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Monday, November 30, 2015

MINING DISASTER

by Howard Pflanzer




I saw hell from my watery grave
In Minas Gerais the first dam broke
Then the second
Workers under a wall of water
The Rio Doce, the sweet river, was bitter
A bloody cocktail spilling all the way down to the sea
Flooding the land
Drowning the people
Floating corpses
Poisoning my fish friends
Now it’s a watery desert
Lifeless
Water undrinkable
No fishing possible
Moribund turtles at the mouth of the river
No crops will grow
The soil filled with deadly poison
Now I am dying in the cloudy water
My flesh will not feed the hungry
I will rot with the stench of decay filling the air
Scales covering my eyes in darkness
Blinding my sight forever.                                                                                            


Howard Pflanzer is a poet, playwright, and lyricist. Dead Birds or Avian Blues was published by Fly By Night Press (2011). Recent publications include FIVE Poetry and Downtown Brooklyn. He was the prizewinning November 2013 Poet of the Month of The Poetry Company. His hybrid performance piece, Walt Whitman Opera, adapted from Whitman’s poetry with music by Constance Cooper, was presented at the undergroundzero festival in New York. July 2014. He has read/performed his work at KGB, LaMaMa, Theaterlab, The Living Theatre, The Cornelia Street Cafe, Medicine Show A Gathering of the Tribes, The Bowery Poetry Club, Brownstone Poets, and San Diego Writers Ink.   

Sunday, November 29, 2015

EXTREMIS

by Carol Alexander




Your voice in Saint-Germain-de-Prés is pastis
in a glass of fog, held by an invisible hand.
How phrase this in a nomenclature vivid
as a lipstick smeared at the bar?

In the hotel lobby, Arab girls and boys
praise a wine never to be served
and potted palms are sleeping, curled and dry.

That great beast, the wind, noses pavements
soaked in blood that dries before the world's eyes.
Raised on every bridge are unwavering lights
where once smoked oil lamps strung on narrow streets.

My camera pinches off lanterns and loaves,
a pink dress hung in the galleries
while your meeting, not to be postponed,
is soup and cigarettes under martial law.

Dogs off-leash bare teeth and wheel
at the unfamiliar smells of men.
Muted leaves that missed their moment
when September made an oven of the streets
mostly now have fallen into loam.

I've a little forgotten disaster in these months;
it could be the sound of wind through husks
or a tremulous breath breaking in mid-song.


Carol Alexander's poems have appeared in such journals as Bluestem, Caesura, Canary, The Common, Chiron Review, Illya's Honey, Mad Hatter's Review, Mobius, TheNewVerse.News, Poetry Quarterly, Poetrybay, Red River Review, The San Pedro River Review, Sugar Mule, THEMA and Zymbol, as well as in various anthologies including Through a Distant Lens (WriteWing Publishing) for which she received the award for best poem, and Proud to Be, for which she was a poetry finalist. Alexander's chapbook, Bridal Veil Falls, was published by Flutter Press (2013).  Recent work appears in Split Rock Review and Clementine Poetry Journal.

DOWN IN THE GRIT OF MUSIC NOTES

by Anna Hawthorne





Down in the grit of music notes, a drop of blood lay drying
though soon another concert would flow, becoming more than a tide
why did they shoot the messenger here
when all we wanted was to dance
a pitterpatter firecracker they thought, while glancing at their cell phones for news
of an impending storm . . . low pressure was sensed yet not obeyed
and they ran for the nearest door with a ringing sound delayed, a resonating hover over the empty stage


Anna Hawthorne is a conservationist, birder, and a painter working on a book about the extinction of birds.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

SCOURING

by Elizabeth Kerlikowske



COLORADO SPRINGS — A gun battle erupted inside a Planned Parenthood center here on Friday when a man armed with an assault-style rifle opened fire and began shooting at officers as they rushed to the scene. The authorities reported that three people were killed, a police officer and two civilians, and nine were wounded before the suspect finally surrendered more than five hours after the first shots were fired. —NY Times, Nov. 27, 2015. Photo by ISAIAH J. DOWNING/REUTERS via NY Times



I cannot leave while the wind sings in its cold November voice, exercising spruce limbs above the roof, full of spirits and souls perfecting their escapes: my husband’s colleague, the Paris dead,
unmourned strangers caught up, baffled.

Wind is not what they imagined. Always alive, it blows songbirds from the sills. Smashes streetlights and scatters the shards like leaves.

Below in the ugly solid house, cats sleep on quilts, still, while limbs thrash, cross themselves. Wind is the terrorist with no intention: unequal heating of the earth’s surface, dared by anemometers to blow harder.

Spider webs inside the window and the window tremble. Ghosts of people I once loved make room for the freshly dead. The sound of a train with the force of a bomb lifts our jackets then our bodies and snatches flesh from our faces.

Unsaid fury and unspoken endearments, wind is the thunder of my body breaking up like river ice and letting go. Lost souls from anywhere on the globe pluck at the sleeves of  the living. I am what you will be.  This whirlwind tears boats from their slips, clothes from the line, hope from the future.

Today’s gale prefaces snow with no regard for our journeys; it smoothes our problems into a dull continuous roar and cleanses them of impurities. They return to us, still problems but smoother, speaking a language we don’t understand.


Elizabeth Kerlikowske reports here from time to time on the news here and there.

MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, II

by Judith Terzi



This Miami Herald editorial cartoon dramatized the plight of Jewish refugees aboard the passenger ship St. Louis, a German ocean liner most notable for a single voyage in 1939, in which her captain, Gustav Schröder, tried to find homes for 908 Jewish refugees from Germany, after they were denied entry to Cuba, the United States and Canada, until finally accepted in various European countries, which were later engulfed in World War II. Historians have estimated that, after their return to Europe, approximately a quarter of the ship's passengers died in death camps. Cartoonist: Robert Epstein/Miami Herald Staff, June 11, 1939. Caption text thanks to Wikipedia.


