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Sunday, January 31, 2016


by Joan Mazza

El Salvador wants women to avoid getting pregnant until 2018, out of concern for the Zika virus rampaging through Latin America. Zika virus can cause serious birth defects, a fact that has led several Latin American countries to ask local women to hold off on getting pregnant until the outbreak is under control. El Salvador, however, is the first to announce a two-year ban on baby-making. “We’d like to suggest to all the women of fertile age that they take steps to plan their pregnancies, and avoid getting pregnant between this year and next,” El Salvador’s Deputy Health Minister Eduardo Espinoza told Reuters. Here’s the problem: Abortions are illegal in El Salvador, and birth control is hard to come by. The irony, which seems lost on El Salvador, is that the same government that denies women control over their reproductive health is now asking those same women to control their reproductive health until 2018. —Vocativ, Jan. 26, 2016.  Photo: AP

The women of El Salvador are told to not get pregnant,
to postpone starting a family. Poor women without
access to reliable birth control, single women,
girls who are raped are being told to delay families,
delay their planned pregnancies. The Zika virus

causes birth defects. More than four thousand
babies have already been born with tiny heads,
impaired cognitive functions, plus other yet-to-be-
diagnosed disabilities. Mosquitoes are carriers.
Tell them to cover up to avoid being bitten

by mosquitoes, to dress in the equivalent
of a burka. Tell them not to tempt the men who
rape them because of their skimpy clothes,
long legs, pouty lips, absence of power.

Already-pregnant women hold their bellies,
wonder what they carry, what life they
will have. How will they work and care
for these children? Abortion is illegal.
Spray poison, spray standing water, drain

swimming pools. Tell them to slather
their bodies in DEET. Tell women not to travel
to infected countries if they are pregnant
or plan to be. Aedes aegypti is an aggressive biter.

You might as well tell them not to buy yachts
or furs or SUVs or private jets. These luxuries
harm habitats, hurt the planet. Consider those
whose heads are so small they can’t see straight.
Consider the many with impaired cognition.

Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, seminar leader, and has been a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. Author of six self-help psychology books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam), her poetry has appeared in Rattle, Kestrel, The MacGuffin, Mezzo Cammin, Buddhist Poetry Review, and The Nation. She ran away from the hurricanes of South Florida to be surprised by the earthquakes and tornadoes of rural central Virginia, where she writes poetry and does fabric and paper art.

Saturday, January 30, 2016


by Steve Abbott

The answer, of course, is simple:
They are not like Us, Our heritage
and faith and flag. Not like Us, who
understand the real danger, the loss
of rightful place, above Them with
their odd odors and leather skins,
over there. And now here, among Us,
pretending They are like Us. Once
They feared Our strength, but now
We hesitate to do what must be done.
We need to do something now, to
show Them who’s in charge. We’ll
do to Them what We know They’ll do
to Us. No one knows what ’s going on.
We can’t live like this. They weave
dark webs in lives full of secrets,
hide Their evil in unfamiliar accents.
There are traitors among Us who are
helping Them, Those who want
to take what we have. The beards
of Their sons conceal explosive wire.
They’re hiding something in Their
worn suitcases, in blankets Their kids
carry. They’re stealing Your jobs,
Your kid’s future. They are waiting
for Their chance. Soon They’ll destroy
everything. Your leaders have betrayed
You, locking Your dreams in the banks
of Their friends. I’m saying what You’re
thinking, and We’re not afraid to act.
We have the weapons we need.
We can stop Them. We can be great
again. We know what We have to do.

Steve Abbott’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Connecticut Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Rattle, Evening Street Review, Plainsongs, Pudding, Wind, and Big Scream, among other journals. He edited the anthologies Cap City Poets (Pudding House, 2008) and Everything Stops and Listens (Ohio Poetry Association, 2013), and he edits Ohio Poetry Association’s annual member journal Common Threads. Night Ballet Press will publish his third chapbook The Incoherent Pull of Want later this year.  A collection of ekphrastic poems titled When the Image Speaks is seeking a publisher. He is a founder and co-coordinator of The Poetry Forum, one of the Midwest’s longest-running weekly poetry series in Columbus, where he lives with his wife Melanie Boyd.

