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Saturday, May 31, 2014

FRAGILE COSMOS HANDLE WITH TLC

by Charles Frederickson & Saknarin Chinayote




Gaze turned skyward illuminating darkness
Lunarocity casting spellbound enchanting aura
Craving purposeful radiant cosmic challenge
Seeking nobly valiant worthy goals

Vast tapestry of quilted nothingness
Tiny dusty speck barely visible
Hiding behind own shadowy existence
Gritty round pearl cultured quintessence

Ethereal overcast sky catching breath
Straightening uphill crooked winding path
Imposing windswept membrane floating rhythms
Horizon contour gracefully bent curve

Virtually uninhabitable planet killing off
Humanimal strays passing as friends
Looking beyond hostile uninviting vacuum
It’s okay to have flaws

Glistening astral pinpoints seeping through
Murky chaos fixed focus blurred
We’ve come long way to
Discover own vulnerable self-indulgent extremes

Firmament freely embracing world peace
Sunbeams impartially gushing forth hope
What we share far more
Valuable than what divides us


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

Friday, May 30, 2014

DONETSK IN EASTERN UKRAINE

by Phyllis Wax



Ukraine's rebel movement was plunged into crisis on Thursday, when pro-Russian fighters backed by armoured personnel carriers seized the movement's headquarters in Donetsk and destroyed the barricades protecting it. The surprise move by a group called the Vostok Battalion, a heavily armed rebel unit that has been involved in fighting against the Ukrainian army, sparked speculation about an internal coup within the fractious rebel movement. There was also speculation that the move could have been an attempt by the leadership to purge undesirable elements with the Donetsk Peoples' Republic. Key rebel leaders, who were not in the building when the fighters arrived, insisted they were still in control and that they had even ordered the operation. "This is a police action directed against looters," a rebel source close to Alexander Borodai, the prime minister of the self-declared republic, said on Thursday afternoon. "There is no coup. Everything is under control." --Roland Oliphant in Donetsk, The Telegraph, May 29 2014


Not a tractor on this farm field
but a turreted tank,
a lumpy blue blanket and
close by a khaki tarp
sprouting a clenched hand
at one end.  All around
a new spring crop
is pushing through.


Phyllis Wax muses on the news and politics from a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, WI.  She's been widely published, recently in The Widows' Handbook:  Poetic Reflections on Grief and Survival from Kent State University Press.  When she's not writing you might find her escorting at a local women's clinic.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

NO LONGER CONFINED

by Johnnie Clemens May




Molested as a child
And mute for six years,
Yet you, with regal voice
And erect frame,

As an adult sang sweetly.
Never, once released, did you cease to ascend,
Giving so many fledglings silken wings.
Even Elijah could not work as many wonders.
Love was the creed
On which you based a life
Unlike any other’s:

Rich in word wisdom,
Insistent that the dove would soar,
Persistent in your dance of affirmation.


Johnnie Clemens May has an MFA in poetry from Pacific University and teaches English and creative writing at Glendale Community College in Arizona. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

AD ASTRA

by Bradley McIlwain


“A new meteor shower sparked some celestial fireworks late Friday and early Saturday (May 23-24), amazing stargazers across North America even though it did not reach the spectacular "meteor storm" levels that some had hoped for.” Photo: A small Camelopardalid meteor streaks through the northern lights as the Milky Way shines overhead in this stunning photo by stargazer Gail Lamm from Balmoral, Manitoba in Canada on May 24, 2014. Credit: Gail Lamm   --Space.com, May 24, 2014


A wolf sings
out my back gate
where does he go
at four a.m.?

The undergrowth
is cool, calming.
Tonight, we are
both prey

to the sky gods,
hungry meteors
dripping from the
womb

a golden apple
waiting for the
sleeping hero
to awaken


Bradley McIlwain's poems have appeared in The 5-2 Crime Poetry Weekly, The Open Mouse, Platform Magazine (Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia) and in anthologies such as Love Notes: A Collection of Romantic Poetry from Vagabondage Press (2012) and The 5-2 Crime Poetry Weekly Vol. 2 (2013). His poems have previously appeared in The New Verse News.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

CALIFORNIA SHOOTING: STATEMENT BY RICHARD MARTINEZ




Our son Christopher and six others
are dead.           Our family
has a message for every parent out there.            You
don’t think it will happen           to your child
until it does.

Chris was a really
great kid. Ask anyone
who knew him. His death           has left
our family           lost
and broken.

Why
did Chris die? Chris died
because of craven,
irresponsible politicians
and the NRA.

They talk about gun rights.
What about Chris’s right
to live? When
will this insanity stop? When
will enough people say,

‘Stop this madness, we don’t
have to live like this.'
Too many have died.
We should say to ourselves:
‘Not          one           more.'

