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Thursday, June 30, 2016


by Kristina England

The pride flag flies at half-staff over the MB Lounge in Worcester during a vigil for the victims of the attack in Orlando Sunday. T&G Staff/Rick Cinclair. —Worcester Telegram & Gazette, June 20, 2016

there remains a bit of cockamamie in the kettle,
no matter how much we try to reshape its bitter ends.
Here, in Worcester, Mass, we lower a rainbow flag,
while, in Alabama, there is apparently a right time
and a wrong to mourn. It seems we are reading
from a very different dictionary or theirs is upside
down. Other countries look at us funny. Who could
blame them?  I drink coffee with my breakfast, enjoy
dark roast, yet I own more flavors, even a tea kettle,
to welcome visitors of any kind, because who can tell
you what beans or leaves to like?  Which one will get
you to the ultimate high?  We all have an acquired taste
and if you refuse to accept someone else's company
by way of their choice, break your kettle in angst,
perhaps I should buy two more, bright porcelain ones,
hand-made with doves, encase them in glass, dedicate
them to anyone that leaves a state that will never give
one sip of dignity a try.  Look around. See what all us
wide-eyed wakers see. There in the distance, so many
mugs that once gleamed beautifully, clinked in the early
morn, now shards of glass under a closed and brutal fist.

Kristina England resides in Worcester, Massachusetts. Her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have been published in several magazines, including Gargoyle, Muddy River Poetry Journal, and Pure Slush. She can be followed on Facebook.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


by Sister Lou Ella Hickman

the season of blame has arrived
                                returning as it often does after great loss
                                when it does
the earth cracks with fault lines
                                there are no sunrises      no cooling breeze
                                only the daily scorching
                                that blinds almost everything
                                these days will pass
                                as they have before
                                when heat’s unholy memory slips away
                                only to return
                                even more frightened and angry
Sister Lou Ella Hickman is a member of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament. She was an all level teacher and a librarian. Presently she is a freelance writer and a spiritual director. Her poems and articles have been widely published in numerous magazines. One of her poems was published in the anthology After Shocks: Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo. Her first book of poetry she: robed and wordless, published by Press 53, was released in the fall.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


by Jonel Abellanosa

As if no one notices yet.  Falling in places, with
Brexit like a planet aligning as the latest.  As if
Coincidence is still the most observable.  No
Doors for fleers from carnage, no asylums for
Escapers.  They’d rather say no and risk Europe’s
Fragmentation than be part of the solution, the
Greatest refugee crisis as if orbiting, our only
Home heating up like the fever of nationalism.
In my country Human Rights will be hanged, extra-
judicial exclusivity for the poor and powerless.  We
Keep divining stars as mankind, rising among us
Leaders with iron hands, lifted to power as
Messiahs, Impunity summarily executing, murder
Negating the promised change, whim from
One man the only law.  In the land of the free, where
Power is Jupiter, the worst of human nature
Quickly gains followers.  In the home of the brave,
Return to a Dark Age cheers a Demagogue.  It will
Shock me if, with this planetary pattern, the
Truest Racist won’t be enthroned in November.
Understand – not underestimate – The Cosmic                
Verity, Which (or Who) guarantees The Karmic
Whirligig.  Mars should perhaps be walled for
Xenophobes, our nostalgia for the strongman rule
Yoked to our willingness, history with the same
Zeal as the Universe granting our careful wishes

Jonel Abellanosa resides in Cebu City, The Philippines. A number of his poems have previously appeared on TheNewVerse.News.

Monday, June 27, 2016


by Jerome Betts

Image source: Mcbill’s illustration blog
As round the Hall of Fame I daily wander,
O shades of PMs past, you too are there
With legacies displayed for all to ponder −
Pitt, Peel, and Gladstone, Lloyd-George, Blair,
Disraeli, Thatcher, Attlee, Baldwin, Brown,
The bright, the dim, the strong or puny’uns –
But none so dire as Cameron, the clown
Who gambled, lost, and risked two unions.

Jerome Betts lives in Devon, England. His verse has appeared in a wide variety of British magazines and anthologies as well as UK, European, and North American web venues such as Amsterdam Quarterly, Angle, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Light, Lighten Up Online, which he now edits, TheNewVerse.News, Per Contra, The Rotary Dial and Snakeskin.

Sunday, June 26, 2016


A migrant pushes a wheelbarrow in a muddy field at a camp of makeshift shelters called the Grande Synthe jungle, near Calais in February, 2016. Thomson Reuters via Business Insider.

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

Saturday, June 25, 2016


by Ed Shacklee

Photoshopped image by Freelancer at

Times were hard -- the fearful crowd, unruly,
felt they'd become a television serial
whose laughter track embarrassed them unduly;
they longed for prose both purple and imperial.

The promises the idol strung together
were catchy nonsense jingles if they'd listened.
Its hide, so thin, was stitched from shopworn leather.
A fool could tell it wasn't gold, but glistened;

but they were sold, for God was dead or missing -- 
the brazen moos would answer every prayer.
What did it matter what the snake was hissing?
The Trojan Horse was none of their affair.

Ed Shacklee is a public defender who represents young people in the District of Columbia. He is working on a bestiary.

Friday, June 24, 2016


by Ed Werstein

"US Senate Response to Orlando: Nothing"
                     The Guardian, June 21, 2016

I’ve been thinking about flesh
and blood
and guts
and guns
and bullets
and assaults
on our sanity.