Creamy tomato basil soup, a hunk
of baguette at Panera, table #36.
I hear Korean spoken next to me,
two women in animated talk. I'd

like to understand. A father speaks
Arabic to his baby boy. The mother,
highlighted hair, chic jeans. They're
at my favorite table next to the fire-

place. I hear Spanish, Armenian. We
are 10 miles from the largest Armenian
diaspora in America. I hear almost no
English today, like sometimes at mega-

stores where you can't buy one roll
of toilet paper, a single box of tissues,
or a solo tube of toothpaste. Or, I
recall at the top of the Eiffel Tower

before it blushed tricolor in mourning.
The non-talkers here stare into computer
screens between mouthfuls of turkey chili
or a Frontega chicken panini. Here is

the gusto, the throb, the intonation of
America. Here, you can travel without
having to make reservations. I imagine
Delancey Street at the turn of the 20th:

Italian, Ukrainian, German, or the Yiddish
of my grandparents pulsing, reminiscing
between pushcarts, theater seats, newspaper
boys. Or what about on the St. Louis,

ship touching Cuban and U.S. shores with
refugees unwanted, then having to sail them
back to a Europe soon at war? Exhalation for
some. But no Exile, no unshackling from fear.


Judith Terzi's most recent chapbook, If You Spot Your Brother Floating By, is a collection of memoir poems from Kattywompus Press. Her poetry has appeared in journals and anthologies including Atlanta Review (International Publication Award, 2015), Caesura, Myrrh, Mothwing, Smoke: Erotic Poems (Tupelo), Raintown Review, Unsplendid, and Wide Awake: The Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond (Beyond Baroque). She lives and writes in Southern California.

Friday, November 27, 2015

GOOD BOY

by Laura Rodley





You made it, speeding squirrel,
barreling cross black asphalt
as five cars careened
towards you each way,

north and south, no bombs
tied to your body, just
soft grey fur, acorns awaiting.

What know you about bombings
in Paris, 128 killed,
I’m ready for love
what know you

about guns in kindergarten
I’m ready for love
what know you but the rumble
of the road, earthquakes

that pass as the cars swirl by
and you’ve made it to high ground
leaves barely moving
as your tiny feet scramble up.


Author's note: I’m ready for love from Bad Company’s song "Ready for Love."

Laura Rodley’s New Verse News poem “Resurrection” appears in The Pushcart Prlze XXXVII: Best of the Small Presses (2013 edition). She was nominated twice before for the Prize as well as for Best of the Net. Her chapbook Rappelling Blue Light, a Mass Book Award nominee,  won honorable mention for the New England Poetry Society Jean Pedrick Award. Her second chapbook Your Left Front Wheel is Coming Loose was also nominated for a Mass Book Award and a L.L.Winship/Penn New England Award. Both were published by Finishing Line Press.  Co-curator of the Collected Poets Series, she teaches creative writing and works as contributing writer and photographer for the Daily Hampshire Gazette.  She edited As You Write It, A Franklin County Anthology, Volume I and Volume II.

JIHADI JOHN

by Eric Lochridge



Painting by Luigi Poggi of the stoning of Stephen. (Acts 6, 58): "And cast him out of the city, and stoned him..."..  In the background: Paul (Saul of Tarsus) stands on the left, witnessing the stoning. (Acts 7, 58): "and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.” At that time Paul prosecuted Christians, but on his journey to Damascus he switched sides and became a converted missionary (Acts 9, 3-4): "And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?". —Beit-Jamal Monastery



You remind me of Paul before he was Paul.
Saul made martyrs like you do.

On a road in the desert
the Morning Star, Light of Life

struck him blind, not pitch black
but bright glare that swallowed him whole.

Something like scales are falling
from the eyes of the man in the orange jumpsuit.

He can see heaven
from where he’s kneeling in the sand.

Someone once said
love your enemies.

The flash of your blade blinds us both
to the good God is bringing into the world.


Eric Lochridge is the author of Born-Again Death Wish (Finishing Line Press, 2015), Real Boy Blues (Finishing Line Press, 2013) and Father’s Curse (FootHills Publishing, 2007), and the editor of After Long Busyness: Interviews with Eight Heartland Poets (Smashwords, 2012). His poems have appeared in journals such as Free Lunch, Slipstream, Diagram and Paddlefish and in anthologies such as Beloved on the Earth: 150 Poems of Grief and Gratitude (Holy Cow! Press, 2009), Liberty’s Vigil: The Occupy Anthology (FootHills Publishing, 2012), and The XY Files: Poems on the Male Experience (Sherman Asher Publishing, 1997). He lives in Bellingham, Washington.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

