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Thursday, March 31, 2016


by Mary Leonard

A VIEW OF ISIS’S EVOLUTION IN NEW DETAILS OF PARIS ATTACKS. A wounded man was evacuated at the Bataclan concert hall during the Paris attacks in November. Investigators hope the arrest of Salah Abdeslam will shed new light on the assaults. Photo credit: Yoan Valat/European Pressphoto Agency via NY Times, March 19, 2016

                         While reading the Sunday Times on my daughter's birthday

"He turned and looked at the people,  and with a
 smirk, apologized and blew himself up."

It matters that you notice the bulky layers,
the anorak with fur collar on a warm night.

It matters that you go through security, open
your backpack, the trunk of your car, be

Frisked, attention, TATP, bombs, answer personal questions.
I'll tell you this: notice him, her, everyone

Alone. Do you understand? That one.
Attention must be paid. This one.

"TATP bombs require real training,
a skilled bomb maker," A Start Up

Bomb Factory? something for your
Silicon Valley entrepreneurs?

It matters that you notice, the absence
No phone, the blank stare, nothing

"Forget small scale attacks," a senior
ISIS said, "hit everyone and everything."

You must pay attention. Your life matters.
Your child matters. Her school matters.

Be wary of men in tracksuits with logos
of nearby teams. Be wary what their

Hats say.  Notice if they look so calm
they'd accept ball bearings inside their flesh

Listen to me, this is your mother
speaking. The world is not

safe. The world is not
an oyster here for the taking.

Forget the sound of waves,
the smell of salt, all the sweet flowers

Where? Long time asking . . . 
And I will ask, Where have they gone.

Mary Leonard has published chapbooks at 2River, Pudding House, Antrim House Press, and RedOchreLit. Her poetry has appeared in The Naugatuck Review, Hubbub, Cloudbank, The Chronogram, Blotterature and most recently in Red River, Ilya's Honey, and A Rat's Ass. She lives in an old school house overlooking the Rondout Creek in Kingston, NY.  Away from her own personal blackboard, she teaches writing workshops for all ages through the Institute for Writing and Thinking at Bard College

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


by David Chorlton

On March 24, the international tribunal in The Hague delivered the Radovan Karadzic verdict - more than 20 years after he was indicted and eight years after he was finally arrested. By this judgment, like most of those delivered by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) judges, nationalistic ideologies were described as the reason behind the killings, tortures, forced detentions, mass rapes, ethnic cleansing and genocide. Unfortunately, people from the Balkans, but also in other parts of the world, did not grasp the message hidden behind the legal jargon. Over the years, international tribunals have never put enough effort to make their decisions clearer to average people; and this is often abused by politicians who interpret those decisions however they like. . . . After 23 years of work, the international tribunal in The Hague did not succeed in having a real impact on the people of the region. We did not hear loudly and clearly the judgment against nationalism, even though the judges did issue many. —Nidzara Ahmetasevic, Aljazeera, March 27, 2016. Photo:  A survivor of the 1995 massacre in Srebrenica prays by her husband’s grave at a memorial centre in Potocari, on 24 March 2016, the day the former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić was found guilty of genocide. Photograph: Elvis Barukcic/AFP/Getty Images via The Guardian.

The scene today is tranquil
at the window where
a verdin flies between the roses
and the bougainvillea
unaware that glass is all
that keeps it safe from cats
alert to its every movement.
Outside, the afternoon’s
long shadows alternate
with glowing pavement
and winter’s dormant grass
begins to green. By the hour
news breaks in: the morning radio,
analysis at noon, and television
with its reruns of the panic
after Tuesday’s attack, translated
from French and Flemish now
and who knows which language
next. Interviewing experts
brings no more comfort
than the speeches made
by candidates campaigning.
The sparrows are chattering
in the bushes, and mockingbirds
pursue the last, late insects.
The battle for Mosul
won’t be over soon, Boko Haram
sends young girls out
to become stars for a moment
before being dead forever,
and every holiday in Europe
begins with armed guards
on patrol. Home is a good place
to be, watching lovebirds
in the sumac, listening to the news
that Radovan Karadžić
has been found guilty, guilty, guilty,
of killing on a scale
others only dream of, yet he still
finds a word for innocent
that applies to him alone.

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, March 29, 2016


by Laura Lee Washburn

11 - 17 March 2016 issue

I catch foul balls on my tongue:
words like “Get ‘im out of here” USA
“Go back to China” USA, “Make America—”
USA I wash my hair
in the shower with soap that smells like berries.
On the corner, a pan handler
asks for food, “Every Little Bit
Helps. Peace.”  As-salamu alaykum.
I drive by, the food bank six blocks north,
the county shelter closed, funds moved
west where Kansans vote Republican
harder than we do—GodBlessAmericaJakesFireworks.
I can no longer tolerate words USA USA
balloon launches, USA  the simple wish
peace be with you, and prayers (Jake’s Fireworks),
that choke fledglings, twist
in the guts of opossums.
     You can make a hen tell the truth
no one hears.  You can’t fake an egg.
They come honest from the hens,
a kind of fragile truth.  Eat spaghetti
by the ax full, carry water
in a berry basket, eat bullets, breathe
turbine—Make America great.

