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Saturday, August 31, 2013

HAS ANYONE SEEN OUR OLD FRIEND, SEAMUS

by Earl J Wilcox


Seamus Heaney 1939-2013


Not long gone, but surely missed.
Already the lonesome loblolly pines
Here in Carolina sing a sad song.
The palmettos list slightly,
Cast a long shadow on the beaches,
Along the pebbled shore,
Over the fading summer foothills.
At high tide, the Atlantic swells,
Then ebbs, washes away but cannot
Diminish thoughts, memories,
Hopes, dreams of him we loved.
Forevermore.


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.

Friday, August 30, 2013

HISTORY LESSON

by Pamela Emigh-Murphy


Naruto Minato Namikaze Chopsticks
Photo source: Entertainment Earth



"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." --George Santayana
 

She fingers the chopsticks
she tucked in the side of her pants
when they left the banquet hall. A souvenir
to remember the donation
her lover made
                                    to “Restore America’s decency laws
                                    to “Wake up America before it’s too late
                                    to “Return to the values of our American Fathers.

During the car ride home, they jab
the under part of her ribs.
She shifts her shoulders
to dislodge them
from her flesh.
                                    “When did they stop teaching American history?
                                    the candidate driveled.

She barely makes it to the porch without
one of them sliding down her leg. He kisses her
goodnight, waiting for the invitation
that doesn’t come.
                                    “Don’t tread on me,” tolled the man at the podium.

She kisses him back, one hand
on the small of his neck, the other
on the door behind her.

She navigates her dark
entryway, taking small measured steps.
                                    “This is my country and I'm not surrendering it.
 

Blood splashes
the white floor of her tidy bathroom.
                                    “They took history out of our schools!

Lest she would’ve known
to use
a coat hanger.



Pamela Emigh-Murphy is a professor of English at Monroe Community College where she teaches women’s literature, American literature, and courses that explore the intersections of science and the humanities.  She is a founding member of Straw Mat, a women’s writing group in Rochester, NY and facilitates writing workshops for breast cancer survivors at the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester. As a ghost-writer, she has authored two articles published in The Alpenhorn, a national magazine publication for the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America and recipient of the prestigious Maxwell Medallion Award from the Dog Writers Association of America. She is a teacher, sister, wife, and proud mother of two sons who love and value the women in their life. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

THE OTHER PART

by Rick Gray


A heavy explosion rocked capital Kabul on Tuesday evening. Interior ministry spokesman, Sediq Sediqi said the suicide bomber was looking to enter the ministry of energy and water of Afghanistan, but was recognized by Afghan police before he manage to enter the ministry compound. Source: Khaama Press (KP) | Afghan Online Newspaper


A man blew himself up last night a block away 
outside the Ministry of Water and Energy.


But the part that shook me deepest
happened before dawn today, when my neighbors


switched on their lights, as always,
and on the flames of their stove boiled water for tea

before going to pray.


Rick Gray has poems forthcoming in Salamander and Rkvry. His essay Total Darkness will appear in the forthcoming book Neither Here Nor There: An Anthology of Reverse Culture Shock. He teaches at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul. When not in Kabul, he lives with his wife and twin daughters in Florida.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

1955

by Philip C. Kolin
 
 

Emmett Till
(July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955)


A year of fantasies, allowed sorcery--
Disneyland opens in Anaheim

Throngs flock to inhabit inflatable kingdoms
America thrives in this the year of the rat

The Mickey Mouse Club enrolls millions;
ears big as Eisenhower's listen but

School children killed by a freight train
in Spring City, TN could not hear the whistle.

Elvis makes his first appearance, half
of him seen on Ed Sullivan, the other

Half below the blackened screen
girls riot at his concert in Jacksonville

Thrown into menarche--
"Bye, bye, babies," sings the King.

Mourners queue around James Dean
tears for a rebel hero whose monument

Is air conditioned. Theatres feature
animated dogs and travelogues.

Gunsmoke premieres and so does
the Viet Nam War staring Ho Chi Minh.

Race becomes a sidebar topic
little Claudette Colvin refuses

To give up her seat on a Montgomery
bus; she is cuffed and carried off backwards.

Segregation is outlawed on trains
and Greyhounds traveling interstate

Routes end with clubs and thugs
stamping black faces with welts.

Eisenhower suffers a coronary
thrombosis. McDonald's opens

Its first golden arches
GM makes a billion in profits.

On Emmett Till's murder day
millions tune in

Sudden death
football--Rams defeat the Giants.

Later, Emmett waits for resurrection in the Tallahatchie
America puts In God We Trust on money.