And I’ve been thinking about guts
and guns
and gold
and gilt
and guilt
and gullibility
and gushing blood
and the gumption
it might take
to change things.

And I’ve been thinking about how
we must not be
disgruntled enough
disgusted enough
about how we must not be
dis-gutted enough
to stop watching the news reports
to stop posting on Facebook
to stop writing ineffective
and useless poems
about it,
to finally rise up
and do something real
to change it. 

Ed Werstein spent years in manufacturing before his muse awoke and dragged herself out of bed. In addition to NVN, his poems appear at Re/Verse and Your Daily Poem. He is East Region VP for the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. His chapbook Who Are We Then? was published by Partisan Press. His contact information can be found at the WFOP.

Thursday, June 23, 2016


by Heather Newman

In a frenzied state we grab house seats
at our monthly caucus disguised as lunch,
you, my friend, choose presidential three-course
espousing on your glutton free
while I count empty calories lucky.
Pretense is our nation under God
divisible by the sum of those unfortunates
multiplied by calculated ladies who agree
to disagree as they divvy up the check,
birthdays come and conventions go
to super delegated party chatter
primarily leading to swift completion
if snow or rain glooms decision day,
I vote we stay home and watch TV.

Heather Newman is a member of the South Mountain Poets (NJ) and studies with The Writer’s Studio (NYC.) Her work has been published in Two Hawks Quarterly, Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop and EChook, and will be featured in the upcoming anthology, Voice From Here, Vol. II.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


by G. Louis Heath

It’s very hot this June 22nd in Yuma. The a/c is
not enough. The sizzling heat stifles my breath
as I dare outside in bathing suit, to spritz my
succulents. My cactus in bloom suffers, too. I
move it into shadow, spritz it. It is a hard, hard
day on the desert when ribs of a barrel cactus
sag in distress.

A tour bus arrived from Vermont today to this
part of the national map that’s been recording
the highest temperatures in the nation. Weather
voyeurs! High temp tourists! Sheer ennui has driven
them out of a clime fit for habitation to these unending
vistas of panting lizards and rugged rock formations.
In their blazing, loud Bermuda shorts and blazing, loud
shirts and blouses, bulging like watermelons, these
invaders photograph the liquid digits aglow on the
sign atop the S and L downtown: 114 degrees! Agape!

For this they took a bus tour? What does this say about
the human condition? Could these same tourists visit
a mass grave of massacred campesinos, a record kill
in Nicaragua or Guatemala, or the killing fields of Cambodia,
with the same gee-whiz detachment? Our common history
says it’s possible. Photograph the sign. Photograph the bones.
Post the images on Facebook. All pixel offerings are savory in
the eyes of the God Facebook.

G. Louis Heath, Ph.D., Berkeley, 1969, is Emeritus Professor, Ashford University. Clinton, Iowa. He enjoys reading his poems at open mics. He often hikes along the Mississippi River, stopping to work on a poem he pulls from his back pocket, weather permitting. His books include Mutiny Does Not Happen Lightly, Long Dark River Casino and Vandals In The Bomb Factory. His most recent poems have been published in Poppy Road Review, Writing Raw, Inkstain Press, Dead Snakes, Verse-Virtual, Silver Birch Press, Poems & Poetry, and Squawkback.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


by S. Siegel

 I'll cast my vote as though I am
 electing an Interim President. She will have four years to
 articulate and hopefully deliver a progressive agenda.
 In the process, congressional seats on both sides
 of the aisle will turn over, removing the last of the Tea
 Party dregs and moving the Democratic Party (or a new
 party) in this direction. Some public officials, including
 local D precinct leaders, will be indicted on election fraud
 and the primary system will shift toward something more
 coherent and democratic, something that resembles an
 ethical vision of America.

S. Siegel lives in Oregon. His most recent book is The Constellation of Extinct Stars and Other Poems (Salmon Poetry, 2016)

Monday, June 20, 2016


by Margaret Chula

Oregon has called for federal regulators to ban trains carrying oil in the state, ramping up pressure for more stringent safety checks weeks after an oil train derailed near Portland, the first major oil-by-rail accident in a year. —Business Insider, June 16, 2016

This summer,
figs ripen too soon
and drop
their soggy pulp

in the town
where nothing
has happened

since a murder
of crows nested
in the orchard
and wiped out
the cherry crop.

On the hottest day
of the year,
wind surfers gather
on the banks
of the Columbia
hoping for a gust.

Mothers sit outside
the ice cream shop
licking cones,
for their children
to get out of school.

In the shade
of a big leaf maple,
old men drink beer
and talk about

At noon,
the sound
of the train whistle
as it rounds the bend

and then
a deeper sound,
like an empty well

as, one by one,
sixteen oil cars
tip over sideways
and burst
into flames.

Black oil
the orange poppies

      along the ground

         slithers into
            the cold river.

Author’s note: This poem was written immediately after the oil train derailment and fires in Mosier, Oregon. My husband and I were about to close on a condo there. We're actively protesting trains of Bakken crude oil passing through towns along the Columbia River.

