends under the blades of the waiting
helicopter, unlike Madiba, whose wings will
have to lift, and carry him the rest of the way.


Mervyn Taylor is a Trinidad-born poet who divides his time between Brooklyn and his native island. He has taught at The New School and in the New York City public school system, and is the author of four books of poetry, namely, An Island of His Own (1992) , The Goat (1999), Gone Away (2006), and No Back Door (2010). He can be heard on an audio collection, Road Clear, accompanied by bassist David Williams.


Nelson Mandela: Before Prisoner, Beyond President
Source: BestMSWPrograms.com

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

STIFLING HEAT

by Laura Rodley


This poem is going to cool you off
no jumping into a bathtub
full of ice cubes, no witch hazel
drenched in sheets
across your chest, no rapid
heartbeat of starlings, your heart
beating, siphoning air,
it is this poem rubbing
the dripping condensation
of its long green bottle
against your forehead,
gurgling down your throat
when thirsty; you tip the poem
up to drink.  It is this poem,
its ice cubes set between
your breasts, its shorts
that you are wearing, pink madras
cotton with only one slim zipper
the halter top that matches;
feel the soft cotton against
your skin, run the cool green
bottle of the poem
against your arms,
drink it, drink slowly,
make it last.


Laura Rodley’s New Verse News poem “Resurrection” appears in The Pushcart Prlze XXXVII: Best of the Small Presses (2013 edition). She was nominated twice before for the Prize as well as for Best of the Net. Her chapbook Rappelling Blue Light, a Mass Book Award nominee,  won honorable mention for the New England Poetry Society Jean Pedrick Award. Her second chapbook Your Left Front Wheel is Coming Loose was also nominated for a Mass Book Award and a L.L.Winship/Penn New England Award. Both were published by Finishing Line Press.  Co-curator of the Collected Poets Series, she teaches creative writing and works as contributing writer and photographer for the Daily Hampshire Gazette.  She edited As You Write It, A Franklin County Anthology, Volume I and Volume II.

THE STATE OF FLORIDA

by Alan Catlin


"Information. We need Information."
"You won't get it!"
"By hook or by crook, we will."
          --The Prisoner TV Series Refrain

                   Emergency Room, Sanford, Florida 2004

Just beyond the sliding automatic door,
the sign above the window says,
Information, but there is no one manning
the station, no computer, no switchboard
for referrals.  Prospective patients, those
still standing, not in shock, not profusely
bleeding, not in cardiac arrest look for
guidance, an information system, a clue.
See interview rooms, people behind closed
doors, double thick panes of glass taking
notes, recording basic facts, names, dates,
places, types of insurance carriers, personal
physician referrals----see the waiting room
filled with people watching the world network
news according to Fox, some dozing or holding
ice packs to afflicted areas, others in wheelchairs,
new arrivals and the old, blood soaked compresses,
hastily splinted limbs, a sign that says something
about Triage services, register here.  Attempting
to Check in at No Information window does
no good, that window is a red herring, a false
clue like Miss Marple in the Conservancy
with an Uzi or President Bush on a Fact Finding
Mission to-----, attempting to engage security
guards writing on a time ledger sheet at window
desk compounds your mistake, angers the scribe
recording the valuable minutes of his day,
each one accounted for especially the present,
guaranteed by contract, smoke break, nothing
must interfere, especially the helpless and confused
patients to be, formulating questions that must
never be asked of the wrong personnel, hastily
slamming shut sliding No Information window,
no one else around not waiting to ask, not even
a number to take as the door slides open again,
admitting more people to inquire at No Information
desk, unmanned once again as security guard leaves
the area, never once looking back or referring
puzzled onlookers to Triage waiting area sign
unreadable from where they stand with a crowd
of others, some crying out for some sort of help
that is answered by an irate nurse like person calling
out, "Everyone must wait their turn.  It's very
crowded here, so be patient.  Anyone getting out
of line will be subject to arrest as the sign clearly
states!" referring to a Everyone Must Read sign
that cannot be seen from the entrance, cannot be read
by the illiterate, the Hispanics, the blinded by
wood alcohol resins, hallucinating drug overdosed
howlers, the desperate and the dying waiting to be seen.  


Alan Catlin has published numerous chapbooks and full-length books of poetry and prose, the latest of which, from Pygmy Forest Press, is Alien Nation.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

STAND YOUR GROUND

by Emily Pittman Newberry


Cartoon by Mike Lukovich


There is a 9 mm gun
that cracked the door open
to no tomorrow.

There is a story
of two young men
with only one voice
left standing.

There is blood
on the ground
and tears flowing
from the heavens.

There is a state
that loses justice,
raises safety
on a pedestal
and gets death
in the mail.

There is a community
that puts its frustration
at past crimes
into the holster
of a man.

There is a teenager
eating skittles,
and the news says
too much sugar
can kill you.