FILTH, BLOOD, AND NOISE

by Andrew Levy





The player is a liar when he says sometimes wind and sometimes
women, sometimes waves and sometimes seals.  The player is a liar
when he says one’s environment is a key to one’s identity, but that his
environment is a lost key.  The player is a liar when he says jealousy
in men is as good as dollars in the soul, that men’s souls are oriented not
to miss things. The player is a liar when he says one’s environment is
the key to one’s identity, and that his environment is the master key.
The player is a liar when he says an ounce of genuine interest would be
a start, and steadfast resolution is thicker than water.  The player is a liar
when he says a worm returned to soil, and wished he were it.
The player is a liar when he says I want dynamite under my car seat, but
there’s another wheel turning.  When he says all the news without fear
or favor, the kiss of death is good.  The player is a liar when he says
innumerable unseen spirits kick metaphysical footballs in a different
cemetery than the cemetery he lives in.  The player is lying when he says
no one sees a subtextual reference to scrutinizing the remotest corners
most carefully guarded secrets, to pushes into the East Siberian Sea
and the Transpolar Drift, the rocky distant rim of the Canadian Shield.
The player is lying when he looks into the world of inquisition, when
he separates one integral part of any work from another. When he says
he was promised a world of lost forests, folded mountains, and labyrinthine
hiding places, a snack, something serious to eat, a mirage of salvation,
ascension sharp enough to consume sanity.  The player is lying when
he says winter thaws to summer, the pack ice breaks up into the Chukchi Sea,
where warm Pacific waters join the gyre as it turns in its grinding cycle.
The player is a liar when he says he is falling back to earth in the form
of pine needles, that he is no better than those other clones.  The player’s
soul is at work disappearing in lies, communicating its isolation as total.
When he says that the wings of the news are a malady, and the finalist
became a doctor of philosophy.  He is a liar when the extermination
of the underclass is harvested on his tongue, when the processing line
will be cleaned and silent.  He is lying at the end of the lane, slowly turning
in the dirt.  His thoughts and actions are elegiac fragments, mechanisms
which flicker above the wrong note. When the circus in any labor wishes
to act not as a condition of membership but synthesized in underground
factories the requisite neurochemicals of cautious steps, an abyss
of crop-duster dictums spoken by twenty-first century revolutionaries
via minor routes, filth, blood, and noise.


Andrew Levy has published 14 books of poetry, including The Big Melt (Factory School), Cracking Up (Truck Books), Ashoka (Zasterle Books), Values Chauffeur You (O Books), Don’t Forget to Breathe (Chax Books), and Nothing Is in Here (EOAGH Press). His poems and essays have appeared in numerous anthologies, including Writing From the New Coast, The Gertrude Stein Awards in Innovative American Poetry, and Telling It Slant: Avant-Garde Poetics of the 1990s. He was editor, with Roberto Harrison, of the poetry journal Crayon. He lives in New York City.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

AT A CONCERT BEFORE THANKSGIVING

by David Chorlton



Security forces stood guard on Rue des Bouchers, a street famous for its restaurants, on Monday in Brussels. Credit Stephanie Lecocq/European Pressphoto Agency via NY Times, Nov. 23, 2015



What happens far away
is audible in the pause
between movements:
                  the silence
of a transit system stilled, the rustling
curtains when somebody looks out
at troops in the street, asking
       does anyone appear suspicious?
              does anyone not?
The world stretched taut as a wire
ready to snap,
            ready to snap,
with cities shut down
and the news ticker telling us
to stay calm,
           stay calm,
the bomb is in our minds,
and it is,
      where nobody knows
               how to defuse it.


David Chorlton is a transplanted European, who has lived in Phoenix since 1978. His poems have appeared in many publications on- and off-line, and reflect his affection for the natural world, as well as occasional bewilderment at aspects of human behavior. His most recent book, A Field Guide to Fire, is his contribution to the 2015 Fires of Change exhibition in Flagstaff, Arizona.

COULD BE MORE TRAMPLED BY THE FEET

by Jim Gustafson


Schools and subways remain closed in Belgium today, with the nation’s threat level at the highest possible. —NY Times, Nov. 23, 2015; Reuters photo via BBC.


Could more be trampled by the feet
of beasts who walk the garden?
Could there be other nights that mourn
the passing of the graves?
It is not new dusk that wraps the world
It is the same rolled paper of the past,
pulled and torn and rolled tight again.
The pendulum digs a rut in time,
from open hand to fist. Duck the swing,
wait for knuckles to grow tired of bruises,
then you may grip, shake, and exchange
names. Until that time, let the unknown
push you deep within the cave
where only shadows of yourself dance.


Jim Gustafson teaches at Florida Gulf Coast University and Florida Southwestern State College. His first book of poems Driving Home was published by Aldrich Press in 2013. He live in Fort Myers, Florida, where he reads, writes and pulls weeds.

Monday, November 23, 2015

VETTING THE REFUGEES

by Amit Majmudar


Image source: CBC Radio


Under the vest, something was ticking.
It ticked, ticked, ticked. A heart?
The faces all were human faces,
Salt-stained from the trail of tears
And the sea spray of their middle passage.
Their God was not our God,
But their children were our children
Discovered face down on the strand.
Treasures, buried in the sand.
In their passports we saw the faces
We recognized, or thought we did,
From last night’s news. The same? A match?
Anger, anguish, both unshaven
And praying in the same direction
To God, their God, the same, a match.
And there were babies, yes, and widows,
And gray professors speaking English—
No tests for mercy. No, the test
Was the twenty-year-old man whose face
We recognized, or thought we did;
Whose passport might encode an omen
Like scripture, entrails, curling smoke.
And so, interrogating those
Who came to us for mercy, we
Interrogated mercy in a chair:
Can hatred hide in suffering?
Can wisdom hide in fear?
And so the line became a lineup
Eyed through a two-way mirror.


Amit Majmudar is a widely published poet, novelist, and essayist. His next book of poetry, Dothead, is forthcoming from Alfred A. Knopf in March 2016.

REFUGEES

by J.B. Mulligan



A Syrian boy stands with food he collected from tables after Turkish people break their fasting on July 4, 2014, at Taksim square during the holy month of Ramadan in Istanbul. AFP Photo via Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey.


He tossed and turned, shifted and twisted, and fell asleep in the sea.
Small, puffed men with slim cigars sliced up the pies of the land.
White stucco walls and red scalloped roofs.  Gulls cried, hidden in the sun.

Buy this thingee.  Look, it glitters.  Listen, it whirrs.  Buy it now.
Where are the holy?  Psychics don't buy tickets for the lottery.
The current circled, hungry, patient, strong.  The coils reached out.