Margaret Chula has published seven collections of poetry, including Grinding My Ink which received the Haiku Society of America Book Award. She served as poet laureate for Friends of Chamber Music in Portland, Oregon, and as president of the Tanka Society of America from 2011-2016.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


by Lynnie Gobeille

Seated at a corner table in this upscale coffee shop
I watch the folks line up.
Listen as they order lattes, double shot espressos
and coffee—black

I eye the man wearing a full length cashmere coat
his hair freshly washed and gelled.
Notice the couple to his right have their hoodies up
pulled tight, almost covering their faces.

I think of my ex-husband’s words:
“You can judge a man just by looking at his shoes.”
Look down at my old sneakers, notice polished loafers,
scuffed Frye boots & Birkenstocks.

The tall blonde woman leaning against the pastry case
shifts from foot to foot glares at the Barista
seems annoyed enough at life—
to be someone who could pull a trigger.

I change my seat—not wanting my back to the door—
wonder what kind of shoes the Virginia Tech Shooter wore.
wonder what kind of shoes the Binghamton Shooter wore.
wonder what kind of shoes the Fort Hood Shooter wore.
wonder what kind of shoes the Aurora Shooter wore.
wonder what kind of shoes the Washington Navy Yard Shooter wore.
wonder what kind of shoes the Charleston Shooter wore.
wonder what kind of shoes the San Bernardino Shooters wore.
wonder what kind of shoes the Orlando Shooter wore.

Lynnie Gobeille is passionate about poetry. She is one of the co-founders /past editor of The Origami Poems Project, a world wide “free poetry event.” She was the Editor of the Providence Journal Poetry Corner. Besides her Pro-Jo writing credits her work has been published in numerous poetry journals. Gobeille's essays and poetry can be heard on NPR This I Believe and ELFM (UK) radio. Her chapbook Life not quite Understood is available via Finishing Line Press.


by Devon Balwit

Image by Melodi2 via Answer Angels.

I write hate crime, mass shooting, extremist,
target, victim, second amendment, make
my students copy and pronounce, make
them lift their heads from their phones
and listen, all of us awkward, the ones
fasting for Ramadan, the ones who may
be gay, the ones who, secretly, do not care,
Orlando a place they’ve never heard of
in a country they barely know; they want
my language, not my history, and this lesson,
they can do without, my fumbling to do
justice to horror, while balancing the fragile
egg of blame in my tiny spoon, trying to dash
to the finish without letting it fall, homophobia,
intolerance, assault rifles, class ends and
I’ve taught something; none of us sure what.

Devon Balwit is a writer and teacher living in the Pacific Northwest.  Her work has appeared in TheNewVerse.News twice before. Her recent work has appeared or will soon in The Fog Machine, The Cape Rock, The Fem, Of(f) Course, drylandlit_press, and The Prick of the Spindle.

Saturday, June 18, 2016


by Austin Alexis

Devastated long ago by asteroids,
and now stark—
a grim, gray landscape filled with unease.
That's the damn sad moon in bereavement,
resembling the American spirit
after one-too-many catastrophes:
a harbor blasted by bombs dropped from the sky;
a mass shooting
and then another, another;
an attack—terrorist or otherwise—
on a random June morning.
Ragged, scarred, the moon replicates the American soul
stumbling from one tragedy to another,
another, and the another.

Austin Alexis's full-length collection is Privacy Issues (Broadside Lotus Press, 2014).  He has poetry and fiction most recently in the anthology Rabbit Ears: TV Poems and in the journals Home Planet News, J Journal, TheNewVerse.News, and Chiron Review


by Alejandro Escudé

the volcanic gunman     enters

laughter, banter,

the gunman

enters this club,

an alley to find,

a stall in a restroom, a passageway

Pulse— those who had to knock

a fence down

to make it out,

human lava spilling

into the rough seas

of America.

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.

Friday, June 17, 2016


by Barbara Crooker

Cartoon adapted from and image illustrating "The Trump Virus: A Daily News Brief" by Gabe Capone.

As I awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, I found
I had been transformed into a quivering sack of mucous.
Slime oozed out of every orifice, a glaze of yellow-green
the exact sheen  of Vaseline exuded from my pores.  Someone
was churning slugs into smoothies and they poured out
of my nose.  I began to watch Fox News.  I swallowed
huge globules of misinformation, and switched my vote
to Donald Trump.  Everywhere I walked, I trailed a ribbon
of glistening lies.

Barbara Crooker is the author of six books of poetry, including Small Rain (Purple Flag Press, 2014) and Barbara Crooker: Selected Poems (FutureCycle Press, 2015). Her work has appeared in The Bedford Introduction to Literature, Ted Kooser's "American Life in Poetry," and on The Writer’s Almanac.

Thursday, June 16, 2016


by Cathleen Allyn Conway

TOM THE DANCING BUG: The Power of Congress-Man - Thoughts and Prayers

Their families and grieving loved ones are in our thoughts.
Ted Cruz abandons political correctness for $65,300 from NRA; votes for guns
The victims of the Orlando terrorist attack must remain in our prayers.

Cathy McMorris got $14,950 from NRA so we won’t be able to lean on her.
Speaker Ryan took $35k from NRA; issued statement that doesn’t mention guns.
Their families and grieving loved ones are in our thoughts.

Representative Webster got $7,950 from NRA, so he’s only using his prayers.
NRA pumped $922k into McConnell’s re-elect so he doesn’t mention guns.
The victims of the Orlando terrorist attack must remain in our prayers.

