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Thursday, December 31, 2015

TAKING OFF

by Laura Rodley




All the way from the Bridge of the Gods
she pressed Pearl’s gas pedal down,
go, go, I want to see that first snow,
though it was ninety-five degrees
with no air conditioning,
the promise of being planted
inside her new home firmly by Christmas
wearing a navy peacoat and insulated boots
standing out in the white snow
kept her going, kept her cool
as perspiration soaked her back, her thighs,
as daylight expanded and trucks
rocked Pearl as they passed,
caught her up in their wake,
on tidal wave of speed, eight-five miles
an hour, and she couldn’t get off,
the smell of cow dung and refried beans
hanging in the air, cornfield after cornfield.
This is America, she told herself,
church congregations praying for her
as she, the lone woman,
gunned for Massachusetts,
her heart a spring that wouldn’t
let her rest until today,
when the first snow fell
and she could taste it, cold, on her tongue.


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.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A SHADOW IS BORN

by Alejandro Escudé


 · by Rob Stein and Eyder Peralta
From 


Couple Spends $100,000 To Clone Deceased Dog, Gets Two Puppies 
HuffPost Science, Dec. 28, 2015


A chance to wipe
The death-slate
Clean,

And raise a clone.
We might dictate
Morals of old
But none do hold,

The messiah
Willing to pry a life
From the mouth
Of god.

I gaze at
My bloody feet,
The dust, having wandered
The desert,

A rueful act.
One traitor equals
One billion

With minds set
To explode or be
Appeased.

Holding a shadow
Should be
A harrowing thing,

To feel the body
There, only to witness
The darkness.


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, December 29, 2015

ON THE DAY ELLSWORTH KELLY DIED

by Rick Mullin



Ellsworth Kelly, one of America’s great 20th-century abstract artists, who in the years after World War II shaped a distinctive style of American painting by combining the solid shapes and brilliant colors of European abstraction with forms distilled from everyday life, died on Sunday at his home in Spencertown, N.Y. He was 92. —NY Times, Dec. 27, 2015. Photography by Jack Shear. W Magazine, July 2012



I got the news in an iPhone ping
from the New York Times
as I changed from my schmattas,
those long-gone pajamas
on a greyed-out T shirt
from New Orleans
bearing a folk art cartoon

of Satchmo.

I had just finished painting
(in two shots divided by lunch)

a violin lying on five dead roses
and baby’s breath pulled from a bouquet
I’d given my wife before Christmas.

It looked like an ample brown nude
or a corpse waked outside its coffin.
Of course the paint was still wet
and the image still new
and the oil smell still had that sweet
tinge of wood wax and rose.


Rick Mullin's new collection. Stignatz & the User of Vicenza, is due in January from Dos Madres Press.

Monday, December 28, 2015

UNEQUAL PROTECTION

by Elbert Tavon Briggs


Evelyn Glover-Jennings holds a picture of her cousin Bettie Jones, 55, who was shot by the Chicago police on Saturday. Credit Joshua Lott for The New York Times, Dec. 26, 2015


and now 19 years-young
Quintonio LeGrier
his father and mother
loved and held him dear

outreach police call
to save their Son from stress
now We Chicago
are back in this mess

father tried to save his Son
from problems mental
why did police shoot
and kill him like a criminal

as a victim He had No Gun
another mother unarmed
helping that family
She was gun down like a criminal

8 shots fired during the Holiday Season
one for Her
seven for Him

father tried to save his Son
from problems mental
why did Chicago police
gun Him down like a criminal

first reactions from emergency responders
under oath to serve and protect
yet some ponder why my People
hesitate for law’s conflict resolution

when far too often
the solution
the solution
for stressed out Black college student with honors
is for the Family to bury him without honor

that 55 years-old Mother of 5
should still be alive
from a police call to serve and protect
my pen has to reflect

where was the Family conflict mediator
where were the non-lethal options like tasers
guess that’s for grand jury to question later

equal protection under what law
U.S. Supreme Court implies
Black citizens need access
to justice on a slower track

not Great Scott
legal rebirth of Dred Scott

this poem will not issue a retraction
maybe this is the face
of U.S.A. affirmative actions

on this morning
Chicago once again is mourning


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 at the Chicago Cultural Center and workshopping with Poets & Patrons. This poem reflects Briggs's lifelong commitment to incorporate poetry, music, art, dance, and drama, to give voice to the voiceless. Elbert graduated from Arizona State University and served two years in AmeriCorps fighting the war on poverty in the Lower Delta.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

HIDING IN A HOODIE

by Howard Winn




Hiding in a hoodie
like some small-time drug
dealer the Big Pharmy CEO
is marched to his booking
between two large deputies
as he proclaims his innocence
of the Ponzi scam he used
while running his nearly
bankrupt hedge fund with
no auditor and not much
cash left in the bank as
he funneled dough from his
company on the edge of
going under to hide his
duplicitous inability to
find the right investments
for his fund even with
illegal Insider info it seems
from the evidence noted
that this most eligible bachelor
of the year is perhaps the
phony loser of the year
and the major drug dealer
of our double-dealing time


Howard Winn’s fiction and poetry, has been published recently by such journals as Dalhousie Review, Taj Mahal Review (India), Galway Review (Ireland), Antigonish Review. He has been recommended for the Pushcart Poetry Award three times.  His B. A. is from Vassar College. He has an M.A. in Creative Writing from Stanford University   His doctoral work was done at N. Y. U. He has been a social worker in California and currently is a faculty member of SUNY as Professor of English.

Friday, December 25, 2015

JOURNEY OF THE SARACENS

by Janice D. Soderling


Cartoon by Matt Bors / AlterNet, Sept. 8, 2015.


Christ set out on a rubber raft for Greece,
looking for a place to lay his head.
His father Yusuf said, "We come in peace."
"We come for peace," his mother Rasha said.

And Christ said nothing, smiled his knowing smile
for he had sailed a desert ship before.
Their sea-swamped vessel swayed mile after mile.
"We seek a refuge," said they. "Nothing more."