A screwdriver helps a Carpenter Joe twist
screws into holes.  If I could,
I’d go back to sleep, great again.
Don’t cut off your tail USA USA; drape it over your
arm, USA wear a top hat USA before it’s too late
make America catch the foulest balls
on their tongues and swallow.

Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals as TheNewVerse.News, Cavalier Literary Couture, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, Red Rock Review, and Valparaiso Review.  Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has also lived and worked in Arizona and in Missouri.  She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky and is one of the founders and the Co-President of the Board of SEK Women Helping Women.

Monday, March 28, 2016


by Lynnie Gobeille

In a prayer shawl, Shmuel Herzfeld, American Open Orthodox rabbi who heads Ohev Shalom Synagogue in Washington, DC was carried off by security moments after protesting Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at AIPAC on March 21, 2016. He explained his action in the Washington Post, ‘I was sitting six rows away from the stage. And as Trump began his speech, I rose from my seat. I spread my tallit over my shoulders, raised my hands up high and declared: “This man is wicked. He inspires racists and bigots. He encourages violence. Do not listen to him.” With every cell in my body, I felt the obligation to declare his wickedness to the world.’

                  for Shmuel Herzfeld

Prayer shawls . . .
the Dude knew
he would abide.
Gandhi knew too
and preached Kindness.
Mother Teresa said:
“The truth is in your actions.”

I no longer know what truth is
watching my people change
shape-shifting to survive . . .
building walls to keep some out-
in the same country
that welcomed my mother home.

I am one generation away
from all your killing stones.

The Dude said: abide.
I whisper this—
a tune any child can recite:
Peace—to you this Easter
Shalom . . . I say—
wrapping my prayer shawl tight.

Lynnie Gobeille lives and writes in Rhode Island . . . watching out for the Lamed Vav Ẓaddikim who cross her path.

Sunday, March 27, 2016


by Erica Goss

“Russian aviation launched the for the second day in a row raids on the city of Raqqa, where nine raids carried out by his aircraft centered on the markets and the revival of the city resulted in 43 civilian martyrs and nearly 60 wounded. . . . It is feared in the coming days that the Russian aviation will take over the mission of bombing Raqqa city  . . . while the international coalition and the world are standing silent in front of this criminality on the grounds that the Russians bombard ISIS [although we] know that Raqqa is occupied by ISIS and not [giving support] to it.” —Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, March 19, 2016

Handsome and indifferent
as a movie star, the pilot
drops his payload.

He killed it
tonight, had the audience
eating out of his hand,

from grandmothers tottering
on skinny legs to the family
barely breathing in the cellar.

Never have children
been so still, so
perfectly behaved.

One performance leads
to another – the pilot
will be back tomorrow night,

10:00 p.m. on the dot,
ready to put on one more
drop-dead gorgeous show.

Erica Goss served as Poet Laureate of Los Gatos, CA from 2013-2016. She is the author of Wild Place (Finishing Line Press 2012) and Vibrant Words: Ideas and Inspirations for Poets (PushPen Press 2014). Erica teaches poetry workshops and works as a Development Director for California Poets in the Schools. Her poems, reviews and articles appear widely.


by George Held

The Swedish authorities have filed criminal charges against a Syrian man who is suspected of having participated in the mass killing of captured Syrian soldiers in 2012. The police arrested the man, Haisam Omar Sakhanh, on Friday, in the town of Karlskoga, Sweden, and charged him with a crime against international law. —NY Times, March 14, 2016

It is a late-winter day, chilly,
so the nine standing men wear a jacket
or a vest, and seven, two with masks,
point AK-47s at their targets

on the ground in front of them: seven
young men, torsos stripped bare, five
with their foreheads pressed to the ground—
two with hands bound behind their back,

three with hands restrained below the waist,
and two with hands free, one of whom rests
his forehead on a bare right arm, while
the other, at the extreme right, lies legs

spread, his chin on his left fist, his eyebrows
and nose visible for his last picture.
We can only guess at their last thoughts
and prayers, but each one knows

that any second a bullet will crash
into the back of his skull, and he will be dead.
The standing man at the extreme right
holds a pistol and looks down the rocky field,

maybe for a signal to begin shooting.
He will soon start the execution, firing
the first shot into his helpless victim.
The other armed men follow suit; all the bare-

backed men are now dead, and maybe so
are some of the rebels. Life is violent,
brutish and short for men at war, especially
a civil war, and usually it is better

to be a man with a Kalashnikov than one
stripped, prone, and waiting . . .

George Held, a regular contributor to The New Verse News, has a new book out from Muddy River Books, Bleak Splendor.

Saturday, March 26, 2016


by Michael Shorb

Image source: Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, a campaign launched by a group of non-violent activists in Raqqa to expose the atrocities committed by the regime of Bashar Al-Assad and by the terrorist extremist group ISIS toward the civilian populations if the city.

The dictator’s weak chin
juts from a billboard as
the beady eyes dare
anyone to smirk or throw
rocks and a town
bakes under a silent sun

a tank rumbles on noisy metal treads
past a solitary leaning palm,
scattered bodies thrown
down on desert sand,
washed to the side of city

when the father
punishing his children
goes insane
the sounds
can be heard
for miles.