How much of a ‘paramount priority’ is it for Mike Kelly if he won’t ban AR-15s?
John Boozman got $24,618 from NRA, votes for guns.
Their families and grieving loved ones are in our thoughts.

NRA spent $2.8m to elect Joni Ernst so gun reform isn’t in her counter-strategy.
Senator Tim Scott got $13,400 from NRA, votes for guns.
The victims of the Orlando terrorist attack must remain in our prayers.

My calendar is out: When can we talk about limiting terrorists’ access to AR-15s?
Rob Portman received $596,489 from NRA, votes for guns.
Their families and grieving loved ones are in our thoughts.
The victims of the Orlando terrorist attack must remain in our prayers.

Source: Igor Volsky, Deputy Director, Center for American Progress Action Fund

Cathleen Allyn Conway is working on a PhD in creative writing at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She is the co-editor of Plath Profiles, the only academic journal dedicated to the work of Sylvia Plath, and the founder and editor of women's protest poetry magazine Thank You For Swallowing. Her pamphlet Static Cling was published in 2012 by Dancing Girl Press. Originally from Chicago, she lives in London.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


by Gil Hoy

Seven minutes. That's how long it took me to buy an AR-15, the semiautomatic rifle used in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. Seven minutes. From the moment I handed the salesperson my driver's license to the moment I passed my background check. It likely will take more time than that during the forthcoming round of vigils to respectfully read the names of the more than 100 people who were killed or injured. It's obscene. Horrifying. —by Helen Ubiñas [@NotesFromHel] The Philadelphia Inquirer Daily News, June 14, 2016. Photo: Daily News columnist Helen Ubinas with a newly purchased AR-15 semiautomatic rifle on Monday. AARON RICKETTS / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER 

For so long as the NRA
controls Congress

With its pumping poison
mutant lifeblood

Corrupting souls,
buying silence,

Innocents will
continue to die

From high-powered
weapons of war

As lone wolves sing
their rancid noteless song:

A witch’s brew of shrill
staccato tempo

That our numbed eyes
don’t hear anymore

and that tastes
forgotten anyway.

Gil Hoy is a Boston trial lawyer and 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's poetry has appeared (or is scheduled for publication) most recently in Right Hand Pointing-One Sentence Poems, The Potomac, Clark Street Review, TheNewVerse.News and The Penmen Review.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Gerard Sarnat is the author of four collections: Homeless Chronicles from Abraham to Burning Man (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014) and Melting The Ice King (2016). Harvard and Stanford educated, Gerry’s worked in jails, built and staffed clinics for the marginalized and been a CEO of healthcare organizations and Stanford Medical School professor. Married since 1969, he and his wife have three children and three grandkids.


by Jim Gustafson

Khartoon! by KhalidAlbaih #Orlando Shooter is A Muslim #Trump #ISIS

Is it too soon to comment?
This morning I read 20 killed, now 49.
I feel no different. I have grown numb
to numbers. One or 49, too many,
and always the guns. I prayed
let the shooters name be Smith or Jones,
thinking that might slow the swelling
hate that now will surely come.
This world is no different than the world
of The Book, the one we share.
How dare anyone make a fool a norm,
and the misguided an example.
But they will come now shouting,
“I told you so.” They will use the spent shell
casings to build their case.
How strange I was to think it could be
other than what it is.

Jim Gustafson holds a M. Div. from Garrett Theological Seminary in his home town of Evanston, Illinois and an MFA from the University of Tampa. He is the author of two previous books, a chapbook Driving Home, (Aldrich Press, 2013), and a collection of essays Take Fun Seriously (Limitless Press, 2008). His collection Drains and Other Depressions will be available from Big Table Publishing in early 2017.


by James M. Croteau

New Orleans firefighters in 1973 assisting a patron of the UpStairs Lounge, a gay bar that had been set on fire. Thirty-two people died in the attack. AP Photo via The New York Times, June 13 2016

We skipped Pride to pack
for our annual Maine trip.
We left about 7AM and
on the on-ramp to I-94
we first heard:

at least 20 dead and 42 injured,
another shooting, Orlando,
a nightclub. This will be
our 27th trip  to Ogunquit.
Our first was 31 years ago.

We've never been there with
the right to be married. We
stopped for lunch just past 1 o'clock
at a Panera east of Cleveland.
I walked our dogs. My partner

went to get food. He returned
with 50 dead and 53 injured, and
at a gay bar. I google news from my iPhone--
the largest mass shooting in US history.
I also know it's the largest mass killing

of LGBT people in US history because
only five years ago I learned of the story
of Upstairs Lounge arson in New Orleans
during Pride month 43 years ago. It took
16 minutes to extinguish the fire and 32

of our lives. I turned to Facebook  feeling
my stolen youth raw and inflamed
again. I get reminded of Wounded Knee.
The biggest depends on how and who
defines what.  The army, with the

semi-automatic weapons of 1890,
massacred at least 150, maybe 300
people. I'll be 60 in three months.
It's near 4, and we're at a toll booth
near the outskirts of Buffalo.

