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Friday, July 31, 2015


(for Cecil of Zimbabwe)
by Carolyn Gregory

This is the last known photograph of Cecil the lion (bottom) taken by Brent Stapelkamp before he was killed by the American dentist. Cecil is pictured with Jericho, a male lion who it is feared could kill the cubs of the pride fathered by Cecil. Source: White Wolf Pack.


All day, he walks beside me,
his long bones slower indoors,
his gold sheen growing rich
with brown and yellow
walking past my fans.

All his life, he has taught sons
how to hunt in the savannah,
crouching and leaping
behind tall grass,
how to go for the jugular
and to strip the meat,
bringing it home to feed the family.

He has shared ancient stories
of his grandfather, the cave lion
living by his teeth and strength
five hundred thousand years ago.
Regal and triumphant,
he haunts me now.


The dentist was bored
with his life of drilling and filling,
tired of his other trophies.

Africa called him back,
the roaring and howling of animals
luring him from suburbia,
pulling him away from snow
and malpractice.

One or two gunshots would be enough
to take down a great predator,
more satisfying than implants
and root canals,

a souvenir for the wall,
his ruff all groomed, the eyes
replaced with yellow glass.


Shoot him with a bow and arrow,
finish him off with guns.
Make sure it's done
so the skin can be harvested
and turned into a rug.
Be sure to wield a heavy axe
to take off his head.

We want to put it on
its lacquered wall mount.
It will look fine
near the yellow afghans and throws,
terrific in our rec room.

When the fire overtakes our woods
and timber falls asunder,
when the lion calls out
his wolves and bobcats
to tear down this house of plunder,

we will not understand
the voodoo medicine big cats call
nor the end of trophies
and bragging rights
nature makes due.

Carolyn Gregory has published poems and music reviews in American Poetry Review, Cutthroat, Main Street Rag, Wilderness House Literary Review, Ygdrasil, Seattle Review. Her first and second books were published by Windmill Editions in Florida.

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Photograph of Cecil taken by Brent Stapelkamp before the lion was killed by the American dentist in July 2015. Source: White Wolf Pack.      Anne Graue is a poet and writing instructor living in New York. Her poems appear in Ginosko Literary Journal, The Westchester Review, The 5-2 Crime Poetry Weekly,  American Tanka,  and The New Verse News.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


by David Pring-Mill

After nearly seven decades in Wyoming, for much of that time facing heartbreak, discrimination and even physical violence, the cross-dresser has finally decided to leave the Cowboy State. Sissy Goodwin, who was profiled in the Los Angeles Times in 2013 for his insistence, despite an often-macho Western ethic, to lead the life he chooses -- as a man who prefers to dress in women's clothing -- is retiring in May from his job as a college science instructor in Casper. He and his wife, Vickie, are moving to the Portland, Ore., area, where they plan to buy a small farm and raise goats and chickens. —Los Angeles Times, April 4, 2015. Photo: Sissy Goodwin, seen here in 2013, has decided to leave Wyoming for Oregon. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Black air was wrapped ’round in elegant gown.
Consistent blare revealed proclivity.
Darkly dress augmented ignited crown.
Sounds spiraled and dimmed with activity.
Buildings trumpeted their presence at skies.
Stars could not outshine the cemented queen ―
Despite fires bright and wide as babies’ eyes,
none could adorn the head of gaudy sheen.
People strode and strutted in worshipped styles.
A woman skipped and wore a tie-dye shirt.
Colors rambunctiously splashed on textiles.
The woman and a man began to flirt.
Bodies blended into the fair city.
Winds whistled out a whimsical ditty.

In cracked sidewalk, an empty square remained,
filled with fluffed, deprived, and struggling grasses,
in place of the tall tree it once contained.
Tattered papers flew from college classes
as our light pollution masked over stars.
I saw a weeping form, drenched in darkness.
I squinted, for assumption often jars.
The edge of coned light revealed, in starkness,
A curled up cross-dresser, badly beaten,
bruises swelling a face now black and blue.
I cried, “Justice strike each twisted cretin!
I’ll call for help! What have they done to you?”
He said, “They loathe their own hidden weakness,
and attack those few who walk with meekness.”

I offered a hand and helped him to stand.
He said, “Fists will never defeat the soul,
destroy a concept, or bear true command.”
He patted my back and resumed his stroll.
I noticed a church that seemed grandiose.
It summoned an ingrained, quiet respect
fed to me in youth in dogmatic dose.
The old church stood as a sacred object
revered more than other bricks and mortars,
for the innate value of a symbol
may lift buildings from shapes to high quarters.
Apt symbol could aggrandize a thimble!
I yelled, “Why should man strive for salvation,
with evil sewn into all creation?”

I ran, renouncing all bewitchery,
spotted the hurt man’s ensanguined shirt, cried,
“How do you mitigate the misery?”
and watched as he calmly turned and replied,
“Although they were determined to hurt me,
only I can determine that effect;
their scheme crumbles if I do not agree
to receive shame they sought to redirect.”
I said, “Such men should not be in our streets.”
He said, “The span of those men’s lives and deeds
dwindles compared to the breadth of love’s feats.
Love has conquered the earth, and love precedes
and follows us all, and though fear may spread,
there is not an inch that love cannot tread.”