Uniformed functionaries gather and tally the data.
He is a father.  She is an aunt.  Children shoot hoops in driveways.
Visions of sugar plums clot to sea weed bangled with flies.


J.B. Mulligan notes that the form of this poem is a three-part sijo, Korean in origin.

SUFFER THE CHILDREN

by George Salamon



Children at a migrant shelter in Tenosique, Mexico. A United States plan aims to spare children a dangerous trek across Mexico, but "Not a single child has entered the United States through the Central American Minors program since its establishment in December." —The New York Times, November 6, 2015; Photo credit Meridith Kohut for The New York Times.

President Obama promised to help kids escape
Street gangs, extortion and sexual assault
In places like El Salvador.
More than 5,400 children have applied to
Join their parents in the United States.
What's held them up from coming here?
It's red tape, you see, good old Yankee bureaucracy.
Homeland Security worked feverishly and interviewed
Ninety children in just eleven months, but
Only 10 qualified as refugees, while
75 were recommended for temporary entry
Known, I kid you not, as "humanitarian parole."
For the rest, it's life as usual in the murder capital of
The world and the runner-up cities.
"It's pathetic that no child has come through the program,"
One bleeding-heart critic said of how things work
In Washington DC.
To her, and to the children yearning to be safe, I say:
You must understand what Frank Zappa told us years ago:
In America "Politics is the entertainment division
Of the Military-Industrial Complex."
Sorry, kids, try to be patient.
But if our show comes on too late for you,
We wish you good luck in any future
Endeavor you choose to undertake.


George Salamon taught German literature and culture in several East colleges, served as staff reporter on the St. Louis Business Journal and senior editor for Defense Systems Review. He contributes from St. Louis, MO to the Gateway Journalism Review, Jewish Currents and TheNewVerse.News.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

BLOOD MOON OVER OREGON

Editor's Note: We are pleased to repost this poem, originally published in TheNewVerse.News on Sunday, October 4, 2015. It is one of our 2015 Pushcart Prize nominees.


BLOOD MOON OVER OREGON
by Stephen Siperstein






For Professor Lawrence Levine and the students
killed in the forty-fifth school shooting of 2015 in the U.S.


Our shadow slides across its face
like an invisible hand sealing an eye
then placing an old penny

over the blankness, copper
seeping out like an aura: since 1900
only the sixth time this has happened.

On Tuesday and Thursday
mornings, in a room that looks out
to a pastoral scene: green        

paths, geese thrumming for acorns
beneath moss-maned oaks
I, too, have taught a writing class.

Have stood up to open a door.
Have stood up to say, this is a thesis:
We are human because we hope.

And this its warrant:
If something hopes, then that
            something is human.

Have asked of students:
be vulnerable, take risks, share.
And told them: This may not

be comfortable        
            (I do not coddle them)
but together here we are safe.

Yet we know we’re not.
The unspoken assumption.
The hole in the logic, hole

             in the heart: vulnerable.

But still they stood up, they shared
their light and will again and again
when we consider together:

how could this shadow not
arrive for eighteen more years
not turn to redness such light

             that pools across our sky?


Stephen Siperstein is a poet, literary scholar, and environmental educator living in Eugene, Oregon. He is co-editor of the forthcoming volume, Teaching Climate Change in the Humanities (Routledge, 2016), and his poems have appeared most recently in ISLE, The Clearing, and Poecology. He is currently completing his PhD at the University of Oregon.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

CHARON

Editor's Note: We are pleased to repost this poem, originally published in TheNewVerse.News on Sunday, September 27, 2015. It is one of our 2015 Pushcart Prize nominees.


CHARON
by A.E. Stallings



A Syrian refugee carries his child at a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing part of the Aegean Sea from the Turkish coast, September 19, 2015. A girl believed to be five years died on Saturday and 13 other migrants were feared lost overboard after their boat sank in choppy seas off the Greek island of Lesbos, the Greek coastguard said. A second, exhausted group of around 40 people reached the island in a small boat following a traumatic journey from Turkey, having paddled through the night with their hands across 10 kilometers (six miles) of ocean after their engine failed. Hundreds of thousands of mainly Syrian refugees have braved the short but precarious crossing from Turkey to Greece's eastern islands this year, mainly in flimsy and overcrowded inflatable boats. —REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis via Yahoo! News, September 15, 2015


When some, as promised, made it to dry land,
He profited, high and dry, but others, owing
To fickle winds, or a puncture, or freak waves,
Arrived at a farther shore, another beach
Lapped by a numb forgetting, still in the clothes
Someone had washed and pressed to face the day,
And lay in attitudes much like repose.
And Charon made a killing either way,
Per child alone, 600 euros each.


A.E. Stallings is an American poet who has lived in Greece since 1999. Her most recent collection is Olives, from TriQuarterly/Northwestern University Press.

Friday, November 20, 2015

CROSSING THE DIVIDE

by Rosemerry Wahtola Trimmer




Video published Nov. 18, 2015: Mohamed Abdeslam, brother of suspected Paris attackers Salah and Brahim Abdeslam lit candles and placed them on the window sill of his home during a vigil in Molenbeek, Belgium on Thursday, in solidarity with the people of France.


In the snowy wallow beside the road,
the elk do not move. Twenty or more.
The blue light of morning makes them blue.

It would be easy to drive past them
without noticing. How much do I miss
as I move through the world?

On the news, they speak of a candlelight vigil
near Brussels. In my mind, I turn the steering
wheel and begin the drive east to join the crowd.

Never mind the oceans, the wilderness
that separates us. Never mind that we
have never met. I get my candle ready.

The car, however, knows the way to work.
It moves steadily toward the north
past meadows where I notice nothing.