Michael Shorb was a poet, fiction writer, editor, and children's book author. As an international poet, his poetry has been published in more than 100 magazines and anthologies, including TheNewVerse.News, Michigan Quarterly, The Nation, The Sun, Salzburg Poetry Review, and Kyoto Journal. He was the recipient of a PEN AWARD, won a Merit Award for the Franklin-Christoph Poetry Contest, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He lived in and loved San Francisco. Michael succumbed to GIST, a rare form of cancer in 2012.


by Debasis Mukhopadhyay

Image from “Museum of War Syria” by Tammam Azzam at Foreign Policy, April 29, 1913.

      Through the trap door of the night sky the telescope brings you the debris of million suns shimmering on a canvas you liked all along
      The bright night of Van Gogh crawling into your eyes makes you forget that the bone color priming can also be grown into a moonlit canvas
      Like History
      Everything in the underpainting is meant to be painted over
      The manna of bombs that astound the bodies with brightness
      And the bodies that gather in the pit waiting to grow wings of no consequence
      Yes but everything in the dead coloring is intended to be painted over
      To swallow such brightness in your canvas you can paint the clouds that glint ringing my brother's skull
      Into an hourglass that swells lolling on my mother's chest
      There is no blood between her breasts doves just coo and sugar ants lick all witness
      She pauses to dream
      The dreams that look into the muddy darkness beneath your feet for ornaments of tomorrows or yesterdays

Debasis Mukhopadhyay lives & writes in Montreal. Recent poems have appeared in The Curly Mind, Yellow Chair Review, Thirteen Myna Birds, Of/With, I am not a silent poet, The New Verse News, With Painted Words, Silver Birch Press, Foliate Oak, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Snapping Twig, Eunoia Review, Revolution John, and Down in the Dirt.

Friday, March 25, 2016


by Lisa Suhair Majaj

A tent in Idomeni Camp. Image source: Cyprus Refugee Solidarity, March 16, 2016

                                    “Hope is a tough bitch to kill.” —Faye Karavasili, Cyprus Refugee Solidarity

They trudge through rain and mud, their wrecked shoes
and sodden clothes a testament to everything broken,
lives reduced to rubble like the shattered hulls
of homes they left behind. Ahead lie footsore roads,
barbed wire,grim officials thrusting the press of bodies back
and back, floodwater rising on all sides, relentless
as the memories that pursue them no matter how far
they walk, heads bent beneath the rain, children clinging
to a parent’s back or borne on a weary shoulder,
a small hand in a larger hand, a long column of people
trekking weary, undeterred, from bone-chilled morn
to damp, cold dusk, snatching sleep in cramped tents
or open fields where they wait for dawn, for refuge,
for a border opening. But dawn comes each morning
with its orange refusal: rain, closed borders, stolen dreams.

The desperate do not give up. They escape to illegal crossings,
wade into swiftly-flowing rivers, pass babies and toddlers
hand to hand in a human chain, threading the cloth of desolation
with a thin gleam of hope, even as muddy currents sweep away
the unlucky, the overly-weary. Their goal?
The future, the other bank, a chance to keep on walking.

In Idomeni camp, illness and despair permeate
everything: the sucking mud, the weighted sky,
the grim and cheerless air. A Yazidi child
peers out from a torn and tiny tent,
her face a bright beacon amid the gloom and muck.
She begs for a balloon, but there are no balloons
to be had here, only sodden rags that hang
from trees and tent poles – limp flags
that have long ago given up the dream of flying.
Yet at her plea something bright and colorful
rises wisp-like in the dank, cold air,
floating improbably above the tent-city
pitched on the razor-edge between despair and hope.

The mother smiles as she gently strokes
her daughter’s hair. “How can you smile?”
an aide worker asks, "amid all this?"
The mother pauses, then replies.  “They wanted
to chop her hand off for offending the faith.
Here, no one wants to chop off our hands or heads.
We can be free.” She speaks calmly, her eyes seeking
the gray horizon. Behind her, ghosts murmur,
their soft keening an echoing whisper
in the darkening sky, rising above this graveyard of dreams
where hope is the last survivor.

Lisa Suhair Majaj is the author of Geographies of Light, winner of the Del Sol Press Poetry Prize. She lives in Cyprus. This poem responds to the refugee crisis in Greece, particularly at Idomeni camp.

Thursday, March 24, 2016


by Kristina England

Image source: Chasing Davies

I take my nephew to Sesame Street Live.
Sick, I would rather inchworm under
a comforter, so I buy him a juice box,
let him sit an aisle away, the show far
from sold out, convince myself it will
give him some freedom and space.

At intermission, there are Elmo balloons.
JoJo begs for Cookie Monster blue.  I tell
him they're double-sided, the back is fire
red, because everything has two faces.
He clenches his hands, won’t give up,

keeps stammering, I want it. I want it.
I say there's a difference between want
and need, reject his appeals. He contorts
his three-year-old face into a tantrum
that's acceptable at his age, later uses
his empty fist to rub away tears as
we head for the car, hand in hand.

Three days pass. Brussels is bombed.
Terrorists say the worst is yet to come.
And, sure enough, the comb-over man
climbs on dead bodies to point at polls,
tantrums his way into too many minds,
terror his decor for the Presidential bed.

I can hear Mick Jagger singing what
I've already seen back at the theater
when a girl lost her newly purchased
balloon. My nephew and me, necks
craned, watched a bag full of gas
float to the arched, heaving ceiling.