I stood sedated in humility.
He walked away, spiritually unharmed,
but then I felt new incivility,
and thought, “Lord, though your world leaves victims charmed,
are we, the makers of dense light clusters
on shadowed continental designs,
meant to be morality adjusters?
What are the semantics of dreamlike signs?
Are you the artist and we the artwork,
capable of launching revolution?
Am I a self-possessed statue with quirks,
who now must seek formal absolution?
Is every deviation a mistake,
or a miracle to which we awake?”

A bus bustled, with interior lit.
The metal tube emitted grinding puffs.
Night air still had a nip that gently bit.
Fluorescents and neon caught sights like cuffs.
The bulbs blackened, though they tried to expose,
for clarity is sharp in sheer absence.
When fists strike and pummel faces in blows,
the matter of people lacks shape or sense ―
The darkness is real, rife with purity.
Should absence and steel containers compete,
I’d consider star-lit obscurity,
if not deep void, where silence and peace meet.
People shuffled on the bus, sat, and leaned,
and above in trees, the hidden birds preened.

David Pring-Mill is a writer and award-winning filmmaker. His poems have been published in Poetry Quarterly, Boston Literary Magazine, Crack the Spine, Eunoia Review, Page & Spine, Songs of Eretz Poetry Review, and East Coast Literary Review. He is also author of the poetry book Age of the Appliance. @davesaidso

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


by Janice D. Soderling

Here I am, back home in the land of the free and the brave
where fewer are free and many required to have courage.
A rainy morning, the bus backs out from its slot,
the driver honks like a steamship captain leaving the dock.
Across the aisle is a thirty-something pretending to be a kid,
his belly hanging over red bermuda shorts, his dirty red
dunks on the seat. He swerves through excuses. "Forget it,"
he says, "forget it." Every politico wears a flag pin and the Court
says corporations are persons, and the war on poverty mystically
became a war on the poor. The trendiest Wall is domestic.
A red state is not a reference to Russia, but to a Republican bastion.
When the wall fell in Berlin, protest poetry plunged out of fashion.
That was way back in 1986, Sandinista, Khomeini, arms for hostages,
Ollie the supporting actor, Ron the Baddest crying in the backwaters,
preparing the political way. That was the year of Iran-Contra.
Who remembers? Who these days can find Nicaragua
on the map let alone spell it? Can that fat man-boy, barking
into his cell phone at his mom? That selfsame year Mr. Gorbachev
released Irina Ratushinskaya from a long prison sentence
handed down for poetry-writing addiction. Who remembers?
In prison Irina suffered multiple concussions and US poets took notice.
Now jail concussions are as commonplace as tear gas and tasers.
Who remembers that the Court declared abortion was a fundamental right
Martin Luther King got a federal holiday
Who will rescue the dignity of snitched autopsy reports declaimed as poetry
at academic forums? I am home again, home again, where something honestly
important has been forgotten, torn down, jettisoned, jerry-built,
abandoned, collapsing around our ears. The bus enters the freeway:
again so much hate in the air, the American nightmare, waves of banker gain,
and marginal difference between tabloid TV and election campaigns
because bad cooks are spaciously in control and the biggest political party
these days is the party of non-voters. Who reads poetry anyway,
and what was that black woman's name, the one found dead in her cell,
that Illinois academic pulled over in Texas for an improper lane change?

Janice D. Soderling is a frequent contributor to The New Verse News.

Monday, July 27, 2015


by David Chorlton

“This was slow and methodical,” [Bobby] Jindal said [of the Lafayette, LA movie theater shootings]. “It was barbaric.” The Republican governor, who is a candidate for the 2016 presidential nomination, was pressed on whether he should reconsider certain gun-control measures in the wake of the tragedy. He said now was “not the time” to discuss policy. —The Guardian, July 25th, 2015; file photo of Jindal at another time.

Remembering the shooter in a dark space
it all comes back in slow motion

but never slow enough
to be prevented. You might say

it was mysterious, the way the bullets
found random targets. All that remains

is to talk until no-one feels the pain,
as politics like poetry becomes

the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings:
it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.

David Chorlton grew up in England, in a time when Westerns were the favored theme in TV entertainment, never anticipating that he would one day live in Arizona, as he has since 1978. His poetry has appeared widely, and FutureCycle published his Selected Poems in 2014.

Sunday, July 26, 2015


by William Aarnes

Since the legislatures,
in cahoots with the NRA,

governors, presidents, and courts
have interfered with our right

to peacefully assemble,
I now venture out

no further than the garden
and the mailbox.

I have everything delivered,
stream my entertainment,

practice my faith online,
And, since I can request

ballots from home,
I vote absentee.

William Aarnes lives in South Carolina.

Saturday, July 25, 2015


by Max Gutmann

"What are your genetics, sir?"    
--Ben Shapiro to Ms. Zoey Tur on Dr. Drew on Call July 16, 2015

To refer to Ms. Tur
With a “sir,” I aver,
Is a scurrilous slur
We should learn to deter.

You infer it's a blur?
That the burden's on her
To insure, as it were,
That her herness is pure?

Use the term she'd prefer,
Not the grrr of a cur.
It's like cursing, I'm sure.
Be a person; defer.

Why be churlish? What fer?
You would certainly err
If you were to refer
To Ms. Tur with a “sir.”