James M. Croteau lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan with his partner of 31 years, Darryl, and their two Labrador retrievers. Jim grew up gay and Catholic in the U.S. south in the 60s and 70s and his writing often reflects that experience. His poems have appeared in TheNewVerse.News, Right Hand Pointing, Queer South: LGBTQ Writers on the American South and Assaracus: A Journal of Gay Poetry among others. His first chapbook will be published by Redbird Chapbooks in 2016. 


by Robert Carr 

Mommy, I’m frightened, Sunday morning
as I reach for my pretty, the beaded strings
I hide in a jar. Mommy I love you
There’s a noise rat-tatting in my head.

It pops, repetitive, like skulls beneath a tire, a 911
voice compressing sound into solid. I hold
a steering wheel caught up in a Pulse, In club they
shooting, in broken maricόn light, in butterfly wing

soft eye-shadow – I imagine two toddlers
wobbling, one pink, one blue, diaper-clad,
running a median, dysphoric in Orlando
along a broken – white – line. U ok

If I wasn’t fucked for being pussy I would slam
my break, hit hazards, drop to a knee on asphalt, hold
them equally, urge them gently – Trapp in bathroom

Set your burned soles in the squat of my hips,
climb on my shoulders, together we’ll make
a larger shadow as we stand.

Robert Carr is the author of Amaranth, a chapbook published in 2016 by Indolent Books. His poems are published in Radius: Poetry from the Center to the Edge, Pretty Owl Poetry, White Stag Journal, The Pickled Body, The Good Men Project, Dark Matter Journal, Canary Literary Magazine, Bewildering Stories and numerous other publications. 

Monday, June 13, 2016


by Larina Warnock

Image source: The Other 98%

I feel that I should be silent because this isn’t about me.
Don’t misunderstand: It is not that I believe our society
should leave each person to themselves, but that I respect
a woman’s right to her tragedy without others hanging
the weight of their own rape upon it. I am afraid
of appropriating someone else’s pain. And I want to forget.

Yet, I have woken in a cold, terrified sweat night after night
for days. There is only one sure way to not be afraid: Justice.
But a judge says justice only matters for wealthy, white men,
even when  jury says otherwise. And the most frightening
part is knowing that this means my daughters live in the same
world I did when it happened to me. Sidenote:

This is the essence of PTSD. Reading someone else’s case
and reliving one of the worst days of your life over and over
and over. You know that it is not rational, that these things are
years and years behind you, that it is unlikely that a Brock Turner
act-alike is waiting outside the door (though not impossible).
You understand clearly that the more you think about it, read
about it, get angry about it, the more afraid you will be, but you
are completely, utterly incapable of turning away, of
re-appropriating the rational person you were yesterday.

But back to my daughters. I take a deep breath and another look.
The voices of men, many men, are rising, and they are not
frightening. They are saying, “This is not okay.” They are saying,
“This is not her fault.” They are saying, “Rape is rape and this man
bears the blame. Alcohol does not a rapist make.” This is not the same
world I grew up in. This is a better place. I want to thank these men
I can trust to be just to my daughters.

I am torn between silence and gratitude and an inability to forget.

Larina Warnock teaches in Roseburg, Oregon. Her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction has appeared in Space & Time Magazine, The Oregonian, Touch: The Journal of Healing, Wheelhouse Magazine, Poets Market 2011, and others. She is currently working on her EdD in Education Leadership from Creighton University. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016


by Devon Balwit

Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti courts controversy after ‘feminist tattoo’ is spotted on her arm.
The Independent, June 1, 2016

for Taraneh Alidoosti

on your arm, a fist
in the news, a buzz
in the responses, venom

on your arm, a symbol
in your heart, yearning
in the threatened, rage

on your arm, a choice
in choice, desire
in the blinkered, fear

on your body, breasts
in all chests, hearts
in the old guard, scorn

in your body, a womb
from that womb, a child
to the State, your role

in your reach, a wish
in all wishes, potential
in us, support

Devon Balwit is a writer and teacher living in the Pacific Northwest.  Her work has appeared in TheNewVerse.News once before.  Her recent work has appeared or will soon in The Fog Machine, The Cape Rock, The Fem, Of(f) Course, drylandlit_press, and The Prick of the Spindle.

Saturday, June 11, 2016


by Alan Catlin

Recalling the all night vigils
Memorial sit ins
Student strike
Church services
Peace March through an Upstate
New York city and all the hostility
for all the long hairs

Recalling the Peace Fair
no one came to
The petitions for a Moratorium
for the Vietnam War no one signed
The peace committee work
that accomplished nothing

Recalling those glorious Spring days
All that time to kill with no classes
no Finals just graduation and
a draft notice that was sure to follow

Recalling playing softball
drinking beer and hanging out
with the cleanup hitter who
couldn’t make weekend end games

“National Guard duty.” he said when asked
why he could play.  “I hope I don’t get
called up. I hope there are no more
student riots like at Kent State.”

“You wouldn’t shoot me, Doug. “
I teased, “we’re friends.”

He looked at me, then toward
the pitcher toeing the mound
and I knew he would, if someone
in command told him to.
“You’re up.” He said.

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

Friday, June 10, 2016


by Sandra Eisdorfer 

Image source: DonkeyHotey

One wonders how it comes to be
that his first insight about a person
invents a flaw, which he embraces
and coddles until it becomes
the bane by which his
sense of mastery flourishes
when he speaks it into the microphone,
publishes it instantly--"crooked,"
"little," "lyin'"--so that
instead of defining the object,
it names the speaker as a surfer
who always rides on fetid water,
the one-word loser who fouls
the language not only by ignorance
but by cruelty.