In the oncoming lane, almost all the cars
have their lights on, though by now
it is bright enough to see without them.

We who travel mountain roads have learned
the value of shining whatever light we have
so as not to make more dead.

Oh this light. It’s never enough.
Still this invitation to shine it
as brightly, as often as we can.


Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer’s poetry has appeared in O Magazine, in back alleys, on A Prairie Home Companion and on river rocks. She was recently appointed Poet Laureate of Colorado’s Western Slope used the position to launch “Heard of Poets,” an interactive poetry map of Western Colorado poets. She directed the Telluride Writers Guild for 10 years and now co-directs the Talking Gourds Poetry Club. Since 2005, she’s written a poem a day. Favorite one-word mantra: Adjust.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

STAGGERING LOVE

by Jeffrey Cyphers Wright



Cave drawing (Lascaux Caves, Montignac, France)



How cheap is blood, it runs in the streets
How naked is aggression        
Selling its garments to buy a weapon
How high is the high ground
When the flood is a sea of faces
When a sandstorm fills the sandbox
How shall we all get along
Relics of the bone codex
The days grow shorter, while night
Grows a long beard
We are all “bull” fighters now
Prisoners of staged danger
Don’t point the finger at a neighbor
Slay all the dragons with staggering love


Jeffrey Cyphers Wright is a poet, artist, critic, eco-activist, impresario and publisher. He initially studied with Ted Berrigan and Alice Notley at The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church, where he also served on the Board of Directors. He then received an MFA in Poetry after studying with Allen Ginsberg. From 1987 to 2000 he ran Cover Magazine, the Underground National. He’s currently the art editor of Boog City and for many years was poetry reviewer for The Brooklyn Rail. In 2014 he won Theater for the New City’s poetry contest. His 13th book, Party Everywhere, is out from Xanadu. Wright currently writes criticism for White Hot Magazine and ArtNexus. He also produces his own art and poetry showcase called Live Mag!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

CHAMPAGNE AND LACE

by Karen Greenbaum-Maya



Legendary stripper and Bay Area institution Carol Doda, who helped introduce topless entertainment more than 50 years ago, has died at 78. Doda died Monday in San Francisco of complications related to kidney failure, according to friend Ron Minolla. —LA Times, November 11, 2015

            --in memory of Carol Doda, 1937-2015


I think of you, Carol Dodá.
You sold Lycra cat-suit and bra
            to ladies like me
            for whom 34B
was simply inadequate. Ah.

You were out on your own at fourteen.
We speculate what might it mean
            when a girl must contrive
            so that she stays alive.
Was it solely so you’d make the scene?

You frowned as you looked at my breast.
I thought you looked somewhat depressed
            that my ribcage had sprouted
            that which you had scouted
so you’d get paid more to undress.

 Your T-shirted bosom looked chunky,
at least forty years since your spunky
            pursuit of enhancement
            for career advancement,
Lloyd’s London your insurance flunky.

Your voice recalled whiskey and gravel.
Cigarettes must have helped it unravel.
            If you smoked in your shop,
            who could ask you to stop?
I was in no position to cavil.

 The bra looked like lacy sorbet,
a lemony froth-lingerie.
            You should wear it on dates
            with your husband, who waits
conventionally out of the way.


Karen Greenbaum-Maya is a retired clinical psychologist, German Lit. major, and two-time Pushcart nominee whose poems and photos have appeared in many journals. Kattywompus Press publishes her two chapbooks Burrowing Song (2013) and Eggs Satori (2014). She still has the bra.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

SHARED GRIEVING

by F.I. Goldhaber



Haidar Mustafa, who was wounded in Thursday's twin suicide bombings, sleeps on a bed at the Rasoul Aazam Hospital in Burj al-Barajneh, southern Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Haidar's parents Hussein and Leila were killed in the blast as they were parking their car when one of two suicide attackers blew himself up in a southern Beirut suburb near their vehicle. —BILAL HUSSEIN/ASSOCIATED PRESS, The WorldPost, Nov. 16, 2015



Every day people of color die.
Bombs in Yemen, shootings in Lebanon
Suicide explosions in Syria.
No one shouts out on Twitter, changes their
photo on Facebook, creates a hashtag.

But when terrorists kill white people in
European countries, you rally round
their flag, change your profile picture, add
a ribbon to show how you much care. But,
only if the victims look/believe like you.


As a reporter, editor, business writer, and marketing communications consultant, F.I. Goldhaber produced news stories, feature articles, essays, editorial columns, and reviews for newspapers, corporations, governments, and non-profits in five states. Now, her poems, short stories, novelettes, essays, and reviews appear in paper, electronic, and audio magazines, ezines, newspapers, calendars, and anthologies.  Her newest book of poetry Subversive Verse collects poems about corporate cruelty, gender grievances, supreme shambles, political perversion, and race relations. 

THE MOURNING AFTER 11/13/15

by Don Hogle



Image source: The Hip Paris Blog by Carin Olsson



On the bus to Lambertville this morning,
and the sadness and anger at 129 dead in Paris
hang over a stunning fall day
like the last note of the piano
concerto I heard last night,
Trifonov's delicate finger
barely grazing the key,
the lightest vibration, and then
the lingering silence…

What does it sound like
when a life dissolves?

Boucler Votre Ceinture
Abroche Su Cinturón de Seguridad
Fasten Your Seatbelt
the seat in front of me advises.

Bataclan, Charlie Hebdo
Atocha Station
Tower One Tower Two

No strap of nylon web will protect
us against the Promise of Paradise
and a Kalishnikov, the explosive
strapped to the heart, the Pilot
of the Terrible Belief.