Max Gutmann has contributed to Light Quarterly and other publications.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


The following is a found poem created by the Editor of TheNewVerse.News from the words of Sandra Bland (according to a HuffPost transcript prepared by Ryan Grim with Matt Ramos and Dhyana Taylor from the dash cam video) as spoken to Texas state trooper Brian Encinia and, later, a female officer, after Encinia stopped Sandra Bland's car on July 10. Sandra Bland was later found dead in a Waller County, Texas jail cell.

Sandra Bland

Got here just
on you. This
is your job.
                             on you. What
do you want
me to do?
I am.
                             I really am.
I feel
like it’s crap what
getting a ticket for.
I was
getting out of your way.
You were speeding up,
tailing me,
so I move over and you stop me.
So yeah,
I am
a little irritated., but
that doesn’t stop you
from giving me
a ticket.
You asked me
what was wrong,
now I told you.
So now

in my car.
Why do I have to
put out my cigarette?"
I don't have to step
out of my car. Why
am I . . .  No, you

don't have the right. No, you
                                                  don't have the right. You
                                                                                             don’t have the right. No, you
                                                  don’t have the right
to do this.

I refuse

to talk to you other than
to identify myself.

I am

getting removed
for failure to signal?

And I'm

calling my lawyer.
you're going to
yank me
out of the car?
alright. Let’s do this.
Don't touch me!
                             Don't touch me.
                                                          Don't touch me!

not under arrest.
                                                 don't have the right
to take me
out of the car


under arrest?
For what?
                For what?
                                For what?
am I

apprehended? You’re trying
to give me a ticket
for failure . . .


am I

apprehended? You just
opened my—

So you're threatening
to drag me out
of my own car?
And then . . .


                                  For a failure to signal?
You're doing all this
                                  for a failure to signal?

Right. Yeah,
let's take this to court.
do this.
                                  For a failure to signal? Yup,
                                  for a failure to signal!


not on the phone.
I have a right
to record. This
is my property.


for a fucking failure to signal.
Y’all are interesting.
                                    Very interesting.
You feelin’
good about yourself?
                                  You feelin’
                                  good about yourself?
                                                                     For a failure to signal,
you feel real
good about yourself
don’t you?
                                  you feel
                                  good about yourself
                                  don’t you?


am I

being arrested?

can’t you . . .


                                   am I

                                   being arrested?

don’t you tell me
that part?

will you not tell me
w     h     a     t     ‘     s           g     o     i     n     g          on     ?

not complying
‘cause you just pulled me
out of my car.
Are you
kidding me? This
is some bull . . .
'Cause you know this
straight bullshit. And you're
full of shit.                 Full of straight shit.
That's all y’all are
is some straight scared cops.
South Carolina
got y’all bitch asses
scared. That’s
all it is.
Fucking scared          of a female.
I was trying
to sign
the fucking ticket --   whatever.
Are you fucking
serious? Oh
I can’t wait
'til we go to court.
O     o     h
can’t wait.
cannot wait
'til we go to court.
                                     I can’t wait.
                                                               Oh I can’t wait!
You want me
to sit down now?
are you going to throw me to the floor?

That would make you feel better
about yourself?
                                                              Nah that would make you feel better
                                                              about yourself.

That would make you feel real good wouldn't it?

Pussy ass.
                  Fucking pussy.
                                                              For a failure to signal
                                                              you’re doing all of this.
In little ass
Praire View,
My God they must have ...

I’m getting a --
for what?           For what?
I’m getting a warning
for what?           For what!?
Well you just pointed me
over there! Get
your mind right.

O      o      h
I swear
on my life,
y'all are some
pussies. A pussy-ass
for a fucking signal you’re
gonna take me to jail.
                                                     For a fucking ticket. What
                                                     a pussy. What
                                                     a pussy. You’re about
to break my fucking wrist!


You keep moving
me, goddammit.

Don't touch me.
                                                      Fucking pussy  --
                                                                                                     for a traffic ticket.
You asked me
what was wrong!
Do I feel
like I have anything
on me?                                          This a fucking maxi dress.
                                                                                                     This a maxi dress.
                                                      Fucking assholes. You’re
about to break my wrist. Can you
stop? You’re about to fucking
break my wrist! Stop!!!          
                                                      For a fucking traffic ticket,
                                                                                                      you are such a pussy.
You are
such a pussy.
For                                                 a traffic signal!
Don’t it make you feel
real good
don’t it? A female
                                                      for a traffic ticket.
Don’t it make you feel
good Officer Encinia? You're
a real man now.

I got
epilepsy, you motherfucker.



Make you feel real
good for a female. Y'all
strong, y'all real

can’t go
anywhere with
your fucking
in my

Whatever,                           whatever.

If I could,                            I can't.

                                            I can't even
                                                                                      fucking feel my arms.

                                            I can't . . .

You just
slammed my head into
       the ground and you
                                      do not even care ...

                                             I can't
                                                                                     even                                              hear.

He slammed my
fucking head
into the ground.

the hell.
All of this                               for a traffic signal.
I swear to God.
All of this                               for a traffic signal.

Thank you for recording!
Thank you!                            For a traffic signal --
slam me
into the ground and
I hope
feel good

And No
you didn't.
                                                 You didn't see
it . . .