Monday, May 26, 2014

MEMORIAL DAY 2014

by George Held




These (mostly) young men and women
Have fought and died for our freedom –
Nasty business, but someone has to do it –
So the least we can do is honor them
Once a year on Memorial Day, which,
Sadly, fell on May 31st, making
A floating holiday, so in our wisdom,
And eternal quest for convenience, we
Fixed it on the last Monday in May, this year
The 26th, leaving the 31st to end
The month on Saturday. So on the 26th
Let us march in or watch a parade
To honor our (mostly) young at-the-time-
Of-their-death veterans of our wars. Amen.


An occasional contributor to The New Verse News, George Held occasionally blogs at www.georgeheld.blogspot.com

Sunday, May 25, 2014

MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND: ISLA VISTA, 2014

by Marjorie Maddox


Aftermath. Photo by Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times. “Seen through a bullet hole, IV Deli Mart owner Michael Hassan cleans up his store near UC Santa Barbara. A gunman fatally shot someone there.”
     “Authorities on Saturday afternoon removed three bodies from the apartment of the suspect in Friday night's shooting rampage that left seven people dead in Isla Vista, near UC Santa Barbara.” --LA Times, May 24, 2014


On this weekend for honoring the dead,
more dead, the radio blasting updates
between ballads, Beach Boys, the “Battle
Hymn of the Republic.”

Friday night post-graduation
in a college town not unlike ours,
sorrow drenched in war songs and the same
bloody questions we’ve mourned before,
each grief mounting beyond what we feared
possible, and possible again,
the way the radio keeps blaring
Sousa, worse-case-scenarios drumming still
worse long after we’ve tried
to turn the knob, silence the sound waves,
to finally and forever
disconnect the throbbing beat
between each patriotic wave
of the half-mast flag.


Director of Creative Writing and professor of English at Lock Haven University, Marjorie Maddox’s book,  Local News from Someplace Else (Wipf & Stock 2013), focuses on living in an unsafe world. In addition, she has a new ebook, Perpendicular As I ( Kindle version, Nook version, Kobo version).

Saturday, May 24, 2014

FOOTNOTE TO THE UNOFFICIAL BEGINNING OF SUMMER

by Howie Good


Image source: Crane Lake Nature Blog

Poem inspired by “Black-Throated Blue Warbler: Listen, Stop and Watch” by Dave Taft, NY Times “City Room” Blog, May 16, 2014


You don’t
need to call
yourself
a bird-
watcher

Anyone
can take
a cue from
the black-
throated blue
that last
night’s winds
blew in

This wasn’t
something
I’d experienced
before –

new leaves
and buds
and a buzz
that sounded
maybe not
to others
but to me
just like
“I’m-so-lay-zee!”


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.

Friday, May 23, 2014

SHOULD NEVER

by Jay Duret


On the grassy plains of Siberia 42,000 years ago, a baby woolly mammoth fell into a sticky mud hole and choked to death, leaving her mother to grieve for her. Now this little mammoth is the star attraction of [London’s] Natural History Museum’s Ice Age exhibition, which opens [May 24]. Because of her riverbed location, her body was . . .  pickled by acids formed by bacteria that entered her body soon after death, which was then frozen in permafrost. . . . Her DNA is well preserved and there are very few samples of this type of mammoth. --Daily Mail (UK), May 21, 2014

Image source: SingularityHUB


 I.

Should never
I see that now.
Twisted by logic
Played by logicians, swept
By the force of cunning argument.
Should never.

Debate will do that.
The river of words
Slow, languorous even, at the edges
Where you first step in.
Gently seductive, gently urging,
Gently gently gently down the stream.
But further, towards the sluicing middle, the current
Irresistible. The logic, the argument, the hard claw of debate.
Irresistible.
I was carried down the stream.
I am sorry.
Should never.

I blame Google.
It is one thing, after all, to search for words.
We do that.
We are human; we have no choice.
But pictures? Images?
This should be taboo.

Once I saw you I could not straighten my thinking.
I knew the arguments, heard the debates,
I have a mind that can hold opposing ideas in balance.
In equipoise.
But the swoop of your ivory. Its magnificent curl.
The rich dignity of your coverings.
As a people, we dream of a coat like your colossal swinging fur coat.
We hear in dreams the deep poundings of your stride
Turning tundra to grassland, step by booming step.

To see your image was to fail you.
Should never.
Should never have brought you,
Woolly Mammoth, Woolly Mammoth,
I should never have brought you back.

II.

I was born in a glass tube in a clinic in LA
Cloned from a morsel of DNA, that DNA exhumed
From a nugget of amber,
Or a bubbling tar pit, or a fossil in the Dakotas.
My papa, not mammoth, not woolly,
A balding man in a white lab coat
With bad breath, like he stunk inside,
Like all humans.
Stunk inside.

I don’t speak human.
Human sounds won’t pass my mouth.
We took a vow, my brothers and sisters,
Even as we dwindled,
Even as the light that burned within us
Flickered
We would never utter words that had been spoken
By humans or their kind.
Poisoned meat. Poisoned grasses.
The rapaciousness of hunters.
The voraciousness of human hunger.
You hunted us down. You ate us up.
All of us.
Extinction.