What to do
is not a question
but a dilemma
set down in an open field
not for contemplation
nor consideration
nor inspection
but for interrogation.

For now,
three pieces of construction paper
one blue one white one red
taped to the window
of my living room
facing out onto our world,
and a black rectangle
posted on Facebook
pour la France,
for all of us,
but only
for three days.

Most of the trees are already stripped
here, but the green grass of central Jersey
rolls on, as the bus proceeds
toward Frenchtown.


Don Hogle is a poet, blogger and brand and communications strategist living in Manhattan.  Poems have appeared recently in Mud Season Review, Minetta Review, Blast Furnace, Shooter, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable and TheNewVerse.News among others.  He was a finalist in the Northern Colorado Writers’ 2015 Poetry Contest. 

PARIS/BEIRUT

by Leslie Prosterman


A relative of Samer Huhu, who was killed in a twin bombing attack that rocked a busy shopping street in the area of Burj al-Barajneh, waves his portrait as she mourns during his funeral in the southern suburb of the capital Beirut on November 13, 2015. Lebanon mourned 44 people killed in south Beirut in a twin bombing claimed by the Islamic State group, the bloodiest such attack in years, the Red Cross also said at least 239 people were also wounded, several in critical condition. —JOSEPH EID/GETTY IMAGES via TheWorldPost, Nov. 16, 2015


all afternoon I defined massacre shambles abbatoir
then resorted to the binary
the   they did we did       the done to will do
the right the wrong    the dark the light    the lash the gun the bomb
contracted to one straight line:  
fear to rage to hate to kill to make a them that isn't me.

but by the night I was reminded
of the spaciousness
of the unclosed curve
of the infinite horizon

May we live with uncovered hearts
May that which binds our hearts be dissolved

into the widest possible compass of us


Author’s note: Thanks to John Travis for the lovingkindness meditation.


Leslie Prosterman, author of the book Snapshots and Dances (Garden District Press, 2011) and other poems in various journals and collections, recently collaborated with composer Charley Gerard to set her poem FluteBone Song to music, now out on CD (Songs of Love and Passion).  A former academic, she is also a sometime student of trapeze.

WATCHING CABLE NEWS

by Alan Catlin






Watching Cable News,
Bomb victims wrapped
in trauma bags, triage
in process.

Recurring file footage,
am man still wrapped,
lately among the missing,
the injured, talking on
a cell phone, gesturing.

How odd to see a
continual man, dressed
this way, no longer part
of the medical scene

We, as watchers, are
caught in the video replay
world, must recalibrate
our thinking: this is not
some Hannibal Lechter
rewind movie but Paris,
France, today, in the midst
of a terror attack.


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.

Monday, November 16, 2015

I WANT TO WRITE A POEM FOR PARIS

by Bayleigh Fraser



A memorial at La Belle Equipe restaurant, one of the sites of the attacks in Paris on Friday night. Credit Lionel Bonaventure/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images via NY Times, November 14, 2015


But I don’t want to hear its ragged shots
of reason, the uncertain billowing of its curtain.

No explaining an ocean rippling cracked glass,
where faces have vanished under a sun

only desiring to burn, or reflect itself
in each thing it touches. There is no poem

rising from the soundless terror of hashtags:
asking for God’s ear, an illuminated tower

searches for satellites. Prayers. Paused players.
Foot approaching the bass pedal. Gunmetal.

I want to open sounds so I can understand them.
The words only thought in my head as I read them.

Like fireworks, someone says, and he was gone
and so was she, falling into their own echoes.

And what can I say, showing up in the distance,
with only tremors in my hands, still warm with breath?


Bayleigh Fraser is an American poet currently residing and writing in Canada. She attended Stetson University in Deland, Florida and plans to continue her education in Canada. Her poems have appeared in A Bad Penny Review, Artemis Journal, The Brooklyn Quarterly, Hart House Review, The Lake, One, Rattle and other publications.

OBLIVIOUS

by Sarah Edwards



The relatives of one of the victims of the twin suicide attacks in Beirut mourned during a funeral procession in the city's Burj al-Barajneh neighborhood. Credit Wael Hamzeh/European Pressphoto Agency via “Beirut, Also the Site of Deadly Attacks, Feels Forgotten” by ANNE BARNARD, NY Times, Nov. 13, 2015.



oblivious

to the smoke
of a thousand towers
babel to trade

oblivious

to blood-stained
family legacies
adam to al qaeda

oblivious

to tears
mothers searching
golgotha to nicaragua

oblivious

to sacrifice
of martyrs
joan to martin

we play our games
repeat the poem
change the names

oblivion


Sarah Edwards is a retired clergyperson with poetry replacing the pulpit.  She has a newly released chapbook,  Pandora, Let's Talk, published by Finishing Line Press, and other poems have appeared in Conclave, Minerva Rising, Slim, and TheNewVerse.News.  

Sunday, November 15, 2015

RECOMBINATION

Editor's Note: We are pleased to repost this poem, originally published in TheNewVerse.News on Saturday, August 15, 2015. It is one of our 2015 Pushcart Prize nominees.


RECOMBINATION
by Jim Bartruff



Image source: Collateral Damage



1.

Spurred by the aroma of wheat and lamb,
we had been starving the last hundred miles,
we lathered the horses over steppe and stone,
and before the body of our force had forded
the clearest rivulet we had crossed in a year,
a bustle of water circuiting their gate,
we dammed it with the limbs of the boys
they pushed out to be sacrificed, and delay.
Only the backward ship their decrepitude
into the hills to hide, let strong men die,
and leave their women to hold back the horde.
The white, the broken hairs black shawls tear
from their heads in a show of grieving and pain,
their village merely a smudge of charnel and ruin,
would never amount to half a hand of cordage,
not nearly enough to stake a calf to the grass.
We are feared but we are not amoral.
We killed the idiots as weak for refusing
to rape the children of the unbelievers,
and also the one who stormed the palisade
to get at the girl the king had set aside.
Tomorrow, when we mount and are gone,
the ancients skulking back will have a shame
to eat and little else, though once they awaken,
they'll see we have diluted their waste away,
have given them a purpose to pierce their ache.
By spring next year the rivulet will clear,
and if their golden roof thatch is erased,
there will be babies with other eyes than blue,
eyes with folds across their lids, and slants
of mind the likes of which they've never abided.
They'll know, just as we ascertained the mothers knew,
prying their tears apart to watch our teeth.

2.

If I wasn't so young I wouldn't have fought;
because I fought them I was easy to find.
They smell as rank as elk must smeared on fur.
Only the first of them hurt, and their things were shriveled
compared to what I have seen attached to my brothers,
little vicious men with little things.
Eventually lazy and less insistent, they have let
me to the well on guard to wash them out.
I thought to jump but even drunk they held me
to have me later. Aunt they killed for complaining
but they needn't have, and mother's somewhere.
It is sister they have strapped in the cage.
If she fights, the king will call it a sign.
If she screams, she'll be eliminated.
Kings use any excuse they can to keep
their weakling and their swords within their sway,
and brothers long ago taught what works best.
I hope my sister can intuit His need.
I hope she chooses to survive and escapes,
and one day straggles through the wilderness
to what was home. The men are half-asleep.
Once their wine digests, we'll have a night,
and they will force me to watch their shudders and shakes.
But there are others who'll remember this.
From the lintel, like a hollyhock,
Father's head swivels on a silken knot.


Jim Bartruff's work has appeared in Canto, Westwind, Barney, Marilyn, Drastic Measures.  He is a past winner of the William Carlos Williams and Academy of American Poets prizes.  A third-generation native of Los Angeles, he was previously a print journalist and screenwriter, now living in Portland, Oregon.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

THE ROAD BACK TO YEMEN FROM A BROOKLYN LAUNDROMAT GOES UP IN SMOKE

Editor's Note: We are pleased to repost this poem, originally published in TheNewVerse.News on Tuesday, May 19, 2015. It is one of our 2015 Pushcart Prize nominees.


THE ROAD BACK TO YEMEN FROM A BROOKLYN LAUNDROMAT GOES UP IN SMOKE
by Linda Lerner




                                                     
separate, he asks, as he puts my laundry
on the scale.  Yes, separate, I say
still . . . week after week, tries to make
this American woman understand
what it feels like, no, make me smell
the smoke of mortar & rocket fire politics
keeping him from getting his wife & daughter
everything so carefully arranged, end of
June, his graduation from college, and then . . . puff
do you see?
                what I see is the road
twisting and turning  in his mind
teasing him  now it’s here, now it’s gone
he says of a promised cease fire;

when he speaks of his birth country
of things getting worse
I see frightened people imprisoned
in their homes  being deprived of basic necessities

I see a country being raped…
I do not see his wife and daughter
he will not let me


Internally displaced people bathe and wash clothes in a local river close to the Al-Mazraq IDP camps, Al-Mazraq, Yemen. Source: Daily Mail


Linda Lerner’s latest  collection "Yes, the Ducks Were Real" (NYQ books) and her chapbook "Ding Dong the Bell  Pussy in the Well" (Lummox Press) were published recently. 

NIGHT RATS

by Carolyn Gregory






At night, they run toward each other,
biting off each other's tails.

They flagellate themselves
over an unknown God
who answers none of their prayers
for work, land or hope.

Hiding during the day,
they are aroused by the need
for meat at night,

their prayers not inspired by love
but by the drill to capture,
biting off the heads of the enemy
and spitting out their hearts.


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.

Friday, November 13, 2015

JOSEPH'S GRAIN PYRAMID

by Alejandro Escudé



Cartoon by Bob Englehart, Hartford Courant, October 6, 2015


Stacked full, the loincloth peasants hoisting baskets
up the winding ramp to protect the world from

famine—a wide smile on the giddy prophet’s face,
a full moon like a Greek shield and Christ himself

cradling the planet: power gives to power, the surgeon
holding a scalpel like the reed of a scribe writes

the corporation of God on our minds, you may
renounce judgement, you may let the doubts go,

have faith only in him who knows the truth
and believes mightily enough to forgo knowledge.


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.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

VETERANS’ DAY

by Howard Winn


Above: The New Yorker Daily Cartoon by Benjamin Schwartz, November 11, 2015



Honor their sacrifice and commitment
say all the politicians who have ducked
out of the room when the recruiters
appear with open arms to welcome
the children to their old men’s war
but they have appealed to some daddy
to get them out of it or into some
safe and cushy assignment that may
look legit but is as much a fake as they
are pretending that the National Guard
assignment in the states or a military
prep school where their harried parents
have put the undisciplined little bastard
out of their home and hair and some
tough drill sergeant is the one to shape
up the hulking darlings with too much money
and those who have actually served know
the game which often ends in maiming
or painful dismemberment or death
while each year at the time of  WWI
Armistice banks and the Post Office close
and in some schools at eleven o’clock
on the eleventh day of the eleventh
month there is a moment of silence
for children who have no idea why
this is happening to them until
they grow into the next inevitable war.


Howard Winn's work has been published in Dalhousie Review, Galway Review, Descant.  Antigonish Review, Southern Humanities Review, Chaffin Review, Evansville Review, and Blueline. His B. A. is from Vassar College. his M. A. from the Stanford University Creative Writing Program. He is an Air Force veteran who served overseas during war time.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

TO THE FAMILY OF A VIETNAMESE MAN KILLED IN HIS BOAT
ON THE MEKONG DELTA, 1968

by Peg Quinn



On January 1968, sighting the enemy, the door gunner aboard a Huey helicopter opens fire on a target below in the Mekong Delta. Image source: The History Channel



Dear grieving family,
your father, son, brother, uncle
still screams in the heart of his killer

Was he fishing that day
or wiring mortars?
Doesn’t matter

our young, dumb helicopter pilot
was obeying orders when his
rat-a-tat-tat shattered his target

gripping his soul with a grief
that won’t untangle

fifty years later,
he trembles when telling the story
and your father, son, brother, uncle
lives again,
his dreams floating
in bloody water and we
want to go back
rewrite the day,
let him arrive home, happy
with fish for dinner
because our young dumb soldier
was looking over his other shoulder

and will get to grow old with simple,
ordinary, explainable
regrets.


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.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

WORLD SERIES

by Richard Marx Weinraub






Baseball is a metaphor for life.
The pitcher and catcher—the rubber and cage—
play out as a sadomasochistic game.

The heart of the drama transpires at home.
The plate is stolen and a beanball is thrown.

Murphy’s the oil, the law, and the goat.
Matt’s the dark knight falling short of glory.
Familia is the story of a family gone wrong.

God relieves Satan. Citi Field’s Jericho—
the towers struck out by the pitch of Allah—
Babylon bombed by the squad of Jesus.

“It is the Inquisition, the/Revolution,”
the good doctor said (not Ben Carson).

Imagine the flight of the bat and the balls
and the hole they are trying to fill.


Richard Marx Weinraub has published three collections of poetry: Wonder Bread Hill, Heavenly Bodies, and Lapidary.  His work has appeared in many journals including The Paris Review, Asheville Poetry Review, South Carolina Review, Green Mountains Review, North American Review, Slate, and River Styx.  

Monday, November 09, 2015

HOW #BLACKLIVESMATTER CHANGED MY LIFE

by Clara B. Jones



Ben Carson, with his wife Candy, arrives to speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National at National Harbor, Md., March 8, 2014. Ron Sachs/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images via ABC.



If I were a good mother I wouldn't trigger trauma. He told me it wasn't my fault, but I never thought it was. I am not responsible for the rows of trailers along Route 40 where my son had a play-date before going viral in the reality show of our lives. I wasn't guilty, but in my mind I was since it took two hours off my life to read The New York Times. I would rather deploy, deliver, and execute, but my libido was never my strong suit because racism is a global movement even though Anna Wintour will be obligated to feature Candy Carson on the cover of Vogue wearing a Steve McQueen gown after Ben and Candy purchase a summer home in Ferguson with the money Ben made from translating The Bible into non-standard English to win Al Sharpton's endorsement. Ben's next book will be titled, How #BlackLivesMatter Changed My Life.


Clara B. Jones is a retired scientist, currently practicing poetry in Asheville, NC. She is a Staff Writer for the poetry journal, Yellow Chair Review. As a woman of color, Clara writes about identity and power, and her poems, reviews, essays, and interviews have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous venues. Her collection, Ferguson And Other Satirical Poems About Race, won the 2015 Bitchin' Kitsch Chapbook Competition. Clara studied with Adrienne Rich in the 1970s and has studied recently with the poets Meghan Sterling and Eric Steineger.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

DUNKING

Editor's Note: We are pleased to repost this poem, originally published in TheNewVerse.News on Thursday,March 19, 2015. It is one of our 2015 Pushcart Prize nominees.

DUNKING
by Richard Spilman





Back when you were fourteen, small
and new to that school, three toughs
cornered you in the boys’ john, shoved
your head into a bowl of yellow water,
and when they let you up you screamed
bloody murder, hit anything your arms
could reach. To shut you up, the big one
put his foot on your neck and told you
what they’d do. You believed and cried.
Hands in pockets they left one by one
Silently, as if they’d watched a man
betray his friends for a moment of breath.
You dried off, picked up your books,
and went to class. You didn’t tell, and
the teachers didn’t ask about you wet shirt,
and the kids already knew your disgrace.

That was the last time you ever cried.
Not when you were wounded in war,
not when your wife left telling you
she couldn’t love a man so closed off.
You make money trading commodities.
You don’t buy and sell goods, you buy
and sell futures—someone always wins,
someone loses, roulette with wheat and gold.
You trade in illusions, in rises and falls
on a screen created by phantom sales.
Investors like fish rise to your bait.
At the reunions you bring your latest,
her blonde youth a testament to your
prowess, but they laugh behind your back.
For them, your collar is forever yellowed
with piss, your eyes rimmed with tears.


Richard Spilman is the author of In the Night Speaking and Suspension. He lives in Hurricane WV where he is discovering that a bathroom above a garage makes for a frigid winter.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

RADICALIZED

Editor's Note: We are pleased to repost this poem, originally published in TheNewVerse.News on Sunday, March 8, 2015. It is one of our 2015 Pushcart Prize nominees.

RADICALIZED
by Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco



Image source: RCOG Globeal Network International Women’s Day Page



The main thing was, she
listened. A
cliché.

So we told her
everything: how we cared

how we couldn’t
stand

watching all the news, how sad we felt.

She said we’re right. We told her
more: little

slips like pretty dolls
with long loose hair

laid on their backs –

here: the teacher
who won’t look
at us

my mother’s glass of brandy
every night,
her soft red cheeks.

She said the answer and it was
the one we wanted.

On the big plane
looking down
at the dark world we held

our coats wrapped tight
as love

around our ribs. The future waited like a bear,
still asleep.


Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco lives in California's Central Valley, where she works as a librarian. Her poems have appeared in Word Riot, Hobart, decomP, The Tule Review, and Right Hand Pointing, among others.