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Friday, February 28, 2014


by Richard O'Connell

                 after Cavafy's "Waiting for the Barbarians"

Why are we waiting, desperate for information?
Because the terrorists will strike today.

Why has Congress adjourned and gone into hiding
and set up a secret shadow government?

Because the terrorists are on their way,
muffled, dressed like cut-rate dervishes,
and they'll abolish speeches and elections.

Why did our president evaporate
on a jet, spirited to a distant site,     
enthroned in a lead vault deep under ground?

Because the terrorists will strike today
and the President and his advisers must
survive to issue proclamations and appeals
for public calm and broadcast patriotic hymns
surrounded by bright panoplies of banners.

Why are so many generals on television   
parading their medals, beating the drum
for prophylactic war with loud boasts about 
our unprecedented military might? 
Why is the press in bed with mad Procrustes?
Why is criticism greeted with derision? 

Because the terrorists will strike today
and one person's patriotism is another's prison.

Why have our moral leaders disappeared?
Why have our laws and civil rights been trashed?

Because the terrorists are on the way
and death's their only concept of due process.

Why do we see nightmare in every face
we encounter?  Why can't we sleep?  Why are our cities
impoverished for the sake of imperial projects?
Why do we hide in our homes afraid to speak?

Night falls and the terrorists are still not here.
Rumors abound that they have been destroyed
by a virus they were carrying to envenom us.

Now what will become of us without the terrorists?
Those people were some sort of a solution.

Richard O'Connell lives in Deerfield 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, The Atlantic Monthly, National Review, The Paris Review, Margie, Measure, Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, The Formalist, etc.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


by Rick Gray

“Obama to Pentagon: Plan for ‘zero option’ in Afghanistan” --Aljazeera America headline, February 25, 2014

Doesn't include my friend Daryl, or my student Zohra,
or that guy at the end of the hall
with the ponytail and the funny shoes.

It doesn't include my class this afternoon
when we will attack the final act
of Romeo and Juliet.

It doesn't include the scruffy kid on the corner
who sells stolen tangerines next to a muddy white horse
or his circling gang selling chewing gum made in Saudi Arabia.

It doesn't include the butcher over there slitting that sheep's throat
or the sound of the man's boots pacing the roof above me with a gun
or my secret escape plans through the School for the Blind.

Come to think of it, the zero option
doesn't even include me, or anyone I really know,
or anything any of us have ever done in our ordinary lives.

We are those whose lives have not
been calculated into the numerical system
of my nation's Department of Defense.

And when our deaths come, as they must,
without flags or trumpets or Arlington,
some of us may still be in Afghanistan

where, with God's infinite mercy,
the streets will be undefined with blast walls or barbed wires
and the uncounted will stroll with minds as empty of war or worry as zeros.

Rick Gray has work currently appearing in Salamander and has an essay forthcoming in the book, Neither Here Nor There: An Anthology of Reverse Culture Shock. He served in the Peace Corps in Kenya and teaches in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


by Martha Landman

Phil Plait writes on February 24, 2014 in Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog: “On Sept. 11, 2013, an asteroid hit the Moon. That happens all the time, but most of the cosmic debris is tiny, far too small to detect from the Earth. But this one was different. Roughly a meter across and moving at interplanetary speeds when it slammed into the lunar surface, it created the brightest explosion ever seen on the Moon! The whole thing was captured on video.”

Walking in the moonlight then,
we basked in that long afterglow,
our lips a molten mass, your face
a spectacular episode in the whiteness
of moon. At the sight of your silhouette
gliding in the water, desire dislodged
like lava, with the force of a fridge
hitting the moon; an asteroid
through a sea of clouds.

Through a sea of clouds
the moon gazed at us, her naked
eye a telescopic lens, her smile
a thermal glow. She moved at
elegant speed around the earth,
dodged and winked at every
meteor along the way.

Martha Landman
writes dry poems in the wet season of tropical North Queensland, Australia.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


by Kristina England

Image source: Mexodus

‘South Texas businessman [and Texas Senate candidate] Chris Mapp, 53, told this editorial board that ranchers should be allowed to shoot on sight anyone illegally crossing the border on to their land, referred to such people as “wetbacks,” and called the president a “socialist son of a bitch.”’--The Dallas Morning News editorial (16 February 2014) endorsing Sen. John Cornyn.