Sandra Eisdorfer was a university press editor (Duke, University of North Carolina Press, Oxford), a writing teacher at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Duke University, and now a teacher in literacy programs in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Her "Haiku in the Modern Era" appeared in TheNewVerse.News on February 10, 2013.

Thursday, June 09, 2016


by Terese Coe

How do I loathe thee? See to these:
I despise the slithering maze
of investment bankers’ plays,
their derivative devices
and manipulated prices,
the calculated connivance,
the jacked-up stock contrivance,
the GMO mutations,
the cryptic appropriations
alive with codes and ciphers
engorging weasels and vipers;
the Social Security fix,
the felonious politics,
the safety net protections
lost in mystic elections
where every connected clod
claims to be one with God,
but lives in fear of the Order
of  the Cellphone Vid Recorder.
I condemn thee with robust
expressions of disgust,
I loathe thee like the flood
of Mississippi mud,
I despise thee till obsessed,
disquieted, possessed—
and even for thy perjured shibboleth,
I pray thy greed will sicken thee to death.

Terese Coe’s poems and translations have been published in the TLS, Poetry Review, Agenda, Ploughshares, Poetry, Threepenny Review, New American Writing, and many other journals and anthologies. Her recent collection is Shot Silk.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

4 70

by Akua Lezli Hope
In a case that has drawn comparisons to “Les Misérables,” the Supreme Court of Cassation [Italy] threw out the conviction of a homeless man from Ukraine, Roman Ostriakov, who was caught trying to take 4.07 euros — about $4.70 — worth of cheese and sausage from a store in Genoa without paying for it. A trial court sentenced him in February 2015 to six months in jail and a fine of €100. NY Times, May 3, 2016

Not since JeanValjean have we understood
so clearly the wages of steal or starve
damned for either for both for most
punished for manifesting the system’s failure
our e-screens endless disgorgement
of unattainable nutrition  satisfaction  satiation
bloats many, maims more with fatty malnutrition
but this isn’t that, it is about lack  lack  lack
of will to see all sated, to even the baseline
start us all level, fed, when there is food right before us,
or stashed and rotting in shipholds still
why many go hungry and this time there will
be no jail for the body’s keening, there will be no
incarceration for hunger, this time there will be no
ravening relentless pursuit by a mad cop
this time someone listened and injustice stopped

Akua Lezli Hope is a creator who uses sound, words, fiber, glass, and metal, to create poems, patterns, stories, music, ornaments, wearables, jewelry, adornments and peace whenever possible. A third generation Caribbean American, New Yorker and firstborn, she has won fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts,  Ragdale, Hurston Wright writers, and the National Endowment for The Arts.  She is a Cave Canem fellow. Her manuscript, Them Gone, won Red Paint Hill Publishing’s Editor’s Prize and will be published in 2016.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016


by David Allen Sullivan

“Searchlight” (2008) by Dorothy Cross at the Kerlin Gallery.

Drugstore neon LIQUORS the men’s reflected faces
as the coat unsheathes the knife.
The argument has come to this. No going back.
Fingers grapple wrists, teeth become weapons,
and soft points of entry: groin, eyes, jugular, wrist-pulse,
are surveyed by the breathless
geographers of flight and fight.

Every day we are here.
We put on each other’s clothes,
teeth the air before our faces,
taste the bitter spirits—stand ins for death—
burning down our throats.

Who would retract their steps
from this point of violence?
Resheath the blade? What we’re given to experience
we do not return. Each of us holds the weapon,
each of us pulls back the safety,
de-pins the grenade,
hefts the scimitar,
douses ourselves with gasoline…
Each of us feels the blade and bullet, burn and blister
tender our skin.

What aggression sears back my lips?
What maniacal laugh takes over my body?
What demon wears my skin as a cloak?
I am not this person I am,
the doppelganger in the upper flat
whose footsteps plague my brain.
What will come between us?

We have been chosen.
With Isaac we lay ourselves athwart the stony altar.
With Abraham we wetstone the blade.
Each risky thing awakens the dead
already inside us, breathing with our breath.
We step into the spotlight
and the LA helicopter’s searchlight
pins us to the squad car roof
while the cop rifles through our pockets.
We are nothing but our choices
and we have no choice.

We slip our feet into their shoes
laid by our beds.
We walk into the other room to do whatever is required.
The other has made off with our life
our lover
our clothes
our future.

We walk into the other room
and we never come back.

David Allen Sullivan’s books include: Strong-Armed AngelsEvery Seed of the Pomegranatea book of translation from the Arabic of Iraqi Adnan Al-Sayegh, Bombs Have Not Breakfasted Yet; and Black Ice. Most recently, he won the Mary Ballard Chapbook poetry prize for Take Wing. He teaches at Cabrillo College, where he edits the Porter Gulch Review with his students, and lives in Santa Cruz with his family.

Monday, June 06, 2016

1984 + 2016 = SO IT GOES

by Lylanne Musselman


Over I-94 and Belleville Road
in Midwest Michigan a drone
hovers, flits, and zooms eerily
gathering information on every-
day people; common seagulls
enjoying their routine dips and
gathering of leftover bread littered
on the ground, whine as the spirited
intruder interrupts their communion—
the white cloaked birds lift in flight,
screeching prophetic warnings in unison.