There is a trial
and the rule of law rules
that 9 millimeters
of assumptions
and 300 years
of black history
are not admissible
as evidence.

There is a twitterverse
where dueling assumptions
give voice
to well intended fears
and the hopes
of competing histories
have no ending.



Emily Pittman Newberry is a performance poet and writer living in Portland Oregon.

Monday, July 15, 2013

THE VERDICT IS IN

by George Salamon




"We Are All Trayvon Martin," the protesters chant as Zimmerman walks.
We were all Berliners once, and New Yorkers as well.
But we won't be everyone who's gunned down or knifed or drowned
By man or by state, by religion or by hate.
We were not, and still are not, the girl just sitting on her Chicago porch,
Or the one on the bus in Jerusalem, and the one in the sandy refugee camp.
Murder is too much with us.
When it comes to its victims, you takes your choice
And common humanity goes begging.


George Salamon lives and writes in St. Louis, Missouri.

FASHION

by Victor D. Infante




                                          For Geraldo Rivera

When I was 17
I bought a leather jacket
at a thrift store, affixed
a pair of handcuffs
to the shoulder,
and adorned the lapel
with pins from punk bands:
The Specials, The Clash,
Stiff Little Fingers.

I bought a tattered black trenchcoat
for $5 on a school trip to New York,
got home and paid a Russian woman
15 bucks to repair the tears. Didn’t mind
when the seams unraveled. Wore jeans
which were more hole than fabric.
Scribbled them with anarchy symbols,
clipped bits with safety pins.

My hair was neglect –
neither short nor long,
sometimes spiked,
briefly blue, except
that its natural darkness
resisted tinting. The dye
faded quickly. My hair
remained midnight.

When I was 17,
I couldn’t surf
but loved the ocean.
My skin was golden brown.

Strangers assumed
I was Mexican. Once
a cop half-jokingly
asked me for an ID
when I sold him Doritos
at the 7-11 where I worked.
I had a driver’s license, although
I didn’t drive. I had a history
of walking because I didn’t
own a car. I had a history
of violence, although I’m sure
the cop couldn’t tell that from
my identification, just shrugged
and returned it, and I never
spoke of it again, until now.

When I was 17, I had a problem
with authority. Had a mouth on me
but I wasn’t stupid.
Didn’t bait cops. In fact,
had sworn off fighting entirely.
Each punch seemed to wear
the seams of whatever it was
that held me together.
I was fraying like worn jeans
and a cheap trenchcoat.
I held myself  together
with pins.

When I bumped the crazy boy
while running to class, I took
his hits and kicks, until a teacher
pulled him off me; She had seen
the attack, and saw I didn’t fight,
so I didn’t get in trouble. The lesson:
Don’t fight. Don’t run.

When a jock took some childhood trauma
out on me by the lockers, I ate each fist until,
bored, he wandered away.
The urge to reply pulsed in my fists.
My legs ached with the urge to run.
I counted the cost
of what I was trying to prove.

I’m a long way from 17, now.
Haven’t faced a fight in years. Don’t
know what I’d do if I did. I’m paunchy,
my skin has paled from indoor living. Still
wear leather and trenchoats, wear
my hair long, but cops don’t look at me
funny anymore. Too old, too white.

I read the news about the boy in Florida
with pockets full of Skittles and iced tea;
who wore a hoodie walking home in the rain;
how the TV bobble-head says the hoodie
is as responsible as the gun,
as if damaged children never jump
those they perceive as weaker.

I wonder what, at 17, I would have done
if I’d faced what that boy did,
what words would have burbled
from that teenage cauldron
of combustion and leather.

I’m afraid I know the answer.
I would not fight. I would not run.

“Go ahead, coward — shoot me.
What the fuck are you afraid of?”


Victor D. Infante is the editor in chief of Radius: Poetry From the Center to the Edge , and the author of City of Insomnia, from Write Bloody Publishing. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

HOW TO RULE

by William Aarnes

G20 2013 Heads of Government - Caricatures

In your decrees seem as warm
and distant as the sun.

Keep moony doubts to yourself.

Corrupt the reliable bureaucrats;
let judges know they are judged.

Accept that good intelligence
surpasses wisdom:
much as you need savvy counselors,
in time you’ll have them jailed.

For maybe a decade,
count on the people’s ability
to confuse the flaunting of wealth
with the sharing of wealth.

Understand that a palace is no place
for living with a disaffected spouse,
that even a lover’s cottage becomes public.

Treat zealots as traitors.

Once they fill the squares.
you can’t control the crowds
(but, to keep the guard loyal,
acquiesce to carnage).

Keep those moony doubts to yourself.

If (when) the coup comes,
be somewhere else,
basking in the sun.


William Aarnes lives and writes in South Carolina.

SIX WOMEN IN SEARCH OF WISDOM

by Earl J Wilcox




Without a doubt, by any reasonable standards,
the defendant will not be tried by a jury of his peers---
an Hispanic man at the mercy of six women,
all white save one, sequestered, mute even to each other
until the lawyers have their say. These women—eyes
blindfolded, unseen by millions on TV, seek justice
to life’s queries: what is guilt? Innocence?
Who is my brother’s keeper?


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.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

CUTBACKS

by Catherine McGuire


Cartoon by Politico's Matt Wuerker


“It’s gotten hard,” he said, shaking out a Lucky
from the pack, lighting, sucking nicotine.
“Bank slammed us with overdrafts, landlord
wants us out. Two jobs folded –
there’s nothing in this county. Nothing.”

Drizzle feathers his worn shearling coat.
He glances at me, away.
Under the anger, terror. At thirty,
strong, skilled, he chases two-bit jobs, like mine.
Between rabbits, he tells me of the farms shut down,
or selling out, of the rattle-trap car too complex
for him to fix. The job forms, the ad in Craigs List,
the silence. He dispatches the second rabbit,
cuts short its squeal with practiced aim.

He shrugs. “Might have to leave. Alaska,
shale fields… but moving costs money – what if
there’s nothing there?”
I give him five bucks, offer him a rabbit,
let him have his pick of homemade jams.
No welfare for single white men.
Let them work, the Lear jet crowd sneers.
or let them starve.


Catherine McGuire has had almost 300 poems published in venues such as: Adagio, Avocet, Folio, Fireweed, FutureCycle, Green Fuse, Main Street Rag, New Verse News, Nibble, Portland Lights Anthology and Tapjoe. Her chapbook, Palimpsests, was released by Uttered Chaos in 2011. She has three self-published chapbooks.

Friday, July 12, 2013

UNEMPLOYED

by David Radavich


Cartoon by Jen Sorensen

WASHINGTON — Republicans muscled a pared-back agriculture bill through the House on Thursday, stripping out the food stamp program to satisfy recalcitrant conservatives but losing what little Democratic support the bill had when it failed last month. It was the first time food stamps had not been a part of the farm bill since 1973. --NY Times, July 11, 2013


The only thing
I can withhold
is my body.

If there’s nothing
to take home,
no living wage,

no mortgage
no health care
no schooling,

the fat cats
will need to eat
their own gold.

Work for sawdust
is a transaction
I refuse.

As the sun
goes down
alone

I can live
and breathe
my blood

so long
as it lasts.


David Radavich’s recent collections include America Bound: An Epic for Our Time (2007), Canonicals: Love’s Hours (2009), and Middle-East Mezze (2011).  His plays have been performed across the U.S., including six Off-Off-Broadway, and in Europe.  His new collection, The Countries We Live In, will come out later this year.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

MOURNING THE BEES

by Tricia Knoll


WILSONVILLE, OREGON - June 30, 2013 - A bumblebee is caught in the protective netting draping the trees in a Wilsonville Target parking lot. An estimated 50,000 bees were killed when the trees in the parking lot were sprayed with the insecticide Safari on June 15. Molly J. Smith/The Oregonian, June 30, 2013.


Fifty-thousand is a medium-sized town
     Loveland, Colorado
     Pocatello, Idaho
     Lacrosse, Wisconsin
     Milford, Connecticut
wiping out any one is a slaughter

for bees,
50,000 might be five hives,
maybe one.

Dead bees dry up like cicada husks,
furred legs pump,
torsos circle directing
toward a hive they’ll never go home to.

They came for linden pollen,
the heart-shaped leaves, abundance.
and writhed in piles in a Target parking lot
wanderers, sojourners, victims
of Safari sprayed for aphids no one worried about.
The scientists wrapped the trees in baggies,
closing the juice bar
after the liquor turned lethal.

The people worried on those pollinators,
the canaries, busy-bodies on fruit.
Come to Target to mourn, carry your signs
Bee The Change
for bees who feed us

not knowing poison
as convenience.
Poison as death knell,
the dripping of our tears.

We have so little time
without the bees.


Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet. As a master gardener who specializes in native plants, she grows some plants just for the pollinators. A righteous bunch of pearly everlasting is in bloom right now.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

COST ANALYSIS

by Ed Bennett


When the Senate passed an expensive border-security measure two weeks ago, the fate of immigration reform in that chamber was all but sealed. The amendment made the overhaul easier to swallow for some Senate Republicans, paving the way for its passage last week. But the added measures also mean the government won't be saving as much money as first thought, according to a new Congressional Budget Office estimate. --Niraj Chokshi, National Journal, July 3, 2013


It’s all over, as they say,
except for the shouting.

Sixty votes obtained
on the contrails of the last election, the promise of presidents to come;

but shout they will
with every word and sentiment
aimed at brown skins and accents, that brave new world of inclusion.