I know why it is you brought me back.
I know what it is you want.
The debate, the logic, the business with Google; all lies
I know why you brought me back:
You want me to blow life into you.
You want me to give a gift of words.
But I won’t speak them.

To be extinct is to be beyond words.
Beyond any words, beyond all words,
Human words, mammoth words, it doesn’t matter.
I am beyond words.
I am dead to words.
I don’t speak human.
I took a vow.


Jay Duret is a San Francisco writer and illustrator. His stories have appeared in many online and print journals. He blogs at www.jayduret.com and welcomes feedback at jayduret(at)yahoo.com

Thursday, May 22, 2014

TO A DRONE

by Mary Cresswell



The Justice Department will publicly release a secret 2011 memo that provided the legal justification for the killing of American terrorism suspects overseas, according to a U.S. official, following extensive pressure on the administration to do so. --Karen DeYoung and Sari Horwitz, Washington Post, May 21, 2014 [Image source: World Mathaba]


Sonnenizio on a line by William Blake (‘To the evening star’)


Thou fair-hair’d angel of the evening
swooping nefarious above our lives
like some fairy tern. When we know
to pay the fare, you help us, sure –
but if we don’t, you go feral,
throwing us to the wolves, a fair cop
in some snoop’s book. The ferryman
collects our words, ferrets out
our fairweather friends and foes
and provides a fair copy to those
who think their welfare under threat.
In classic times, the Pharos did better,
keeping ships on course, sailing fair.
Spying on us is none of your affair.


Mary Cresswell is from Los Angeles and lives on New Zealand’s Kapiti Coast. Canterbury University Press will publish her fourth book, Fish Stories, next year.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

THE PROFESSOR SAID

by David Plumb


Image source: UTPA


I teach soldiers
back from war.
I hear so much silence.

I see such glow
pale suchness
pride, a slim yes
a nod, an offset
remark or two.

They sit in when
Muscle-sharp
A pin drop, a cut
A dark brow, a tuft
A quick smile.

Somewhere in the room
I have soldiers who
ask without asking
What now?


David Plumb has worked as a paramedic, cab driver, cook, tour guide, and adjunct professor. 
Writing has appeared in The Washington Post, Outlaw Poetry Network, Sport Literate, Beatitudes 50 Years, 100 Poets Against the War, Salt, Blue Collar review, Gargoyle and One Paycheck Away. The author of ten books, he volunteers for the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project and is past director for a homeless shelter.  Will Rogers said, “Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.” Plumb says, “It depends upon the parrot.”

Monday, May 19, 2014

THE METHOD DOESN'T MATTER

by Kristina Cerise


One in three people say that if lethal injections are no longer viable — because of drug shortages or other problems — executions should be stopped altogether, according to the survey of 800 adults by Hart Research and Public Opinion Strategies for NBC News. But many others are open to more primitive methods of putting prisoners to death: 20 percent for the gas chamber, 18 percent for the electric chair, 12 percent for firing squad and 8 percent for hanging.        --NBC News, May 14, 2014


The thirst for death
will not be sated

The clinical tidiness
of a needle
administered by a gloved hand
is not necessary
to keep the conscience clean

They are comfortable
with the mess of
murder

Gas ‘em
Fry ‘em
Shoot ‘em
Hang ‘em

Lead pipe or candlestick
it doesn't really matter

The calls for death
are louder than the calls
for decency

For every one that hesitates
two salivate


Kristina Cerise is a Seattle writer committed to searching for meaning in the madness. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

UNHOLY LAND GRAB

by Saknarin Chinayote & Charles Frederickson


The writer and Israel Prize laureate Amoz Oz said on Friday that those responsible for hate crimes against Arabs and Christians are "Hebrew neo-Nazis."
     Speaking at a Tel Aviv event marking his 75th birthday, Oz said that terms like "hilltop youth" and "price tag" are "sweet names for a monster that needs to be called what it is: Hebrew neo-Nazis groups."
     Oz added that in his mind, perhaps the only difference between neo-Nazis around the world and perpetrators of hate crimes in Israel is that "our neo-Nazi groups enjoy the support of numerous nationalist or even racist legislators, as well as rabbis who give them what is in my view pseudo-religious justification."
--Haaretz, May 10, 2014


In the Unholy no-man’s Land
Illegal settlers masked hoodlum gangsters
Hide behind wave of hate
Crimes against Muslims and Christians

Graffiti ranging from “Arabs out!”
Sprayed on mosque to “Price
Tag. King David is for
The Jews. Jesus is garbage.”