Wednesday, July 22, 2015


by Tracey Gratch

A Russian court has convicted poet and teacher Alexander Byvshev of ‘inciting enmity’ and sentenced him to 300 hours of community service, confiscated his computer and prohibited him from working as a school teacher for two years.  His ‘crime’ – the poem ‘To Ukrainian Patriots’ in which he expresses his opposition to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and suggests Ukrainians should ensure that not one inch of Crimea is handed “to Putin’s chekists”.  —Human Rights in Ukraine (KHPG), July 14, 2015

The storefront windows dim with filth and soot.
Cyrillic, signs hold sway and hang above
the wooden-blocks paving the streets in rot.

In nineteen-twenty-one the husband's shot –
The committee puts its strangle-hold on nearly
everything the others wrote, and thought.

Damp fire-wood and famine, typhus rages
in darkened spaces – their words, to memory,
then burned.  An apartment bare, but for the language,

whispered in the cold rail cars which pass
beneath the towers. Outside a prison's gate,
in the crowd she waits to see her son, for hours.

Here, a crimson-history is wrought:
"Can you describe this?"  She said, "I can."  She thought.

Author’s note: Alexander Byvshev’s situation is reminiscent of the plight of other Russian poets, including Anna Achmatova, (whom the poem is about) in post-revolutionary Russia, when Achmatova's work was officially stifled, though it continued to circulate in secret (samizdat), her work hidden passed and read in the gulags. With the conviction of Alexander Byvshev it seems that Russia is returning to the practice of censoring  and persecuting its writers for their political views. 

Tracey Gratch lives in Quincy, MA with her husband and their four children. Her poems have appeared in  publications including Mezzo Cammin,  The Literary Bohemian, The Flea, Annals of Internal Medicine, Boston Literary Magazine,  The New Verse News and The Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine. Her poem, "Strong Woman" is included in the American College of Physicians, On Being A Doctor, Volume 4.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


by Susanne Braham

Susanne Braham writes if and when the moment moves her. Several of her poems have been printed in two anthologies about widowhood, and another on getting old is forthcoming online.

Monday, July 20, 2015


by Michael Mark

That empty calorie confection
can lick my 12 hour factory job.
She can take the tip of her tongue
and taste the lonely dark of 3AM
alarms to get to the donut shop,
to mix the batter, to bake the donuts,
spread the icing that she licked and
did not buy. So another customer
tasted her spit. She can suck my middle-
class mortgage. And laugh because I’m
the sucker who has to work two jobs
to pay for it. I can’t walk away. She
can show up at a donut shop and bitch
about America’s obesity issues with all
the sincerity of imitation whipped cream.
She can eat her disgusting words on camera
in front of fat America. She can slip
her tongue in her dessert dancer of a boyfriend
then slide it over the sugary icing and leave
it tasting of arrogance, of pure meanness. That
customer who brought those donuts home
had to wonder why they stunk of revulsion. “I
asked for Boston Cream and got Rude Insolent
Post Teen.” She can flip that tongue so that simple,
happy, rainbow sprinkles smack of stupidity and
selfishness. That tongue can sell out stadiums.
And she can lie with that tongue that she really,
truly, honestly loves what the camera caught her
saying she hates. She can climb to #1 with that tongue.
And the rest of us, we can take a bite of what she leaves
us and pray for a little taste of forgiveness.

Michael Mark is a hospice volunteer and long distance walker. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Gargoyle Magazine, Lost Coast Review, Rattle, Ray’s Road Review, Spillway, Tar River Poetry, Sugar House Review, and other nice places. His poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015


by Luisa A. Igloria

San Pedro Huamelula, Mexico


that I do
not take
these vows
To wed ‘s
a serious
fraught  with
more than
what’s fleeting:
thrashing of
limbs and tails
in the nuptial
bed, as the whole
town erupts
in a chorus
of bells and
takes skill
and  just
the right
amount of
I’ll swing
you round
the plaza
in a dance
meant to
cajole your
and the gifts
of a year’s
good fishing
in our nets,
tax I pay for
your watery


Dear mortal
your human
wife and child
have dressed me
in a trousseau:
lace underskirt
and a coronet
of small white
flowers; and for
good measure,
a round of duct
tape fastening
my jaws. I do
not, technically,
therefore, give
my consent
but play along,
though I obey
a different
my world,
chance is not
a thing to be
It prowls
the shallows,
small as
a passing
other times
it breaks
the surface
just because
it can, maw
to the sun,
teeth brighter
than a dowry
of diadems.

Luisa A. Igloria’s most recent publication credits include Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014) and Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014).

Saturday, July 18, 2015


by Geoffrey A. Landis

Image source: New Horizons Spacecraft Displays Pluto’s Big Heart

Geoffrey A. Landis is a scientist, a science fiction writer, and a poet. As a science fiction writer, he's written over fifty short stories and one novel, which have appeared in over 20 languages.  As a poet, he has written numerous poems, and has a new collection, The Book of Whimsy, coming out at the end of July.  As a scientist, he works at NASA John Glenn Research Center on exploring Mars and developing new technology for space. 