I wonder if the balloon stayed there
long after we left, long after the girl
cried out all her snot.  I want to go
back, not to retrieve a present for
my nephew, but rather to see if that
tinfoil face has popped or if it is still
clinging to an ounce of substance.

Kristina England resides in Worcester, Massachusetts.  Her writing has been published in several magazines, including Gargoyle, Silver Birch Press, and Story Shack Magazine.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


by Cally Conan-Davies

Getty image via DW.

English. It isn’t all Greek. But a lot of it is,
maybe 60%, or more in the sciences.
But let’s not put a figure on it. Today
I’m thinking about the word ‘ecology’.
Basically, it’s your house, oikos. Unfortunately,
if that gets bombed, and you have to move away,

and there may not be a mother or a father or a door
about which a mother or father might say
‘were you born in a tent?’
to shame you every time you forget to shut it,
you must strive, especially when your new tongue is unstable,
to explain how your life is a ‘very high degree of miserable’
now that you shave the hair of your child for nits,
the child by the wire fence too tired to cry,
now that you wait and live in mud and shit
and the cold, quiet child is innocent,
and the settled world you seek is unsettling.

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

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


by Alan Catlin

Pencil sketch by Michael D'Antuono.

Germany between world wars
Residue of failure and hate
diminished self-worth
Blame it on the minorities
Our country could be great again if
            there were no more:
                                                Feeble minded
Pander to the insecurities
The unemployed
Underemployed victims
of runaway inflation
worthless currencies
Hatred is the most powerful
the most effective motivator
Pander pander pander pander
Work the crowds until they are mobs
Then shout Kill Them All

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

Monday, March 21, 2016


by A.S. Coomer

The pisser in the bar was branded:
American Standard.
I shook and moped back out
into the dim, dingy dive,
the air cool and somehow overly wet,
and ordered a double.
Donny Trump was up on the tv,
looking all jack-o’-lantern orange,
mouth pursed then streaming,
          pursed then streaming
          like an anus.
The bourbon came and I downed it.
I told the barkeep that the pisser was right,
that this was the new American Standard.
She turned to the tv and I shook my head.
“Wrong one,” I told her.
She gave me that look,
the one all wary barkeeps give,
the one that says,
            “Tread easy, mister.”
I ordered another, paid my tab and left.
The streets were overly wet,
shining in the first rays of a burgeoning day,
a sickly yellow sheen covering it all,
humidity already
            making everything
                        piss sticky;
American Standard all the way.

A.S. Coomer is a writer. He likes cats, tacos, books & comics. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in issues of Red Fez, Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Literary Orphans Journal, The Quill, Blotterature, GFT Press, Flash Fiction Magazine, Oxford Magazine, Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, Heater, The Broadkill Review, Degenerate Literature, The Merida Review, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Rat’s Ass Review, Thirteen Myna Birds, 101 Words, Intrinsick Magazine and Serving House Journal.  He also runs a “record label” for poetry.

Sunday, March 20, 2016


by Clara B. Jones

New photographs show the Unites States Air Force preparing for strikes on ISIS targets at a secret military base in the Persian Gulf. Daily Mail, Feb. 26, 2016. Getty Images Photo via Daily Mail.

Climate crescented when Anthropocene
overwhelmed Antarctica, displacing
penguins whose food no longer swelled

the ocean, each year of our lives displayed
in glass cases cleaned every day, reflecting
a day-glow billboard sign selling scale

models of maps more detailed than the
landscapes they defined, so finely drawn
that cities looked like flies fixed in pixels.

The secret to my cat's success is her element
of surprise—clowns jumping out of bomber
jets, boreal birds barreling into bathrooms,

babies speaking sentences. In 2003, we
bombed Iraq six days after Paris Fashion Week.
Now we have drones to keep runways safe.

Clara B. Jones is a retired scientist, currently practicing poetry in Asheville, NC. She is a staff writer for the poetry journal, Yellow Chair Review. As a woman of color, she writes about the “performance” of identity and power and conducts research on experimental poetry. Her poems, reviews, essays, and interviews have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous venues.

Saturday, March 19, 2016


by David Feela

For Edward Abbey, January 29, 1927 – March 14, 1989

Blowing out of the southwest,
the wind this evening gusts,
slaps against the house like
a rafter’s oar skimming
instead of digging deep.

I am sitting in my chair,
re-reading Desert Solitaire
while miles from here the wind
whips the Colorado into a froth
of roiling red mud mixed with thought.

A river’s sediment crossbred
with its sentiment, as if an artery
hemorrhaged in the West
and a tourniquet of common sense
could not contain it.

David Feela writes a monthly column for The Four Corners Free Press and for The Durango Telegraph. A poetry chapbook, Thought Experiments, won the Southwest Poet Series. His first full length poetry book The Home Atlas appeared in 2009. His new book of essays How Delicate These Arches released through Raven's Eye Press, has been chosen as a finalist for the Colorado Book Award.

Friday, March 18, 2016


by Richard Schnap

Presidential Poster by Edward Steed, The New Yorker, March 3, 2016

When did America
Grow so full of hate
It embraced a cold
Bloodthirsty man?