The constant hum, droning on and on
draws nearer to me as the birds scatter
farther and farther away, catches
my attention with its foreign presence,
diverting my thoughts from the page
and the once calm moment with a latte
to how absurd life in America has become—
Orwell warned us, Vonnegut imagined it,
their science fiction has finally invaded
our reality.

Lylanne Musselman is an award winning poet, playwright, and artist. Her work has appeared in Pank, Flying Island, TheNewVerse.News, The Rusty Nail, So it Goes, Issue 3 and many anthologies.  A two-time Pushcart nominee, Musselman is the author of three chapbooks, and she co-authored Company of Women: New and Selected Poems (Chatter House Press, 2013). Presently, she teaches writing at IUPUI, Ivy Tech Community College, and American National University.

Sunday, June 05, 2016


by Skaidrite Stelzer

Skaidrite Stelzer is a Toledo, Ohio poet whose work has appeared in many literary journals including previously in TheNewVerse.News.

Saturday, June 04, 2016


by Julie Ann Sih

On May 27, 2016, the full text of President Barack Obama's speech at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park appeared in the San Diego Union Tribune and several other U.S. newspapers; a candidate for San Diego City Attorney was filmed (see photo above) being arrested by riot-geared police, after presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump held a contentious rally at the San Diego Convention Center; and the San Diego Symphony, the San Diego Master Chorale, and boy soprano Henry Nelson performed Leonard Bernstein's "Chichester Psalms," conducted by Jahja Ling.

I see the boy from forty feet behind.
I'm standing in the back row of the choir—
an orchestra away, if I may coin
a unit of measurement—as Maestro Ling
nods, and this eleven-year-old child
rises from his chair onstage. The crowd
goes absolutely still. Two thousand people
generate a silence so intense,
it's vacuum-like. It hungers to be filled.

His tiny figure's haloed as the lights
strike his face. Of course, he cannot see
that halo; people never see their own.
The audience can't see it, either. I
imagine that, at first, they saw his suit
and thought, "A pint-sized congressman! How cute!"
or some such condescension. Maybe not.
They have their own experience of this.

I heard them laugh and murmur when he first
entered, just ahead of Master Ling,
who shook his hand. The concertmaster, too,
shook hands with him—the concertmaster who
once sang this very solo as a boy.
The audience is unaware of that;
they missed that revelation in rehearsal.
Perhaps they're less aware than we—the choir
and orchestra—that little boys grow up.

The schoolboy took his seat, and we began.
I focused on my score and Maestro Ling
and Bernstein's joyful noise, and nothing else,
until the raucous, boisterous first movement
ended with a bang, and then applause.
This audience, or some of it, at least,
does not know concert etiquette. Who cares?
They liked it, so they clapped for us. I smile.
Maestro Ling looks very happy, too.

But now the crowd becomes a vast abyss
of silence. Their attention's near-ferocious.
The schoolboy stands and faces it, untrembling.
Two thousand minds are focused on one point,
like Archimedes' fabled concave mirror.
The outline of the schoolboy's head is glowing.
At least on top. At least from where I stand.

That halo is invisible to most,
yet all can sense the sacredness of this
communal concentration. No one breathes.

No one but the boy, who fills his lungs
with harp arpeggio, and then exhales
King David's lyrics: "A-do-nai ro-i."
("Lord," and then "my shepherd." There's no verb
between the two. Our minds supply the "is,"
the being. It's ontology in action.)

Then, higher, "Lo eḥ-sar." ("I shall not want.")

Two lung-shaped harps provide him with the air
he needs. He's breathing music, in and out.
Or so it seems to me, from where I stand.
He has his own experience of this.

I don't know what he's thinking, what it means
to him, to sing these syllables he's learned
by rote, by heart, meticulously; I
presume he found them meaningless at first.
I don't know what it means to him to sing
before so many strangers, and his friends.
Which group is more intimidating? I
am well aware that children can be cruel.
Their cruelty is proverbial, in fact,
though not so much as children's innocence.

That innocence, that purity of tone,
is what arrests us now—especially
those of us who do not understand
each Hebrew word he translates into song.

His nervous imperfections in rehearsal
are mostly gone tonight. A few remain.
I'm sure he's conscious of those little flaws.
How fervently I hope he also knows
how very insignificant they seem
compared to all he's getting oh-so-right.

Reality's imperfect. This is real.

* * *

My cue now. We sopranos start to sing.
We make our low notes louder, high notes soft
and sweet and pure—as pure as we adults
can make them. Bernstein wrote this piece for boys
to sing with men. We women must be boys,
faux-boys, for twenty minutes, more or less.

Suddenly, the words we sing remind me:
I saw another solitary figure
from behind, before a crowd, today
in San Diego, only blocks away.
(On video, and not firsthand. But still.)

A man walked backward, several yards before
the dark-clad dozens of the riot squad.
Three members of them suddenly broke ranks
and ran to take him down. "Yea, though I walk..."
we women sing. (I see him walking backward,
holding up a sign, which they will trample.)
"...through the valley of the shadow..." (Through
a tall-grassed gully in a median,
lined on either side with more police,
like human walls, in blue that's nearly black.)
"...of death..." (To some, that's pure hyperbole,
but I feel sure I'm witnessing a death:
the death of certain freedoms I hold precious.)