Friday, July 17, 2015


by James Croteau

Along the Mississippi Delta. Image source: My American Odyssey

Only low beams lit the road
as my parents drove Highway 61
from Memphis through Clarksdale
to Cleveland with civil rights marches
all around us. I never knew
it's not a delta at all, no mouth
until further south. It's all alluvial

plain, this place of my birth. Grandpa
disembarked in Baltimore's harbor
in 1921, moved south when
cotton was still king but
he never planted. Instead he owned
a five and dime on Main Street
in Cleveland. I was proud
to help clerk. Sometimes he'd aim
squinted eyes my way, talk the Italian
he taught me “follow that N-word."

"It's the longest stretch of straight road
east of the Great River," my dad
always said as he drove, low beams
to avoid blinding the oncoming
drivers like us. We got used to not seeing
anything beyond the white

cotton by the side of the road.
Living legacies are often at the periphery
of the privileged. Even amid
outcries at the murders in the streets
and the churches, we whites miss
the lay of the land by
low beaming our questions--
Was the officer following policy?
Was the shooter mentally ill?
Isn't the KKK really to blame?

But I've been lucky, my eyes
have been pried apart by
a few good people. I see some
beyond the well-meant
intentions in front of my face.

The fertile flatness was freely
brought by the floods of the Yazoo
and Mississippi, then it was stolen
and exploited--Indian removal, slavery,
sharecropping, Jim Crow de jure

and de facto, this history's alive and
denied. If I high beam my heart
I can see that I could have been
Darren Wilson, even Dylann Roof.
I learn how the land of my birth
really lies, only when I can feel
the white of my finger placed
everyday on the trigger of the gun

I was given on the day I was born.

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


by Max Gutmann

A group of Confederate flag supporters gathered near the Oklahoma high school where President Obama is scheduled to speak Wednesday afternoon, claiming that the flag represents heritage–not racism.“We’re not gonna stand down from our heritage. You know, this flag’s not racist. And I know a lot of people think it is, but it’s really not. It’s just a southern thing, that’s it,” Trey Johnson told KFOR. Johnson drove three hours from Texas to join the protest.   —BUZZPO July 15, 2015; Photo by Steven Romo / Twitter

When I welcome you, it's the intent
That's important. If you get all bent
Out of shape with offense,
Then you ain't got good sense;
What you heard ain't the thing that I meant.

Ain't that sensible? Then let's agree:
As your host, I am perfectly free
To display one long digit
And call you an idjit,
'Cause those are endearments to me.

Max Gutmann has contributed to The American Drivel Review and other publications.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


by Sarah Frances Moran

Image source: The Military Diet

For breakfast I have a piece of toast with peanut butter.
My stomach grumbles 4 hours later.

For lunch I have crackers, cheese and an apple.
I drink one liter of water. I think, I might waste away
on this diet.

At dinner I have a portion of fish with two sides
of vegetables.
I cringe at the way the kitchen smells like someone passed gas
as the broccoli warms up.
I’m grumpy because I want a beer.
I’m grumpy because I want something more filling.

Three hours later as I lay in bed
My stomach begins making noises like an asteroid
has landed in the pit of it
and everything inside is on fire.
I think I’m dying.
I decide to eat whatever the fuck I want in the morning.

In the seconds while I dramaticize my hunger pains
6 people die.

The science of hunger is felt by 1 billion people.
I am not actually one of these people.

I’m sure one of these people lives in the same city as me.
I decide gluttony really is a sin.
More so than the popular sins in the news these days.

When I get up in the morning,
I do not eat whatever I want.

On my drive to work,
two grackles fight over left over something in the
middle of the road.
It is a fierce battle that nearly gets one of them hit by an
on-coming car.
My on-coming car.

I am hungry. My stomach turns.
I will not die fighting over food,

but I should concede to battle a hunger
larger than my small belly.

Small as a fist.

1 billion people won’t eat a fist full of food today.
Grackles fight over crumbs in the road.
6 people will die every minute because they have nothing to eat.
Our world is overflowing with tragedy…

but my largest tragedy
is I won’t get a beer today
I will not drink a beer today
I cannot drink a beer today

and I think I’m going to die.

Sarah Frances Moran is a stick-a-love-poem-in-your-back-pocket kind of poet. She thinks Chihuahuas should rule the world and prefers their company to people 90% of the time. Her work has most recently been published or is upcoming in Maudlin House, Blackheart Magazine, Red Fez and The Bitchin' Kitsch. She is Editor/Founder of Yellow Chair Review.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


by Alejandro Escudé

The cellphone in the mind rings.
No one there—

She cries
for the impermanence
of permanence

the way a person can climb
up on a stage

seeking wattage.
There’s no real age

for barbarism.
It haunts the elementary school

and the college;
it seeps into the corridors

of Congress.
It seeks only excess.

And is dead
to even the planned

of betrayal.

The narration of a soul
is its final

You mustn’t give it

Only the kernel

of a lasting impression
should breathe.

Alejandro Escudé published his first full-length collection of poems, My Earthbound Eye, in September 2013. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis and teaches high school English. Originally from Argentina, Alejandro lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


by William Aarnes 

Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary via Daily Mail; Donald Trump via DonkeyHotey

                                                . . . where shall you listen
                when all is become billboards, when, all, even silence, is spray-gunned?
                                                --Charles Olson, “I, Maximus of Gloucester, to You”

Tonight, hunched
over his iPad,
your son will decide
whether to devote his life
to commerce
or killing—

                   already dreading  
some corporate career  
in throwaway crap,

already fancying
the euphoria
of wielding a bullpup.