My aunt loves to eat Mexican food
so we go out for dinner,
order guacamole, flautas, fajitas.
None of it is authentic,
but what is these days?

My aunt asks the waitress where she's from,
how to say "you're welcome" in Spanish,
then says "Gracias" about nine times.
If we were at any other restaurant,
she'd complain about poor English,
that it's a God-given right to be American.

My aunt knows nothing about El Bordo
or the displaced people living there,
deported by our government,
left between two countries
in a land full of sewage and trash,
most having lived in America so long
they are unable to speak with Tijuana.
Tired, hungry, they walk the border,
no longer sure which direction is home,

while my aunt, red in her politics,
fills her belly with wine and beans,
stumbles over the words "De nada,"
her language gnarled by barbed wire,
disjointed, misplaced.

Kristina England resides in Worcester, Massachusetts. Her fiction and poetry is published or forthcoming at Gargoyle, The New Verse News, The Story Shack, The Quotable, and other magazines. Her first collection of short stories will be published in the 2014 Poet's Haven Author Series.

Monday, February 24, 2014


by Jennifer Lemming

The Gjallerhorn. Image source: Swide

I waited for the Viking apocalypse,
nursing a cup of hot chocolate,
like it was mead, thick with brewing,
reading Beowulf, looking at the moon set
in the western sky, wondering if the young boy
with the hoodie pulled up and dark circles under
his eyes, walking past my window

on this milder day, after a winter that feels
like it was eleven years long, is the wolf son
of Loki, escaped and battling for the last hundred
days. I’m thinking I could go outside and pull
bark from the tree, scratch on it some

Viking graffiti that says, “kiss me,” the scent of
alpine clover in the air,
and return into my lair, take up my mead/hot chocolate
burrow under the blankets again,
waiting for the world to fall into the sea,
waiting to dream of Valhalla, laid in state
on my bed, a proper Viking funeral.

Jennifer Lemming’s works have appeared in Tipton Poetry Review, Earth’s Daughters, Ichabod’s Sketchbook, Out Rider Press Anthologies, Foothills Press Anthology, Rufous Press, The Idiom Magazine, and The Poetry Garden. Jennifer was a Finalist in February 2011 for the “Poems for Mr. Lincoln” contest sponsored by Brick Street Poetry. In the San Francisco based poetry contest, The Dancing Poetry Festival, she won first place for her poetry in 2004 and third place in 2009. In 2012 her latest chapbook The Clever Level was published by Celestial Panther Press.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


by Tricia Knoll

“Monsanto’s Roundup and genetically modified crops are harming everybody’s favorite butterfly.” -- Warren Cornwall, Slate, January 29, 2014

“The monarch earned a mention yesterday at the summit between the leaders of Mexico, the United States and Canada. ‘We have also agreed to work on the preservation of the monarch butterfly as an emblematic species of North America which unites our three countries,’ Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said at the conclusion of the one-day summit.” -- Tim Johnson, Miami Herald, February 20, 2014

Lear floated his orange and black king-robe
over a land of riches, undivided by boundaries,
surrounded by gilded butterflies of court,

assuming he had many to choose
from, the daughter-flowers of his loins,
his flight certain in reign and retinue.

Sorrow. His good world
not so good. Poisoned. Vicious.
Short-sighted. All he took

for granted a last wingless jump
from a low cliff, obscure.
His day of the monarch dwindling

as branches wind-ripped from firs,
the flattering tongues of milkweed
and sycophants lying, patterns

dividing machinations
of the false from the loyalty
of the good

magnetized migrations.
Lear asks Cordelia to share
who wins, who loses.

This monarch,
the oldest who hath born
the most.

Tricia Knoll is a Portland poet, snowbound alone in her house for seven days. Her chapbook Urban Wild is now available from Finishing Line Press.

Saturday, February 22, 2014


by Tom Lennox

In the ice dancing competition in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Russia’s bronze medalists Nikita Katsalapov and Elena Ilinykh “brought down the house with their performance to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.”

They chose the queer for their music
to dance upon the ice
queer ice
deep and Russian
dense with dreams
with the thrill of passion’s thaw
a triumphant heart
beating beneath the ice
Russian heart
queer heart
within the swan
black swan beset by
the magician
black heart
his veins too
Russian passion
queer passion
that slices
through the ice
lifting the heart like a waltz
queer waltz

Tom Lennox’s poems have appeared in Miriam’s Well and The New Verse News. He has published two chapbooks, Aerial Acts and Once Twice. He lives by a creek in a wildlife region in southwest Florida.