5 mosques and 3 churches
In Jerusalem have been vandalized
With 399 brutal extremist attacks
Causing Palestinian injuries property damage

The slick well-oiled Israeli propaganda
Machine and powerful Washington lobby
Fiercely defend these un-prosecuted disturbing
Acts officially condoned not condemned

Sacred scarred scared stiff landscape
Imploding upon itself honeybee stung
Shriveled olives pitted trees strangled
Unkind non-homogenized milk turned sour


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

A CALIFORNIA CHROME HAIKU

by Tricia Knoll


the gleaming gold-chrome

of a horse in sweat

my time flying
 


Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet who would like to see another Triple Crown winner in her lifetime. She hopes Ron Turcotte had a place to park. Her chapbook Urban Wild is now available from Finishing Line Press.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

AS GANDHI LAY DYING

by Gil Hoy


The world’s biggest democracy and second-biggest country has a new leader, and he’s a controversial one: Narendra Modi, the head of the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, and the longtime chief minister of Gujarat, a state in the northwest of India . . . who will forever be associated with the 2002 riots in Gujarat that left more than a thousand people dead, most of them Muslims . . .
--John Cassidy, The New Yorker, May 16, 2014


As Gandhi awaited
Yama’s final curtain call                                                                                                                                                                                      
In a makeshift camp
atop a rocky cliff,
a city ablaze below,
also dying--halved,
Mangala ruling
                                                                                
club carryin’ zealots,
maggot-infested
red bloody meat,
brick throwing
heathens, the rabid
sweaty-toothed 
wolf everywhere

With wasting body,
his wrinkled bald
head propped up
by a pillow on a
thatched basket
bed, only a loincloth
for modesty,

encircled by his
family of white-robed
turban priests,
true believers every
one of them.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
No solid food for
days, now weeks
grueling times for
the ephemeral flesh              
                                                                                                                                                                    A mortal, dirt-of-the-
earth skin shell wastes
and withers away then
when punished so,
but the eternal spirit
mind--just the opposite--
may tap into that
wellspring of God’s
Biblical enoblement

A fiercely burning
kind wisdom found
by Gandhi in his pain
nearing death, both
rational and spiritual,
with unyielding
definiteness of purpose

a spark becomes a
flame, then a focused
laser inferno, an
awakening worth
paining for--

But no mere mortal
anyway could have
stopped Gandhi by
then from completing
his snowball-rolling-
down-a-hill-momentum
spirit journey.                                                                                                                                                                                
A wild-eyed shirtless lost
Hindu advanced upon the
camp, mumbling
                                                                               
frightened the turbaned
priests, his face-dripping
with sweat,  a hateful
sour heart in his hairy
chest, but raised bread
in his soiled hands:

“Eat this, my body
I will not let you die   
                                                                                       
my soul already wine,
soaked by the spilled
blood  from the
fresh brains of a
young Muslim girl,

no more than a loaf of
bread long, her skull
bashed in against
a red brick city wall

For I saw the Muslims
murder my family,
my wife and only
one angel child              

I was filled with so much
burning hatred then
and smoldering now

What can I do Siddhartha
to be saved?”
                                              
Gandhi, shaky from
the fast and his journey,
soft-spoken, but
Buddhist marine firm:
                                                           
“Why did you do that
my son?

I know your path
to salvation, it
can be done,

look hard within
our sick broken city,
find a homeless
innocent baby girl,

no more than
a loaf of bread
long, whose parents
have been murdered,
their brains bashed
in against the city’s
blood-stained walls

take the child in
to your home and
nurture her, make
the growing child
strong, with love
in her heart,

go now—for you must
faithfully raise her
as your only child.”
                                                                                       
The Hindu had listened
very carefully, he knew
just what to do

as he was preparing
to leave, just one more
lightening bolt instruction:                                                                                                                                                                   
“But most important
of all, your only daughter
Must be a Muslim, and
you must Raise Her as One.”                                                                                                                                                                                             
For an eternity moment,
the Hindu man’s

racing eyes
were set to
explode, jagged red
lightening against
white sky, his heart
pounded and his
body trembled

But then something
strange, curious
and magical:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
an aware heap
of knowing spirit
collapsed on
mortal knees,
waterfall tears.

“Thank you, my
wise forgiving God,”
came from the core

of a saved soul that had been
cleansed by pain
of the pettiness
on this earth, its
madness assuaged
by eternal spirit
and divine reason.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Gil Hoy received a B.A in Philosophy from Boston University, an M.A. in Government from Georgetown University, and a law degree from the University of Virginia. Gil also is an elected member of the Brookline, MA Democratic Town Committee, and served as a Brookline, MA Selectman for 12 years. Gil studied poetry at Boston University, and started writing his own poetry in February of this year. His first poem “When Doctor Death Calls” was published in Volume #47 of Soul Fountain, and “An Unjust Law” was  published in April in The New Verse News.  “Ode to Sisyphus” was just selected for the April/May/June 2014 edition of The Story Teller Magazine. Gil is married, with three children, and lives in Brookline, MA.

Friday, May 16, 2014

A SAD STATE

by B.Z. Niditch


A shocking image has emerged appearing to show the moment the Turkish Prime Minister's adviser kicked a protester being restrained on the ground during anti-government demonstrations following an explosion in a coal mine that left 282 dead and scores injured. Breaking news feed Report Turk told The Independent the picture was taken in Soma, the town where the mine collapsed after the explosion on Tuesday. Mr Erdogan’s adviser Yusuf Yerkel confirmed in a telephone conversation that he was the man in the image seen about to kick a protester. In a statement released later that day, he issued a brief apology but claimed his actions were the result of being provoked by protesters. "I am sorry that I was not able to keep calm despite all the provocations, insults and attacks that I was subjected to," he said.
--The Independent, May 15, 2014
As soon as you’re born work and worry,
Windmills of lies are planted in your head.
--Nazim Hikmet, “A Sad State of Freedom” (1951)

Nazim Hikmet
today your revolutionary voice
is still a poet heard
as the miners' bodies
are raised
which once loved the sun
and beautiful Bosporus
we will not forget
anyone this mid May
in a fitful restless sleep
of relatives and comrades
knowing the groans
of those below
scorched beyond words
piercing our silences
and consciences.


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; Kadmos (France); Prism International; Jejune (Czech Republic); Leopold Bloom (Budapest);  Le Guepard (France);  Antioch Review; and Prairie Schooner, among others. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

DEAD MAN WALKING

by Jeff Burt

Source: Texas Department of Criminal Justice



The last lynching
will not occur in redneck backwoods,
will not occur in buckthorn bramble swamp,
will not occur from revenge in the hood
under the laughter of protection
and the protection of laughter,
for this is the world we wanted
and this is the world we get:

the last man lynched
will be jailed by judiciousness,
condemned by the passport of poverty
to regions the rich will never tour,
hung by a jury,
stung, doped, chemically fried,
taken from circulation
like a ragged dollar bill.


Jeff Burt works in manufacturing.  He has work in Rhino, Windfall, Thrice Fiction, and forthcoming in Mobius, Storm Cellar, and Star 82 Review.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

BOKO HARAM APOLOGIZES

by Paula Schulz




We have taken your children.
We needed something humble to terrorize,
something weak to push around, break like toys.

We have taken your daughters from school.
They shouldn't have been there. We never
went. Yes, the world cannot understand

that we have taken your worthless daughters
from school. Western education is
sinful. And a smart ox does no more work

than a stupid one. We can sell them as whores,
feed them or not, trade them for men of value.
Any grief in us is cold: a chill blade

to stab the hateful. We are not men
who cry womanish tears. We will fire
the bullets of our anger into the future.

We are not peaceful men.


Paula Schulz has taught children for nearly twenty years and joins many others who are saddened and appalled by this kidnapping.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

GREEN EGGS & MICHAEL SAM

by Chris O’Carroll




They do not like you on the right.
You get their panties bunched real tight.

They do not like you in the game,
But you got drafted all the same.

You’re gay, and hey, you’re now a Ram,
You’re NFL, you’re Sam I Am.


Chris O’Carroll is a writer and an actor.  In addition to his previous appearances in The New Verse News, he has published poems in Angle, Light, Lighten Up Online, Free Inquiry, and The Rotary Dial, among other print and online journals.

Monday, May 12, 2014

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, GOOD FRIDAY 2014

by Buff Whitman-Bradley



Image source: Occupy Beale Air Force Base*


                      for Roger Stoll and Kate Raphael


We stand outside the Air Force base
To grieve the deaths of innocents
Assassinated thousands of miles from here
By missiles fired from unmanned planes

We have come to deliver a letter
To the base commander
Insisting that the drone attacks be halted
In the name of our common humanity

In the broad field in front of the base
Redwing blackbirds are singing in the long grasses
And we wonder what songbirds there are
In the mountains of Pakistan, the deserts of Yemen

And we wonder what is the last sound
That the unsuspecting victims hear
Before they are obliterated from above
The twittering of a small bird? the roar of the approaching missile?

When jet fighters take off every few minutes
Their diabolical roar obliterates all other sounds here
We cannot hear if the blackbirds are stunned into silence
Or if they continue singing in defiance of the din

With our letter in hand we cross the line
Onto the Air Force base
And are immediately taken into custody
By polite young men and women dressed in camouflage

In the guard house the MPs are respectful and solicitous
As they ID and fingerprint and photograph us
Then hand us each a letter stating
That we are banned from the Air Force base forever

Children incinerated in drone attacks
Simply for being in the wrong places at the wrong times
Were not treated with such courtesy and consideration
Before they were banished forever from our shared life

One by one we are escorted back across the line
No war planes are taking off just now
And we allow ourselves to feel a flicker of hope
Hearing the redwing blackbirds singing in the long grasses


* Drones flown from Beale Air Force Base, near Marysville, California, do not fire missiles, but do reconnaissance and targeting for attacks by other drones.


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.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

FOR THE ESTRANGED ON MOTHER'S DAY

Imps of Insomnia
by Larry Litt



Image source: Becky Says Things


True Nature doesn’t give a damn.
Imps in darkest tossed nights
Sleepless chattering monkeys
Waken me analyzing
My life screaming
“Tragedy begets Empathy!”
As if I needed a
Hole in my heart repaired.
Monkeys feel estrangement
Shout “What’s it for?
What’s this silent pain all about?
Why can’t it be healed?”
I know now there’s no healing
Just accepting the boundaries
Of betrayal, anger
And eternal shame.
The mad poet took all offered
In his path of pleasure.
The payout is never
To hold a child with
Love again.
Biting lips with empathy
At families reconciled
In Hollywood movies
With a sadness too great
Even for the big fake screen.
True Nature is silent
Does not give a damn
Or consent to relief.
Were I more like True Nature
Could I still write this poem?


Larry Litt is a writer and performer who can't decide if he’s a 'dirty old man, 'smart olfart' or 'recently bathed geezer.’The NY Times has called his work "Wryly conceived, politically provocative." New Littany Editions coming soon.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

VALUE ADDED TEACHERS

by Ann Bracken


Image source: Precarious Faculty Rising


She feels frustrated
as she rumbles around in cramped offices
with all the people shouting
Words don’t matter.
Especially when she hears graduates
of the university
referred to as output.

When people become output
there is no need for nurture.
Sewage pipes have output,
as do factories that churn out row after row
of standardized parts.

In cramped classrooms and windowless lecture halls
teachers are gauged by their productivity--
here every human complexity is reduced
to a series of data points, quantified and measured,
success or failure—positive or negative output.

These days she no longer relishes
seeing joy or surprise or the flash
of an ah-ha moment on her students’ faces.
Instead of planning for a field-trip to the meadow
for a sensory experience,
she spends time trying to quantify
commitment, measure amazement
and determine a cut score for
how much inspiration one needs
for a journey into the unknown.


Ann Bracken is an educator and writer whose poetry, essays, and interviews have appeared in the Little Patuxent Review, Reckless Writing Anthology: Emerging Poets of the 21st Century,  Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence, Life in Me Like Grass on Fire:Love Poems, Praxilla, New Verse News, Scribble, The Museletter, and The Gunpowder Review. Ann’s poem, “Mrs. S” was nominated for a 2014 Pushcart Prize. In addition to teaching professional writing at the University of Maryland College Park and working as a poet in the schools, Ann presents frequently at writing and creativity conferences including Mindcamp of Toronto, Florida Creativity, the Maryland Writers’ Association, the Association of Independent Maryland Schools, and The Creative Problem Solving Institute.

Friday, May 09, 2014

WHAT HE’S PAINTING

by Joan Colby


Painting by George W. Bush


He is painting dogs, we’re told.
So far, he’s done fifty. One shows
a fluffy terrier, another a Maltese,
both on backgrounds the color
of morning glories. His teacher says
he’s moving on to landscapes
like Winston Churchill. I’d like to see
studies of coffins offloaded from planes
in secrecy or one of a legless soldier
or an Iraqi child shot at a checkpoint.
This painting from the viewpoint
of one seated shows his feet
sticking up out of the bathwater.
Another depicts him in the shower.
I have to wonder why he favors
himself immersed like a baptism.
He has that cocky sense of humor
so you could almost like him.
I’d like a painting where he’s holding
a mandate to waterboard the constitution
or one clearing cedar brush, his previous hobby.
His teacher lauds his talent, says he
could be a master. He grins, brush in hand
to watercolor history.


Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, New York Quarterly, the new renaissance, Grand Street, Epoch, and Prairie Schooner. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards, Rhino Poetry Award, the new renaissance Award for Poetry, and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She was a finalist in the GSU Poetry Contest (2007), Nimrod International Pablo Neruda Prize (2009, 2012), and received honorable mentions in the North American Review's James Hearst Poetry Contest (2008, 2010). She is the editor of Illinois Racing News, and lives on a small horse farm in Northern Illinois. She has published 11 books including The Lonely Hearts Killers and How the Sky Begins to Fall (Spoon River Press), The Atrocity Book (Lynx House Press) and Dead Horses and Selected Poems from FutureCycle Press. Selected Poems received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize.  Her latest book Properties of Matter is just out from Aldrich Press (Kelsay Books). Two chapbooks are forthcoming in 2014:  Bittersweet (Main Street Rag Press) and Ah Clio (Kattywompus Press). Colby is also an associate editor of Kentucky Review and FutureCycle Press.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

THE ELEVENTH COMMANDMENT

by Kim Baker


“On the 18th of April 2014, when making his speech, Mr. Mugabe talked less harshly about corruption by his Zanu PF and government officials. Whilst he was talking about corruption in the country he looked sleepy and exhausted. Gosh the man woke up when he started talking about homosexuality. He knows how to fool Zimbabweans always and anytime. Homosexuality is his ace card. You can fool some people some time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time, though Zimbabwes’ president has fooled us for too long.”  -- Zanda Shumba, The Zimbabwe Mail, April 20, 2014


I am Mugabe.
A heart for sin.
A head for exploitation.
Every man must obey me.
Every woman must die for me.
Their screams feed my greed.
I sell Chrome to China.
My empire’s richest resource
laughs at your rusting girders.
Our steel is stainless.
Your soul is stained with apathy.
Our Chrome creates plastic
that you toss away by the mile
and makes the knives
that cut your gluttony.
Who can stop me?
Fear is a mighty assimilator.
And oceans are my moats.
I took back what was ours
from the colonial.
The Roman Catholic bastards
raised me to think right.
I am merely multiplying the fear
in the righteous order of Christ.
What do those childhood taunters
think of Mugabe now?
I can talk law.  I have no need for games.
Allow gays?  I will cut out your tongue.
They are the reason for all
our poverty hunger garbage.
Women-ministers in Zimbabwe?
Don’t make me laugh
at such an ill-fated oxymoron.
Democracy?
Peace?
I will build bunkers against them.
I fear no one!
I fear no one!
Hitler had his underground bunker.
I will build mine between the rivers.
What have I to fear?
I say, what have I to fear?!?


When she isn’t teaching the abundant virtues of the comma and writing poetry about big hair and Elvis, Kim Baker works to end violence against women and end hunger.  A poet, playwright, photographer, and NPR essayist, Kim publishes and edits Word Soup, an online poetry journal that donates 100% of submission fees to food banks.  Kim’s chapbook of poetry, Under the Influence:  Musings about Poems and Paintings, is now available from Finishing Line Press.  Kim can be reached at bighairedpoet(at)gmail.com .

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

ILLINOIS MAN PROTESTS REST STOP CLOSURE, CLAIMS HE WAS CONCEIVED IN BUILDING

by Elizabeth Johnston


DES PLAINES, Ill. (CBS) – A 21-year-old Crystal Lake man staged a one-man protest Friday morning over the permanent closing this weekend of the Des Plaines Oasis along the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway. The reason will do doubt come as a surprise. WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports Kevin Walters chained himself to the door of the oasis, and said to understand why, you have to go back more than two decades.


A man in handcuffs imagines himself Adam
guarding the Tree.

Would not we all, if once we could,
chain ourselves to certainty:

Here life began,
against all odds
has purpose.


Elizabeth Johnston is a founding member of the award-winning writer's group, Straw Mat.  You can read her prose and poetry in various anthologies and literary journals, including Yellow Medicine Review, Mom Egg Review, Organs of Vision and Sense, and Trivia: Voices of Feminism, among others. She teaches writing and gender studies in Rochester, NY, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and a menagerie of animals.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

IT'S A RACE

by Tricia Knoll


Jockey Ron Turcotte poses aboard Secretariat in the winner's circle at Churchill Downs after winning the 1973 Kentucky Derby.

Secretariat's jockey complains of treatment by Churchill Downs 
--Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader, April 30, 2014


Twenty years ago a Chicago Marathon race director
stood behind a chair, showing us how he steered his dog team
in the Iditarod. He swerved the chair, clucked his tongue, flexed
at the knees. His move to marathon racing? There’s joy
in the way creatures run. Life overflowing. Joy
in how good people tend to good creatures.

And Turcotte. That small jockey on the big red horse,
the impossibly big-hearted horse and the 1973 Triple Crown.
When I saw Haley’s comet in 1986, I knew
it was a once in a lifetime the way my years fall.
I feared so it might go with the Triple Crown.
Never another Turcotte on a Secretariat?

Bless Seattle Slew, Affirmed, the well-tendeds who ran
for their owners, ran for their trainers, ran to remind us
of that big red horse that swept the field.
Love in the way great creatures run.
Joy in the way good people tend good creatures.

And Turcotte. Rolling now on wheels in a chair.
Churchill Downs could not save an accessible place
for him to park. His chair, his heart. His legacy
with that big red horse.

Tend to good creatures.
Joy in the way they move.


Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet with a long family tradition of following the Kentucky Derby with a grandmother who once lived in Louisville. She knows there are many concerns related to horse racing -- but that never dulled her love for the best big red horse. Her chapbook Urban Wild is now available from Finishing Line Press.

Monday, May 05, 2014

ARIEL'S SONG 2014

by George Held


The intensive aerial search for surface wreckage from Flight MH370 officially ended today. --RTÉ News, April 30, 2014


“Full fathom five thy father lies” –
And thy mother and brother and sister too,
Thy aunt and uncle and grandma too –
But they lie far deeper than 30 feet,
Maybe as many as 6,000 leagues
Beneath the sea – if that is where
MH 370 actually landed.

Six weeks and no evidence can drive people
Mad. But the public loves an unsolved case,
Wastes hours watching the same old
Denials on TV as well trained technicians
Conduct the search with the best of sensors.
But the known unknown still can’t turn the missing
Into “something rich and strange.”

Even as we write about this mystery
We hope our words will soon be irrelevant,
We hope the plane and the people on board
Will be found, dead or alive, and if alive,
We hope their disappearance will show
That even in a world of NSA detection,
There remains the luxury of evasion.


An occasional contributor to The New Verse News, George Held occasionally blogs at www.georgeheld.blogspot.com

Sunday, May 04, 2014

ST. JOHN THE WATERBOARDER

by David Feela




No scripture foretold
the coming of Sarah Palin,
not Matthew, Mark, Luke,

or even John McCain.
If the prophet is inclined to baptize
every suspected terrorist,

may their mouths be opened
by the bombastic political psalms
the NRA continues to pray,

and may Sarah’s crusade
to interpret the Constitution lead her
to the Bering Sea where

an opportunity to walk on
spring ice becomes her christening,
this wrath of water.

David Feela writes a monthly column for The Four Corners Free Press and for The Durango Telegraph. A poetry chapbook, Thought Experiments, won the Southwest Poet Series. His first full length poetry book, The Home Atlas appeared in 2009. His new book of essays, How Delicate These Arches  , released through Raven's Eye Press, has been chosen as a finalist for the Colorado Book Award.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

KERRY ON, JOHN

by Charles Frederickson & Saknarin Chinayote




Prince Valiant epic comic adventure
Positive mindset wading into troubled
Waters flotsam debris garbage patch
Pelagic plastics chemical sludge pollution

Pitch Black Sea bullyrag revenge
Hearts of Darkness octopodal depths
Derelict abandoned shipwreck cast overboard
No hope of being reclaimed

Slivered driftwood floating turd extremists
Inbred superiority complex insular chutzpah 
Thug mentality spreading putrid humanure
Compromise declared a dirty word
                                                                       
History isn’t made by cynics
But by brave-hearted visionary dreamers
Unafraid to end Zionist occupation
Wheeler-dealers spinning Vegas odds roulette

Peaceful coexistence only viable alternative
Stubbornly ignoring Uncle Sam cries
For help illegal settlements universally
Condemned drowning in leaky pool


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

Friday, May 02, 2014

A MASH NOTE TO HILLARY

by David Spicer




You’re an American pioneer.
A world warrior.
You scare the hell out of everybody.
Except your believers.

Why do you want this job?
Don’t give me patriotic bunk
You recite on Hardball.
You want what you want.

Is your ego the size of Texas and Ohio?
Are you Machiavelli’s spiritual great granddaughter?

Your lemon meringue pantsuit fails the fashion test.
That laugh could chop wood.
If I hear On Day One again,
I’ll yank out my bazooka and shoot the Milky Way.

You thought the job a divine right.
You owned the nomination.

Then along came Barack Obama,
Grinning like a llama.
A meteor that seduced a nation:
The Blessed Orator.
The Golden-Tongued Angel.
Smooth as peanut butter on fresh bread.
You'd  met your match.
You hated it.
Live with it.
               
You fight in the era of the last bastion
Of white males.
They resist, a phalanx poised
To confront and destroy you.
Don’t concede.

You’ve been reviled.
Caricatured. Pilloried.
You don’t care. You persevere.

You’re not our mother, our sister, our daughter,
Our girlfriend, our waitress, our opera escort,
But our leader.

And a cat with twenty lives.
Not in double digits yet.

Hillary, you’re my hero.
Tougher than the meanest missile in the world.

Answer this note.
Please.

What about Bill? you might ask.
Forget him, though you love the guy.
Divorce him on Day One.
(Remember, hell hath no fury . . .
He doesn’t want you President anyway.)
Throw him out on the steps with his humidor.

We’ll elope to the Ukraine.
The world our oyster.


David Spicer is  seeking a publisher crazy enough to print his manuscript American Maniac. He has had poems in The New Verse News, The Naugatuck River Review, Spudgun, Yellow Mama, and elsewhere.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

ON MAY DAY THE POETS WILL GATHER FOR PEACE

by Patricia Smith Ranzoni


Image source: Storybook Woods

               
                                            on having to decline the honor


I will make them all the Maybaskets I know how.
Small tissue-and-crepe-paper-covered grocery boxes saved all winter.
Folded and cut lantern and umbrella ones. Frilly cones with
accordion handles and kite-like tails. Pastel petaled and grass fringed ones.
I will fill them with maple bits, chocolate and divinity fudge, nuts, and molasses corn.
I will tuck pussywillows into their hearts, our rite.
I will tiptoe up behind each in turn, nestle a sweet cup into his hands or lap or at her feet,
    tap them like the doors they are and run, my skirt ruffling in old country mischief.
They will laugh, seeing, and chase me.
They will catch me one by one and give me a kiss.
I will say I remember you, thank them, and say so long again
    and not be lonely another year.

And when they remember, may this comfort them when they read out and cry.


Health troubles keep Patricia Smith Ranzoni from public participation so she relies on joining her voice this way. Her unschooled work documenting the Canadian-American, mixed-blood Yankee cultures of her people has been published across the country and abroad, including past issues of The New Verse News and most recently in Parallel Uni-Verse, Tuesday Anthology of the Oregon Coast, and Bedding Vows, Love Poems from Outback Maine (North Country Press), her 9th collection. She participates electronically with the Blue Hill Peninsula Peace & Justice group.