Lets do the math:
six billion to open the door,
forty five thousand per head
to keep out the rest,
twelve million votes, give or take,
new to this canvas of electoral politics.

If you cannot stop the rush of history
or the perfidy of the Upper House,
do the math,
run the numbers,
call the count until the figures
roll up against a frail economy
to ask the question:
“Can we afford?”
“Dare we spend?”

Then we will digitize them,
distill their humanity into dollars and cents,
(they will be easier to ignore that way)
and our knock about faith
will be justified with numbers
as smooth as the cash count
at a teller’s window,

as empty as a hypocrite heaven
on an unexpected judgement day.


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, July 09, 2013

FIDDLING WHILE NIGERIA BURNS

by Lucille Gang Shulklapper


“Nigeria has ordered the closure of all secondary schools in Yobe state after Islamic extremists massacred 42 people at a boarding school in the region.” --The Independent (UK), 8 July 2013


Do you smell the stench, America?  in the vessels of fuel by Islamic extremists, in their vessels  of dried and fresh blood?  of burning flesh? of children at school? of wounded skin and bone? of ruptured tissue? of spilled brains? of a father's torment?  of seeing his two sons? who,  fleeing  fires of  Hell  are shot to death? hacked to pieces? do you hear their cries? smell embered hearts?  or is it a headline? buried with children? in fireworks of a different sort? the kind of American explosion in the sky? on the fourth of July? when we shoot the stars in bursts? when stepping  over ashes of Western civilization, we light our fires? fiddle with grills?  barbecue ribs buried in  smoky sauce? and  sniff the stifled air?   

 
Lucille Gang Shulklapper is a poet, fiction writer, workshop leader mother, and grandmother.

Monday, July 08, 2013

HE LEFT CONGRESS ATWITTER, BUT HE'S BACK

by James Cronin



                       
                            “Mr. Weiner has once again upended popular conceptions
                            about him, vaulting to the front of the race for mayor.”

                                                            --New York Times, July 9, 2013

                              “Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.”

                                                                                           --Mark Twain


Does foolish scandal have a “use by” date?
Weiner hopes so; he’s on top of a poll,
for mayor. Does victimless sin conflate
with time served to grant a type of parole?

Talking heads, in the past, his sins did bare
and hid their joy.  For hot ratings, Weiner’s
folly was just the stuff they loved to air.
Forget policies, his misdemeanors

were desired: the wry dirt, the sexy tweets,
photos of bare chest and tumescent briefs.
For all the smoke, no fire, no dirty sheets;
it was a mating dance for all its grief,

a bunny hop of humiliation
for the cocksure.  But Twain is not correct.
Like rutting sheep, the rep of the nation
banged his brain blue with no blush to detect.

Recall his nervous, callow demeanor.
When he bared all to the media crush,
remorse only left a sallow Weiner.
Foreplay, not shame, creates the rosy blush.

It can be light, even the slightest touch
can pink the cheeks of an Austen jeune fille
or it can be heavy, even too much,
Yeats’ laid back Leda in feathery glee. 

The risk of exposure will not suffice.
Rumpole’s author knew he had to stick to
the law, but prized sex outdoors for that spice—
cold assets in flagrante delicto.

The need to record is poetic writ.
Anne Carson sings of her little behind,
red with desire, baboon-like, to do it,
finding her soul between bawdy and mind.

Buddha knew pain was rooted in desire,
we want and it hurts, it holds us in thrall,
but we need that rush of blood, that fire.
Unlike the beasts and man before the Fall

we know the grim dance that’s after the ball.


 After a four decade career in the law, James Cronin has returned to his first loves, literary studies and writing.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

FOUR EPIGRAMS

by Richard O'Connell



Quick Canonization

Instant sainthood's the chic ideal  
Broadcast from Rome of late;
I prefer the conventional spiel
When they sat a Devil's Advocate.*

*The office of Advocatus Diaboli was abolished by 
Pope John Paul II.


Retromartyr

Bruno never did repent
But died in flames for heresy.
The Church retracts an ancient wrong  
And promulgates apology.


Less Said

The Laceademonians,* famous for few words,
Demonstrated their gruff, laconic gift  
When Philip of Macedonia threatened them: 
"If I enter Laconia, I'll burn it to the ground."
To which the Lacedaemonians responded: "If."

* Spartans


Poltically Correct

Nerva never publishes or recites.
For fear of Nero, Nerva never writes.
              Martial, VIII,70


Richard O'Connell lives in Hillsboro Beach, Florida. Collections of his poetry include RetroWorlds, Simulations, Voyages, and The Bright Tower, all published by the University of Salzburg Press (now Poetry Salzburg). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Measure, Trinacria The Atlantic Monthly, National Review, Margie, The Texas Review, Acumen, The Formalist, Light.