Wild Herod, as you know, kills sons of men.
The raft was crammed with babes both aft and fore.
And Rasha nursed her brown-eyed Saracen.
And Yusuf kept a look-out for the shore.

Through wintry lands they walked their weary walk
and begged for shelter for a little while.
Amid the festive songs and Christmas talk,
sweet Christ said nothing, smiled his knowing smile.


Janice D. Soderling is a frequent contributor to TheNewVerse.News.

#BLACKCHRISTMAS

by Philip C. Kolin



The Coalition for a New Chicago is planning a Christmas Eve protest on Michigan Avenue. The group announced their plans as the U.S. Department of Justice was to meet with Chicago Police Department officials. "We're going to pray for our city, pray for our leaders here. But we're also going to march down the street. We're going to be singing, chanting and everything else. But we are going to be a peaceful, disruptive force down on Michigan Avenue from about noon to 5 o'clock that evening," said Pastor Gregory Livingston, founder of a Coalition for a New Chicago. The group will march on the Magnificent Mile on Christmas Eve in an attempt to engage with the public, Livingston said, under the social tag #BlackChristmas. The Coalition for a New Chicago, which said they have appealed to President Barack Obama, wants Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign in the wake of the Laquan McDonald case. They hope the march on Christmas Eve will garner as many participants as the Black Friday march where demonstrators shut down a stretch of Michigan Avenue from the Chicago River to Oak Street. —abc7Chicago, December 16, 2015. Photo source: WRBL, Chicago


Michigan Ave. is dark.
The lights have gone out--
the boutiques  closed down early
by a tidal wave of voices
caroling  a new hymn:
"O, Come Let Us Mourn for Them,"
for all those black souls whose lives
ended on a tape secreted  away
at the Chicago Police Headquarters
where Herod and all those around him
fled  into turmoil and bureaucracy.
The  Gold Coast has been occupied.
Doorways, walkways, sidewalks, sidebar talks
 cry for justice more than for Louis Vuitton purses
and David Yurman's silver- lined snow rings.
A new generation of angels  on foot   proclaim
 peace and kindness from  the South Side.
They have seen a shining star
not in an Oak Street  jewelry store window or atop
a Christmas tree decorated with white  gold
but inside the hearts of those watching
for the birth of every  heavenly black child
come into this cold and starry night.
The Magi have given their gifts to food banks.
Shepherds are making winter coats for the homeless.
Dollar General is doing a brisk business
this year in the hood.


Philip Kolin is the  University Distinguished Professor at the University of Southern Mississippi where he also edits  the  Southern Quarterly. He has published more than 40 books on Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, African American playwrights as well as  seven collections of poems. His most recent book  is Emmett Till in Different States: Poems from Third World Press.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

CHRISTMAS EVE 2015:
"PEACE I LEAVE WITH YOU"

by George Salamon





"Dulce et decorum est    
Pro patria mori."

"It is sweet and glorious
To die for one's country."               
--Horace


Who knows anymore why soldiers march off to die?
Who consented that civilians join the carnage?
The dying know it is not sweet or glorious
And that your country is no longer yours.
There are no wisecracks by the likes of Willie and Joe,
Our GI heroes of the last good war pro patria.
Humor has slipped out of Uniform.
Death, civilization's devoted lover,
Does not go hungry while drones fired
Hundreds of miles away play warrior and victor
And human flesh endures as the
Burnt offering to the interests of Money and Power,
The dark deities ruling our world
Because we lack the will to dethrone them.
Tonight, as on Christmas Eves past,
The wise men ride thataway


George Salamon professed German language and literature at several East Coast colleges, served as staff reporter for the St. Louis Business Journal and Senior Editor for Defense Systems Review. He contributes regularly to the Gateway Journalism Review, Jewish Currents and TheNewVerse.News.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

DEAR SANDRA FROM DA RED LINE L

by Elbert Tavon Briggs





conversation
front page
u.s.a. nation
minor traffic violation

small town texas justice
does not include us
the lost children from Africa
successful was She

career moved her
hired by HBCU
prairie view of life
celebrating highway drive

back to not so sweet home
chicago
lane change should not yield Life
metro chi-town

careless line crossed
close encounter
yet She was not counted as Human
European blue heritage said

“get out of
the car
or
i will light you up”

two bodies
vanished from
patrol dash cam view
Louis sang, “why must i be so black and blue”

five hundred dollars bail for
escalated minor traffic violation
now criminal justice experts
defend grand jury decision

no acquiescence to
depression from caged
could have been released
on Her own recognizance

with stamped instructions
“pay the fine”
via certified mail
yet She was not fine

as if Chile
should have been happy
getting stopped
and arrested

still two bodies vanished
from dash cam view
steel bars closed in
on Her humanity

found hanging
from plastic bagged-lynch rope
are we suppose to cope
in concrete cage

still most can’t grasp
Sandra’s historic rage

summer of 2015
i rallied before a march
with Her Mother
and so many others
Professor Maya
this caged bird
can’t sing no more


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. This poem reflects my lifelong commitment to incorporate poetry, music, art, dance, and drama, to give voice to the voiceless. Elbert graduated from Arizona State University and served two years in AmeriCorps fighting the war on poverty in the Lower Delta.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

ABOUT THEIR GUNS

by Elizabeth Poreba


Photo: Corey Morgan, 27, (left) has been identified as a person of interest in the shooting death of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee. Morgan was picked up on an unrelated gun charge with Dwright Boone-Doty, 21, last week in Evergreen Park. —Evergreen Park Patch, Nov. 24, 2015


Their guns make them persons of interest, but there is nothing to say about them
They have nothing to say, they need not speak, they have guns
Nothing was said as far as we know, but then for no reason the guns
They had the guns before, but nothing happened for a long time
as if the guns with their promise of nothing were enough,
but when that kind of nothing was not enough, they had guns.

Guns are like poetry because they make nothing happen
The guns mean that there is nothing to say
Nothing squats in the gun’s gleaming cylinder
Little abyss of nothing waits in the gun
Out of the gun, the bullet, bud of nothing
From the gun into the body so that nothing will happen there
Nothing anymore, nothing, not one thing more.