Friday, January 29, 2016


by Cally Conan-Davies

At least 25 refugees, including 10 children, drowned in the Aegean on Thursday when their boat sank off the coast of the Greek island of Samos. The refugees were trying to reach the island from the coast of Turkey, just a few miles away, when the vessel went down. It was not known what caused the accident, but there have been dozens of similar tragedies in recent months, caused by people traffickers cramming too many refugees onto small boats. The Greek coast guard said that of the drowned children, five were boys and five girls. Ten survivors were rescued. —The Telegraph, Jan. 28, 2016. AP Photo Coast guard vessel arrives with the dead bodies of migrants at the port of Vathi on the eastern Greek island of Samos.

Out of the water,
his small ear
to the air—

we saw the photos,
outrage spilled over.

But in real time, the mean time,

eyes dry and tides change
yet the children of nowhere
keep dying on the waves

not over there
for there is no there but here
and no them but us

in their wet clothes.

Cally Conan-Davies is a writer who lives by the sea.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


by Dino Siotis

Greece has responded furiously to proposals to modify the Schengen agreement which would see the country’s borders effectively sealed off from the rest of the continent. EU interior ministers meeting in Amsterdam on Monday discussed moving the southern frontier of the passport-free travel zone, which includes most of the EU, to the north, deploying joint police forces along the Macedonia-Greece border. Other European states piled pressure on Greece to do more to control the influx of migrants into Europe via its shores. Athens’s Syriza-led government denounced the plans, with Ioannis Mouzalas, the migration minister, calling it an “experiment” that would turn Greece into a “cemetery of souls,” according to reports. Greek public order minister Nikos Toskas said, “It is very difficult to stop small boats coming [to Greece] . . . except sinking or shooting them, which is against our European values and Greek values and we will not do that.” —Newsweek, Jan. 26, 2016

So many have come knocking at my door
lately that I have trouble keeping it closed,
thieves, beggars, friends, curriers, deliveries,

Jehovah’s Witness, students with advertising
leaflets, straw dogs, homeless cats, garbage-
collectors, bag ladies, messengers, gypsies,

street-cleaners, refugees, illegal immigrants.
I am thinking of tearing it down—the door
I mean—so anyone can just come in and say

how they feel, have something to eat, take some
clothes from the closet, maybe pick up a euro
or two that I will leave on the front table

Dino Siotis is an activist and award winning Greek poet with 25 books of poetry in Greek, English and French, president of Athens-based Poets Circle, director of Athens World Poetry Festival and in charge of Global Communication of Medellin-based World Poetry Movement. He lives in Athens.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


by David Chorlton

The view of the five classical planets -- Mercury to Saturn -- improves over the next week or two as Mercury climbs higher and grows brighter. Image by Roen Kelly. — Astronomy, Jan. 25, 2016. 

The view from the window early
is of a street before awakening
where a single porch light glows
beneath five planets aligned
in the pre-dawn universe.
                       The tabloids
have yet to strip naked
and campaigns for public office
are on hold while Jupiter
assumes its ancient role
as god of thunder,
its power in deference
to the moment’s calm. Stock markets
are yet to make a first transaction,
waiting for a signal from Mercury,
god of finance
                       and of tricks,
glowing seductively
next to Venus, who’s worried
about Saturn always trying
to invoke some revelry
                       but who, in his role
promoting freedom, can’t help
feeling glum about the way
speech has been confused
with wealth. The sky
                       is a deceptive calm
today, considering the constant proximity
of Mars, the god of war
who never rests.

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 was his contribution to the Fires of Change exhibition shown in Flagstaff and Tucson in Arizona.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


by Bill Sullivan

Congress has historically treated drug abuse as a malady afflicting mostly poor, minority communities, best dealt with by locking people up for long periods of time. The epidemic of drug overdose deaths currently ravaging white populations in cities and towns across the country has altered this line of thinking, and forced lawmakers to acknowledge that addiction is a problem that knows no racial barriers and can be best addressed with treatment. —NY Times Editorial, Jan. 25, 2016. Photo: A 20-year-old heroin addict agreed to go to detox through the Gloucester [MA] Police Department Angel program in January after he overdosed. Credit: Katherine Taylor for NY Times, Jan. 24, 2016

blue nails  ashen skin
                                           pin size pupils
barely a breath
                                           another flat line looms
his savior if found
                                           a narcan syringe
white brown or black
                                           a teen or thirty something
or an aging boomer
                                           who went from prescriptions
pushed by physicians
                                           to bags of scag