He replays the video
of a capitalist
endorsing himself
by espousing bigoted blather.

He replays the video
of a jihadist
ambling into view
after executing sunbathers.

William Aarnes had recent work in Main Street Rag, Shark Reef, Empty Sink, and The New Verse News.

Monday, July 13, 2015


by Martha Deed

Image source: Tin House

To James Tate who died ‒ The New York Times and other places say
"after a long illness" at age 71, it is certain, Mr. Tate, that you are not dead
because the poet James Tate, the man this obit purports to bury
is a man wild with words and metaphors and would not "die after a long illness,"
but expire actually only after being hit by a meteor in broad daylight
while taking a break in a green, white, and yellow striped canvas covered, oak-
framed lawn chair purchased for a dollar at the very same tag sale where the coffee blender
was offered ‒ insultingly ‒ to anyone willing to take it off the crazy seller's hands
for free and now it appears that the coffee blender should have been accepted for the rotten
gift it seemed and no money should have changed hands over the lawn chair whose faded
cover harbored screws rusted at the core that sent the poet into oblivion just as he was
contemplating the next line in his next new poem the perfect nonsense of a next line replete
with toy guns and real ammunition unearthed by a small boy with dark skin and brown eyes
whose future would include 1600 on his college boards and admirable physics scores as well
who would grow up thinking a trip to Pluto was not out of the question whose inquisitive
nature matched James Tates' who cannot be dead at the premature age, barely biblical age,
of 71. We do not believe this, because we are great admirers of James Tate and we know
he does not have much truck with death and, in fact, he welcomes conversations with dead
men whom he meets at every opportunity and whom he challenges to live past their prime
even as they peer down his fevered throat and declare a person hopeless while extracting
every dime from their wallets and this in 1976 before the rest of us understood doctors
or invented Safe Patient Projects or petitioned Congress for relief which Tate already
knew ‒ before 1976 ‒ was at best a captious notion indeed, for Tate was a wise man
who understood it is every man for himself in this ungainly world and the women are smart
but the men are the drivers and often deaf to women who advise them to avoid the potholes
and bumps in the road and the men age and look gray and grumpy and finally the women
capitulate and love them anyhow because those silly old men remind them of Black-capped
Gnatcatchers rare in Arizona but cousins of a comfort commonplace Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
in the white birches in their front yard at home in North Tonawanda by the sea.

Martha Deed is the keeper of a tumblr blog Sporkworld and has published several poetry collections.  Her most recent is Climate Change (Foothills Publishing, 2014).

Sunday, July 12, 2015


by Elbert Tavon Briggs

Gun violence in Chicago over the Fourth of July weekend left 10 dead and 53 others wounded across the city. Amari Brown [pictured above], a 7-year-old boy on Chicago’s West Side, was the youngest of the fatalities. Amari had spent the day celebrating with family and riding his scooter up and down the block where he lived with his grandmother and several other relatives in Humboldt Park. Just before midnight, a gunman opened fire outside a relative's home where Amari and other children were playing, hitting both the 7-year-old and a 26-year-old woman in the chest. —The Huffington Post, July 5, 2015

‘There have been more than 200 killings so far this year in Chicago — up about 15 percent. And there have been more than 1,000 shootings. More Americans have been murdered in Chicago in the last 15 years than have died in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Much of the mayhem happens on the South and West sides. The black and brown sides. What they call Chiraq. In the racial mathematics of America, a black person is six times more likely to be the victim of a murder than a white person, and eight times more likely to be the murderer.’ —Vice News, June 25, 2015 

‘”Chi-raq" has been shrouded in mystery since news of the project first leaked in the spring, but a visit to director Spike Lee's film set this week revealed that much speculation about the movie — sparked largely by the title itself — has been off the mark. . . .Before a single frame was shot, the title became instantly polarizing — the term has been around for a few years now, equating gun violence in the city with that of the war zone in Iraq — and curiosity has been intense.’ —Chicago Tribune, July 9, 2015

                                                         friday to saturday
the end was not week
20 shot and wounded
one shot dead in ChiRaq

may have been another month
 even an 80 something years young person
still thirstin for life
 caught in the eye of  multi-caliber storms

while multi-colored talking heads
curse a word
curse a word

spring 2015
 a father placed his tiny son
in front of corner store mural
of the whole world

painted by teenage vato
young asphalt Picasso
pointed concrete brush towards graffiti verse
tell your story to the world

but the end was not week
urban street life painted
another view
father shielded son with hopes

january to june 2015
the end was not week
1050 shot and wounded
 in ChiRaq

absurd blaming urban warfare on a word

mother’s scream
“not my baby”
“not my baby”

                                                          concrete asphalt actions
speak louder than words
children, teachers, parents and grandparents
getting shot down too
can’t shield violence with silence
urban combat is more than gang related

violence has many relatives
                                               while multi-colored talking heads
curse a word
curse a word

                                                           while watching
                                                             saturday morning cartoons
before noon
taught  grandson to stop-drop and roll
so the body count bell would not toll

July 4th 2015
53 shot
10 killed
7 year-old Amari Brown’s
tiny voice
is stilled
                                                                      in ChiRaq

Author's note: This poem reflects my lifelong commitment to incorporate poetry, music, art, dance, and drama, to give voice to the voiceless. 