Elizabeth Poreba is a retired high school English teacher living in New York City. Her new vocation mostly consists of writing letters and attending rallies. She recently posed under the Statue of Liberty’s nose as she joined several hundred demonstrators brandishing red scarves in support of the Paris conference on climate change.

Monday, December 21, 2015

BULLETPROOF VEST

by Marilyn Peretti



Bullet Proof VIP Suit Vest Concealable Body Armor NIJ IIIA 3A Size M Black at ebay


Is that what saves you,
covers you for any action,
prevents your death
despite bringing others
to the pavement
for no reason at all?
Do you put it on every
morning, proud that
it will conceal all the
ill you feel about the
man you know nothing
about? The bulletproof
vest is a mask, isn’t it,
a masquerade, a costume
under a costume, a license
to invite bullets and
exchange them, with only
you walking away. Here
in Chicago we know
about bulletproof vests,
we know about masks,
we know about helmets,
holsters, guns and batons.
We know about hidden
videos, banished records,
lies and lies and lies.
What we know little of
is restraint, respect,
patience, civility, truth.


Marilyn Peretti can't help writing poems about the current public issues. She lives just west of Chicago.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

FIFTY-FIVE DEGREES

by Laura Rodley



USA Today



What do I do, what can I do,
in the face of global warming?
I paint my house, cover holes,
burn less oil, wear sweaters,
give praise for the fifty degrees
to get one more coat of paint on
before we’re clobbered with snow,
give thanks for the large moth
that slept by my doorway last night,
forgetting how to knock,
all moths welcome, birch moths,
lunas, crecopias, though not
clothes moths; I climb on the roof,
slather paint like shaving cream
on the face of my house, work it
in, lubricate each cedar siding board,
hoping such a shield will require less oil,
hoping for peace on earth,
hoping Santa will find his way
in the dark with no snow to reflect
the light of his lanterns.


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.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

THE BURIAL BOYS OF EBOLA

by Alexa Poteet



Sherdrick Koffa, estranged from his family because he helped burn bodies during the Ebola outbreak. Credit Samuel Aranda for The New York Times, December 10, 2015


In Monrovia,
the wakes used to go on for weeks.
The living applied ointment to the dead
with gentle fingertips, kissed
their eyelids shut. Scrubbed under fingernails,
pressed through earrings. Sewed garments of gold, green
for those who would never dress themselves again. Bodies
were not washed but made new and dirtless
for the next life. Their pockets stuffed

with coins. Working men
went days without food to buy
mahogany caskets, marble markers
and plots large enough for houses.
On Decoration Day, brigades
of families brought bleach and good towels
to polish the hand-chiseled tombstones.
This, Liberia once said, was how to cross
into the next life. To keep ghosts
from weeping at your bedside in the night.
There were no burial boys then, you see.

Now—goggled, gloved, otherplanetary—they arrive. Breath
and sweat trapped in a terrarium of plastic. The medical
membrane that keeps good in and bad out. Underneath,
the pockets of their oil-stained clothes
brim with matchbooks. The tools
of this trade are plain.  The boys don’t cry
anymore because the masks fog in the heat. Burning,
the state says, is the only way

The mourners scream, beat their heads with fists
for children set ablaze. Their hair curling into
charred sulfuric tendrils, skin blistered
black.Their pooled blood—an acrid human ore.
Burial boys is a misnomer;
usually, they don’t have to.

Guardians of a safety no one can bear
to want, their belongings litter the street
outside childhood homes. Familiar voices break
in the telephone: You burning body?
Then I’nt want see you no more around me.
The Ministry of Health did not invite them
to the ceremony where foreign doctors
clasped hands with the president.

It sends them moonshine in old cassava crates
once a month. Easy, because they live together;
there’s nowhere else. At night, they pour
cloudy liquor for each other. Clean fingernails
before shooting up
until their minds are spotless.


Alexa Poteet is a poet and freelance writer from Washington, DC with a master’s degree in poetry from Johns Hopkins University. Her poetry has appeared in Reed Magazine, Lines + Stars, and PennUnion among others. She has also enjoyed staff positions at the Washington Post, The Atlantic and The National Interest.

Friday, December 18, 2015

REPARATIONS

by Matty Layne


"There are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a less -- a slower-track school where they do well.” —Antonin Scalia, U.S. Supreme Court Justice


An audible gasp filled the court-
room—the last breath of the now
dead slave, & he’d been holding his
breath for centuries, before Jim

Crow & bus boycotts & affirmative
action in ’61, before Scalia said we
need to slow it down for him—more
white justice that knows what’s best

for a black man. This gasp will never
end. No breath could ever fill the void
in the dead slave’s lungs, no admission
can affirm the carnage when we lock a

race in leg irons for centuries & think
taking off the shackles can cover the
weight he’s bore on his ankles, on his
skin. The weight, heavy like the words

that cause the gasp, links in the chain
still holding him back from the chance.


Matty Layne is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing & Environment at Iowa State University. His poems and prose on social justice have appeared in This Week in Poetry & The Harbrace Guide to Writing. 

FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES

by Gil Hoy




Putin likes Trump,
surprise--

Grab all
  the world’s wealth with
Your ruthless friends,

Then crush
   all your foes---

‘Swhere all the World’s
Monied elite’ll go.


Gil Hoy is a Boston trial lawyer, writer and poet. He studied poetry at Boston University, while receiving a BA in Philosophy and Political Science. Gil received an MA in Government from Georgetown University and a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law. He served as a Brookline, Massachusetts Selectman for four terms. His poetry has appeared most recently in Third Wednesday, The Write Room, The Eclectic Muse, Clark Street Review and TheNewVerse.News.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

HIGH NOON

by Zev Shanken


Image credit: Gregory Ferrand for Education Week


1.

Then the good guy reaches for his hidden gun,
cries, “Take that, you wicked terrorists!”
After the commercial, he kills them all,
speaks modestly on the Evening News
about just doing his job as a citizen.