he might collapse
                                           on a city street
or in a country lane
                                           be clad in a suit
or laborer's boots
                                           be an absent father
or live in lover
                                           once a dreamer
or a pragmatist
                                           now possessed
he rides a demon horse
                                           over a cliff
will it be a hospital
                                           or the morgue
for the man
                                           with the opioid eyes

for years jeered
                                           as a crackhead
or junkie
                                           he was left to die
or tossed into a cell
                                           but when the disease
infected the suburbs
                                           the country lanes
the club house
                                           and the gated estate
it was rehab for the addict
                                           progress no doubt
but too late for the poor
                                           who had no care or aid
who filled a grave
                                           or crawled around
a prison cave

Bill Sullivan is from Rhode Island where in the past five years over a thousand residents have overdosed on opioids, mainly heroin.  He is the co-author two books on twentieth century poetry, co-producer of two films and his poems have appeared in a number of on line and print publications.  His latest publication is Loon Lore in Prose and Poetry.

Monday, January 25, 2016


by Laura Rodley

For thirty-seven years
Billy Belina drove in early morning light
or total dark to spin the polkas
on WMUA on Saturday,
not for the love of money
because he wasn’t paid
but for the love of the polkas.
Joined by Mitch Moskal and friends,
Polka Celebration ended
this morning with little warning,
cut by the powers that be
from UMass University.
Petitions are being signed
and voices raised but polkas
have been out-phased,
though folks listen on line
and twenty seven hundred
have signed from Japan
to Australia, to Chicago, polka land.
So many musicians, so many bands,
fifteen thousand shows
spurring polka music on,
but as of 11:45, that’s all gone.      

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.

Sunday, January 24, 2016


by Bill Hurley

David Bowie turned 69 recently.
I turned 69 recently.

18 months ago, David Bowie found cancer in his body.
18 months ago, I found cancer in my body.

Two days ago, David Bowie still had cancer.
Two days ago, I still had cancer.

Yesterday, David Bowie died.
Yesterday, I did not.

Instead, I woke up, ate some oatmeal, played the piano,
Went to a garden, photographed statues and banyan trees,
Sipped a latte while browsing through Dorothea Lange pictures,
Had lunch in a museum café, went to a jazz concert,
Then helped the sun set in a drumming circle on the beach.

Today, I woke up again and learned that David Bowie did not.
So what am I to do with this one more day?

And how many more will I be given 

Before it’s my turn 
To return 
To Stardust?

Bill Hurley is a retired video/multimedia producer and former broadcaster.  He is a frequent contributor to open mikes around Columbus, Ohio. His work has appeared in Common Threads, The Institute for Poetic Medicine, and he won the 2005 Thurber Treat award given by Thurber House for humor/parody writing. This year he is the humor juror for The Ohio Poetry Association’s Competition for high school poets. He recently was the featured reader at The Poetry Forum. He also is the MC for the annual Poetry at Perkins event at Ohio Wesleyan University. His collection, No Weeds in Wahkeena is available on Amazon.

Saturday, January 23, 2016


by Matthew Johnson

Before God had gone down to trouble those waters,
I had dipped and wash you child in the calm waves
Of the Nile.

From rooted Jordan and Babylon child,
I sang to you those ancient songs
As I scrubbed away the dirt from your black flesh.

In the plantation cots in the golden dusk of Georgia,
In steadfast resolute,
I tried to cleanse the expanse of your black skin with water.

But now child, I’ve been unsettled.
Muddy as the blackened conscious of Delta Blues,
I’ve seen the waters turn a syrupy-hue.

I now allow you child to drink bitterness
And etch the poison of human guile
In your god-like blood and god-like skin.

Let us flow to a return child,
When I sang those old spirituals, lulling you to sleep
With the most savory of shadows and dreams.

But in those days oh child,
The waters were far too deep
And your skin was far too beautiful to leave.

Matthew Johnson is a 2015 December graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Matthew is a sports journalist who has written for the USA Today College, Fansided, StoopSports and his university newspaper, The Carolinian. Matthew’s poetry has appeared in The Coraddi and The Carolinian. He lives in North Carolina.