Elbert Tavon Briggs was born 1952 in Minneapolis, Minnesota,  raised in Omaha, Nebraska. Elbert studied at Northeastern Illinois University and currently resides in Chicago, Illinois. Currently creating with the Randolph Street Poets @ the Chicago Cultural Center and workshopping with Poets & Patrons. Elbert graduated from Arizona State University and served two years in AmeriCorps fighting the war on poverty in the Lower Delta.

JULY 5th

by Marjorie Maddox

All the flag-clad oohs and ahhs fizzle
just past midnight, a slight singe of burn
hovering over today: patriotic hangover
with stars and stripes banging about in brains
that never Ok’d reciting names and dates
in 4th grade History. Such a dazzling,
distracting explosion: all that reality behind
the pomp, so ceremoniously like that other
season’s parade: winter’s green/red (the frigid
red/white/blue) pa-rum-pa-pum-pummed
into “Little Drummer Boy” with only tepid recognition
of the day’s conviction. Holy Mother
of Jefferson, the fireworks’ dizzy outbursts
of Me! Me! Me! reveal our belief in nothing
but the day’s commemoration, the morning after’s
leftover hot dogs or eggnog a hodge-podge of forgotten births:
nation and God piped-in patriotically
as afterthought for the background.

Director of Creative Writing and professor of English at Lock Haven University, Marjorie Maddox has 9 books of poetry, most recently Local News from Someplace Else Wipf & Stock 2013), which focuses on living in an unsafe world, and an ebook of Perpendicular As I, winner of the 1994 Sandstone Book Award.


by Jim Gustafson

CALAIS, Maine — A local man was killed instantly Saturday when he set off a fireworks mortar tube on his head, despite efforts his friends made to stop him, state police said Sunday. —Bangor Daily News July 5, 2015. Editor's note: The file photograph is NOT that of the victim in Maine, but of someone else deserving at least a Darwin Award Honorable Mention.

with apologies to Walt Whitman

I will place a rocket on my head, in a few moments I’ll be dead.
To celebrate myself, I’ll place a rocket on my head. I’ll strike a
match, light its fuse and let the sizzle climb my face. The rocket
will explode my brain and l spread my wisdom around the place.
People will scream as every atom which once belonged to me
will now belong to them. They will drip from their bottles, stick
in their hair. They will be sick because I took the dare. And when
they return to work, the holiday past, the smoke of my own breath
shall whisper.

Jim Gustafson’s most recent book, Driving Home, was published by Aldrich Press in 2013 and is a 2013 Pushcart Prize Nominee. He holds an MFA from University of Tampa and a M. Div., from Garrett Theological Seminary. He teaches at Florida Gulf Coast University and Florida Southwestern State College.  His work has most recently appeared in Prick of the Spindle, Foliate Oak, Poetry Quarterly. He lives in Fort Myers, Florida, where he reads, writes, and pulls weeds.

Saturday, July 11, 2015


by Sandra Sidman Larson

The bodies of dozens of victims of the Srebrenica massacre are being taken back to the Bosnian town for burial. The killing of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in July 1995 by Bosnian Serb troops was the worst massacre in Europe since World War Two. A service to bury 136 newly-identified victims will take place on Saturday, 20 years to the day since the massacre began. Another 6,241 victims have already been identified. —BBC News, July 9, 2015

Place of silver,
place of bullets,
place of silver bullets.
Silently they tread dusty roads,
silently they climb into flatbed trucks,
silently they arrive at the wayside of their slaughter.

Place of silver,
place of bullets,
place of silver bullets.
Into the backs of young men and boy’s heads, the pop, pop
     of silver bullets.
Into shallow roadside graves they are dumped,
their corpses shoveled over.

Place of silver,
place of bullets
place of silver bullets.
Under the ground of history they are stacked,
            full of silver bullets,
another layer of bodies silently compressed
and we are left to harvest what will arise from this.

Sandra Sidman Larson, twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, has three chapbooks to her credit: Whistling Girls and Cackling Hens, Over a Threshold of Roots, (both Pudding House Press Publications) and Weekend Weather: Calendar Poems.  Recognized as a full-length manuscript finalist for the 2013 Lost Horse Press’ Idaho Prize for Poetry and the 2015 Trio House Press Trio Award, she was also a semi-finalist in the 2015 Concrete Press’ chapbook competition. Her poetry has been published in many venues such as the Atlanta Review, Grey Sparrow, Earth’s Daughters, and The New Verse News. She has been active in the social justice movement through her long career and over the years has attempted to use poetry as a way to communicate both political and personal concerns and aspirations. Holding an MSW, Sandra managed nonprofit organizations for a career, and, as a poet, she is an active member of The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis and is currently hoping to see her manuscript, Distance in My Hands, published one of these days.