Philip C. Kolin, University Distinguished Professor in the College of Arts and Letters at the University of Southern Mississippi, is the editor of The Southern Quarterly and has published more than 30 scholarly books on African American playwrights, Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, and Edward Albee. Also a poet, Kolin has published five books of poems, the most recent being Reading God's Handwriting: Poems (Kaufmann, 2012), as well as hundreds of poems in such journals as the Michigan Quarterly Review, Louisiana Literature, South Carolina Review, Christian Century, Spiritus, Seminary Ridge Review, America, and has co-edited Hurricane Blues: Poems about Katrina and Rita (Southwest Missouri UP, 2006) with Susan Swartwout.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

NUMBER 9

by Mark Danowsky





Communist Party cadres have filled meeting halls around China to hear a somber, secretive warning issued by senior leaders. Power could escape their grip, they have been told, unless the party eradicates seven subversive currents coursing through Chinese society. These seven perils were enumerated in a memo, referred to as Document No. 9, that bears the unmistakable imprimatur of Xi Jinping, China’s new top leader. The first was “Western constitutional democracy”; others included promoting “universal values” of human rights, Western-inspired notions of media independence and civic participation, ardently pro-market “neo-liberalism,” and “nihilist” criticisms of the party’s traumatic past. --Chris Buckley, NY Times, August 19, 2013


We know all about Document No. 9
number nine, number nine
details of seven deadly sins
who’s to know
about human rights
whatever you’re doing
the media has it wrong
but you know it isn’t
the unseen hand knocking
maybe it’s nothing
more than the past


Mark Danowsky’s poetry has recently appeared in Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Red River Review, Right Hand Pointing, Snow Monkey and The Best of Every Day Poets Anthology Two.  He resides in Northwest Philadelphia and works for a private detective agency.

Monday, August 26, 2013

GASSED

by Tricia Knoll





I can’t imagine how I will die,
what day, what hour, who will be there

but breathing gas? The people I knew
with numbers on their arms
march toward me from a mist. Anything
is possible in the world
of horror. My parents tried
to explain those numbers.

I swallowed tear gas
when it misted over yellow street lights
across the New Haven green
one May Day during the trial
of Bobby Seale and Ericka Huggins.

It followed me like a bold ghost,
slipped between my sheets, dented
my pillow and nauseous dreams
of blood and riot gear
smogged.

Syrian gas falls
beyond tears, laying out youth,
bodies, brutal line ups for speedy burials
in pits, dead hands
cannot point fingers.

I cannot imagine.
My throat rides
high in my mouth’s
last gasp
most deadly.


Tricia Knoll
is a Portland, Oregon poet. She lived in New Haven, Connecticut throughout the Black Panther trials of Bobby Seale and Ericka Huggins.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

SING SING SING

by Albert Vetere Lannon





They are arresting people in Wisconsin.
For singing:
           This land is your land this land is my land…
All kinds of people
Singing songs.
Not all kinds of songs.
           There once was a union maid who never was afraid…
Not justin bieber songs.
Strong songs. Songs with a message.
Songs that people sing when they are fed up:
           I ain’t a-scared of your jail ‘cause I want my freedom…
When they are angry:
           We are a gentle angry people and we are singing
           Singing for our lives…

Songs of solidarity:
           When the union’s inspiration through the workers’ blood shall run
           There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun…

Grandmothersfathersmotherssistersbrotherssonsdaughters
Arrested for singing:
           Build high build wide your prison walls
           That there be room enough for all…

Songs. I think I’ll sing a song today:
           We were born to rise…
Do you think they’ll come to
Arrest me as well? And you?
           We shall overcome…
Songs that matter.
They can arrest us all they want
But they can’t jail our songs. So:
            Lift every voice and sing…
Yes, sing my brothers
sing my sisters
Sing ! Sing ! Sing !
        ‘Til the walls come tumbling down.


Albert Vetere Lannon is a retired Bay Area labor educator, former union official, and a poet and historian. He has been awarded prizes from the Society of Southwestern Authors and Arizona State Poetry Society.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

CROSSROADS

by Howard Winn


Red Oaks Mill dam - after collapse. Image source: Ed Nisley's Blog


At the crossroads, they call it Red Oaks Mill on the AAA map,
in an empty obeisance to some historic past.
Mill is gone, dam remains but crumbling,
the red oaks have long been dead.
Empty strip mall stores stare
blindly at each other across the highway.
The Sunny Day Gift Shop
and its Korean proprietor are gone
with the Hallmark cards
cheerily celebrating birthdays, weddings,
mothers' and secretaries' day,
along with Michael who made flower and fern
arrangements prettily next door.
Paper taped to plate glass makes mirrors of windows
reflecting upon absence, loss, and death.
Liquor, Wine and Lotto,
respite from diminishing reality,
has moved along to cheaper digs.
Phil the pharmacist has been absorbed
by a glittering Rite Aid
expanded to sell Wonderbread, Campbell Soup, Twinkies,  Kraft Cheddar, and beer
because Grand Union is gone,
directed by  numbers from a foreign land.
Closed, the lost Burger King where too  slow moving beef and fries
incinerated some franchised American Drive-Thru Dream.
The former hardware store owner wears
an orange apron at a distant Home Depot and smiles
when he makes eye contact
and perhaps, perhaps not, when he
receives his regular hired hand's paycheck.
The farm is foreclosed and subdivided,
Black Angus finished by abattoir,
not even picturesque tumbleweeds blown
against abandoned fences
but pools, dentists, and barbecues rampant.
Lawns staked through the heart with signs of Century 21.