Friday, February 21, 2014


by Rick Gray

Image source: The Telegraph

He hides under the spitting rage of barrel bombs
Thundering below another’s day’s bolting attack.
Buried in the dark basement below his broken home
He vows to its ghosts he’s never coming back.  

It’s always Miriam, his sly sister, or Mohamed, a reckless brother,
Too hungry to fake dreams anymore,
Who creak on naked feet around the booby traps
Down the twisted stairway into the hum of a shattered kitchen.

In darkness he learns to hear
the miracle of an empty bowl filled,
and the holy whisper of long-life milk over looted cereal
before mercy comes crackling through his bitter spells.

Rick Gray has work currently appearing in Salamander and has an essay forthcoming in the book, Neither Here Nor There: An Anthology of Reverse Culture Shock. He served in the Peace Corps in Kenya and teaches in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


by David Radavich

Image credit: gemenacom / 123RF Stock Photo

A culture’s values
lie in its treasure chests.

What people spend
money on day in day out.

Rock concerts, sporting events,
hairstyles, boob jobs, four-wheel drive,

airline tickets
to the Caribbean .

What we buy we love,
and that loves us,

breath of life
and song and sight.

These coins I hand
to the beggar

before me
is small pittance

for a world
that doesn’t care.

We can even
sell our blood
and zygotes

for a big new screen.

The better to see

in a good story

full of racing death.

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.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


by Rick Gray

Chicken Street, Kabul. Source: Streets of Afghanistan Project

Not yet fourteen, he swings on donated crutches like an old jazz hand
Brushing the bad news lightly to his orphaned platoon.  

Cute won’t work anymore, the foreigners are all leaving the war.                        
Our new mission is grabbing anything they abandon.

Slip thick blankets off their emptied beds, still warm with home dreams.
Seize their Pop-Tarts, some good glue, and those spittoons. I have ideas.

And the general’s long strategy desk we saw on that looted TV, he commands,
Smash it into firewood with your remaining little hands.

We’ll need the heat.  And the meat, he squints, lifting his right crutch and aiming
Its chicken-bloodied tip at a shadow taking cover underground.

The others understand.
Any rat alive, or close enough. 

Rick Gray has work currently appearing in Salamander and has an essay forthcoming in the book, Neither Here Nor There: An Anthology of Reverse Culture Shock. He served in the Peace Corps in Kenya and teaches in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


by Howard Winn

A college course in love has been suggested
because in this hook-up world,
the young and nubile have lost their
way to an enduring connection.
It will be for credit, of course,
and probably not with a distant learning format,
because the student will want to qualify
for that all-important B. A. in Something-
or-Other that will look impressive on the
transcript of grades to add to the CV.
A+ in Love should win an internship,
one would think, if all else fails.
Unpaid, of course, since it is the experience
that counts in the long run, along with
the invaluable networking that follows.
If hooking-up no longer makes the world go round,
let’s give love a chance.

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.

Monday, February 17, 2014


by Tony Rivera

Timothy Stansbury, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Ramarley Graham, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis

Being a big brother is exhausting.
Timothy wants me to pick him up
hold him up high. I oblige, to see him
alive . . . as much as his laughter is painful.

After a game of catch, Sean begs me
to bring him back to the jungle gym his
friends play at . . . be that as it may, be fatal.

Then there's Oscar and I on our way to
a celebration. Taking in his knees on the bench,
face at the window . . . we depart Fruitvale Station.

"RaMarley", "Charley", "Marley Charley" echos
a chorus of joy from the bathroom.  My knock
for the boys to lower their voices . . . is gentle, safe.

There is something peaceful about watching
Trayvon assemble planes, after a football game
. . . I just cant help but turn away, every time he runs.

And I am beat, trying to keep Jordan in one place;
his jokes wear me down to a smile  . . . boy is it loud! 
but boy, am I too tired, to turn the music down.

Being with young brother America, is exhausting.

Tony Rivera is an activist/educator from Brooklyn, New York.  His poetry has appeared in several print and online publications, including: Caper Literary Journal, Yellow Medicine Review, Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Verse Wisconsin, and 5x5 Literary Magazine.


by Joe Pacheco

If you’re black, don’t ever stop
In a store down Florida way,
If your radio aint turned down low
This is what they’ll say

Turn that music down, boy
Turn that music down
Pistol packin’ white man
Is here to stand his ground.