"...I will fear no evil," we keep singing,
"for You are with me." Then the irony
nearly makes me smile: "Your rod, your staff,
they," we emphasize, "they comfort me."
(I picture those police batons, in contrast.)

A strict authoritarian utopia
would be a comfort, I've no doubt, to many
who came to hear The Donald speak today.
"The Lord['s] my shepherd," though, I quietly
insist, with all the women of the choir.
Although I've no idea what they're thinking—
they have their own experience of this—
I want to claim this solidarity.

I want a lot of things I do not have.

Then "lo eḥ-sar" again. ("I shall not want.")

* * *

That vow gets interrupted. Human nature
pines for power, aches to be important,
longs to feel superior to others
(morally or not), to harbor grudges,
to smite the ones we hate and call it justice.
The tenors and the basses—rival gangs
from West Side Story now—spit out Psalm Four,
a psalm of lamentation and aggression.

My right ear's ringing: one percussionist
(of many) punctuates their violence
with something loud and wooden, called a whip.
The tenors' and the basses' vicious quarrel
rages on for pages of the score.

How relevant this seems. Just hours ago,
just blocks from here, two other rival groups
were shouting at each other. Tempers flared.
With bad behavior taking place on both
the pro- and anti- sides, a witness claimed
some acts of violence performed themselves:
"Slurs were flung, and water bottles, too."
"Arrests were made," a city spokesman said,
unblamingly. Passivity absolves.

But placing blame's not always helpful, either.
The schoolboy and the women sang of peace;
then warlike men burst in to mess things up.
That seems a tempting paraphrase of this
part of Bernstein's music, but it's far
from accurate. (For one thing, we're not women
now; we're boys.) Of course I'd like to think
the group I'm in is innocent and pure
and on the path of righteousness. Of course
I'd like to say testosterone's the problem.
I can't, though. As I child, I teased a classmate
till she attempted suicide. I know
that innocence and ignorance can be
almost indistinguishable, sometimes.
Men have no monopoly on evil.

We altos and sopranos start to prove it.
We blithely boast of dining in the presence
of those who wish us ill—presumably
to make them eat their hearts out while we feast.
The tenors and the basses go on grumbling;
we celebrate. Our cup is overflowing.
Our childlike trust in God has now become
childishness—a spiteful sort of glee.
Our God provides for us, and not for you.
You don't deserve the blessings we enjoy.

This attitude of smugness isn't David's.
It isn't even Bernstein's, who has written
this part with such simplicity. I know
this misinterpretation is in tune
with neither, and is only in my head.
It's there because so often nowadays
I hear that sort of willful ignorance
of others' wants and needs and grievances—
some of them legitimate. I think of
the rancor flung at refugees this year.

Reality's imperfect. This is real.
This selfishness is who we are, at times.

"Ach, ach, tov," the schoolboy now asserts:
"Ah, ah, goodness—tov va-ḥe-sed—goodness
and mercy" (to be passed along to others,
I'd like to think, not hoarded for ourselves),
"may they pursue me all the days of my life,
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
We notarize this statement with the stamps
A-do-nai ro-i and lo eḥ-sar.

The orchestra won't let the men's objections
rest, though. It keeps quietly complaining
beneath our would-be-tranquil final note.
It's hard to hold that held-out A on pitch.

Reality's imperfect. This is real.

* * *

The movement ends, to thunderous applause.
The schoolboy sits. I don't know what he's feeling.
He has his own experience of this.

The third and final movement now begins
in agony—a mockery of joy.
The strings are screaming dissonantly, weeping
the same motif we singers had proclaimed
so jauntily to start the suite. A trumpet
sadly echoes what the schoolboy sang:
"Ach, ach, tov" and "tov va-ḥe-sed"—though
it's anything but tov, from my perspective.

I try to weigh that goodness and that mercy
against the Holocaust. And Hiroshima.
Just yesterday, our president acknowledged
what happened there to non-combatants. Children.

The trumpet seems bewildered, not ironic.

* * *

But out of such catastrophe and grief,
the gentle harps awaken. Now the men,
in unison, and legatissimo,
embark on Psalm One Hundred Thirty-One.

Their tenderness and strength unite in ways
appropriate for men. They're neither women
nor children. They're exactly who they are,
and beautiful in that identity.

We women join them, eager to reclaim
a toddler's sense of trust and comfort, lost
in harshness of experience. We sing
together for a while, then soloists
express more individuality.
The orchestra supports them as they float.

And finally the instruments drop out
entirely. The choir is on our own,
levitating—nothing holds us up—
singing pianiss-iss-iss-imo
(yes, four p's): miraculously tiny.

I don't think I can manage it, but do.
My note's so high, yet somehow kept within
the finely-woven fabric of the choir,
so delicate and seamless, top to bottom,
diaphanous and shimmering like silk,
hovering like magic in midair.

"Behold," we sing, we conjurers. We've switched
the psalm on them. "Ma tov—how good [it is]"
(the Being's just implied, again) "and how
pleasant [it is], when brethren dwell united."

To this we sing Amen. The trumpet quotes
the five-note theme that started all of this
across our final word. Maestro Ling
holds it out impossibly, and then
releases it to heaven with his wrist.

Nothing moves. Maestro looks ecstatic.
The crowd's been rendered breathless once again.

Then Maestro blows a kiss to us. Applause.

Julie Ann Sih is a member of the San Diego Master Chorale.