And when did the purchase
Of guns grow as common
As buying a card
For a sweetheart?

And when did it start
To despise anyone
Whose face didn’t
Mirror its own?

The answer is that
It was only sleeping
In a coffin we
Foolishly thought sealed

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

Thursday, March 17, 2016


by James Penha

'The Discovery of King Tut,’ an exhibition that recreates the discover of King Tut's tomb in 1922 with over 1,000 reproductions of the tomb's original artifacts 'The Discovery of King Tut,' opened May 16, 2015, at the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

In the burial vault Carter unearthed embroidery
as bright after 3000 years as Tutankhamen’s gold
displayed last Spring in Grand Rapids only
two hours from a Flint entombed in lead
by pipes buried and buried again to hide
the hands that corrode the threads of civility
and undo woven black braids beaded brown
with more warp than weft and very petit point.

James Penha edits The New Verse News.


by Jacqueline Jules

'Escolta de una gran senora en Barcelona' by Christoph Weiditz, Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, Germany.

over the working class,
the wealthy
once wore chopines,
platform heels so high,
canes or servants
were needed to walk
a cobbled 16th century street.

In every generation,
there are those
who never question
the crippling cost
of standing higher
off the ground,
as long as they feel
tall enough to totter
over someone else.

Jacqueline Jules is an elementary school librarian who left public education when the testing environment became ridiculous. As a reader, she devours every genre—biography, poetry, essays, science fiction, mystery, etc. As a writer, she doesn’t restrict herself to one genre, either.  Her work has been published in over 100 journals and she is the author of 30 books for young readers on a wide variety of topics. She is also the author of two poetry books, Field Trip to the Museum (Finishing Line Press) and Stronger Than Cleopatra (ELJ Publications).

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


by Dennis Mahagin

Believe it or not, there once
was a sky, and construing itself
as de rigeur, congressman, it cradled
us all, mostly over
with whipped cream
shots and espresso poured
on the moon at night, at night, this sky
keep the spirits up, alright?
Then the wind
blew as March flew into super Tuesday,
and on, through May, ions
up there laughing
like icons
at sepia's stomp and dust affair,
fluffy white ones where they met
and vanquished a Trump
in an August
sun dance.
Hard to forget, alderman, that sky, the happy,
happy contrails in air, creamy inchworm lariats
likened to smoke rings from Dunhill
cigarettes, they stayed
up there, aka "streams" -- -- -- -
and wouldn't let
a single jet
fall. Now I pray
to all expanses, with not a little fear
at the turning away, paparazzi bandolier, whir
of gears, arrows and lances
and ever narrow
slings and hot air and bullets and
drones and hot air, broken
wings and drones, and wings and
drones, moreover, in rotation, in stark
repetition mister
honorable mayor, fly-byes, a sky
up there, leaving nothing to chances
nowadays indifferent at best
and maybe neither
does she care?
she's up there still, and will, --
this is where I invite
you all, earnest chaplains shepherding
the campaign in the ass,
only to consider
the reach of the grasp of the stately
previously unmentioned
an aspen, peach, willow,
say, larch or
even weeping cottonwood,
while he ( the tree) glances
up, and nods yes, yes, affirmative,
yes, quite reassured
to every branch,
to the very rings,
a sky has got
your back,
says he (the tree), and which
one has ever willfully
been mistaken? Nor had occasion
to worry, to hasten
unto centuries? They are constituents,
with roots in the community.
She’s not going to
fall, despite
cries from the
left ( right? )
oh, she might send a
squall or two, tough love running
with thunder across
the sun, until the general
is done. Unlike a politician and natural
lies aside, lonely guys
( such as I )
must surmise, in order to decide:
and so I vote to try
to simply seize my slice
of sky. Look up,
one time, there’s the blessing
on the heels
of a peppermint sneeze,
let’s make it a quorum, see?
that it lasts:
it's lemon
merengue, senator
and dissolves


Dennis Mahagin is a poet from the Pacific Northwest, currently living in Montana. His collections of verse can be found, here, and there: And well, worth it. Maybe.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


by Joseph Powell

Let’s have a moment of silence,
for the end of civility
as we know it;
maybe even,
for the end of civilization;
let the trumpet sound, ‘Taps’
for all this talk about progress;
about how we’ve come so far,
only to turn it around,
and retreat backwards
into oblivion,
into, what was it all about, Alfie?
I hear blood crying from the ground;
I hear the rumble of bodies
turning over in their graves;
the screams of
“This is not what we died for!”
too loud for me to think.
I know they can’t rest in peace,
because we haven’t learned
to live in peace.
And the rain continues to fall
on the just,
while the unjust live in denial,
believing that they alone,
own the sun.
And God cries,
Damn it!
over the U.S. of A.
how can He bless
this mess?

It’s too much to take,
sensory overload and such;
I simply want to close my eyes
and ears,
and rest in peace;
but there will be no peace,
while chaos is the order of the day,
and the inmates are running the asylum.

All I can do,
is keep eyes wide open;
with pen in right hand,
and left fist,
held defiantly in air;
say a prayer,
as I march into battle,
clothed with little more
than the truth,
to fight
yet another day.