Friday, January 22, 2016


by Yi Wu

The stream of cold and greedy blood, still pumped
from fastened hearts at Michigan’s elites
at speeds of clunkers steered by reckless drivers,
on engines burning leaded gas, stolen
from Hades of obsolescence, is as
corrosive as the river water chlorinated
by negligent passing down of a lethal mixture
of industrial waste and calendar years

Pipes as anachronistic as a political system
whose residue has poisoned the cups
threaten to hold back children’s development
by chains of heavier metals tied on brains
as they fear sharp minds unmaimed
would sense the urgency of their replacement

Yi Wu is a writer who now calls New York City home. His work has appeared in Uppagus, Slink Chunk Press and Clockwise Cat.

Thursday, January 21, 2016


written on January 11, 2016, the fourteenth anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo Bay detention camp

by Buff Whitman-Bradley

Image source: Amnesty International: Guantanamo’s Poetry

I try to imagine the young soldiers
Given the job of interrogating
The prisoners of Guantanamo

I try to imagine them being repulsed
By what they were ordered to do
But afraid to disobey

I try to imagine the moral crises
They may have undergone
And the collateral damage to their souls

I try to imagine surreptitious rebellions of kindness
A smuggled pencil a friendly word a bit of extra food
A hand reaching out from the wreckage of the self

I try to imagine the nightmares of cruelty
Those young men carry with them
Into their civilian lives

For generations we have filled the haunted streets
With the discarded veterans
Of our perverse wars

For generations we have practiced the art
Of mangling the spirits
Of foe and friend alike

I try to imagine a world nearly here
Where torturers and tortured
Look as equals into each other's eyes

Where the young soldiers of Guantanamo
Come to realize they have more in common
With those they tortured than with those giving orders

Where the brutalized and debased and shattered
May howl their pain and rage
And their tormentors will not turn away

Where both will become healed and whole
From what was done to them and what they did
And will walk among us with great tenderness

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.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


by Paul Smith

Seconds after a Chicago police officer opened fire on him as he ran from a South Side traffic stop, 17-year-old Cedrick Chatman had collapsed in the street when the officer's partner approached to take him into custody. "I give up. I'm shot," Chatman said to Officer Lou Toth, according to Toth's statement to investigators at the scene. A bullet had struck Chatman in the right side, pierced his heart and lodged in his spine. He died on the way to a hospital. The detail of Chatman's last words was included in hundreds of pages of investigative records released by the city Friday that laid out how Chatman's suspected involvement in a violent robbery and carjacking ended with his fatal shooting less than a mile away. The documents — which included detectives' reports from the scene, autopsy results, inventory logs, lineups and transcripts of witness interviews — show that Officer Kevin Fry consistently told investigators he saw Chatman turn with a dark object in his hand as he ran full speed across the busy South Shore neighborhood intersection in the early afternoon. "Officer Fry said he believed that the object was a handgun and he was in fear of his partner's life, as Toth was in close proximity to the offender," said an incident report documenting Fry's initial interview with detectives. The object turned out to be a black iPhone box. —Chicago Tribune, Jan. 15, 2016

A small dark object
Can disappear
One minute it’s here
And the next
It is gone
Somewhere in
The Northern or the Southern Hemisphere
It’s linked to fate
Bad luck and chance
Starting its existence
In someone’s hands
Below a car-seat
A bulge in a pocket
No video caught
And then vanishing
I suppose
Into thin air
Like unicorns
Like UFO’s
Small dark objects
Are everywhere
Everywhere except
Where they are claimed to be
A small dark object is
A mystery

Paul Smith lives near Chicago.  He writes fiction & poetry.  He likes Hemingway, really likes Bukowski, the Rolling Stones, Beatles, Kinks and Slim Harpo.  He can play James Jamerson's bass solo for 'Home Cookin' by Junior Walker & the Allstars.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


by Sister Lou Ella Hickman

she stood    wearing her clothes of peace
she stood     quietly like hope
a single bush
by a briar meadow of fear

Sister Lou Ella Hickman is a member of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament. She has been a teacher on all levels and she has worked in two libraries. Presently she is a freelance writer as well as a spiritual director. Her poems and articles have been published in numerous magazines as well as in After Shocks: Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo and Down to the Dark River edited by Philp Kolin.  Her first book of poetry, she: robed and wordless, published by Press 53, was released September 1, 2015.


by Gilbert Allen

Image source: DonkeyHotey

And He said, I am The Great Candidate.
All the others?
Low energy.
Stop and think for a minute, people.
You really want a GOTUS who looks like that?
This is gonna be huge.
I’ll build a ginormous wall in the desert, and Saddam is gonna pay for it.
He’s history, and I know where his money is.
I’ve got some experience with walls.
And money.
You’ll be the father of many nations, after I smite them into The Stone Age.
You’ll mark all their members with red ties, before you let them out of the rubble.
Have I said you’ll be the mother of many nations, too?
I cherish mothers.
Mothers love me.
Especially Mexican mothers.
Listen, I know how to make deals.
I’ve been making deals for a pretty long time now.
You’re gonna have so many victories you’re gonna get sick of them.
Did anyone ever tell you you look just like Abraham?        
Abraham Lincoln?
Now fall on your face already.