2.

Will Kane's new wife threatens to leave him
if he breaks his promise
and goes after Frank Miller. Kane says,
“Seems I gotta do this.” Loads his gun.
She leaves, but when she hears shots,
runs back and shoots a bad guy herself.

3.

A student I don't know walks into my class,
shouts an obscenity, turns and runs.
I give chase. Three flights down the stairs,
he stops, out of breath. I ask him his name.
No answer. I ask for his ID. No answer.
I demand that he come with me to the dean.
He doesn't move. The brat is damn lucky
I left my gun at the ranch.


Zev Shanken is a retired teacher of English and Film at High School for Health Careers and Sciences in Washington Heights, New York City. His chapbook, Al Het, was published by Blue Begonia Press, Yakima, WA, in 1996. He is a member of brevitas, an on-line poetry group devoted to the short poem. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

SAUDI ARABIA

by Shirani Rajapakse



RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — In elections that allowed Saudi women to vote and run for office for the first time, more than a dozen women won seats on local councils in different parts of the country, officials said on Sunday. While the move was hailed by some as a new step into the public sphere by women in this religious and conservative monarchy, the local councils have limited powers and the new female members will make up less than 1 percent of the elected council members nationwide. —NY Times, Dec. 13, 2015. Photo credit: Ahmed Yosri/European Pressphoto Agency.



What use a vote
when they are all shrouded

in darkness? An
image at the periphery of the horizon

crying to be acknowledged,
a shadow fluttering past, a sad cloud

shielding its eyes from
a dust storm,

a puppet in the house
dancing to someone’s idea of a

tune. None of these are of much use,
except to entertain

and you don’t
need a vote for that.


Shirani Rajapakse writes poetry and fiction. Winner of the Cha “Betrayal” Poetry Contest 2013, finalist in the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards 2013, and shortlisted for the Gratiaen Award 2010 her work appears in Flash Fiction International (Norton 2015), Silver Birch, Asian Signature, Moving Worlds, Berfrois, Counterpunch, Earthen Lamp Journal, Dove Tales, Buddhist Poetry Review, TheNewVerse.News, About Place Journal, Ballads (Dagda 2014), Poems for Freedom (River Books 2013), Voices Israel Poetry Anthology 2012 and many others.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

REAWAKENED

by Richard Schnap




I hear the sound
Of drums approaching
Beating a rhythm
From the distant past

Down a ghostly road
That’s been reopened
To slither beneath
A bloodstained dawn

And in the wind
Come a thousand voices
Cheering the arrival
Of a man I’ve met before

Speaking a language
Of fashionable hatred
Designed to enshrine him
In the temple he’s rebuilt


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

Monday, December 14, 2015

SOME DAYS

by David James



From Edward Norton: “I saw this story on one of my favorite sites, Humans of New York, and it moved me to tears. This man has suffered profound loss that would crush the spirit of many people and yet he still passionately wants a chance to contribute positively to the world.  If we don’t welcome people like this into our communities and empower his dream of making an impact with his life, then we’re not the country we tell ourselves we are. Let’s reject the 'anti-human’ voices that tell us to fear refugees and show this man and his family what Americans are really made of.  Let’s show that a country built by the energy and dreams of immigrants still believes in brave people who come here with hope for better life. Everything we raise here will go to help this family so that the father can get the medical treatment he needs to live and pursue his work, and his family can build a new stable life after their tragedy, and…as the Scientist beautifully expresses…to support his dream of contributing to the world. Thanks to Humans of New York for sharing these stories.  Thanks to the team at CrowdRise for putting this together and figuring out how to get even the credit card transaction fees covered so we can get the maximum to the family. Thanks to everyone who rallies together to create the power of the crowd.  If enough of us kick in the price of two frappucinos, we can probably transform the experience of this family and show them that life can deliver healing and kindness, not just heartbreak. Thanks to Benevolent, all donations are tax-deductible. We will work with Benevolent to use all donated funds to help this family and will seek to use any excess or unused funds to help the other 11 profiled in the HONY ‘Syrian American’ series."


you want to slam your car right into the punk swerving
over two expressway lanes as he sends a text on his phone;

you want to drink until everybody in the whole world
disappears; you want to look your boss in the eye,

quit, & then spit in her face; you want to come home
to find steaks on the grill, a cooler of beer & a beautiful girl

waiting for you in a bikini with open arms; you want to stand
at the top of Mt. Everest & see God’s face.

and some days, you want all the pain & sorrow, hunger & disease,
the wars & bombs to melt away so those of us left can sigh & hold hands.


David James’s third book, My Torn Dance Card, was published in 2015 by FCNI Press. His second book, She Dances Like Mussolini, won the 2010 Next Generation Indie book award.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

CLIMATE

by Buff Whitman-Bradley




At last and quite suddenly autumn has arrived. From one day to the next foliage of the many deciduous trees hereabouts has turned from various shades of green to bright yellows, oranges, and reds. Temperatures have dropped so quickly our bodies are having trouble adjusting to the cold that is not truly cold by an reasonable standards but cold for here in our Mediterranean climate, especially in the nighttime when we pile on the layers for our after-dinner walks under the bright brittle stars. Long-awaited rains have come to town, not in ample amounts so far but delivering enough water to refresh the dry throats of the streams we visit several times a week. After a long hot season of silence they murmur contentedly and sound quite pleased with themselves. Today as we hiked around the lake we saw a few orange-bellied newts venturing from their hideouts and sashaying across the duff, full of hope no doubt like the rest of us that there will be a rainy rainy season to keep their skins moist while they forage the forest floor for bits of lichen and mushroom. Meteorologists are predicting a big one, a whiz-bang El Niño year with deluge after deluge, bound to shift our attentions from the summer of unprecedented heat we have just endured to the possibility that those quietly contented creeks will turn raucous and ornery, overflowing their banks as they are wont to do in monsoon years. But just now we can do little besides wait with a certain amount of excitement about the possible end of our drought and some trepidation that we could be leaping out of the frying pan into the flood. So sweatering up we walk the neighborhoods and the woods collecting big leaf maple and liquid amber and sycamore leaves to place in a bowl on the coffee table as we did with our children when they were small. And with my hands full of colors and my heart full of children and my head full of weather I think about the worsening climate crisis that threatens to do us in and I wonder about the sapience and sanity of those of our species who seem willing to risk the future of our young and of all our fellow beings rather than kick their addiction to dead dinosaurs.


Buff Whitman-Bradley's poetry has appeared in many print and online journals, including Atlanta Review, Bryant Literary Review, Concho River Review, Crannog, december, Hawai'i Review, Pinyon, Rockhurst Review, Solstice, Third Wednesday and others. He has published several collections of poems, most recently, To Get Our Bearings in this Wheeling World. His interviews with soldiers who refused to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan became the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. He lives in northern California with his wife Cynthia.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

A MODEST PROPOSAL

by Michael Eddie Anderson


There had been warnings, but no one imagined this could happen. For weeks, two rival factions battled it out on Chicago's South Side. One shooting left the mother of a gang member wounded and her 25-year-old son dead. A few days later, a young woman sitting in a car was fatally shot. With tensions high, outreach workers for CeaseFire traded bits of information and huddled with gang members to try to untangle the conflicts. But the execution of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee in an alley by 80th Street and Damen Avenue in early November was nothing anyone — not the most seasoned cops, not former longtime gang members — would have ever predicted. In Chicago's long, troubled history of gang violence, children have far too often been the victims of stray bullets meant for others, but authorities allege Tyshawn was lured from a park and fatally shot because of his father's alleged gang ties. —Chicago Tribune, Dec. 1, 2015

for Tyshawn Lee

In a good world
the nine-year-old boy would get a haircut,
would get a double-breasted white tuxedo,
matching white cotton gloves,
a red bow tie,
a red boutonnière at the lapel—
also a bright red fedora
crowning the little casket, fire-engine red,
which is wiped with Lysol
and polished clean
as the mourners queue up
on the sidewalk
in a long line
because in a good world
such a line would be long.


Michael Eddie Anderson has worked as an editor at Rhino: the Poetry Journal and now serves on their advisory board. His poetry has appeared in Rhino, Pen Woman Magazine, and the recent Poet and Artist Chapbook of the Northwest Cultural Council. Anderson lives in Evanston, Illinois.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

DECEMBER 8

by John Azrak





On this day in history
Raymond Carver came to town
a hulking man with sapphire blue eyes
drinker's nose and a tipsy finger-
tip handshake with time to kill
before his reading at Columbia University;
He shared cocaine at the apartment
of a young writer, Jay, who idolized Ray's
piercing minimalist fiction, his own life
a bent out of shape Carver character,
having recently lost his mother,
wife to divorce, any notion of self-discipline,
his fact-checking job at The New Yorker.
Ray, of course, knew from dissipation
and suggested that the young writer
might want to flee the dangers and distractions
of the big city to work on his craft far upstate.
On the train uptown Jay worried the idea
as if he had a writer's stake in the heart
of the publishing world, worried it more so
in the room where the soon to be huge
Ray Carver read “Put Yourself in My Shoes”
to a small but ecstatic audience
while not fifty blocks away Mark Chapman
hid in an alcove at the stately Dakota.


John Azrak has published widely in literary magazines and anthologies; his most recent poems, in Nimrod and Stoneboat, deal with the war in Syria. He is an admirer of the work of Raymond Carver and John Lennon.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

JUST SAY A PRAYER

by Sarah E. Colona


NY Daily News, Dec. 3, 2015


just say a prayer
   would halt that hand
      which holds a gun
            its bullets itch
               to unwrite life

      just say a prayer
         would shield one child
            teflon coated
                  kevlar mittened
                     future made flesh

         just say a prayer
            would lop off rot
               hard sear all grief
                     stitch forgiveness
                        forceful and swift

            just say a prayer
                our dead won’t hear
                  fresh ghosts are proof
                       each Second takes
                            more than it gives


Sarah E. Colona lives and teaches in her home state of New Jersey. She is the author of three poetry collections: Hibernaculum (Gold Wake Press, 2013), Thimbles (dancing girl press, 2012) and That Sister, which will be published by dgp in 2016.

FUTURE FASCISM

by Ed Werstein



New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) December 9, 2015

David Neiwert, perhaps our nation’s most respected writer on white supremacy and right-wing extremism, says Donald Trump is probably not actually a fascist because he lacks the white supremacist bona fides and because he is a lazy narcissist rather than a coherent thinker. But he’s certainly moving us along the fascist road. It’s both scary and sad. —Lawyers, Guns & Money, December 3, 2015


In this game
the Joker’s wild
and money is Trump
he has all the diamonds
and no heart
hires clubs to beat us
hands us a spade
just before the execution.


Ed Werstein, spent 22 years in manufacturing and union activity before his muse awoke and dragged herself out of bed. He advocates for peace and against corporate power. His poetry has appeared in Verse Wisconsin, Blue Collar Review, Stoneboat, Gyroscope Review, and other publications. His chapbook Who Are We Then? was published in 2013 by Partisan Press.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

PRAY

by Jennifer Hernandez



Credit: MacLeodCartoons



By all means, pray.
Pray to God
Allah
Lord Vishnu
Chi-manidoo
Eirene
La Virgen
the Universe.

Pray for San Bernardino
Savannah
Colorado Springs
Boston
Conway
Houston
Minneapolis.

Implore. Plead.
Beat your fists on the ground.
Howl until your throat is raw.

That this may end. That we may creep
from the shadows in which we cower,
push back against the boulder of learned
helplessness. Speak the language of Enough.
No more.

Pound on the gates. Flood the ears of every one,
Every One, who votes yea or nay, who makes our laws.
Our laws. Ours.

Make them.


Jennifer Hernandez lives in the Minneapolis area where she teaches immigrant youth, wrangles three sons and writes for her sanity. Her work appears in Talking Stick, Red Weather,  Silver Birch Press, and elsewhere.  She has recently read her poetry in the Cracked Walnut Literary Festival and as honorable mention in the Elephant Rock Flash Prose contest.

Monday, December 07, 2015

UNION RAT

by Joan Colby


KOHLER, WIS. — Talks have been resumed between the Kohler Co. and the union that's been on strike for nearly three weeks in Wisconsin. Tim Tayloe, president of Local 833 of the United Auto Workers, said in a text message Friday that the union and the company met this week, and will meet again next week. A Kohler representative confirmed to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that negotiations have resumed. Local 833 represents about 2,000 workers at Kohler's kitchen and bath-ware plant in the Village of Kohler and at a generator factory north of Sheboygan. The union went on strike Nov. 15. The union wants to do away with a two-tiered pay scale that it says unfairly limits new employees to roughly $13 an hour. Kohler has said its contract offer was fair. —The News & Observer, Dec. 5, 2015


The inflated rat sits outside the fence
Where strikers protest unfair wages
Or conditions no human would endure.
The rat has a pink snout, sharp fangs
And a large round eye, orange as a
Setting sun, lacking a pupil, soulless.
Its jaw is ajar, its claws
Like those of the wicked bosses
Who rip up contracts that say
Workmen deserve to make a living.

I wave, thumbs up, as I drive by.
My grandpa was a Wobbly,
Back in the copper mines, back in the day
When men were hung for protests
Like this one. I’d like to have a rat
To blow up every time I feel abused
By a misguided friend who thinks a fascist
Is what we need to restore law and order.
How satisfying it would be to park
That big ugly rodent in her driveway.
Better than just unfriending her on Facebook.


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

Sunday, December 06, 2015

A COIN OR A COMB

by Laura M Kaminski





"We can't continue to play the ostrich game anymore, especially 
for those of us who still insist on being called POETS..."
— Chiedu Ezeanah


Who will pay me for a poem, read
one and be moved to action? Who
will open their ears and remove
the deafening silence? Who will
pay a coin of attention, enough
for a pack of combs, a book of
poems, and add to a small stipend
for a volunteer to go and read
to orphans while they learn to
pick and braid each other's hair?

Do you not remember when you
yourself were small, the feel
of your mother's hands upon
your head? Do you not recall
your impatience on occasions
when you were eager to be on
your way, finished with this
process? But when you left,
did you not carry the sense
of her affection with you,
the confidence that she would
not have loosed you until
you were your most presentable?

Who will pay me for a poem,
send a coin or a comb? And
who will take time to visit
orphaned children, offer them
the reassurance of adult
affection, let them know they
are not forgotten, that an
entire nation is present
to serve as surrogates for
parents they have lost? But
there is so much silence.

Are we afraid to face their
destitution and their grief?
Do we believe there are too
many for us to make a real
difference, and afraid of
failure, fail to even try?
Is there no path from silence
into action? What use is a poet
who will not be a beacon? If
there is no path, then let
the poets set the course
with words and wear it with
their feet, don't let the words
be empty. Let the poets lead.


Laura M Kaminski grew up in northern Nigeria, went to school in New Orleans, and currently lives in rural Missouri. She is an Associate Editor at Right Hand Pointing, and the author of several poetry chapbooks and collections, most recently Dance Here (Origami Books, an imprint of Parrésia Publishers Ltd, Lagos, Nigeria).  

SUPPOSE

by Carolyn Dack Maki 



A Kalamazoo woman facing a deportation to war torn Nigeria breathed a sigh of relief Monday as immigration officials decided to extend her order of supervision until May 4, 2016. The hearing in Detroit was the last chance for Rejoice Musa and Frederick, her 3 year old, American-born son. She had exhausted every other appeal to stay in the country, but this time came with the names of hundreds of people who signed a petition over the weekend and the support of Michigan Senators Peters and Stabenow. Now Musa will wait with millions of other undocumented parents in the US as the Supreme Court rules on the President’s action to help immigrants in her position. —Michigan United, Nov. 24, 2015


Suppose
that Rejoice didn’t have an electronic tether slapped on
by immigration agents whose best advice was to get married
and prevent deportation to Nigeria.
Her family’s arms are not open to her.

What if
three-year-old son Frederick born out of wedlock wasn’t a US citizen.
Nothing about him resembles “anchor baby.”
This gregarious child loved by all carries a death sentence.
Mother’s indiscretion and Western education are condemned.

And
that Rejoice wasn’t admitted to a graduate aviation program
that she didn’t have family-supporting employment
that the job anticipated through her high-ranking uncle now comes
with a calling card from Boko Haram’s midnight murder squads.

Suppose
that she wasn’t trying to abide by US law pleading for asylum.
Now she must report for detention and deportation
rampant under US policy she’s dispassionately told.
Tonight she sits with a bottle of Tylenol wondering is this is an answer.

Consider
that tomorrow she might approach a casual acquaintance
with a marriage proposal. Please, she will beg, I’ll support you.
Yes, I am using you. You can use me.
So contrary to her Christian faith.

Suppose
that she would be successful in saving their lives,
that her birth name is prophetic,
that their future could mean joy.
Just suppose.


Carolyn Dack Maki is a resident of Southwest Michigan.  A retired speech/language pathologist she is passionate about politics and public discourse.  She studies poetry at the Kalamazoo Institute of Art.

BUT HE'S WHITE

by Catherine McGuire



He had a fake federal air marshal ID in one pocket, a Ruger .380-caliber pistol in the other and was driving around Long Island with ballistic body armor and a loaded AR-15 assault rifle. He also had an arsenal of weapons at his gated home. But don’t worry folks, Mark Vicars wasn’t a threat to anyone, Nassau County officials insisted Friday. The amount of firepower is comparable to what terror couple Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik had during the massacre they committed Wednesday in San Bernardino, Calif. “At this time we don’t see any immediate threat to the public,” Nassau County Police Department spokesman Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun told reporters. —NY Daily News, Dec. 4, 2015


Forget the guns – he’s not a dusky
son of some other soil.
Homegrown is American –
every blond mother’s son
likes to have a little fun.
The badge? Maybe leftover
from Halloween – no sweat.
We know what we’re looking for –
the profile is clear, and we’re not swerved
by accidental discoveries.
Give ‘em a break.
Everyone needs a hobby.


Catherine McGuire is a writer/artist with a deep interest in philosophy. Using nature as a mirror, she explores the way humans perceive themselves and their world. She has poems published in the US and abroad and has four chapbooks: Palimpsests, (Uttered Chaos, 2011) Glimpses of a GardenPoetry and Chickens, and Joy Holding Stillness.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

FLIGHT CHECK

by Lee Nash


A British Airways pilot has reportedly been left with significant damage to his eyesight after a “military-strength” laser was shone into the cockpit of his plane landing at Heathrow, in what appears to be the most serious laser attack to date in the UK. The pilot suffered a burned retina in his right eye and has not worked since, according to the head of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa). The incident has escalated concerns over the problem of laser attacks. Balpa claims that one in two pilots has been in a plane targeted with lasers in the last 12 months. . . . In the US, the Federal Aviation Administration said the number of incidents had grown steadily since it started collating information on laser attacks in 2005. More than 3,700 incidents have been reported in the US this year. —The Guardian, Nov. 23, 2015. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA via The Guardian: A plane lands at Heathrow. 



You may think that the most important
piece of equipment on this passenger jet
is the undercarriage,
or the recently serviced turbofan engine,
or the locking mechanism on the cockpit door.
Or the enhanced GPWS,
or the pitot-static system.
You may be afraid that the flight director
will freeze,
that the rear pressure bulkhead is not airtight.
You may be concerned that human error will occur
over at control tower,
or you may be anxious
that the security check you just passed
to ensure no incendiary device is on board,
in some innocuous soda can, for instance,
has failed.
If there’s enough fuel.
If autopilot somehow flipped to descent.
When you’ve run through the list in your mind,
don’t forget to fret
about one more thing,
the two things that are actually flying
this crate,
two precise, acutely sensitive optical instruments,
and the left one just got fried
when someone in the rundown high-rise opposite
(bypassing every operational sensor
and every moral censor)
shone a military-strength laser
(through the cockpit, into the orbit of the eye,
though pupil, lens and vitreous body)
onto the pilot’s retina.


Lee Nash lives in France and freelances as an editorial designer for a UK publisher. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in print and online journals in the UK, the US and France including The French Literary Review, The Dawntreader, The Lake, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Orbis, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, The Interpreter's House, The Journal (UK), Brittle Star, The World Haiku Review, Black Poppy Review and Silver Birch Press.

Friday, December 04, 2015

HOME GROWN TERRORISM

by F.I. Goldhaber



In the years since the 9/11 attacks, the United States has suffered sixty-five assaults associated with right-wing ideologies—“sovereign citizens,” white supremacists, and anti-abortion extremists—and twenty-four by Muslim extremists, according to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, at the University of Maryland. You might think that this underrepresents the risk of a spectacular, high-casualty attack, but, as my colleague John Cassidy has written, the security officials who protect the public against both domestic and foreign terrorists say the domestic risk is greater. The terrorism experts Charles Kurzman, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and David Schanzer, of Duke, surveyed nearly four hundred state and local police agencies, and found that the “main terrorist threat in the United States is not from violent Muslim extremists but from right-wing extremists.” . . . It will take time to discover what mix of ideas and madness contributed to the attacks in Colorado Springs and San Bernardino. But it is a different kind of madness to pretend that we’ve learned nothing about why these types of events happen. In a study published this year in the journal American Behavioral Scientist, Mark Pitcavage, of the Anti-Defamation League, examined thirty-five “lone wolf” attackers—their tactics and ideas, and the consequences of their actions. He found that “ideology seems to have played a substantial role in the majority of the violent acts.” Nearly two-thirds of the attackers had a clear sense of what they were doing to their “perceived enemies,” and why. —Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, Dec. 2, 2015. CREDIT PHOTOGRAPH BY NICK COTE / THE NEW YORK TIMES VIA REDUX VIA THE NEW YORKER


The hypocrites rage on, refusing to accept responsibility
when one of their own slaughters police, doctors, and innocent bystanders.
The rhetoric that sends terrorists to attack women seeking health care
erupts anew as those fomenting hate spew vitriol across airwaves.

No one questions why medical facilities find it necessary
to have safe rooms and armored doors. Too many accept how easily those
with criminal records and mental instability acquire weapons.

Those who immediately condemned all Muslims after some radical
fundamentalists violated their own religious texts to bomb and
shoot Parisians, urge us to wait for all the facts when their protégés
splatter the blood of strangers and destroy buildings on American soil.

Violent extremists threaten the U.S., but they call themselves "Christians,"
use Bibles not Qurʾans to justify destruction and murder. We won't
eradicate terrorism if we ignore the ones we raise at home.


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. 

Thursday, December 03, 2015

FALSE FLAG

by Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco


     
"Even among right-wing radio hosts, Alex Jones is a standout. Where Rush Limbaugh offers a torrent of conservative views that largely align with Republican policy preferences, Jones labels 9/11 an 'inside job.' Where Mark Levin touts radical constitutional theories that, nonetheless, have grown popular in Republican circles, Jones ties same-sex marriage on 'the eugenicist/globalist view.' Jones is the king of fringe conspiracy theories. Among other things, he may be the nation’s most prominent proponent of the view that the Sandy Hook shooting that killed 26 people an elementary school was a 'synthetic, completely fake — with actors, in my view — manufactured' hoax. And one hour before another terrible mass shooting occurred in San Bernardino, California on Wednesday, Jones hosted a very special guest on his radio show — Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump. 
     "Alex Jones' website, Infowars, already has an article suggesting the San Bernardino shooting was a false flag operation: https://twitter.com/JuddLegum/status/672235629577682944." --ThinkProgress.org



The night of,
we go out
to look at Christmas lights. There:
snow
made of white flashes
on a  lawn; a bony
reindeer.

Pale fog drifts in sweaty
heaps
across the windshield.

On the radio,
a man says
the attacks

are a false flag,
that he will not allow himself
to be

oppressed.

Does this make sense?

Down the street,
flashing blue lights
surround a door.

Jesus looks up
from a manger
on a roof

at distant stars.


Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco lives in California's Central Valley. Her work has appeared in TheNewVerse.News, The Potomac Review, Paper Nautilus, The Tule Review, and the Kentucky Review, among others.

I AM FROM A TURBULENT WORLD

by Elizabeth S. Wolf




I am from Paris.
I am drinking café,
watching football, screaming
along with the band.
I am from Beirut, being
bombed for what I am not.
I am from Jerusalem, being
stabbed for who I am
and who I love.
I am from Abu Ghraib
and some callow American youth
has me down on all fours, wearing
a leash for a dog.
I am back from Iraq
home in Colorado Springs
gunned down at
Planned Parenthood.
I am from Bangladesh, being
hacked by an axe for blogging a story.
I am a young man from New Hampshire
beheaded for trying to understand
the story to tell.
I am from San Bernadino and I go to
a special school where today
we were having a party when
the bad men burst in.
I am from Sandy Hook Elementary School.
I am from kindergarten, learning
the belly of a ‘b’ goes this way
and the belly of a ‘d’ goes that way
and bullets go everywhere.
I am from Syria but I am
running for my life and if I
do not die along the way,
I don’t know where I will arrive.
I am the truth, fractured into
thousands of brilliant faceted carats.
I am the glare so bright that one
sliver of truth is blind to
all of the others.

I am from Paris. I am
the unnamed young man towing
a piano, by bicycle, so that I can play
John Lennon’s “Imagine”
in front of the Bataclan Theater.
I am the hope that someday you will join us
and the world will live as one.


Elizabeth S. Wolf has previously published poems in local anthologies (Merrimac Mic: Gleanings from the First Year; 30 Poems in November 2014; Amherst Storybook Project). She lives in MA and maintains a day job as a Technical Metadata Librarian.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

DESIGN

by Gil Hoy



Climate change demonstrations are expected to take place worldwide in the lead up to the Paris summit [File: AP via ALJAZEERA]



In third grade, I often trekked to my best friend's home
up the street, a backpack of books
strapped to my small back.

We flipped through pages and pages then,
in a quiet little study in a corner of his red brick house.
The glow from the fireplace flames
illuminated the russet wood on cold winter days---
like a solemn Friends meeting house.

My friend’s mother sometimes would set out
milk and cookies for us to eat.

They looked like planets of dirt and black rocks
circling two white stars.  She was always so kind
and so warm. The earth is a sky blue marble
with white swirls from the vantage point

of the sterile rock of the white moon,
so pretty and elegant.

The better the book, the more you didn’t
want it to end.  You start with chapter one.

If there were twenty, by the time you got to ten or so,
you were tormented by the prospect of finishing.
And the pages went by so fast then, like a speeding bus
you run after but miss, and you knew that the end
was coming, like the last bite of a favorite meal.

It occurred to me on one of those quiet
unspeaking afternoons that my death
was much like my book, and that I was on chapter four.

I wasn’t deeply troubled because there was still
so far to go. But the words and the pages
seemed different then, each page a whole day nearer,
as what remained of the unread pages
grew thinner and thinner.

Today, I am sixty years old. My angst is different now.
I read about ISIS and Paris murders, Trump’s fantasies,
Ben Carson's portrayal of his younger years, and Rubio’s
foreign policy. I listen to a grayer noble black President
talk about protecting the homeland, gun control, climate change
and medical care for the poor.

I hear grievous political candidates say
what they think you want to hear because
it’s politically expedient, rather than do the country’s business.

You grow tired of hearing grown men lie,
and you come to doubt our institutions and the law---
no polish will remove that stain.

I wonder now if the world can survive its woes
and whether the grandchildren of my grandchildren
will even get here. Perhaps nuclear war

with just too many missiles and countries involved
for the world ever to recover, or a pretty colorful solar storm
much more powerful than the one in 1859.

Maybe global warming, disobedient armies
of self-preserving computers, or runaway asteroids
exploding oceans, like ruinous bombs raining down
on villages of the weak. I worry that the world

is like my old third grade book, now more worn
but still true, and I have no idea what chapter
the world may be on.

What does it mean that the Milky Way
is just one of billions of galaxies?  What immortal blacksmith
or powerful imagination created infinite space?

Is the universe dying? Can we read its obituary in the stars?
Given the big bang, like an explosion of planets
from the head of a ruderal species,
futures of finite and infinite duration are both possible
depending upon physical properties and the expansion rate.

Some scientists say that the universe is flat like a silver dollar
and will expand forever, contingent on its shape
and the role dark energy plays as the universe ages.

Otherwise, the big rip tears the earth away,
like a murderous albino spider on a white flower carrying away a dead moth,
or a lion’s fearsome symmetry in a death spiral with a spent zebra.

The ephemeral perfection of goldilocks planet has always been
that it is not too hot and not too cold, with just
the right amount of water.

When I got to my friend’s home on that rainy afternoon,
I learned that his mother had died that morning.

The house was so cold and so dark. I didn’t know what to do.
But I knew there was no time to waste.

Had she played a part in stopping her heart from beating at such
an early age?  How many oceans and mountains had she never seen?
And in what directions? What had I to do with being at her red brick house,
at that time and on that day? I didn’t know.

But I filled up my backpack and started the long trudge
back home.  For I knew there was no time to waste.


Gil Hoy is a Boston trial lawyer, writer and poet. He studied poetry at Boston University, while receiving a BA in Philosophy and Political Science. Gil received an MA in Government from Georgetown University and a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law. He served as a Brookline, Massachusetts Selectman for four terms. His poetry has appeared most recently in Third Wednesday, The Write Room, The Eclectic Muse, Clark Street Review and TheNewVerse.News.