Joseph Powell is a poet and writer and the author of three collections of poetry: Joby, Uninterrupted: Bittersweet Symphonies and Bohemian Rhapsodies (1989-2009), Poetry Man, and The Writing’s On The Wall.  He is also the creator and author of the blog The Joby Chronicle. Originally from Chicago, Illinois, he relocated last year to Nashville, Tennessee from Burbank, California. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Greenville College in Illinois. He has performed at a number of venues around the country including the Austin International Poetry Festival and, most recently, the Tucson Festival of Books. His work has been featured in a variety of print and online journals, including the Nashville-based Calliope magazine. He cites James Baldwin and Maya Angelou as his primary influences and credits his girlfriend, Cindi, and stepdaughter, Santi, as his motivating forces.

Monday, March 14, 2016


by Joan Colby

“Indiana University Press will release the first five titles in a series of adult coloring books, titled Color Your Campus this summer. The five campuses featured are Indiana University, Harvard University, Louisiana State University, Stanford University, and the University of Notre Dame. In a surprising move for a university press, Indiana University Press joins the adult coloring trend to the early delight of college students, parents, fans, and alumni alike. Hobbyists will take pleasure in transforming artists’ black and white masterpieces into colorful flagship campuses while indulging in the comfort of a childhood stress reliever.” —Indiana University Press blog, March 4, 2016. Image source: Global News.

This is what we’ve come to in our dread.
Thumbs fed up with texting.
Vibration in the pocket
Like an IED. Someone’s head
Cut off on TV with a sword.
Red hands of history. So many dead
Of casual bullets. We are consumed
With terror, Sharia law in the hymnals,
Shoe bombs under the bed
And the demand for specialized knowledge,
Who to vote for,
What to buy next.
The world is dishonest. The wiring
In the house not up to code.
Floods on the coast and the caldera
Of Yellowstone that might explode.
We pick up the crayons
Carefully staying within the lines.
Making sure the colors are right.
Blue skies. Green grass.
The sun a peculiar yellow . . .

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, March 13, 2016


by Jay Sizemore

A majority of Americans disapprove of Senate Republicans' refusal to consider President Barack Obama's pick to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows. —NBC, March 9, 2016. Image source: K Waghorn.

Words no longer have meaning,
nothing but interpretive jiggery-pokery
that makes flagpole sitting a fundamental right,
so get over it. Pure applesauce.

It’s a pro-abortion novelty
to uphold Second Amendment rights,
deciding it’s acceptable to execute the retarded,
the enduring Constitution of the adopted dead.

It’s a reduction to the absurd
to not harbor moral feelings against homosexuality,
much like murder. I’m not a scientist.
To my critics, I say, “Vaffanculo.”

Let 60,000 consenting adults
display their genitals to one another,
have them erect a conglomerate of the cross,
the star of David, and a Muslim half-moon.

Refuse jobs to haters of the Chicago Cubs,
to snail eaters and adulterers,
the gays don’t have special rights.
It’s fundamentally illogical to have gay sex.

States may permit abortion on demand. It’s easy.
We can’t cast a cloud on the legitimacy
of George Bush’s election.
I would hide my head in a bag.

This Supreme Court has descended
to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.
It’s attributable to racial entitlement.
Jesus Christ believed in the Devil. Case closed.

Jay Sizemore hates when you call writing a hobby. His work has appeared here or there, mostly there. He lives in Nashville, TN, though he often wonders if he really exists. This poem, written in reaction to Antonin Scalia's death, is constructed from actual phrases Scalia used in his legal writings.

Saturday, March 12, 2016


by Michael Shorb

The conservative group Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit Monday, demanding that the Central Intelligence Agency comply with a Freedom of Information Act request submitted last year for pornographic materials recovered during the May 2011 U.S. raid on bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. —Politico, March 8, 2016. Comic strip by Matt Bors, Daily Kos, May 20, 2011.

midnight behind the razor wire,
after the dreary paper work
plotting the deaths
of millions, the grunt
work of recruiting a second
and third tide of brainwashed
suicide attackers, even an icon
steeped in the dark
needs to kick back,
close the door on prying
wives or sons or underlings,
stick the thumb drive in—

no pasha, nor hated
solomon himself boasted
such a harem: breasts pillowing,
thighs glowing gold in
a sinking sherbet sun,
arms embracing him,
sockets wet and waiting,
passionate sighs and secret
whisperings --

now the hard drive’s gone,
every keystroke and synapse
etched in ether, you and
your thirst for mayhem’s
washed clean and dumped
into the sea, only
the hoarse and bloody
schoolboys remain,
mumbling your name
as they search, lost
in the rubble of paradise.

Michael Shorb was a poet, fiction writer, editor, and children's book author. As an international poet, his poetry has been published in more than 100 magazines and anthologies, including TheNewVerse.News, Michigan Quarterly, The Nation, The Sun, Salzburg Poetry Review, and Kyoto Journal. He was the recipient of a PEN AWARD, won a Merit Award for the Franklin-Christoph Poetry Contest, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He lived in and loved San Francisco. Michael succumbed to GIST, a rare form of cancer in 2012.

Editor’s Note: Michael’s widow Judith Grogan-Shorb sent TheNewVerse.News this eerily timely poem which Michael wrote soon after the death of Bin Laden and the subsequent Reuters story of x-rated videos found in the Abbottabad compound.