He won’t step back with the gun he’ll pack
He’ll just fire another round.
Unless you choose to not refuse
He’ll be forced to stand his ground.

Turn that music down, boy
Turn that music down,
Pistol packin’ white man
Came here to stand his ground.

He didn’t cry to see Jordan die
But ordered pizza in the town.
With his “fiancée” he drove away
And later wolfed three slices down.

Turn that music down, boy
Turn that music down,
Pistol packin’ white man
Came here to stand his ground.

“It’s murder one they found no gun.”
Was not what the jury found.
“Attempted” is the best you’ll get
When a white man stands his ground.

Turn that music down, boy
Turn that music down,
Pistol packin’ white man
In Florida stands his ground.

Joseph Pacheco is a retired New York City superintendent living on Sanibel Island.  His poetry has been featured several times on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, Latino USA and WGCU. He has performed his poetry with David Amram’s jazz quartet at the Bowery Poets Café and Cornelia Street Café in New York City. He writes a poetry column for the Sanibel Islander and his poetry has appeared in English and Spanish in the News-Press. In 2008 he received the Literary Artist of the Year award from Alliance for the Arts. He has published three books of poetry, The First of the Nuyoricans/Sailing to SanibelAlligator in the Sky and most recently in June, Sanibel Joe’s Songbook


by Kristina England



In Florida, a man is found guilty of attempted murder,
though the boy he shot did not survive.

The argument:
first degree means premeditation,
not acting on fear.

But isn't racism some form of preparation,
some form of an excuse?


My grandmother once forbid my sister
from marrying a Puerto Rican,
because all their men "are cheats."

My sister married him anyway.

And (eventually) my grandmother
admitted to her own wrong doing,
but not until after there were
too many ghosts to bury.


The man says the boy had a gun.
The boy MUST have had a gun.
But the only weapon that day
was a mind bent by societal beliefs.

And yet, the magnitude of murder
is weighed on the loudness of music,
the amount of time it took to reach for a gun,
the minutes till the man fired
all those assumptions
at a boy in the wrong parking lot
at just the wrong time.


And what of the man?

He earns no name in this poem.
He belongs where the boy has mistakenly gone:
in a grave that needs no remembrance,
but rather loses its meaning over time.

Kristina England resides in Worcester, Massachusetts. Her fiction and poetry is published or forthcoming at Gargoyle, New Verse News, The Story Shack, The Quotable, and other magazines. Her first collection of short stories will be published in the 2014 Poet's Haven Author Series.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


by Frances P. Davis

Lake Cachuma photo by Paul Wellman, Santa Barbara Independent, January 23, 2014

We listen with such longing
its little liquid voice
metallic tap on heater vent
click against cement, hiss on leaves

Our thirsty memories stretching
far back to parched times in caves
sand and dry wadis, long treks
to miracle holes gushing springs

Enough of this listlessness
dehydration’s wilting lassitude
withering fruit and vines
the farmer’s boot on powdered ground

May the sky anoint the land with rain again
let’s hear it pounding shingles
gutter runnels gushing
the splash and gurgle of surfeit

Dance or pray or seed the clouds
catch cumulous in a net and twist, bring
back birds in puddles, boats on brimming lakes
canals bearing gifts to penstocks south

Let’s smell the earth drinking
the air electric with recharged ions
let’s catch rainwater in a goblet, lift it
like the finest wine and swallow

Frances P. Davis lives in Summerland, California, a button of a village stitched to hills overlooking the Santa Barbara Channel. The village looks at water all day long, but its reservoir is dry, its lawns browning, its vineyards, raisins on the vine.  A Pushcart Prize nominee, Frances writes a column about the town for the local newspaper and publishes poems in print and online journals.


by Tricia Knoll

Image source: KXL

The poet weighed the ends of flame and freeze
as if the fulcrum balanced between love and hate.

We are coming to know enough of both
to see the crux is fog of mind and sloth.

The west burns, the south freezes,
the ice is a river we cannot push.

Fire takes the wildwood
we saw first in black and white

now mixed sooty ash and snow.
The glaciers melt like films

children will never see,
the peaches they will not eat.

Tricia Knoll is a Portland poet, snowbound alone in her house for seven days. Her chapbook Urban Wild is now available from Finishing Line Press.


by Laura Rodley

Big Brown Eyes / Barred Owl by Gary Fairhead

I am here.
I am not afraid of anything;
you cannot see me.
My voice echoes;
you do not know
from which direction.
I swoop down for the mice
you do not value,
scan your dumpster
since the drought has carried
me so close to your closed windows,
the mice in the desert
and the forest long gone,
drenching rains much too late
for them; they cannot fly.
I am here now,
taking what you do not want.
Look up, those of you
who wish to chase away your fear,
look up into my eyes
and I will teach you. 

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.


by Earl J. Wilcox

Image source: Outdoor Devil

We prefer crocuses
peeping their purple
heads from beneath
the brown mulch
beside yellow, muted
daffodils gazing bravely
toward our February feel
of a bright winter sun.

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

Saturday, February 15, 2014


by Jonel Abellanosa

“Marius the reticulated giraffe died at the Copenhagen Zoo on Sunday . . . The cause of death was a shotgun blast, and after a public autopsy, the animal, who was 11 feet 6 inches, was fed to the zoo’s lions and other big cats.”  -- The New York Times, February 9, 2014

        to take
why a healthy   
peaceful           lovable                     
giraffe              named
Marius             shouldn’t             
be euthanized           then
dismembered   so children
visiting            the zoo
may watch      and see
how                 civilized
hungry             lions
could                   also be

Jonel Abellanosa resides in Cebu City, the Philippines.  His poetry is forthcoming in Anglican Theological Review, Mobius Journal of Social Change, Inwood Indiana Press, and has appeared in Windhover, PEN Peace Mindanao anthology, Star*Line, Golden Lantern, Poetry Quarterly, New Verse News, Qarrtsiluni, Anak Sastra: Stories for Southeast Asia, Fox Chase Review, Burning Word, Barefoot Review, Red River Review, Philippines Free Press, Philippine Graphic.  He is working on his first poetry collection, Multiverse.


by Skaidrite Stelzer

Image Source: CNN

In the Copenhagen zoo the children watch
with solemn faces, dressed
in their winter gear, blue hooded,
as Marius the giraffe is shot through his
head with a crushing bolt
and falls dead instantly.
Then the removal of the pelt as
the children's faces,
watch the autopsy and
the meat
appreciated by hungry lions.
The inside of a giraffe has many interlaced
organs. The children learn how they were put
together once.  It is a natural environment. Only
later will they learn the lightness of their own organs,
the human autopsy now vaguely familiar,
an implanted memory.

Skaidrite Stelzer lives, writes, and teaches in Toledo, Ohio.  Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals including Glass, Baltimore Review and Storm Cellar

Friday, February 14, 2014


by Howie Good

A list
of the 10 most frequently

looked up words
in the last 24 hours.

Love is No. 3.
No. 4 is irony.

Howie Good co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely, who does most of the real work.


by Antony Johae

Image source: Shayari

She gave him a red rose.
It pricked and drew blood.
She gave him a cake – heart-shaped
in a box – past expiry date.

Antony Johae is a freelance writer and divides his time between Lebanon and England.


by William Ruleman

Saint Valentine baptizing Saint Lucilla by Jacopo Bassano

There might have been two of you,
But whether either existed,
No one knows for sure.
Dismissing petty facts,
One finds your stories true:
The evil have ever resisted
Those whose hearts are pure
And dedicated to acts
Of healing like your own.
You had the power to cure,
And in this, you persisted,
And for this are not alone.

In fact, your numbers are many;
Your foes, detractors, legion;
Those you have healed, more so
(They hail from countless lands).
Turning up like a good penny
In dreariest town or region
To let the sickest know
How laying on of hands
Can clear the clouded eye
And cool the fevered brow,
Dispelling the wish to die;
You are with us even now.

William Ruleman is Professor of English at Tennessee Wesleyan College, and his poems have appeared in numerous journals, including, most recently, in The Galway Review, Innisfree Poetry Journal,  The Pennsylvania Review, and The Road Not Taken.


by Holly Day

Image Source: Confetti Love

he gave me the new word, “love”
folded it into fourths, tore it to careful pieces of pink confetti.
I swallowed hard, felt it go down my throat

and although the pieces were so tiny, so small
I could still feel them somewhere inside me,
halfway down, lodged and refused to move

I got the second word, “home,” shortly afterward
the individual letters were illegible, as though someone else
had tried to swallow them before me
could only be reassembled through the process of

imagination. Some of the pieces of this new
disassembled puzzle
must have gotten stuck on their way down,
because although I do believe the words are still there, inside me
something in me still doesn’t understand what they mean.

Holly Day was born in Hereford , Texas , also known as “The Town Without a Toothache.” She and her family currently live in Minneapolis , Minnesota, where she teaches at the Loft Literary Center . Her published books include Music Theory for Dummies, Music Composition for Dummies, and Guitar All-in-One for Dummies.


by The Bangkok Bards Saknarin Chinayote & Charles Frederickson

Desperate lonely hearts craving hugs
Searching for whatever resembles love
Spine curved head bowed forward
Fetal position hope chest bound

Embedded purity highly refractive gemstone
Diamond in rough lacking finesse
Pierced elongated lobes throbbing anticipation
Filigree earrings sprinkled with glitter

Loupe magnifying loose chip flaws
Colorless artificial rhinestone imitative sparkle
Brilliant enough to please fickle
Graces absence being their presence

Virgin springs gurglingly smoothing rockery
Jagged edges ground to halt
Frozen stalactites cracked sliver shards
Meltdown dripping prismatic glossy desire

Quality determined by four C’s
Carat weight Clarity Color Cut
Inferiority complex crown jewel rejects
Star rubies bleeding purple hearts

Crescent moon hanging by thread
Rusty fishhook swallowed dangling guts
Fragrant stars dense with perfume
Confetti celebrating blissful special occasion

Otherwise engaged uncorked champagne effervescence
Popped questions impatiently awaiting answers
Ballroom strobe masked living corpse
Switching partners symphony left unfinished

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

Thursday, February 13, 2014


by Resa Mestel

Reclining land iguanas, the welcome committee,
footfalls ignored on primordial islands,
trails of Darwin pry the nests
of flightless cormorants, keeping house unvexed.
Blue-footed boobies on the move, magnificent frigates, no
Man O' War to us, oblivious banded penguins,
cool in the Humboldt current, somersault with baby
seals in nascent underwater playgrounds. Masked,
finned, ebullient I snorkel to a green sea
turtle, entreaty in tow.

Resa Mestel is a nurse, weaver, poet currently studying at The Hudson Valley Writer's Center. She lives in Briarcliff, NY.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


by B.Z. Niditch

Iranian poet Hashem Shaabani was executed January 27th by order of President Hassan Rouhani for “waging war on God,” “spreading corruption on earth,” and “questioning the principle of walayat al-faqih” (the Rule of the Jurisprudent.) A statement by Freedom House on February 5th condemning the execution said Shaabani was severely tortured and interrogated over the three years he remained in prison. It stated that Shaabani’s death illustrates Iran’s continuous violent repression of ethnic minorities.

Responding to the execution, Human Rights Voices writes: "To those who knew him, Hashem Shaabani was a man of peace and understanding struggling to extend spaces of individual freedom within the despotic Khomeinist system… In one of his letters from prison, made available to use through his family, Shaabani says he could not have remained silent against ‘hideous crimes against Ahvazis perpetrated by the Iranian authorities, particularly arbitrary and unjust executions.’ He adds ‘I have tried to defend the legitimate right that every people in this world should have which is the right to live freely with full civil rights. With all these miseries and tragedies, I have never used a weapon to fight these atrocious crimes except the pen.’"

Shaabani was founder of the Dialogue Institute, which worked to promote an understanding of Arabic culture and literature in Iran. He was 32. --Liberal America, February 10 2014

Today we are all Shaabani
no capital death sentence
for a poet's conviction
has been commuted
instead by his own voice
for justice
he was executed
from inky windows
of an icy prison
accused of helping
the Arab minority
and waging a war
on god in Iran
Today we are all Shaabani,
for over his pale shoulders
under staggered clouds
in a veil of farewell
on a crude dawn
we heard a call
of his name
and a bell sound
from his anonymity,
survivors may read him
to honor his famed poetry
we will freely outlive
his cold murderers
and those who try
to erase his memory.

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.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


by Peter Krass

              after Wallace Stevens

Among fifty serious issues
The only one moving
Was the black president’s middle name.

I was of a hysterical mind
Like Fox News
In a country with a black president.

The black president shot hoops in the watermelon sun.
It was a small moment in the nation’s delusion.

The Tea Party and a Muslim
Are one.
The Tea Party and a Muslim and a black president
Are one.

I do not know which to fear more,
Those who say
They want our country back
Or those who admit
They hate a president who is black.

A handgun was brought
To the Town Hall meeting.
The silhouette of the black president
Imagined in the crosshairs.
The desire
Curving the wicked grin,
A terrifying glare.

O madmen of Trump,
Why do you still seek a birth certificate?
Do you not see how, in one capacious pocket,
A black president carries
All nations?

I too had heard the sermons, listened to the worthy dream
Of the doomed prophet, the dead preacher;
But I dreamed, too, that the black president
Had also heard his words.

When a black president took office
It marked the end
Of several beginnings.

At the sight of a black president
Speaking in the Rose Garden light,
Bloggers and other related bastards
Would cry out falsely.

She floated above the tundra
In a wolf-hunting dirigible
From which she imagined refudiating a terrorist.
Later, she misunderestimated
The shadow of her pregnant daughter,
Thinking it was a black president she could see
Across the bay in Russia.

The tide ebbs.
The wind sits in the shoulder
Of the black president’s sail.

It was summer all winter.
It was far too warm
And it was getting warmer.
The black president sat
In the hottest spot of all.

Peter Krass teaches at the Writers Studio in New York and online, and he's also a freelance writer and editor. His poetry has appeared in Rattle, CommonLine Journal, and elsewhere, and his poem "All Dressed in Green" received a Pushcart Prize Special Mention.

Monday, February 10, 2014


by Kristina England

On March 7, 1965, a march by civil rights demonstrators was broken up in Selma, Ala., by state troopers and a sheriff's posse.

When Martin Luther King marched,
he had equality in mind.
No line drawn down the middle
on who could cross;
just people walking together
for freedom, for rights.

Women took the same stride
with voting, abortion,
the ability to work
alongside a suited man.

The government, now in foot
with same-sex marriage,
plans to offer survivor benefits
should a partner pass away.

As an assistant professor,
I met a young man who lost
one mother to cancer,
then watched his second mom
lose her bank account in court,
her love deemed illegal, non-existent.

So many people have given their lives
for the truth of their skin
whether color, religion, persuasion.
And, though, a child will apologize
for the silliest of things,
we'll skirt around the word sorry
with laws, holidays, and parades

while the ghosts of our past linger,
waiting to play judge
to the child, woman, man
marching down the street,
exposed, vulnerable,
ready to fall victim
time and time again
to our heavy, unwarranted hands.

Kristina England resides in Worcester, Massachusetts. Her fiction and poetry is published or forthcoming at Gargoyle, New Verse News, The Story Shack, The Quotable, and other magazines. Her first collection of short stories will be published in the 2014 Poet's Haven Author Series.

Sunday, February 09, 2014


by Jean Varda

Proximate image source: The New Yorker

               for Sergeant Cory Remsburg

Would you lose an eye, a leg, a hand
to serve your country
to bring us freedom and democracy

Will you lie in a ditch unconscious,
shrapnel in your brain,
to help us understand freedom and
give democracy to the family who
died in the drone strike

Will you lose your hands, your voice,
your mind, so we can understand
the bullets dug from the bodies
of the two pregnant women
the six children laid out on
stretchers, never to open their eyes,
the father who could not protect
them now in pieces

Will you lose your eye,
your leg, your hands,
your mouth
so the children that did
not survive the bomb
will know freedom and
democracy, justice
and equality

Jean Varda’s poetry has appeared in: The California Quarterly, The Berkeley Poetry Review, The Lucid Stone, Poetry Motel, The Santa Fe Sun, Avocet A Journal of Nature Poetry, River Poets Journal and Prompt Online Literary Magazine. She has published 5 chapbooks of poetry, most recently, Carved from Light and Shadow by Sacred Feather Press. Her poem “Sister Morphine” that appeared in Red River Review was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She lives in the Sierra Foothills of Northern California where she works as a nurse and collage artist.

Saturday, February 08, 2014


by Johnnie Clemens May

                in memory of Philip Seymour Hoffman

the golden girl shimmers
boasting a patina of self-
faith slathered over doubt’s
graveyard of gone
its mausoleum of
now blank
like the apple white
rush that routs me
from alone
from all this
pain, a vault
of No and Never
of Can’t and Should.

Prick me, pick me
up and smash
me into pleasure’s
concrete wall.
Make me less
real—not feel.

Prick me, stick
me into a vat
of black tar
I’ll label forget

a place euphoric
where Chihuly blue
twists and floats
until I moan
“It’s gone, all gone.”

Numb me, dumb
me now, please.
I swear I need
just one more hit
one juice up
the vein
and down
into the belly

of believe and
be. Of clear
then cloud.

Johnnie Clemens May has an MFA in poetry from Pacific University and teaches English and creative writing at Glendale Community College in Arizona. She has had poems recently published in Mused and Gila River Review.

Friday, February 07, 2014


by Howie Good

After midnight
& running

my hand
along the long wall
in the dark

for the light switch

that I know
must be there

Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of the 2013 chapbooks Echo's Bones and Danger Falling Debris, both from Red Bird Chapbooks. He co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely.

Thursday, February 06, 2014


by James M. Croteau

Defrocking numbers thrown about,
I think of "mine",
the pedophile priest
in the parish of my youth,
all us Catholic boys
had one in my day, lucky
boys just didn't know
at the time. Just heard
he'd been brought to justice,
though the phrase barely fits,
he was tried and convicted
in a court that was Catholic,
and of course
he was sentenced, poor man,
to no priestly duties, not ever,
and told to spend the rest of his life
in prayer, and in penance.

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, The New Verse News, and Right Hand Pointing. He has a series of poems upcoming in April 2014 in Assaracus: A Journal of Gay Poetry.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014


by Rick Gray

Romeo and Juliet starts today.
We're going Shakespeare down here in Kabul,
and though our rowdy class isn't very spiritual (though it's full)
you're welcome to observe, dear Taliban sirs.

All I ask is you check your AKs
at the classroom door.
I can't guarantee your safety, you see.
These crazy women students might yank them away

and turn against you like an army of wild Juliets.
Sometimes I think their minds below their burqas have gone suicidally awry.
If you don't believe me, come down from the caves and see.
When they recite, watch the henna of their trigger fingers shiver with weird glee.

Or maybe that's just me. Or the poetry.

Rick Gray has work currently appearing in Salamander and has an essay forthcoming in the book, Neither Here Nor There: An Anthology of Reverse Culture Shock. He served in the Peace Corps in Kenya and teaches in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014


by Michael Brockley

Atlas Shrugged. Trickle down. Glass-Steagall. Laffer curve. Hidden subsidies. Citizens United. Corporate welfare. Cognitive capture. Nickel-and-dime. Incentive bonuses. No-bid contracts. Risk aversion. Safety net. Privatized profits. Efficient markets. Predatory lending. Booms. Busts. Bubbles. Wall Street bailout. Goldman-Sachs. Lehman Brothers. Distributional consequences. Socialized losses. Retention bonuses. Austerity. Sequestration. Gridlock. Middle class. Too big to fail. Entitlement cuts. Right-to-work. Minimum wage. Jobless recovery. Golden parachutes. Too big to jail. Capitalism and Freedom. Moral hazard. Rogue markets. "Curiosities."

Michael Brockley is a school psychologist who works in rural northeast Indiana. Recently, his poems have appeared in The Tipton Poetry Journal, So It Goes, Facing Autism in Muncie and The New Verse News.

Monday, February 03, 2014


by Howie Good

Predator Drone Pilot. Image by Wikimedia Commons. Proximate source: Australian Popular Science.

By the bomb’s
early light,
faces appeared
and blind,

and where
the centuries
there were
wilted flowers
to braid in wild
witchy hair.

“A disaster,”
I repeated,
but louder
this time,

a strange way
to find out
that the voice
I needed
was the one
I already had.

My children
waited for me
to say more.
“Go to sleep,”
I ordered,

never even
to explain

that if you
don’t sleep,
you can’t
very well dream.

Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of the 2013 chapbooks Echo's Bones and Danger Falling Debris, both from Red Bird Chapbooks. He co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely.

Sunday, February 02, 2014


by Kristina England

If the Amanda Knox trial was a piece of art,
it would be Van Gogh's ear,
something you know is lost
but, as with so many amputated ears --
Simpson, Zimmerman, Anthony --
there's no way to hear the truth
through all the muffled questions,
lack of evidence,
ours minds teetering back and forth
like an unbalanced scale,
heads pulsing with the footsteps
of a murderer
who will never be free.

Kristina England resides in Worcester, Massachusetts.  Her writing is published or forthcoming at Extract(s), The New Verse News, The Story Shack, Tipton Poetry Journal, and other magazines.