by Alan Catlin

'The U.S. State Department on Tuesday punched a big hole in Israel-led efforts to induce the Obama administration to regard boycotts of settlements as identical to boycott of Israel proper. In doing so, it provided the Israeli government and the pro-Israel lobby with yet another painful lesson in the pitfalls of being too clever by half and biting off more than one should chew. A special statement issued by the State Department Press Office on Tuesday afternoon made clear that while the administration “strongly opposes” any boycott, divestment or sanctions against the State of Israel, it does not extend the same protection to “Israel-controlled territories.” Rather than weakening efforts to boycott Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, as Israel supporters had planned, the State Department was actually granting them unprecedented legitimacy.' —Haaretz, July 1, 2015; Photo: AL-JANIYA, (Palestinian Territories), October 30, 2014: Abbas Yusef points wistfully towards his olive trees, which are bearing their annual fruit. Yet again, the 70-year-old Palestinian farmer will be unable to make the autumn harvest. Yusef’s olive groves lie on land either side of an Israeli settlement in the northern occupied West Bank. For years, he has been denied access by the army, and the settlers have ploughed it, uprooting many of his trees. —Dawn

It’s a timeless story.
The speaker is a man.
A very angry man
with eight children and
another on the way.

He is a farmer but
is no longer able to work
the land that has been in
his family for a thousand years.

The occupiers prevent
anyone from working
the land.

He is so angry he can
barely speak.

The occupiers want to build
new settlements here,
right here, on my land.

The man is so angry because
he feels helpless.

How will we live?
he asks

How will we survive?

Author’s note: The poem is a based on a reading from this week by a young man, probably a high schooler, who read at an open mike. I’m not sure if he wrote the poem or not.  He was extremely shy and self-conscious, until he passionately read this dynamic piece  in his native language and tried to leave the stage without an explanation, but the moderator, a high school English teacher, gently prodded him to provide some kind of translation. I took some liberties with the translation, adding some details I think he was hinting at but could not provide as he didn’t have the words for them in English. 

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

Friday, July 10, 2015


by Vivek Sharma

Surprisingly, despite endless lazy moralizing commentary to the contrary, Greece has very little to do with the crisis that bears its name. To see why, it is best to follow the money—and those who bank it. The roots of the crisis lie far away from Greece; they lie in the architecture of European banking. —Mark Blyth, “A Pain in the Athens,” Foreign Affairs, July 7, 2015; Photo: Greece's finance minister at the London Conference of 1953, signing a treaty agreeing to cancel 50% of Germany's debt.

After proclaiming the authoritative
accept no other versions,
no translations, no revisions.

One story kills another.
Censor, silence the creative.

Millions merely memorize
paradigms, a few theorize.

Before a brother or a mother
weaves another narrative,
exterminate the alternative.

To preserve each belief
cherished in joy and grief
by your forefathers: KILL
the fabulists. Torch their quills.

Vivek Sharma's verses in English have appeared in Atlanta Review, Bateau, Poetry, The Cortland Review, Muse India, among others and in a collection titled The Saga of a Crumpled Piece of Paper (Writers Workshop, Calcutta, 2009). His Hindi articles and verses appear in Divya Himachal (Hindi newspaper, India), Himachal Mitra and Argala. Vivek is a Pushcart-nominated poet, is published as a scientist and he lives and teaches in Chicago. 

Thursday, July 09, 2015


by Gil Hoy

A divided Supreme Court on Monday turned aside claims by death-row inmates that a drug to be used in their executions would lead to an unconstitutional level of suffering, a narrow but unequivocal ruling that made clear that states have leeway in carrying out the death penalty. —Wshington Post, June 29, 2015

"I would ask ... a more basic question:whether the death penalty violates the Constitution."--Justice Stephen Breyer in his dissent

Are some men
born evil,

and others
born good?

As some men
have brown eyes,

and others
have blue?

As some
are born weak,

and others
born strong?

Gil Hoy is a Boston trial lawyer, who first studied poetry at Boston University while receiving a B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science. Gil started writing his own poetry last year. Since then, his poems have been published most recently in The Potomac, The New Verse News, The Antarctica Journal, Third Wednesday, and To Hold A Moment Still, Harbinger Asylum’s 2014 Holidays Anthology.


by Claire Day

On June 26, the United States Supreme Court ruled the federal Three-Strikes Law unconstitutional. In Johnson vs. United States, the Supreme Court held that the government violated Johnson’s due process by imposing an increased sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act’s residual clause that was unconstitutionally vague, standard-less, and only enforceable arbitrarily. The ruling elaborated that two elements constitute the vagueness of the law: 1) by assessing risk of a case using fictitious crime rather than using real-world statistics, and 2) ambiguity regarding the amount of risk necessary to qualify a crime as a violent felony. In other words, assessment of risk of future violent crime by an individual is unpredictable and uncertain, and has not historically been applied consistently. Supreme Court Justice Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court, joined by Roberts, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, while Kennedy and Thomas concurred in the judgment. Justice Alito filed the sole dissenting opinion. —National Center for Due Process, July 6, 2015

There used to be a row of firs
lined up against the fence
limbs outstretched to intertwine
and guard the narrow yard like jailers,
block access to the light

There are prisoners
who never move beyond the confines of their bars
and see the sun
they live in tiny spaces
meant to squash the soul

The trees are down now
their rule long gone

Grass sings
flowers surge in summer hues
grapes dally on the vine

And breathe the smell of freedom

Claire Day lives in western Massachusetts, in an area where writing is virtually a way of life. After writing prose for several decades and both participating in and facilitating writing workshops,she has discovered the joys of poetry. She enjoys its economy of words, its lack of distracting verbage, and most of all, its ability to enter the mind and heart.