Friday, March 11, 2016


by Alan Catlin

Drink some beers

Do some shooters
with the boys

Polish the brass knuckles

and head for
the Trump Rally

kick some serious
minority ass

no one can stop
us now

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

Thursday, March 10, 2016


by  Michael Mark

When my wife does something I don’t like
I tell her I'm building a wall
from the dining room through the kitchen,
splitting our bed—
that it’s going to be the best wall ever
and she's going to pay for it.
She tells me she's going to throw me out in the cold
without a coat.
When she asks how was my day at work,
I say I told my boss I want to punch her right in the face,
and you?
She says her boss was mean to her
and he looked like he was bleeding from his eyes,
bleeding from everywhere.
When we compare paychecks she calls me a total loser.
I say I have more friends than her on Facebook
and that’s like a poll proving I am a better person.
She tells me I’m sloppy and by picking up after me
she is making our disgusting awful home great again.
When I see our credit card bill—how much
she spends on heat and water, I say she is stupid
and makes terrible, stupid, horrible, the worst deals.
When the grass needs mowing, she says
I’m the lawn establishment and I get nothing done.
I say I haven’t seen our marriage certificate -
I don’t believe we are married and I’m sending her
back to her parents.
She says that my hands are small.
I say for saying I have small hands I will shoot her
with bullets dipped in pig’s blood.
She says she could shoot me dead in our driveway
and our friends and family would still love her
and vote her world’s greatest, friend, mom,
daughter, even daughter-in-law.
I sulk about the small hands comment.
She slides over to my side of the bed.
We broker a deal because we are flexible.

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


by Emily Jo Scalzo

Chicago State University students and supporters demonstrated in the Loop in early February. Photo source: RICH HEIN/SUN-TIMES via Chicago Reader, March 3, 2016. “Chicago State had said it would run out of money by the end of March as Illinois' public colleges and universities wait for state funding held up by the budget standoff. Chicago State has negotiated with the vendors it owes so that it can make payroll through the end of April. To stretch its finances, the predominantly black Chicago State has already issued notices of potential layoffs to its 900 employees and shortened the spring semester.”  —AP via Peoria Public Radio, March 3, 2016

The parking lot at Chicago State University
overflowed the night before the announcement
of nine hundred staff layoffs, a death knell—
the result of the budget impasse in Springfield.

Bernie Sanders chose this venue to hold a rally,
a state university now decimated by political gridlock,
its demographic comprised largely of minorities—
the latest victim in our sad culture war.

After eight months without state funding,
Spring Break was axed to finish the semester early,
to allow seniors to complete degrees, graduate—
all other students in limbo, the river run dry.

At twelve I haunted the halls of Chicago State University,
playing hooky from my small-town middle school,
attending my first poetry reading outside the president’s office—
surrounded by Ebonics and Spanish, African and Latin art.

There I was embraced in culture and pride in diversity,
political protests, creative endeavors, intellectual encouragement;
this environment, a refuge, determined my future—
soon those halls will be walked only by ghosts.

Emily Jo Scalzo holds an MFA in fiction from California State University-Fresno and is currently an assistant professor teaching research and creative writing at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Her work has appeared in various magazines including Midwestern Gothic, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Blue Collar Review, Ms. Fit Magazine, Third Wednesday, Melancholy Hyperbole, and Leaves of Ink.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016


by Debasis Mukhopadhyay

Image source: Provence Today

Doors break loose during transit
They lie scattered across the hills and rivers
Their edges drown in the map
I wait until the ripples turn me out into the street

At times I am old enough to chase them like fireflies
And when I crawl into my dreams
Leaving out the hard parts of travel
Doors smolder crying softly
You are home

Morning brings me back to the waters
And our boat churns its way once more
I keep thinking

How to rip them out of the map

Debasis Mukhopadhyay lives & writes in Montreal. Recent poems have appeared in The Curly Mind, Yellow Chair Review, Thirteen Myna Birds, Of/With, I am not a silent poet, With Painted Words, Silver Birch Press, Foliate Oak, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Snapping Twig, Eunoia Review, Revolution John, Down in the Dirt, and elsewhere. @dbasis_m

Tuesday, March 08, 2016


by Gil Hoy

Image source: Banksy FB Revolution

Someone there is who loves a wall,
Setting stones on top of stones,

To keep invading wetbacks out,
To keep glass pearls secure.

He lets our Southern neighbors know--
In blaring braggadocio--

That they must pay to build his wall,
To keep it working as they go.

“But the world’s seen far too many walls,”
Says the frozen-ground-swell beneath,

Says the giggling confusing elf---
Who sees a wall,

No more a wall---
On a farm, no more a farm,

In a country, no more a country.
Someone there is who doesn't love a wall.

Gil Hoy is a Boston trial lawyer who is currently studying poetry at Boston University, through its Evergreen program, where he previously received a BA in Philosophy and Political Science. Hoy 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. Hoy started writing poetry two years ago. Since then, his work has appeared in Third Wednesday, The Write Room, The Eclectic Muse, Clark Street ReviewTheNewVerse.News Harbinger Asylum, Soul Fountain, The Story Teller Magazine, Eye on Life Magazine, Stepping Stones Magazine, The Penmen Review, To Hold A Moment Still, Harbinger Asylum’s 2014 Holidays Anthology, The Zodiac Review, Earl of Plaid Literary Journal, The Potomac, Antarctica Journal, The Montucky Review and elsewhere.

Monday, March 07, 2016


by F.I. Goldhaber

I saw you limp into the cellphone store and
beg for help with a phone disconnected by
a rival's service.

Behind the counter teenagers rattled off
terms you obviously didn't understand.
I called you over.

I explained in words of simpler times -- before
the clerks were born. But, despite a balance, your
phone had been turned off.

T-Mobile demanded more money, which you
did not have, to turn it back on and wouldn't
refund your credit.

When you complained, they called the mall cops to throw
you out. Your story angered me, so I marched
down the street with you.

On the way to another T-Mobile store,
I learned you were a disabled Navy vet.
You told me stories.

When we arrived, I informed the clerk, "This man
needs his phone turned back on and I am here to
make sure you do that."

He looked in his computer. You showed him your
receipt. You stepped out to use my husband's phone
to ask for a ride.

He made a phone call and negotiated
with the person on line. You came back in to
hear your phone ringing.

I thanked the young man for his efforts. Thrilled, you
asked how I'd accomplished this miracle. I
whispered in your ear.

"Little old white lady," I said, much to your
amusement. For I can pass for white and took
advantage of that.

The clerks didn't see a man disabled in
service to the country they take for granted,
only dark brown skin.

As I left, I heard you gleefully shouting,
"Little old white lady." I'm glad I could help.
But, I'm not amused.

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.

Sunday, March 06, 2016


by Earl J. Wilcox

Pat Conroy (1945-2016) at his home on Fripp Island, S.C., in 2000. Credit Lou Krasky/Associated Press via NY Times.

Earl J. Wilcox lives in Carolina, his adopted home for almost five decades.

Saturday, March 05, 2016


by Darrell Petska

Berta Cáceres, the Honduran indigenous and environmental rights campaigner, has been murdered, barely a week after she was threatened for opposing a hydroelectric project. Her death prompted international outrage at the murderous treatment of campaigners in Honduras, as well as a flood of tributes to a prominent and courageous defender of the natural world. –The Guardian, March 4, 2016

They come in darkness to kill you,
the cowards,
to kill you because they fear you
or because someone paying them fears you
because your words, sharpened on truth,
have ripped the facade from their villainies.

So they counter with bullets.
In darkness. Because daylight
exposes them for what they are.
The people know rapaciousness when they see it.
Nonetheless, the cowards kill you
as if that will be the end of you.

Now she is dead, they boast.
Her mouth cannot speak,
her body cannot block our path.

But you saw this day coming.
The cowards approaching.
The flash of their bullets.
That part is over. You are dead.
Your body rests in peace.
Now the heart of your work can begin.

Darrell Petska's writing appears in Blast Furnace, The Tule Review, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Red Paint Hill, previously in TheNewVerse.News, and other publications. Darrell cut short his career as a university editor to be the arbiter of his own words. He now is, in Madison, Wisconsin.

Friday, March 04, 2016


by Joan Mazza

Purified by a long bath in water scented with lavender,
I perform old rituals, light every candle I own,
daven in veils, and say the rosary, chant and meditate
to cast out darkness, rage, desire for revenge.

Ishtar, Aphrodite, Thor— I call upon you. Venus,
Sekmet, Horus, bring kindness, restore gentle words.
Jesus, Moses, Mother Mary, let us welcome those
who suffer, offer food and housing to shunned women

with unplanned, unwanted babies. Let us educate them
in the skills of mothering the next generation, teach boys
peace-making, eye-gazing, empathy, how to plant
a garden, how to cook. Let us join again in dance

and song, teach music rather than how to operate
drones and guns. We must stop marching toward the cliff,
stop degrading our air and water, defiling habitats.
I pray to every god I don’t believe in to step up now

when we need help most. Our bridges and roads
are deteriorating, our land is eroding, the ocean
is full of plastic. Oh, gods of any color or country,
quell my fear of demagogues, bullies who foment hate,

the greedy elite who eat and eat and will not share.

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.

Thursday, March 03, 2016


by Jo Ann Steger Hoffman

Why is the oboe so hidden from view,
browbeaten by brass and the bossy bassoon?
Fluttered by flutes and that viola crew,
why is the oboe so hidden from view?
Do the others snatch solos to try to outdo
the pitch-perfect oboe that tones the first tune?
Why is the oboe so hidden from view,
browbeaten by brass and the bossy bassoon?

Trumpets blare answers that ring of the truth
that those who shout loudest get heard.
The others, well-practiced, are dry as vermouth,
while trumpets blast answers that seem like the truth.
Their noise is pretentious, it’s strident, uncouth.
They signify nothing.  Can they be cured?
Trumpets blare answers that bear out the truth
that those who shout loudest get heard.

Jo Ann Steger Hoffman is a writer, editor, teacher and former communications director whose publications include a children’s book and a variety of short fiction and poems in literary journals.  Her 2010 non-fiction book Angels Wear Black recounts the only technology executive kidnapping to occur in California’s Silicon Valley.  A native of Toledo, Ohio, she and her husband now live in Cary and Beaufort, North Carolina.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016


by Howie Good

Howie Good is the recipient of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry for his forthcoming collection Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements.