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Sunday, August 31, 2014

WAR STORIES

by Richard O’Connell


Image source: How Stuff Works


         Lindeman

Lost most of my hearing
In the Bulge.  I forgot
to wear ear plugs firing
a One O’Five.
                        After a while
 I didn’t need ear plugs.


         Leveler

Couldn’t stand to see
a building standing
no matter how small
—not a stone, but
wanted all down
to the geometric line
of earth and sky.
 

       Winter Offensive

Slipped our condoms on
the barrels of our carbines
in the snow-packed Ardennes,
stretching, snapping tight
to the butt.
                        Worked great,
Keeping out the wet and dirt.


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, Measure, Acumen.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

WAR

by James Bettendorf


“Suffer the Children” by Janice Nabors Raiteri (2007)


I cannot see the sun rise
            red white yellow horizon
                        I see blood of children
                        form rivers in the streets.

I cannot hear the muted moans of lovers
            passion arms legs tangle
                        I hear keening of mothers
                        Sons, daughters ripped from their arms.

I cannot taste the melon or berry
            sweetness tongue juice chin
                        only the dry residue of lead
                        cannon smoke clouding my face.

I cannot smell the aroma of lilacs
            roses garden blues lilies
                        only the acrid cordite of gunpowder
                        copper odor of innocent blood.

I cannot feel warm breath on my cheek
children grandchildren friends lover
                        only the sharp pain of shrapnel
                        tearing holes, shattering bones.


James Bettendorf taught math for 34 years at various levels and in his retirement begin writing classes at the Loft in Minneapolis, MN. He was accepted for a two-year poetry internship in the Loft Master Track program in 2006 and has been working on a manuscript with his mentor/advisor, Thomas R. Smith.  He has had poems published in Rockhurst Review, Light Quarterly, Ottertail Review, Talking Stick Vols. 18 - 23 and Free Verse.

Friday, August 29, 2014

THE EARTH’S FEAR

by Paul Dickey


Syrian refugee children in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. Photograph: Sam Tarling (The Guardian, May 9, 2014)


I would not say
the earth was afraid,
although it shook terribly
at each of my steps
in the moonlight.
It was only protecting
the children, it seemed,
who had poured
themselves out,
like soft drops of rain
over the hills and valleys.
But I carried on.
I had a business of fire
in the city and in the night
that the earth knew
nothing of, work
that could not be ceased
even had I wanted.
In my own way,
I too worry for the children.
How will they become
as hard now as diamonds?


Paul Dickey’s first full-length poetry book They Say This is How Death Came Into the World was published by Mayapple Press in January 2011 and was nominated by the press for the 2011 National Book Award in Poetry.  His second book Wires Over the Homeplace was published in the Fall of 2013 by Pinyon Publishing.  Dickey’s poetry has appeared in Verse Daily, Rattle, Sentence: A Journal of Prose Poetics, Mid-American Review, Midwest Quarterly, Pleaides, Bellevue Literary Review,  Crab Orchard Review and online at www.linebreak.org.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

ICARUS

by Louise Robertson


Top: Carcass of a bird set alight by focused sunlight at the Ivanpah Solar Generating System (seen below) along the Nevada-California border. Top Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via Earthweek; Bottom Photo and caption: Earthweek.

Environmentalists and animal rights activists are in rare opposition, because birds are being cooked alive when they fly through the concentrated rays of the world’s largest solar thermal power plant, Ivanpah Solar Power Facility in California. Solar thermal plants are excellent means of creating renewable energy and jobs. They help reduce US reliance on foreign oil. But the reputation of solar energy as a whole could suffer unjustly from the charred feathers showing up at giant solar thermal plants. --Michael Howard, Esquire, August 20, 2014


Ever since Icarus took to the sky

we have been talking about nothing else.



At once posing ourselves as the boy, aloft,

or falling;



but also we put on the father's shirt and wings

and grieve.



We paint ourselves into the figures

minding our own business on the ground



with the corn and the book

and the spiked tool.



Over and over, we say where were you when

Kennedy/9-11/whatever happened.



Then the sunlight catches the birds

on fire



who know best of all

how Icarus really felt.



Burn. Burn. Burn.



Louise Robertson has earned degrees (BA Oberlin, MFA George Mason University), poetry publications (Pudding Magazine, The New Verse News, Borderline) and poetry awards (Mary Roberts Rinehart, Columbus Arts Festival Poetry Competition -- twice). She is active as a poet and organizer in her local Columbus, Ohio poetry scene.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

LAST PICTURE

by Anne Graue



A couple taking a photo on the edge of a cliff died when they fell hundreds of feet while their young children watched, according to news reports. The Polish couple died after falling from the rocky edge in Cabo da Roca in west Portugal. They were apparently taking a 'selfie' photo of themselves, according to NBC and others, though details of the events leading up to the fall were still hazy. A local English language news site, the Portugal Resident, said the parents had given the children the camera to take a picture. Their children, ages 5 and 6, were turned over to Polish diplomats and are undergoing psychiatric care. --USA Today, August 12, 2014. Photo: Portuguese National Tourist Office via USA Today.

Stepping back, waving
to the boys

smiling as one foot
slips on loose rock
before the other goes

they fall together
back into blue
sky, the camera

still in the hands
of the six-year-old

watching his mother
as she leans
back into the sun

his father as he
reaches for her
to catch her hand

the terror

realizing the cliff
the water below.


Anne Graue writes poetry and teaches online from her home in New York's Hudson Valley. Her poems have appeared in Compass Rose, Sixfold Journal, VerseWrights, and The 5-2 Crime Poetry Weekly. She is a reviewer for NewPages.com

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

UNJUST KIDDING

by Charles Frederickson


Samira, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, is only 3 years old. She has been forced from her home due to violence in the Gaza Strip. Photo credit: Jozef Nateel / Save the Children.


Gaza offspring 3 wars old
Shrapnel unexploded debris littering strand
4 youngsters quicksand sucks victims
Senseless whimsical merciless bullyrag assault

Civilians shouldn’t die 1,780 homes
Mosques hospitals apartment blocs leveled
Leaving distraught families fearing drones
Aimed at tightening stranglehold noose

Power cuts outrage everyday occurrence
Farming limited by security zones
Movement restricted fishermen territorially confined
Raw sewage pumped into sea

UN found that about 25,000
Gaza minors suffer from post-traumatic
Stress disorder infants asking mothers
“Why is Israel bombing us?”

Invader fights simply because it
Can unstoppable grim forecast game-plan
21% deep poverty 40.8% unemployment
Teenager jobless rate skyrocketing 50%

No childhood to speak of
Disappearing dreams replaced with nightmares
Basic human rights freedoms trampled
Unable to live with dignity


No Holds Bard Dr. Charles Frederickson  proudly presents YouTube mini-movies @ YouTube – CharlesThai1 .

Monday, August 25, 2014

SOMEONE'S SONS

by Peg Quinn




While glancing in his rear-view mirror
the foreman cracks a beer
floors his monster truck
and roars away
leaving two illegal boys
on their knees
above my steaming driveway
filling cracks from bottled blacktop

I bring them new kinds of masks
simple plastic borders
between toxic dust
and their well traveled lungs
hand them cans of coconut water

Earlier, I’d read a message
from my son, rear-ended by
a motorcycle last night on
the Hollywood Freeway
Everyone pulled over
first responders there in minutes
no one seriously injured

I bring the boys dark, juicy plums
something sweet for someone’s sons


Peg Quinn is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, mural and theatrical set painter, award winning quilter and art specialists at a private school in Santa Barbara, California.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

AMERICAN AS APPLE PIE

by Keli Osborn



Image: “In the USA” (2014) by St. Louis artist Mary Engelbreit. You can purchase a print of the illustration for $49.99 at Mary Engelbreit’s Web site, with all proceeds going to the Michael Brown Jr. Memorial Fund, which supports the family of Michael Brown. Engelbreit writes on her FB page, “When situations turn horrible and I find it hard to move on, I usually draw my way through it. These drawing hardly ever see the light of day, since they're really just a form of therapy for me. But these events unfolding now in my hometown and across the country, shining a light on the ugly racism that still runs rampant in our country, made me think that maybe this drawing could help in some small way. While it's not a cheerful little picture you'd want to hang over the sofa, you might know of a school or an office or a police station that could use it”.


Every day, I do not tell my son to keep
his gaze down, cap on straight.  I do not
tell him to come home before a curtain
of darkness falls on our town. I do not
tell him to bear the right reason, speak
the right tone, make the right movement.
And, when my blue-eyed son tells me
another young, black man lies dead, shot
on the street, a sad, silent weight settles
once more in our parallel universe.


Keli Osborn is a poet and teacher living in Eugene, Oregon, with family, friends and garden. She's a member of Red Sofa Poets, Thursday Poets and the Lane Literary Guild, with poems previously published in Denali, multiple group chapbooks, and the 2006 collection, Dona Nobis Pacem.  Her sons are in their 20s; the conversations continue.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

MANDATORY PRESIDENTIAL VACATIONS

by Mark Danowsky





Parents are getting a lot of flack
for penciling structured down time
into otherwise jampacked schedules
for children barely able to walk.

Presidents are forever taken to task
for taking vacations in hard times
since times are always hard
for Americans who never get vacations.

We want to have a beer with the President
or play a game of golf with him
or see selfies of him with celebrities
or have him take a time out from national affairs
because there is a sinkhole in my backyard.

We are mad the President isn't working
through the night. How does he have time
to drink a beer. Why is he playing basketball
or shaking hands or hugging or smiling
in a photograph with that jackass? They stand for
everything I despise. And he has not fulfilled
his promises to me. Where is my change?

They explain the President needs time with his family.
Needs time to unwind. That he has not forgotten
his job, his country, your country, our world
or your wants and needs and fears and loves
the price of milk or American lives.


Mark Danowsky’s poetry has appeared in Apiary, Alba: A Journal of Short Poetry, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Red River Review, Right Hand Pointing, Snow Monkey and The New Verse News.  His poem "5am Summer Storm"won Imitation Fruit’s “Animals and Their Human’s” Contest, in 2013. Originally from the Philadelphia area, Mark currently lives in a van down by the Susquehanna River. He works for a private detective agency and is assistant copy editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal

Friday, August 22, 2014

PRICELESS

by Richard Schnap


James Foley on The Early Show, 2011. Image source: CBS Boston


What is the value of a heart
That dares to dodge bullets and bombs?

And what is the value of a spirit
Who exposes the horrors of the world?

And what is the value of a soul
Whose fate is determined by monsters?

Who offer his freedom for millions
But sell him for an ocean of tears.


Richard Schnap is a poet, songwriter and collagist living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His poems have most recently appeared locally, nationally and overseas in a variety of print and online publications.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

WE ARE ALL GAZA

by Laurie Winestock


Image source: Global Voices Online


We are all Gaza

That is why we do not see you, Gaza
That is why you are the blind spot that does not diminish
Why we all allow you to cry like a bird, stripped of feathers
While we are without hearing - deaf to distraction
While you try to breach the sea and reach another world

That is why when we see you torn in half
We are quick to eat large meals of flesh, while you search for water

We are all Gaza
That is why we know nothing
Nothing about Gaza, and want to know nothing
About Gaza

Why our minds glaze at the thought of the nights and days
Of Gaza,

We are all Gaza

Gaza, hunted down, trapped for an eternity
Generation after generation
With enemies to the north and south
Enemies who will not accept Gaza but will not reject Gaza
Because they need to feed on Gaza's pain
And because they use the fear in Gaza to measure their own fear
And remind themselves that they can control it

We are all Gaza

That is why we say to ourselves, Gaza, what is it?

Because we know we are all Gaza
That we are all here under
A merciless sun that we try to outwit
Surrounded by a lost childhood with terror in our hearts
That we must deny every day

Because we think we are not vulnerable
and we know we will always be
Because we dreamt we had a childhood but we know for certain
that the childhood of the children of Gaza vanished
Into air and smoke

We are all Gaza
Not knowing who we really are
Because we have watched you Gaza, suffocated
Decade after decade
And knowing this we know we cannot be, or hear, or smell
Our own flesh too long
Better not to know

That we are all Gaza
And that watching Gaza be forgotten
We have forgotten who we are


Laurie Winestock is a poet and writer who has lived extensively in both Israel and the U.S.  She is an activist and has witnessed the Israeli Palestinian conflict from close range for many decades. Her work has been published in Jewish Currents Magazine, as well as heard on San Francisco Poetry Open Mic Podcast. She can be heard reading at numerous open mics in the San Francisco Bay Area where she is now living, writing and studying Arabic.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

BOTTLED WATER COMES FROM THE MOST DROUGHT-RIDDEN PLACES IN THE COUNTRY

by Steve Lavigne



“a state
experiencing the third driest
year on record . . .  
this industry 
has very successfully 
turned a public resource
into a private enterprise . . . 
But still,
the question remains:
why Americans across the country 
drink bottled water 
from drought stricken 
California”

—Julia Lurie, "Bottled Water Comes From the Most Drought-Ridden Places in the Country,"
Mother Jones, August 11, 2014

“Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men for the nastiest of motives will somehow work for the benefit of all.” --John Maynard Keynes


my mother’s milk - bless her old teats
up for private speculation and public offering
flaccid wrinkled worn - and still unregulated
best to get them - the definition of insanity
while they’re still hot

the invisible hand of the market that moves
me
always was
and was not my father’s
hand
open palm of pain directing
the way toward some fictional future goodness
or goddamn quiet
the need in his mind like a thought
too loud to be drowned out only dimmed
down
by the light of a tv in a darkened room
or the screaming complaints of self-righteous
children
demanding its their turn to choose


Steve Lavigne runs a local poetry group in Champaign Illinois. It meets weekly to discuss, create and share poetry in order to build community through the power and practice of poetry.

Monday, August 18, 2014

STANDING IN COURAGE

by Jacinta V. White


Image source: KSDK


      for Ferguson, MO and Everywhere Else, USA


Dangerous, wanted
Endangered, hunted        
            Majestic
Beauty protected
Enraged      
            You, young
                        Black man
Stand in courage
            In love
            In honor
                        Resurrected
            In glory
Forget put upon shame
Young man stand
            In beauty
            In strength
            In dignity
Stripped and threatened
Generations down
                                    Hands down
Young black man
            Brother, father, husband, son
Stand in your weariness
Stand in your strength
            In your courage
            In your truth
            In your faith
Stand knee high in the depths of your passion
                        Take your crown, young black man
            Wear your crown
Young black man


Jacinta V. White is a NC Arts Council Teaching Artist and the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships for creative endeavors. She was the first to receive the Press 53 Open Award in Poetry, in 2008; and Finishing Line Press published her first chapbook of poetry broken ritual in 2012. Most recently, Jacinta has been published in Prime Number Magazine and the What Matters anthology published by Jacar Press. You can follow her on Twitter: @JacintaVWhite.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

TEMPERAMENTAL: HALF TEMPER, HALF MENTAL

by Charles Frederickson



Image source: Gricni


Absurd lonesome planet as sensitive
As exposed ice cube nerve
Dripping teardrop slivers awaiting thaw
Collapsed meltdown lost nth dimension

Don’t judge others through prism
Uncensored stereotype warning labels stuck
White light contains all drawn
Shades multiversity spectrum phantasmal rainbow

Karma spinning color matters wheel
Primary secondary tertiary pure hues
Dynamic equilibrium balanced artistic harmony
Music poetry ice cream sundae

Dysfunction not exception but rule
Mind can be prism or
Prison feel free choosing former
Refracting own ever-changing multifaceted image

Dysfunctional cosmos emotionally spiritually disabled
There’s no shame in openly
Expressing authentic heartfelt dreams inspiring
Kinder more tolerantly compassionate humanity

Dysfunctional puzzling world 8-cornered Rubrik’s
Cube imitation of life itself
Use algorisms solving prideful enigmas
Restored initial configuration saving face


No Holds Bard Dr. Charles Frederickson  proudly presents YouTube mini-movies @ YouTube – CharlesThai1 .

Saturday, August 16, 2014

HATE

by  F.I. Goldhaber


Hands up, don't shoot. Outrage in Missouri over police shooting of black teen #MichaelBrown http://pic.twitter.com/ziXRNVgeUf http://youtu.be/NRaqVIcXIdk


Billy said we didn't start the fire
But the world burns.
Muslims slaughter Christians in Iraq.
Yazidi flee.
Israelis and Gaza break truce once more.
ISIS fights Kurds.
Indians gang rape women daily.
Exiles swarm Chad.
Russia marches on Ukraine again.
Pakistan riots.
Azerbaijans kill Armenians.
Al-Qaeda plots.
Boko Haram kidnaps young girls, boys.
Syria bleeds.

And in the land of the free cops kill.
Unarmed black men
executed by police daily.
Four black deaths in
one month capture the nation's concern.
But we don't learn
of so many more who die only
because their skin
color offended men of privilege.
Driving while black
in U.S., a capital offense.
Mothers teach sons
to raise hands, acquiesce ... but still
must bury them.


After more than three decades, poet and storyteller  F.I. Goldhaber continues writing professionally. As a reporter, editor, business writer, and marketing communications consultant, she produced words for newspapers, corporations, governments, and non-profits in five states.

Friday, August 15, 2014

FERGUSON MISSOURI - AUGUST 2014

by Steve Lavigne





Every morning
     the electroejaculated goats
scream
     my wife texts me from work
          complaining
and on the twitter feeds and facebook posts
     Ferguson Missouri burns -
You don’t think supplying army (military) grade equipment
     to the police was unintentional do you?
That any conflict in the world between police and protest
     looks exactly like this?
That anyone taking pictures, especially reporters, recharging
     their equipment in the local McDonald’s
     wrenched from their seat, their head jammed against
     a cement wall by an ordinary lug saying oops
     before being taken in and arrested
     because they didn’t show their i.d. fast enough
You don’t really still think this is about race or
     race wars like the bigots and racists do, do you?
You don’t think the government had plans for this,
     their contingencies for “growing inequality” Can you say
     pharaohs and slaves, bitches? (No really, in mathematical terms
     you have to look at the modern world’s inequality in those terms
     or even larger)
That we live within a two tiered justice system
     that the effects of climate change have now been brutally calculated
You don’t think they’re worried
     that now the white shit, not just the brown and the black
     is starting to hit the fan
And you don’t think Ferguson Missouri is still
     just a small town in the middle of the country,
     do you?
What? you expect me to say that unless things
     change it’s your hometown next -
     it’s in your heart -
     it’s the whole damn world - boom?

maybe


Steve Lavigne runs a local poetry group in Champaign Illinois - cupoetry.com. It meets weekly to discuss, create and share poetry in order to build community through the power and practice of poetry.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

SCREE

by Corinne Lee


“Earlier this summer, President Obama worried about the disappearing honeybee population and what it means for the nation’s food supplies. In a presidential memorandum, he announced plans for the creation of a ‘Pollinator Health Task Force’ to help save the honeybee. . . . Well, not to worry, amazing robotic bees the size of pennies might one day pollinate crops, ending all concerns about Colony Collapse Disorder within the next 15-20 years. At Harvard, researchers led by Robert Wood are developing RoboBees—a completely mechanical flying device loaded up with sensors and batteries that would fly from flower to flower, picking up and then depositing pollen the way a real honeybee would.” —Dominic Basulto, “New RoboBees show that the future of robotics is very, very small,” The Washington Post, August 7, 2014. (Image from a National Geographic video.)


As bees lose home
and gills stiffen     warming warming—

our hunger hardens
to a graspish Devonian

jig. Yakety yak, few talk
back and most rasp, grating forth

a decree: Come, warm as the dead,
let’s pick the bee-fish

from our breath like swill—
                                             
      and eat
                             and eat.


Author's note: This poem responds to last week’s news stories about the likelihood that RoboBees will pollinate crops within the decade, due to a lack of real bees. I was appalled by the exuberant stories about this possibility. It seems to me that our rapacious appetites—easy to witness in a scree of everything from overfishing to global warming—are now dangerously matched by technology’s equally rapacious desire to “remedy” the consequences. This complex zero sum game results in further losses, yet the best solution is simple and obvious: reduce consumption, quickly.


Corinne Lee’s poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have been published in dozens of literary magazines, and her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize several times. Her book PYX won the National Poetry Series and was published by Penguin. Lee was chosen in 2007 by the Poetry Society of America as one of the top ten emerging poets in the United States, and six of her poems were included in Best American Poetry 2010. She was educated at U.S.C., the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (fiction), and U.T. Austin (poetry).

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

OCCUPIED LANGUAGE

by Chandramohan S


Graphic created at Simply The Best Fonts


The adjectives were abandoned
Suffixes and prefixes scrambled
Vowels lynched and hung upside down
Epithets beheaded
Remnants from shattered strings
Conjoined for a synthetic memory

The unoccupied portions on the
Map of alphabets resemble
A Hieroglyphic of colonial logic symbols,
The refugees flee through edited check-points
And seek asylum in an alien tongue
Bleaching through barbed wire fences of apartheid
Abbreviating their surnames and
Dislocating their punctuations
Silencing their phonetics in sound bytes
Stripping bare the sterile meat of
An evacuated language


Chandramohan S is an English poet based in India. His poems reflect the socio-political struggles of the marginalized, the working class and the nomadic outcasts of the world who are victimized and then forgotten as nations clash and wage relentless war. His work has been profiled and/or published in New Asia Writing, Mascara Literary Review, About Place Journal, Counter-Punch Poetry, Thump Print Magazine, The Sentinel, American Diversity Report, Poetry 24, Green Left Weekly.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

PLAYBILL FOR ROBIN

by Earl J. Wilcox    




While it is true
all this world’s a stage,
our space was too small.
The lines we gave you
Inadequate,
mere noises, too calm,
too quiet, seldom shrill
enough nor adequate
to swell the sounds
already fading
before you could
exit.


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.

Monday, August 11, 2014

A YEAR FOR WEATHER

by Terese Coe

The release of methane on a large scale has long worried scientists. The greenhouse gas is 20 times more damaging to the Earth over a 100-year period than CO2, and is even more potent in the short term. Should the deposits trapped within the Arctic escape into the air, it could kick off a highly destructive climate feedback loop: The methane would cause rapid warming, which would melt more of the Arctic, which would release more methane, which would cause more warming. --Moyers & Company, August 8, 2014


It’s been a year for weather.
Popocatepetl blew—
the cloud of ash dimmed Gretna Green,
Des Moines and Malibu.

In Black Hills, South Dakota, none
survived except the Sioux,
and Stinson Beach was starving but
for grazing caribou.

Spurts of lava blackened Shasta
and on Winnemucca Flats,
fiberoptic cables crackled,
vaporizing technocrats.

The system crashed, the networks fizzed
as if there’d been a purge
the night the blackout swept around
the world in the final surge.

Survivors took to houseboats,
a quake hit Pocatello,
LaBrea tar hit One-O-One
and buried Kate’s bordello.

The ooze has taken life and love,
last going for a fiver,
but fracking and the toxins meant
we lost the last survivor.


Terese Coe’s poems and translations have been published in Agenda (UK), New American Writing, Ploughshares, Poetry, Poetry Review, The Stinging Fly, The Threepenny Review, and the TLS, among many other journals in the US, UK, and Ireland.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

THE PALESTINE PROJECT

by Michelle Marie


instagram media by hanz_revo


still breathing as the ambulance arrived.

mind, once riddled with thought,
waned faintly and then all at once,
but not before registering the touch of a human hand.

awoke to the crashing of the waves
though there was no ocean nearby,
only the ebb and flow of nations at the rendezvous of victory.


Michelle Marie is author of countless protest letters archived at americanlemon.blogspot.com and a weird piece called "Fucking" in Bluestockings Magazine Issue 4.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

OLIVE PITS IN GAZA

by Heather M. Browne



A Palestinian woman hugs an olive tree uprooted by armed Israelis (Photo: Frank M. Rafik via Haiti Chery).


They looked like olives
Falling
From the sky
Tiny gifts from Heaven
With that glisteny sheen
The ripeness
Ready to burst
In our open mouths
Ready to receive
Flavoring
Saturation

We’d suck on them
Gnawing off each bit of meat
Between our hungry teeth
Leaving nothing but pit and bone
Grateful for this communion

They looked like olives
Armied green falling from the sky
Our mouths open
Waiting for their burst


Heather M. Browne is a faith-based psychotherapist and recently emerged poet, published in the Orange Room, Boston Literary Review, Page & Spine, Eunoia Review, Poetry Quarterly, The Poetry Bus, Red Fez, The Muse, An International Journal of Poetry, Deep Water Literary Journal, Electric Windmill, Maelstrom, mad swirl, and Dual Coast.  Her first chapbook We Look for Magic and Feed the Hungry has been published by MCI. She just won the Nantucket Poetry Competition. She has been married 20 years to her love, has 2 amazing teens, and can be found frolicking in the waves.

Friday, August 08, 2014

THE CRUELEST ANIMAL

by Howie Good


Image source: Love the Giver


I don’t know what to do
about the deaths from Ebola,
or the distress in republics
of the former Soviet Union,
or the hunt for the Taliban,
but the mammoth sunflowers
I grew from seed will tell me,
by the bend in their necks
& the stricken look on their faces,
that it’s finally time to remove
(with new titanium shears!) their heads


Howie Good's latest book of poetry is The Complete Absence of Twilight (2014) from MadHat Press. He co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely, who does most of the real work.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

SNEAKING ACROSS THE BORDER

by Linda Lerner


The author's father's family.


He never spoke of what it was like
those three years in Amsterdam
waiting to get to America

and I never asked….
I heard about it from her, not him

he & I lived in separate countries;
there was no crossing over, not then;
day after day I read about those thousands
of migrant children…. many 17 and younger…

and I hear my mother’s voice from
before I was ready to listen, only 17 when his father
forced him to join a group of youths
fleeing Russian pogroms…

In an album she left me are photos of
the family he’d never see again…

using their story I sneak across the border;
among the children coming thru Mexico,
Central America, some drowning or getting shot

I see that Russian boy
standing with others who made it here
forced to explain  WHY  what
he’ll be asking himself his whole life


A chapbook of Linda Lerner’s poems using nursery rhymes as a taking off place Ding Dong The Bell Pussy in the Well, illustrated by Donna Kerness was published by Lummox Press, in Feb. 2014. Her next full length collection Yes, the Ducks Were Real will be published by New York Quarterly books in Fall 2014.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

NOW, MEN HERE

by Dana Yost


SAN ANTONIO — Militia groups along the Texas-Mexico border have grown to more than 10 active "teams" from El Paso to the Rio Grande Valley, despite warnings from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and state lawmakers. More than 30 photos obtained by the San Antonio Express-News show dozens of members carrying semi-automatic rifles and wearing masks, camouflage and tactical gear, providing a first glimpse of the militias. --San Antonio Express-News, August 1, 2014


Now, men here
Mask their faces
With bandannas,
Raise black hoods over their
Heads, and stand beside
One another in the desert,
Semiautomatic rifles
Held at 45-degree angles
Across their chests.
Sentinels, they say,

Now, men here pose
Beside convoys of civilian cars,
Chase down school buses of day campers,
And they look no different
Than the cave rats of Tora Bora,
The festering sores that preen
In little fiefs of Mogadishu,
Or the drug-gang death squads
Of Juarez and Nuevo Laredo.

Now, men here
Mask their faces,
As little girls sleep
In handed-down jeans
On the other side of a wall
In the desert, sing themselves
To sleep with American songs
Learned while hiding
Under floor boards
Or manacled to bed posts
Under rain forest heat.

The good are dying.
The men in masks
And black hoods want to keep me safe,
They say. I'd rather they'd been
In Baghdad, catching shrapnel
Before it split the face
Of my nephew's best friend,
I do not fear
Little children
Who want to sing songs
From our radios.
I do not fear
Little men
Who hide their faces
When they kill.


Dana Yost ended his 29-year career as an award-winning daily newspaper editor in 2008. Since then, he has authored four books. His poems have appeared in several literary journals, and he is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee. He has lived in Forest City, Iowa, since 2010.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

NORTHWEST OF TOMBSTONE

by David Chorlton


In January, the ACLU of Arizona filed an administrative complaint with DHS regarding abuses at six different southern Arizona checkpoints . . . These interior checkpoints are in part the result of decades-old regulations giving Border Patrol authority to operate within a "reasonable distance" of the border. That distance was defined in federal regulations in the 1950's —with no public comment or debate, and at a time when the Border Patrol comprised fewer than 1,100 agents—as 100 miles from any external boundary of the U.S. That area that now encompasses roughly two-thirds of the U.S. population, nine of the ten largest cities, and the entirety of ten states. The law also gives Border Patrol authority to enter private lands within 25 miles of the border. In practice, however, Border Patrol often goes even further into the interior. In 2008, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) was stopped at a checkpoint 125 miles from the Canadian border, one of many examples of agents disregarding the geographic and legal limits on their authority. Many are also surprised to learn that Border Patrol operates checkpoints in northern states too, and that even more could be on the way: a recent ACLU Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request revealed design plans for permanent Border Patrol checkpoints on southbound New England highways.  --ACLU.  Image source: People Helping People in the Border Zone


The Butterfield Stage doesn’t run
anymore. A six-minute drive
out of Tombstone
leads to a checkpoint
twenty-six miles from Mexico,
that shows how wide the border
has become
            and the O.K. Corral
is a hundred-and-thirty-three years
back down the road. This is where
the law turned into scrubland
and gunfire. Nothing
grows tall enough to obstruct the view
wherever you look, and Highway 80
runs straight as truth
until it touches the sky. The only reason
to slow down
                    is the Stop sign
beside the prefabricated unit
whose manufacturer left
a 1-800 number
for anyone interested to order
a model just like it, with bars
on the windows and an air conditioning unit
working hard beneath a flag
raised for wild animals to see
which country they are in.
Pull over; roll the window down,
and speak in clear English
when the officer asks
                             where you’re going
and tells you it’s just a routine
unless someone moves
in the trunk. The land all around
looks best in a Western sunset
just before it fades
                           and insects pour
into the cold light from carbon arc lamps
with nighthawks sweeping out
of the grass to catch them. Getting
this far is an easy ride
except for anyone
who needs to take another route
and move at night, perhaps
across the Huachucas,
                           or by following
the San Pedro River past
Miracle Valley (where the only miracles
are summer rains), or passing Bisbee
to find out how high and lonesome
High Lonesome Road actually is
at the crest
              where a new moon
is the claw by which hope hangs
for everyone to see.


David Chorlton came to Arizona in 1978 after living in England and Austria. He has spent more than three decades stretched between cultures and writing poetry, the pick of which has just appeared as his Selected Poems, from FutureCycle Press.

Monday, August 04, 2014

WHEN FACEBOOK CRASHES

by Peg Quinn


A number of Los Angeles residents  . . .  actually dialed 911 – the emergency helpline number used in the United States to report crimes, medical emergencies, fires, and the occasional cat-in-tree crisis – after [Facebook] crashed for nearly 30 minutes at 9:30 pm IST Thursday. --Business Standard (India), August 2, 2014


Let's see a line-up
of the users who called 911
or the Sheriff’s Department
when Facebook crashed
for just one hour.

A Sheriff twitting,
This is not a law enforcement problem!

though Facebook lives were ravaged,
swept asunder.
Let each step forward,
explaining to the world
what they had lost.


Peg Quinn, a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee is a mural painter and teaches art at a private elementary school in Santa Barbara, California.

PRESIDENTIAL HAIKU


We sang old folk songs,
bought folk art, ate folk cooking,
then tortured some folks.


Molly Redmond lives in St. Paul, MN. She thinks that shredding the Bill of Rights was a mistake the US should not have made. She heads a peace group at her church.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

THE LIES

by Buff Whitman-Bradley


Some Gazans have admitted that they were afraid of criticizing Hamas, but none have said they had been forced by the organisation to stay in places of danger and become unwilling human-shields. The Bani Sobeila area, near Khan Younis, where the Abu Jamaa deaths took place received leaflets dropped from the air last week warning them to leave. But almost all stayed. One reason for that was many of the houses belonged to the Abu Jamaa clan who felt there was safety in staying together. Another reason was given by a neighbour, Abdullah al-Daweish: “Where do we go to? Some people moved from the outer edge of Khan Younis to Khan Younis centre after Israelis told them to, then the centre got bombed. People have moved from this area to Gaza City, and Gaza City has been bombed. It’s not Hamas who is ordering us in this, it’s the Israelis.”  --“Israel-Gaza conflict: The myth of Hamas’s human shields.” The Independent (UK), July 21, 2014. Image source: Israel Defense Forces.


The lies rise early
To shower and shave
And don their heroic flight suits
(The lies are nothing
If not clean-cut
And smartly turned-out)

At breakfast the lies
Playfully mock each other
And make light
Of the dangers of their upcoming mission
Over enemy territory
(The lies are nothing
If not courageous)

During their preflight briefing
The lies receive
Aerial photographs
And location coordinates
For surgical strikes
Against terrorist targets
(The lies are nothing
If not precise)

In the cockpits of their F16s
The lies crack jokes
Over their crackling radios
About mowing down “future terrorists”
(The lies are nothing
If not witty)

When they return to base
The lies meet over a few beers
To review their day’s work
And pledge allegiance once again
To the founding myths
While on enemy ground
Countless small truths
Bleed into soil and sand


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.

TUNNEL VISION

by Charles Frederickson





Borderline Gaza underground trading places
Insufficient economic lifeline subterranean threat
Booby-trapped shaft grinding to halt
Both sides’ losses underwhelming gains

I know the sun rises
Every morning and there’s light
At end of tunnel darkness
Insightful optimistic outlook hopeful redemption

If you can see glimmers
Where collapsed cave-in winds down
You’re looking the wrong way
Dim prospects no exit unhappiness

Encountering mountaintop ascent don’t quit
Keep striving climb over obstacles
Find pass through tunnel underneath
Only way to go upward

Shortcut drilling through planet crust
Existent molten mess called asthenosphere
On which floats Earth’s cool
Epidermis tectonic plates way out

At given point you decide
To follow disintegrating candlewick flicker
There’s no going back total
Focus definite purpose concentrated viewpoint

Panic causes blurry tunnel vision
Stress prone to untimely pressure
Calm acceptance of danger allows
Reassessing situation choosing viable options


No Holds Bard Dr. Charles Frederickson  proudly presents YouTube mini-movies @ YouTube – CharlesThai1 .

Saturday, August 02, 2014

HELL IS CALLED GAZA

by Nathalie Kuroiwa-Lewis



A Palestinian man carries a wounded girl at the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya after receiving treatment for her wounds caused by an Israeli strike at a U.N. school in Jebaliya refugee camp on Wednesday, July 30, 2014. (Photo: AP/Khalil Hamra via Common Dreams)

The Senate passed a resolution Tuesday that states the Senate’s support of Israel’s right to defend itself from Hamas rocket attacks and condemns a “bias” United Nation’s report. S.Res. 526 was passed through a unanimous consent agreement. The resolution also condemns a United Nation’s Human Right Council report that stated Israel had committed human rights violations against the Palestinian people. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that U.N. report was “disgusting” and failed to recognize that Israel is defending itself from attacks started by Hamas, a terrorist organization. “I’ve always been a supporter of the U.N. but what I saw last week disgusted me,” Reid said of the report. “It was so one-sided.” --The Hill, July 29, 2014


If you had been the astronaut descending hell
the territory of unknown claims and bargains
Unimagined grievances and verdicts
going back to the ages
so long ago no one knows when it all began

Had you been there with me
Next to children, eyes closed, bodies floating in dreams,
harkening to ballads of far away muses in sea blue skies
embraced by rapturous blankets
kissed by the waking lips of wide-eyed mothers

in a UN fortified school
(what could be more secure for levitation)

Had you heard the long whistle
Then cracking thunder
Seen the black clouds hover high and higher
Like a tsunami tumbling in skies

And when down below, inside the classroom
the black mist cleared
had you seen the sharded glass, bloodied blankets
feathers for pillows, shoes
And limbs of children and mothers scattering all directions
East and West

Had you heard the wails of scarlet faces
Had you tasted the shadow of death

Would you have passed US resolution S. Res 526?
Would you have supplied the grenades and mortars?
Would you have said Yes to the War Reserves Stock Allies programme?
Would you have exclaimed in high voice, teetering to heavens,
“We stand with Israel and its right to defend itself?”

Have you forgotten?
The children slept before exploding into atoms in the ether.


Nathalie Kuroiwa-Lewis lives in Olympia, WA with her husband and daughter.  She is now revising a series of poems and other creative works to be completed 2015-2016.

Friday, August 01, 2014

NORTH WAZIRISTAN

by Grace Mattern


Aid distribution for some of the tens of thousands who have fled North Waziristan. © UNHCR, July 2, 2014

BANNU, Pakistan — For more than five centuries, poets in remote northwestern Pakistan have recited verses about the area’s mountainous scenery, their tribal culture and love. That all changed as Islamist militants tightened their hold on Pakistan’s tribal regions after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The Taliban and its allies quickly crushed the poets’ words and spirits. They were warned not to write phrases that referred to women or serenity and instead ordered to compose jihadist messages of war, brutality and conformity. Now, about 50 poets are part of a mass migration of more than 700,000 Pakistanis who have been displaced from the North Waziristan region as the military seeks to dislodge Islamist militants there. And amid the chaos of refu­gee life, they are restoring tradition to their verses.     --Aamir Iqbal and Tim Craig, Washington Post, July 25, 2014


I would sell my grandmother’s diamond
to write this poem.

I would invite ground hogs and deer into my pea patch
to write this poem.

I would drop my sails and turn into the wind
to write this poem.

I would walk a hot highway in thin flip flops
to write this poem.

I would tear my daughter’s wedding dress
to write this poem.

I would fast without water from sunset to sunset
to write this poem.

I would close my eyes to swallows in the summer sky
to write this poem.

I would wash and dry and fold one hundred strangers’ clothes
to write this poem.

I would bind my ankles and stop running
to write this poem.

I would let the trees in my yard burn to ash
to write this poem.

I would sleep alone again
to write this poem.

I have never been told
not to write this poem.

How do I earn this poem?
How do I give this poem away?


Grace Mattern’s poems have appeared in The Sun, Prairie Schooner, Hanging Loose, Yankee and elsewhere. She has received fellowships from the NH State Arts Council and Vermont Studio Center and has published two books of poetry.  She has worked in the movement to end violence against women for 35 years.