Gilbert Allen's most recent collection of poems is Catma, from Measure Press. A book of short stories, The Final Days of Great American Shopping, is forthcoming from USC Press in April. He lives in Travelers Rest, South Carolina.

Monday, January 18, 2016


by Cally Conan-Davies

A new militant from Arkansas guards the entrance to the occupied refuge on Jan. 14. Photo: Amanda Peacher/OPB

Free-ranging, undeterred by fences.
Known to engage in earthworks
and entrenchment.
In response to media attention
its call changes pitch.
Immune to openhandedness,
it goes armed to the teeth.

Although it can mimic the walk and talk
of creatures that can’t be disturbed,
this odd bird is often seen
out in the cold, ear to the ground.
It thrives beyond the pale.

Evidence that it parasitises
refuges of other species
until it becomes difficult to determine
which is which
suggests that it considers itself
in need of protection,
although such exposure
it will
aggresssively guard against,
tooth and nail.

Cally Conan-Davies is an Oregon resident and frequent visitor to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.

Sunday, January 17, 2016


by Ed Plunkett

I want to go to the Moon with you, Joe Biden
The adventures we would have with Wall-E, Doctor Who,
Joy from Inside Out and the Abominable Snowman will be incredible
We’d quickly cure cancer, the mission President Obama sent you on
Get that out of the way
Then the party would start
Space 2016 will be a blast off
John Glenn will drive our Moon Rover
Matt Damon will engineer it so we can shoot off into space!
Stephen Hawking can make sure the steering works
We’d find new comets and name them after your favorite
amusement park rides
Because you’re Joe Biden, in space!
Decked out in our matching flight suits and aviator sunglasses
we will rule the galaxies
So badass we’ll run laps around both Voyagers
Plant the American flag on the moons of Neptune
Make you King of interstellar space
Because you, Joe Biden
Are the true Emperor of the universe
and all undiscovered countries
You and I will leave trails of smoke bombs and firecrackers
on asteroids
Send spam emails to alien tribal leaders
Giggle like children as Neil Degrasse Tyson
puts potatoes in the exhaust pipes of Tie Fighters
For science!
Please make us all find our lost youth,
Mr. Lame Duck Vice President
Allow me to take your picture
flipping off the First Order with impunity as we
Do donuts with gravitational pull
Joe Biden, it will be an honor to ride shotgun, with you

Ed Plunkett is from Columbus, Ohio. He has represented his city at the Individual World Poetry Slam and was Chairman of the Word is Art Committee of the Columbus Arts Festival. He has published the chapbook Nobody’s Poet, the CD I'm Not From Here and has been published in the journal The Legendary, The New Verse News, The Uppagus, the anthology Buzzkill: Apocalypse and Columbus 614 Magazine. One of Ed’s life goals is to read in all of Ohio's 88 counties. He has a long way to go

Saturday, January 16, 2016


by George Held

Senators Mike Lee abd Ted Cruz. Image source: Twitter/Ted Cruz.

“Any president who doesn’t begin every day on his knees isn’t fit to be commander in chief of this country.” — Ted Cruz at the National Religious Liberties Conference in Iowa, Nov. 9, 2015

Ted Cruz in Iowa courting Christian
Fundamentalists by declaring genuflection
the default prayer position
for US Presidents recalls
Abraham Lincoln (“I would neither slave
nor master be”) who would bow
his head in communion with his deity
but would not sink to his knees like a slave
nor would he rave like the Canadian-Cuban-
American even to climb in the polls
were there polls in his day when “poll”
meant “head” as in “poll tax”
or the “shaved poll” of a prisoner
and Lincoln would simply ask God
to bless this rough and unready,
agonized and striving country
as it writhed in second birth (the first
being in 1776) from 1861-1865, when
the great commander-in-chief would bow
his head and bow his neck without shamelessly
courting the fundamentalists of his day
by telling them what he thinks they want to hear.