Most recently Howard Winn had poems and fiction published in The Dalhousie Review, Descant (Canada), Cactus Heart, Main Street Rag, Caduceus, Burning Word,  Pennsylvania Literary Journal. Southern Humanities Review, Cutting Edgz and Borderlands. His B. A. is from Vassar College. His graduate degree is from the Writing Program at Stanford University. His doctoral work was done at New York University. He is a State University of New York faculty member.

Friday, August 23, 2013

BUFFALOED

by Susan Vespoli


Use this link to the Sierra Club to send a letter to the Department of Interior Secretary Jewell and President Obama today telling them we must protect public lands from fracking.


Big shoulders, dark and burly like Mike Tyson,
2,000 pounds of bull that’s bred with Harley,
some think I’m buffalo but I’m a bison,
an herbivore who’s getting pissed and snarly

at lack of media blitz—where is the news?
Cameras should be filming this whole story
of Badlands, Bakken shale now fracked by crews
near national park, in remote parts of prairie.

Holding tanks, pump jacks of wells surround
my habitat at Roosevelt National Park.
Damn noisy trucks and Amtrak roar through town
with oil; pit flares scare away the dark.

Will someone witness for me, snap pix with phone?
Please save me. Fracking’s fucking up my home.


Susan Vespoli recently traveled to North Dakota where she met a bison at a porta-john. She teaches English and Creative Writing at a couple of Arizona colleges. Her work has been published online, in print, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

WARDEN, MURDER ME

by Allyson Whipple


The following is a found poem based on “Last Words of the Condemned” by Celina Fang, Manny Fernandez, Amy Padnani and Ashwin Seshagiri in The New York Times, June 29, 2013.

Photos provided to the Times by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.



I.
I wish I could die more than once
            to tell you how sorry I am.
I am the sinner of all sinners.

I deserve this.
            Tell everyone
                        I said goodbye.

Let’s roll. Lord Jesus
            receive my spirit.

I love all those on Death row.
            I will always hold them
                        in my hands.

II.
No one wins tonight.
            They are killing me tonight.
No one gets closure.
            They are murdering me tonight.
No one walks away victorious.

Let’s do it, man.
            Lock and load.
                        Ain’t life a bitch.

III.
Bury me deep, lay two speakers
            at my feet,
put some headphones on my head,
            rock and roll me when I’m dead.

I walked in here
            like a man.
I am leaving
            like a man.

It’s a good day to die.

I can feel it,
taste it,
not bad.


Allyson Whipple is the director of the Austin Feminist Poetry Festival and the author of We're Smaller Than We Think We Are (Finishing Line Press). Her work has most recently appeared in the 2014 Texas Poetry Calendar.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

ON ASPERITY STREET

by Gail White





My deep Southern family
all loved to eat:
Thanksgiving dinners
and barbecued wieners
and fish fries with hushpuppies
in summer's heat.
We were just middle class
but we made both ends meet
and we put on no airs
but we did have our pride,
and nothing to hide
on Asperity Street.

Our patriotism
did not need a push
below Mason-Dixon--
we voted for Nixon,
we voted for Bush
(even W. Bush).
We didn't drive Cadillacs,
didn't wear fur,
but all of us knew
who our ancestors were.
Adultery always
was very discrete
and no one was gay
(or at least didn't say)
and our drunks drank at home
on Asperity Street.

We respected ourselves
when our fortune went smash
and we looked down on people
who couldn't pay cash. 
We gave up our steaks
but we still paid the rent
and the government (Yanks)
never gave us a cent
Whatever our plight
we stood on our own feet. 
We looked out for ourselves
and owed nobody thanks,
but formed into ranks
of the Christian and white,
the politically right
and the forces of light
on Asperity Street.


Gail White is a frequent contributor to journals favorable to rhyme.  She is the featured poet in the first issue of Light on-line and winner of the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Prize for 2012.  She lives in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

from BECAUSE FEAR NOW IS NEVER FOREIGN TO ME

by Richard Jeffrey Newman


Image source: Postnoon


In Laurie Garrett’s book, The Coming Plague,
death is microscopic, indifferent,
hovering in a friend’s sneeze
or riding piggy-back
on the kiss of reassurance your husband gives you
before he leaves for work in the cotton mill
Joe McCormick later figures out
is where N’zara’s Ebola epidemic started—
a microbe no one in Sudan had seen before,
or anywhere else for that matter,
and so, in the makeshift hospital
that took your husband in the day he started bleeding,
how could they have known what they were facing?

And when nothing they did to treat you helped,
and you died a few days after they buried him,
and your family came to push and pull the waste from your bowels
and to make your corpse vomit
the food sitting undigested in its stomach,
how could they have known
that curled inside this cleansing
meant to send you as pure to your grave
as you were when you fell from your mother’s womb
a death waited to be born
that would cleanse the earth of them as well,
and of all who came to make sure their dead too
had left behind in this world
the last things they’d taken from it?

Or sometimes death is a darkness honing in on you,
a Muriel Degauque, whose Roman Catholic life began
in the coal-mining black-country corner of Belgium.
Handpicked, The New York Times suggests,
for the color of her skin
and the way the voice she spoke her language in
could pacify suspicion, Muriel
stepped off the edge of her days
on November 9, 2005 in Baquba Iraq,
a Muslim come to kill American soldiers,
choosing, though no one knows why—
after she exploded herself,
they found her passport and some papers
but no explanation—choosing
the world to come promised to its martyrs
by her new husband’s religion.

Now, sitting here by myself
in the garden’s south end,
the morning quiet more quiet than usual,
I’m remembering those bullets years ago
that you and Shahob fled,
even though they were fired
far from where you were shopping,
and the shooters were apprehended
before you reached the mall’s exit.
You told me the story that same night,
and after I closed my cell phone,
I went out to walk
beneath the lowest
full moon I’d ever seen,
across the tree-lined campus in Hamilton, NY
where I was writing poetry for the week,
down to the lake,
passing without thinking
close enough to the swan’s nest
my friend had found the day before
that the cob—I was surprised
he was awake—stood up and hissed at me.
He followed behind me a few quick steps,
though he probably thought of it as chasing,
and only when I was safely distant,
returned to his post,
confident his mate and soon-to-be cygnets
were, at least for the time being, safe.

“Stray bullets kill no differently than well-aimed ones,”
you’d said before we hung up,
and as I turned to watch that male bird
settle back down—
one eye, I’m sure, locked on me—
and I plotted a way back to my room
that would not disturb him,
I thought how no vigilance
would have been sufficient
if the force pushing one of those bullets
through the commerce-filled air
of middle class Long Island
had pushed it instead at an angle
precisely intersecting the path
you thought meant safety.

I did not then, as I do not now,
pray, and the gratitude I felt,
large enough though it was
to hold the moon now risen high
and all the endless stars
trying to fill infinity with light,
invoked no debt,
though sometimes
I wish it had.

Richard Jeffrey Newman writes about the impact of feminism on his life as a man and of classical Persian poetry on our lives as Americans. He has published four books, three of which are translations from classical Persian. The Teller of Tales (Junction Press 2011) is the most recent. The Silence of Men, a book of his own poetry, was published by CavanKerry Press in 2006. Newman is Professor of English at Nassau Community College in Garden City, NY. He also curates the First Tuesdays reading series in Queens. The poem published here is one part of a longer piece called Because Fear Now is Never Foreign to Me.

Monday, August 19, 2013

EGYPT NOW

by David Radavich


Photo copyright by Tom Prokop.
 Used with permission from 123RF.
Is this
a worse desert
than the one
we knew?

Sharp, with no
relief of sun
or sand

and the faces
down like

ghosts

a violence
so pure

even the angels

cry out
in their belfries.


Every body
is ultimate

alone
in its blood

night
crawling

nowhere
safer than a morgue.


The palm trees
don’t know

their own water,

air aches
bent overhead.


Don’t tell time
to return

until

the sand

falls through.

                      
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 is The Countries We Live In

Sunday, August 18, 2013

SINGING TRUTH TO POWER ON THE CAPITOL TOUR, MADISON, WISCONSIN, 8-7-13

by Wendy Vardaman





 for the Solidarity Sing Along & Overpass Light Brigade, Living Art Since 2011 & the Raging Grannies, est. 2003


Liberty’s decked
in a dozen shades of green, wears a laurel-leafed
red cap,
shelters a ballot box in her lap,
inside it a white ball—that means yes.
Old as Moses, Legislation has
a notebook, a pen, could be a writer. Or just a forgetful old man.
Justice, maybe Liberty’s mom,
holds a pan in each palm. And Governance?
He’s up to something. Has his eye on Liberty’s
egg-like vote. He’s Roman.
Carries the Emperor’s wand
in one hand and a sword in the other. Flashes his shining, glass-light teeth
like he means it. The red breastplate means he hangs with Mars, even if he hides the helmet

under his seat. The four
sit larger than life, myth-like, on benches flat to the wall, don’t register
the noon-hour sing-along, from their Olympus high. One hundred, more or less, 
not an organization, but a collection
of citizens, some regulars, some once-in-a-whiles, some one
timers, gather to gather citations beneath Resources of Wisconsin,
then lay them at her feet, along with their breath, the light
that bounces off some 100,000 Beaux-Art mosaic tiles
that make up Liberty, Legislation, Justice, Governance,
and raise a collective voice, assembled from fragments,
beneath the Rotunda, city center to which all have claim. Today some audience,
also part of this unlawful gathering, wears etched orange vests:
Tourists. Do Not Arrest. They ask, We’re from New York.
Is it true we’re not allowed to look?


The Raging Grannies sing in calico aprons and dahlia-trimmed, wide-brimmed hats.
Veterans for Peace, visiting this week, comes to sing and fly a flag.
Have you been to jail for justice? The Capitol Police tell
people who only stand and watch leave: Tell
a teenaged boy leave. Tell the orange-vested grandparents leave.
Tell a mom and her three children leave.
They say we all must clear the viewing area, an unlawful
assembly. But what if we’re quiet as stone, still as marble,
see-through as glass?
They gather their offering to Liberty, Legislation,
Justice and Governance, arrest 20-some singers again
today: old people, clergy, veterans, teenagers,
students, mothers with children, photographers.
Just doing their job. An older woman wearing a tie-died  shirt lies down
on the granite floor to do hers. When

the singing ends, so do the arrests, though people still stay to talk in the Capitol
full-up with art: murals and sculptures, marble and glass. Including “The Trial
of Chief Oshkosh.” Including “The Opening of the Panama Canal.” Including
“Wisconsin,” the hollow, gold-leafed woman in a long,
Empire-style dress at the very top of the dome, who wears a hat
with a badger, another state symbol, perched
on top of it: commission given to, then stolen
from, an actual Wisconsin woman,
Helen Farnsworth Mears.
The Capitol tour covers rocks and fossils: Nautiloid, Gastropod, Burrows,
Coral, Ammonoid, Bryozoans, Brachiopods, sedentary animals
of the ancient sea floor. Covers 19th century New York. Covers artistic time capsules.
Governance, also sedentary, likes it that way. Bullies Justice, who
keeps her mouth shut. Ignores an old journalist taking notes. Leers at Liberty.


Wendy Vardaman is the author of Obstructed View (Fireweed Press), co-editor/webmaster of Verse Wisconsin, and co-founder/co-editor of Cowfeather Press. She is one of Madison, Wisconsin's two Poets Laureate (2012-2015).

THE STATE OF WISCONSIN

by Margaret Rozga





Capitol Police Captain Lonergan speaks into his shoulder.

 During a game when he speaks,
Packers’ Head Coach Mike McCarthy
props up his nose with a stiff sheet of paper.

Two stiff-eyed officers, watch the center, slow-walk
the circumference counter-clockwise.

Guards on the circumference of the perhaps
mine in the Penokee Hills scarf their faces.

Judge Conley finds sections of the permit requirement
unconstitutional in ways that raise “the question of whether
the rest of the Access Policy can be salvaged.”
Perhaps he thinks this clear.

They nod and cut a clear line toward the center.

The center of attention, Senate President
Mike Ellis screws up his face, busts a gavel.

We saw you, your face, your mouth moving.
We have clear evidence. You were singing.


No one saw the Governor pick up the phone.
Just imagine his face as he answers the prank call.

Justices of the Supreme Court hear arguments
and take them into their own hands.

Teachers take pay cuts.

He’s busted. He’s held in
a basement room, plastic cuffs cutting into
his wrists.

In the still green of the Penokee Hills,
the Ojibwe set up a harvest camp.

Packer backers, happy to have tickets,
paint their faces and chests green and gold.

Another $200 ticket.  What’s up, Captain
Lonergan? What do you call down there?
And who calls it in to you?


Margaret Rozga
has published two books: Two Hundred Nights and One Day and Though I Haven’t Been to Baghdad. Her poems have appeared recently in The Kerf, Nimrod and as a Split This Rock Poem of the Week.  Her essay “Community Inclusive: A Poetics to Move Us Forward,” published in Verse Wisconsin, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She lives in Milwaukee and blogs about poetry and social justice.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

TEXAS TAMPON MASSACRE

by Laura Bernstein

 


Someone let the women out again.
They’re wearing bras as masks,
cut peepholes in padded cups. Spanx
suctioned to their heads. They shoot
super plus tampons out of applicators,
a whole sky of tampons lands
like thick icing on the layered Texas
Capitol building floors. Congressmen
hide behind suitcases, knees locked.
Can’t we work this out? they stutter.
But the women are ruthless,
keep shooting up, aim for the ceiling’s 
gold star. How the mighty men have fallen,
they’re all falling, tripping on strings
gasping for air as tampon shrapnel
blasts through men’s throats. Troops
of Cub Scout tourists shrivel behind
their den leader. This is why we don’t
let women lead
, he urges the boys,
the boys nod, journal notes.
But there’s hope. A brave senator,
spackled in a fancy suit-loafer-tie combo
goes unnoticed behind a column. Drops
his trousers and starts loading up.
He prepares to defeat sperm-shaped cotton
with sperm-shaped sperm, will shoot
and shoot until all women are defeated.
He preps for battle. As he waits to dominate
and finish them off, his foot steps
on a bright pink wrapper—gives away
his location. He clenches his cock as the women
take note of his presence. They lunge
toward him, chant high-pitched screams,
thrust tampon boxes to his head. Drop
the gun, or we’ll bleed.


Laura Bernstein is an MFA candidate at Rutgers University, Camden. She lives in Bucks County, PA with her husband and daughter. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

KOMMENO

by Janice D. Soderling



On August 16, 1943, the Greek village of Kommeno was destroyed, and one hundred fifty villagers massacred. 74 were children under the age of 10. Photo source: Kommeno. A narrative reconstruction of a war crime committed by the Wehrmacht in Greece.


Always they are with us in this room
watching as we laugh or write or rest.
Some never learned to speak. Like vaporous spume
they drift, small shades: dry-eyed, perplexed, distressed.
Months pass, and years, and decades, still they wait
for honest news, and even the littlest
ones keep watch. Men who exterminate
small babes like rats must surely have good cause.
One day, one may drop by to motivate
the deed—mistake or joke or small-print clause?
The little sprites want only to know why
they had to die.


Janice D. Soderling has often had poems at NVN. She is a poet, writer and translator whose work can be read in many print and online magazines and anthologies.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

ANUBIS SPEAKS

by Anne Harding Woodworth




I will embalm the gun,
dip it in antimony salts and mercury
to preserve the image
of a life that is no more.
I will detach the grip and the trigger.
Both have fingerprints,
which cannot be erased
thoroughly, but I will try
before I reattach the parts to the body.
History must be able
to interpret the design
and the intention
centuries from now.
I will hook the bullet, pull it
through the barrel nose,
steep it in formaldehyde
and return it to its chamber.
History must be able
to decipher the bullet’s use
as the empowering heart
of a cherished anatomy.
I will wrap the gun in linen strips,
brush them with sweet resin
to conceal the stench of death.
And I will place tokens
within the wrappings,
a sword, a toy, a raven,
a rose, a razorblade.
This is my duty:
to prepare a thing for the journey
across the river,
where it will be judged
for its deeds on earth.


Anne Harding Woodworth is the author of four books of poetry and two chapbooks. Her work is widely published in literary journals and on line in the U.S. and abroad. She divides her time between the mountains of Western North Carolina and Washington, D.C., where she is a member of the poetry board at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

MADE IN CHINA

by George Salamon





  My granddaughter's kitten stayed with me for a week.
  Her name is Mila.
  She's affectionate and playful.
  I bought her a furry toy mouse at the market.
  She batted it around the living room floor.
  She hid it under a dining room chair.

  She got bored and nestled against my arm next to the computer.
  I picked up the mouse.
  "Made in China," it said on the label.
  Where else, I thought.
  But I couldn't imagine the worker who made Mila's mouse.
  I couldn't see her face, hear her voice, watch her walk.

  I wanted to talk with her.
  What toys did she have when she was little?
  Did she love or hate school?
  Was her third grade teacher like Miss Grundy?
  What did she and her friends laugh about?
  Did her life turn out as she expected?

  I'll never find answers to my questions.
  In the global economy, human voices and fingerprints disappear.
  Transactions mesh into a seamless web without them.
  It's better, that way, for Return on Investment.
  Hansel and Gretel could follow pebbles home to human dwelling.
  There's no path for going back anymore.


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

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

THE SINGED FLAG AT THE SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL

by Tricia Knoll


"Two of the hallmarks of a Southern Oregon summer are heated theatrical performances in Ashland and wildfires in the surrounding forests. This week those two are at odds, as the smoke from numerous area fires has led to the cancellation of performances on the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s open-air Elizabethan Stage." --Oregon Live, August 1, 2013
Images: Pisanio and Imogen painted by J. Hoppner (1801); Incident Management Team fire photo.


Wild fire tears forward on the Rogue
River, tickling Zane Grey’s one-room
cabin of hand-hewed logs,
in the purple sage.

Smoke jumpers, helicopters lifting
the weight of water, scorch, death
of fire fighters, children in face masks --
the West burns and those at risk
do not breathe. Homeowners pack
again, photos, pets, and wills.

Today’s dragons breathe names
of Big Windy northwest of Merlin,
a Whiskey complex, Brimstone.
Name the culprit lightning,
name the culprit record-breaking
hot summer days without rain.
Name a culprit human hand.

The actors shut the outdoor Shakespeare
plays in Ashland. No white flag
calls out merry troupes to juggle.
Cymbeline’s Imogen pockets her dark letter
asking for a horse with wings,
not tonight when the sky
is blight and ash.

The newspaper asks for more
than the National Guard, for more
from the government, and we,
the comfortable elsewhere, ride home
in guzzle cars to sit in Adirondack
chairs, content to do less
to clear the air of residue
that got us here.


Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet. She has endured fires near Sisters, Oregon on two occasions.

Monday, August 12, 2013

CALIFORNIA TEEN RESCUED, MURDERER DECEASED

by Kristina England


Members of the extended Anderson and Saincome families, with James Lee DiMaggio (right) are seen in this June 2011 photo provided to the AP by Andrea Saincome. James Lee DiMaggio was killed after being sought in the abduction of Hannah Anderson (reclining). Ethan Anderson (on floor, left) was found killed along with his mother. Source: New York Daily News.


My uncle leans forward on the couch,
the news flashing across the screen.
A cop for over twenty years,
his own son a murderer -
lust, anger, drugs, the boy’s undoing.

The reports read Dead... and Alive,
but I’ve seen the ones who make it
the victims’ and murderer’s families,
what they had before,
what they thought they had,
all some distorted, unobtainable past.

My uncle’s son, caught, arrested,
locked up, then let go,
walks the streets somewhere,
neither man nor ghost,
dead or alive.

His victims - one deceased, one rescued -
nothing more than archived captions,
some story that passed away,
when the next one and the next one
and the very next one
came to life.


Kristina England resides in Worcester, Massachusetts. Her poetry and fiction is published or forthcoming in Decades Review, Gargoyle, Linguistic Erosion, The Story Shack, and other journals.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

AMERICA'S GOD (A LULLABY)

by David Breeden



“It was all God’s plan.” --George Zimmerman


In the United States, God
loves white and violent, it
seems; loves what’s inhuman,
it looks. Look at His plan

working as it does. In the
US, God loves those laws
that fill the jails, that fill
the pockets of the rich,

it appears. Just look. He--
yes, must be a He--gives
a vindictive wink and nod
to the violent, as long as

it’s Christian.

In the United States, God
likes the way Florida does it.
Loves the way Texas does
people in. Likes his women
on a short leash; his people

poor; likes violence and guns
a lot. In the United States, God
loves his guys white. Just look.
See how things are in the plan.

In the United States, God likes
many of his children murdered.
Some in prison. Most poor. Just
look at the justice. It’s some

God’s plan.


Rev. Dr. David Breeden has a Master of Fine Arts in poetry from The Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a Ph.D. from the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi, with additional study in writing and Buddhism at Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. He also has a Master of Divinity degree from Meadville Lombard Theological School. Rev. David is Senior Minister at First Unitarian Society, Minneapolis. The author of many books, tweets at @dbreeden.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

OLD SOLDIERS NEVER DIE

by Richard O'Connell


Image source: http://www.timetrips.co.uk/gw%20armour.htm


                            from the Greek of Archilochus

What if I thew away my ox-hide shield
And ran to save my skin. Let some Thracian strut
When he picks it up. Fanatics die on the spot.
No professional's about to lose his butt.

      
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 Paris Review,  The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Measure, Margie, National Review, The Texas Review, Acumen, The Formalist,  Light, etc.

Friday, August 09, 2013

RELICS

by Anne Harding Woodworth


“We have found a holy thing in a chest,”
said lead archaeologist Professor Gülgün Köroğlu.
“It is a piece of a cross.” UPI.com, August 2, 2013


Photos, undated and curled,
4x6s, 5x7s, lie out in the garage
in a metal chest, some framed, some loose,
some stained with wine and oil,
places miles away with names forgotten,
forgotten eyes and smiles,
pieces of you and me that have lain buried
decades, centuries, millennia,
to be remembered in swabs of saliva
from the inside of a cheek someday.
They will ask: who were our mothers?
when did we live? how did we die?
From the photos nothing will be known
of cracked ribs, nothing of teeth
(though they’ll say we ate grains, of course).
And what about the nutshells
at the bottom of the chest?
Carbon 14 will determine that squirrels
entered it a half-life ago. And surely
it’s the squirrels that gnawed
that rough slat of wood among the photos
with its ancient glyphs of black ink along the edge,
a stick that measured, or so they will say,
the height and width of a holy thing.


Anne Harding Woodworth is the author of four books of poetry and two chapbooks. Her work is widely published in literary journals and on line in the U.S. and abroad. She divides her time between the mountains of Western North Carolina and Washington, D.C., where she is a member of the poetry board at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

RACE

by Howard Winn


Micah Kogo of Kenya captures first place in the Beach to Beacon 10K road race in Cape Elizabeth Saturday. Kogo won his second Beach to Beacon race in three years with a time of 28 minutes, 3.2 seconds. --Ernie Clark, Bangor Daily News, Aug. 03, 2013. Image source: http://www.beach2beacon.org/


There are no black faces in my town
in the suburbs of Portland, Maine,
except when they run the marathon
from Crescent Beach to the Portland Head
lighthouse where usually vacationers leave
the tour buses to admire the wild waves
whitening  the Atlantic water
against the splintering rocks of our
craggy Casco Bay.
On our street of young couples
with the requisite two small children,
the portable basketball hoops and backboards,
scooters and skateboards,
it is tricky to tell them apart
which is what is overheard when
they speak of the black faces
that appear once a year.
The hard young men who bicycle
in spandex and stream-lined helmets
after work and on week-ends,
leave for labor in similar SUVs
at about the same time each work day.
Young toned wives with careful hair
watch the exuberant toddlers
and run together in packs
on Shore Road during their nap time
or when the Granny is in charge.
But never that one time of year
when the Africans from Kenya,
Ethiopia, Ghana, Congo or South Africa,
male and female, race the road
from Beach to Beacon and
win for the money to send home
to hungry villagers who export
their beloved sons and daughters
world-wide to run the marathons
for white Western money.
Afterwards what is left
is the newspaper reports,
in paper and on the Internet,
the signs along the roads announcing
the mileage covered and to come,
the washable paint on the highways
that make beginning and end
of our world famous race
until it is rained away,
the bleachers in the park
and the portable potties for
observer and participant.
The signs, white and red,
announcing the event
and warning of street closings
will come down eventually, detached
and stored by the Town of Cape Elizabeth
for the competition next year
when black faces will appear
to run and win that race again.


Most recently Howard Winn had poems and fiction published in The Dalhousie Review, Descant (Canada), Cactus Heart, Main Street Rag, Caduceus, Burning Word,  Pennsylvania Literary Journal. Southern Humanities Review, Cutting Edgz and Borderlands. His B. A. is from Vassar College. His graduate degree is from the Writing Program at Stanford University. His doctoral work was done at New York University. He is a State University of New York faculty member.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

OF COURSE

by Gabriel Squailia


Of course there are atheists in foxholes, 
they're all suicidal, and of course there are
two snowflakes shaped the same, 
they just melted, and Schrödinger's cat
is observing you too, you know, 
and she sees a little lie in every truth you tell
and a great big truth in all the lies, 
and I'm the atheist in the foxhole, 
and I'm also a liar, so thank God
the new Pope says it's okay.


Gabriel Squailia lives in the Berkshires, writing novels and poems while working as DJ BFG.

Monday, August 05, 2013

THRENODY (FOR THE VICTIMS OF HIROSHIMA)

by Howie Good




It’s years later,
but still August,

the sky erupting
in abrupt reds
& parsimonious purples

like God’s own
fiery flesh,

until nowhere
is everywhere,

& our faces are flecked
with sharp grains
of martyrs’ bones.


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, August 03, 2013

DIFFICULT TO SWALLOW

by Buff Whitman-Bradley





Lakota grandmothers in South Dakota
Report that the Department of Social Services
Illegally places Lakota children in foster care
Away from their communities
And extended families
And that those children are continually dosed
With an array of psychoactive drugs
Thus providing pharmaceutical corporations
With a lucrative market
As well as a ready supply of guinea pigs.
When two Lakota children’s noses
Would not stop bleeding
From the medications they he were being fed
Instead of discontinuing the drugs
Doctors sutured their nostrils shut

I know there are those who believe
That humanity is making moral progress
But I see progress in the opposite direction:
As the forces of accumulation and profit grind on
They have become ever more monstrously creative
And efficient
And effective
At mangling lives
Decimating communities
Torturing bodies
And pulverizing spirits.

The good Dr. King told us
That the moral arc of the universe
Bends toward justice
But if I were a little Lakota boy
Stolen from my people
Used as a lab rat
Gagging on the blood pooled in my throat
From a sewn-up nose
I might find that
Difficult to swallow.


Buff Whitman-Bradley is the author of four books of poetry, b. eagle, poet; The Honey Philosophies; Realpolitik; and When Compasses Grow Old; and the chapbook, Everything Wakes Up! His poetry has appeared in many print and online journals. He is also co-editor, with Cynthia Whitman-Bradley and Sarah Lazare, of the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War.  He has co-produced/directed two documentary films, the award-winning Outside In (with Cynthia Whitman-Bradley) and Por Que Venimos (with the MIRC Film Collective).  He lives in northern California.

Friday, August 02, 2013

LOVING SCRABBLE

by Tricia Knoll


"Hasbro pulls its support of Scrabble's organizing tournament organization -- the National Scrabble Association". --NY Times, July 14, 2013


Words for love: Japanese 2, Sanskrit 96, Ancient Persian 80, Greek 3, English 1


She, sidewinding from the center star: TWOS.

he building from sibilance, up to down: ONES

she slides, pushing tiles over and under ONES, LONESOME

grabbing g, he forges EGO

she built LOVE from loneliness

and he VAGUE from love

she bridges loneliness to vague: NAG

he pounced on VAGUE to USURP

and she that P for PAPA

he pushed TIT up to TWOS

triumph in hard combinations
bedding down together as if
WOO and WED
DARLING and ADORE
VEIL and LACE
TUX and TINGLE and COMMIT
outshone
YES down from YOKE
BUZZ and BLESS and BED,
JOY, JISM, SORROW, and SPARK
EX (triple word score) and SUE and LEFT
FIRE from IRE, ACE hung from AWE
STALE and MATE

she’s left at end with an unplaceable U
he with I


Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet who loves word games, plays several on her I-Phone and has known some scarey competitive women Scrabble players.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

THE PENIS

by Cally Conan-Davies





I don't have one, or rather the one I have
hides discreetly in its little hood. As they should.
A piquant pea, appropriately kept to weather
all kinds of climates hot to chill, with folds
and layers to peel back. And a hook. When laid bare
it won't grow to a tree for all the world to see,
unless of course I'm really a spotted hyena
in which case it would serve a multitude
of purposeful functions: pee, nooky, parturition
(apparently, mine warms to big words though);
and it could be that because it doesn't grow
to industrial proportions, it's easier to ignore it,
easier to relieve it whether anyone is looking or not
and much easier to tell it no, no, no.


Cally Conan-Davies is an Australian writer and teacher who moved to the United States in 2012. Her poems have appeared, and are forthcoming, in Poetry, The New Criterion, The Hudson Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Raintown Review, The Sewanee Review and The Southwest Review, among others. She lives mostly in Oregon.