George Held, a regular contributor to The New Verse News, has a new book out from Poets Wear Prada, Culling: New & Selected Nature Poems.

Friday, January 15, 2016


by J.D. Smith

Cassandra is remembered more for being mad
than being right, says a friend
bowed under his burden of consciousness.

Sharing the load does not lighten it,
and we've yet to find a balm
for the chafing beneath its weight.

Nor are there enough drinks to dilute
the day's high tide of graphs.

Though ragged, the saw teeth of data points
belong to blades that level islands,
slice through tusks and hives
along with the customary forests
and, snagging, bring up empty nets.

The menu is long, and served with questions.
Whose sins are we eating besides our own?
When might this banquet end?

J.D. Smith’s third collection of poems Labor Day at Venice Beach was published in 2012; his first humor collection Notes of a Tourist on Planet Earth the following year.. His poems have appeared in journals and sites including 99 Poems for the 99 Percent, Nimrod, Tar River Poetry, Texas Review, and Dark Mountain 3.

Thursday, January 14, 2016


by Margaret Rozga

It’s still raw there, there at the lunch counters
of our minds, our souls. Closing Woolworth’s
could not erase it, not given its firmly-fixed seat,
nor could putting sheets back on beds,
snarling dogs back in kennels.  Patronizing
faces in high places, crosses still
burn, codes still smolder, singe
those too young to know what a noose is.
Suit and tie it, it’s still a night rider.

Margaret Rozga has published three books: Two Hundred Nights and One Day, Though I Haven’t Been to Baghdad, and her latest   Justice   Freedom   Herbs.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


by Gail White

They have paid all they have
to enter this cramped space.
They no more know
when they will sleep again
or where, than the blind
mole knows if it will escape
the cat outside its hole.
Universe, be kind.

Gail White's new book Asperity Street is available on Amazon or from Able Muse Press.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


by David Southward

Bill, they say your magic pill
would rob a woman of her will.
You always seemed so wise, so chill,
it’s hard to watch you go downhill.

No laugh track with its canned applause;
no time for a commercial pause;
the cameras fixed on you because
success like yours defies all laws.

David Southward teaches literature in the Honors College at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His poems have appeared in The Lyric, Verse-Virtual, Voices on the Wind, Unsplendid and Measure (forthcoming).

Monday, January 11, 2016


by John Paul Davis

Don't say glam. Everyone always says that.
Neither say alien nor say stardust.
Invent a brand new vocabulary.
Say moonage. Say sula vie milejo.
Before heavy metal, before eyeliner
for rock gods, before electronica,
there was Bowie, self-named after the knife,
himself the blade, separating spirit
& the body, feminine from female,
mask from masculine. Androgyny and.
All of us & simultaneously
none of us. He went to hard rock's bombast
& distortion to find soul. To Berlin
to find the blues in a synthesizer
orchestra. Called himself the Thin White Duke,
thus freeing himself to write R&B.
He knew what everyone craves most of all
is a mystery. It's why our gods ask
us to carry what we can never hold
up some sacred, burning mountain, why love
comes laced with heartache, why such queer lyrics
keep us awake in the night, wondering.
He understood that to write a hymnal
for the spiritually dispossessed
he must himself become a borderland.
What is the sound a soul makes as it leaks
from its seams? Bowie. How keens the heartcry
of a person born out of place in time?
Bowie. How echoes joy on your second
wedding day, after you'd all but given
up on love? Bowie. Say the hot demon
of the drink or drugs still bucks in your veins,
say you think you can't leave the one who hurts
you, say you're harrowed by an old music
you heard once on an aging stereo
as a child. Say Bowie & he'll appear,
screwed up eyes & screwed down hairdo, well hung
& snow white tan. Saint Satellite, my dim
dreams need your code-switching & baritone,
my hetero tongue, needs your gender
bending & the high holy spark & howl
of your guitar, my weekday commute needs
your compact rebellion & scattershot
crimes of fashion. Let me borrow your mouth
& be beautiful, if not for a life
time then for just today, just one more day.

John Paul Davis's poetry has appeared in Muzzle, Rattle, Four Way Review, The Journal and many others. He lives in New York.


by George Salamon

"I can't breathe." Eric Garner, who died on July 17, 2014 after a NYPD officer put him in a chokehold. NY Times, July 18, 2014 

"I can't breathe." Barbara Dawson, who died on December 8, 2015 after a Blountstown FL police officer removed her from a hospital where she had gone to complain of abdomenal pain. NY Times, Jan. 7, 2016

We have got to teach these folks
That there ain't no such thing as the right to breathe.
If you haven't learned to do it the American way
And gobbled up all the air you can swallow,
The cops will not care
And hospitals will tell you to hit the road.
This ain't no socialist state, but one
Built by self-reliance and know-how,
Making us a nation of self-made men who
Won't tolerate weakness or pay for the wages of poverty.

So, get with the program and make enough dough
To pay for the air you pretend God gave us to share.
Let go of such un-American drivel and cant,
And maybe you will never again have to say "I can't."

After teaching German at several East Coast colleges George Salamon breathes the air and writes in St. Louis, MO, primarily for the Gateway Journalism Review, Jewish Currents and TheNewVerse.News.

Saturday, January 09, 2016


by Billy Clem

Imagine a city where nothing’s
forgiven    your deed adheres
to you like a scar, a tattoo    but almost everything’s
forgotten . . . 
—Adrienne Rich, “Rusted Legacy”

When you follow any code, given or stolen,
echoes come through opaque threads discovered
necessary as drone attacks whose trajectories
leave you a euphemism and a mother and her child
wrapped in heavy black preparing mutton and maize,
or absconding  to a school, or weaving the bits
and flecks of a life never really their own
suspended in a space not your city or home today
but available as your spare, collectable change.

Billy Clem, a gay and disabled radical feminist, lives outside Chicago where he teaches writing and literature. His work has appeared in Radical Teacher, Counterexample Poetics, and Moon City Review.

Friday, January 08, 2016


by Bill Petz

George W. Bush infamously claimed to have looked into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s eyes and gotten a “sense of his soul,” but perhaps he would have learned more by watching him walk. A recent paper in the British Medical Journal takes up the unexpected question of why Putin, as well as several of his subordinates, walk with an unusual gait, swinging the left arm normally but keeping the right arm close to the hip. Bastiaan R. Bloem, a neurologist at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in the Netherlands, says he was first tipped off to the strange gait by one of his former instructors, who noticed it in a video of the Russian president. For Bloem and his co-authors (all “movement disorder enthusiasts,” as he puts it), the video, and others in which Putin walks the same way, set off alarm bells since “unilaterally reduced arm swing” can be a sign of several neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s disease. . . . Videos of other senior Russian officials show the same unusual gait, including Prime Minister (and former president) Dmitry Medvedev, former defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov, and current chief of the presidential administration Sergei Ivanov. “The first thing that came to mind is, ‘What the heck? Is there a Parkinson’s epidemic in the Kremlin?’ ” says Bloem. Another possible explanation surfaced when one of Bloem’s colleagues found a KGB training manual, which instructs operatives that “[w]hen moving, it is absolutely necessary to keep your weapon against the chest or in the right hand. Moving forward should be done with one side, usually the left, turned somewhat in the direction of movement.” The authors have called the ex-KBG agent’s John Wayne–esque walk a “gunslinger’s gait.” This doesn’t mean, literally, that the president is packing. Putin probably never did much gunslinging in the KGB, where his job was to recruit potential operatives in East Germany, but the walk may be a tough-guy affectation akin to his often-coarse choice of language. “Putin is a macho leader who kept his gait to show that he is a KGB veteran,” Bloem says. --Slate, Dec. 15, 2015

Look at Putin's walk.
Right arm doesn't swing,
left does the usual thing.
Seems kinda awkward.

Dutch neurologists took a look.
Nothing new they say,
just a gunslinger's way.
It's in the KGB training book.

Faster to go for their guns.
It might just be,
but let's wait and see
if it's not Parkinson’s.

A loss of control,
dementia and depression
explain his aggression,
lack of soul.

Diagnosed with Parkinson's 10 years ago, Bill Petz' right arm doesn't swing without meds. He lives and writes in the mountains of western North Carolina. His work has been published in Status Hat, The Ashevillle Citizen-Times, The Chronicles of Higher Education, Artists & Writers Quarterly and TheNewVerse.News.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016


by Gil Hoy

A woman sleeping at a McDonald’s restaurant in Hong Kong in October. Across East Asia, 24-hour McDonald's have become a sanctuary for the downtrodden, providing a warm, dry place to sleep. Credit Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times, Dec. 31, 2015

After birthday candle whites
 are blown out,
Kids all snug tucked
 in their beds,

Once Invisible down-and-outs
 retire to a corporate
Cash-cow Behemoth

For a good night's restless sleep,
 To stay warm for a while.

No other shelters available,
 No families of their own to turn to,

“McRefugees" of East Asia,
   With no other place to go.

On a good night: Feed on
  half-eaten Big Macs,
Chew on salty stale fries,

Lie down in a padded
 booth for comfort,

'Til just before dawn,
  the dominion call comes:

“Put on your shoes,
this is not your home.”

 Then just enough time
  to comb your black hair,

With a disposable fork--
and vanish.

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.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016


by J. Bradley

Image by Adam Rosenlund via Boise Weekly, Jan. 3, 2016.

To you, the line between your version of us
and them comes down to a quick draw,
a pithy line after the bullet finds its mark;
dehumanization is the only way
you can justify your ammosexuality.

You ignore everyone that calls you 'terrorist'.
You point out that if you were a terrorist,
you would see drones flying above you
like birds of prey. You forget how terrorism
built this country treaty by treaty
blanket by blanket, ballot by ballot,
bullet by bullet.

J. Bradley is the winner of Five [Quarterly]'s 2015 e-chapbook contest for fiction.

Monday, January 04, 2016


by Jay Sizemore

Young black men were nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed by police officers in 2015, according to the findings of a Guardian study that recorded a final tally of 1,134 deaths at the hands of law enforcement officers this year. —The Guardian, Dec. 31, 2015. CREDIT PHOTOGRAPH BY EDUARDO MUÑOZ / REUTERS / LANDOV via The New Yorker: A protest on the Brooklyn Bridge, December 28, 2015.

I killed Tamir Rice.
So what.
This is what you wanted.
Blood runs like red mercury
off this silver umbrella shield.
My heart is impenetrable,
oblivious to innocence.

I kill Tamir Rice every day.
I wear your list of signatures
like a cape while I fight crime.
You send your children to schools
like dreams sent to die.
I am the killer of those dreams
and you hired me to kill them.

Your rage is hilarious in its hyperbole.
Thousands of candles lit on a stage,
each one destined to fizzle out
and signify nothing.

The residue of gunsmoke
left on your fingers—
Swirl it in your coffee
before you drink it down.
That’s the taste of bitter truth,
a violence wound like wire
around the vocal cords
struggling to cry out
for change,

while a crescendo of gunshots
punching holes in the sky,
only pauses to reload.

Jay Sizemore hates when you call writing a hobby. His work has appeared in print and online. He just released a short story collection, as well as two poetry chapbooks this past year.

Sunday, January 03, 2016


by Edmund Conti

You saw the giraffes first.
Two heads.  Heads held high.
High above the other animals.
What’s up with that? she asked.
Great flood where they came from.
Where would that be?  Curious.  Not caring.
The Mideast.  The Near East.  Somewhere east.
Great, she said, but they better
not land here.  They smell.
We watched them approach.
We need the rain, she said.
I need a raincoat, I said,
holding my nose.

Edmund Conti is a fair-weather poet.

Saturday, January 02, 2016


by Michael Mark

The latest rankings are out
Human beings are third in intelligence
Last in courage
But 43rd in good looks — an uptick due to an extinction
All agree and of course the humans most heartily support
We are keenest in imagination
Now if we can get our names off the endangered species list
But the monkeys say that we’re not smart enough
The lions say we’re not brave enough
The elephants say we’re not kind enough
The waters say we’re not strong enough

Michael Mark’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Gargoyle Magazine, Paterson Literary Review, Poet Lore, Rattle, Spillway, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Sugar House Review, Tar River Poetry, TheNewVerse.News and other nice places. His poetry has been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes and the 2015 Best of the Net.

Friday, January 01, 2016


by Howie Good

Image source: X-laser

And despite
having hair
like a fantastic tree

and difficulty
getting on
and off

New Year
the same way
light does,

and beautiful
to the sun

and bathing

Howie Good’s latest poetry collections are Bad for the Heart (Prolific Press) and Dark Specks in a Blue Sky (Another New Calligraphy). He is recipient of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry for his forthcoming collection Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements.