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Saturday, December 31, 2016


by J.D. Smith

Much reading renders dust the myth
Of some past golden age,
As rust and tarnish, canker, rot
Have flyspecked every page.

Outlines emerge, though, that describe
The wax and wane of powers
And which times had the wit to build—
Or only tear down—towers.

As on a crowded street one sorts
The harmless from the threat,
Some stories stand out from the day
And mark a turn, so that

If we can’t quite assay this age
Or what it is replacing,
We still can feel the flames and smell.
The swart smoke of debasing.

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

Friday, December 30, 2016


by Judith Lechner

More than 75 people from the new Hudson Valley chapter of the group Jewish Voice for Peace gathered at Wall and North streets in Uptown Kingston late Wednesday afternoon to demonstrate their solidarity with Muslims and other minority groups. —Kingston (NY) Daily Freeman, December 21, 2016

Candles challenge city lampposts, neon signs, passing headlights.
            A miraculous oil lit the lamps in the Temple.
Crowd’s voices gather strength, shout “Love, not hate, makes America great.”
            Hanukkah candle flames remind us of ancient battle against oppressors.
December night chills hands holding placards of painted candles that tell their story.
            Holy Temple in Jerusalem 170 B.C.
            Greek-Syrian despot Antioch  forbids Jewish worship.
            Sends soldiers to massacre resistors in Land of Israel.
            Invaders erect altar to Zeus defiling the Temple.
            Long struggle led by Judah Maccabee wins back the holy site.
            Only enough oil to purify the Temple for one day.
            A miracle—oil burns for eight days.

Hanukkah is the memory of the rededication of the Temple.
            Purification celebrated by lighting eight candles one a day.
We dedicate ourselves to fighting hate in the temple within.
            Shine light on the persecution of Muslims and Blacks. 
We form a human menorah to display our unity in diversity.
            Lights spell out our message of brotherhood and justice.
Each candle helps illuminate inner darkness, clear hatred from clouded eyes.
             The message of Hanukkah --“a miracle can happen here.”

Judith Lechner—poet, short story and essay writer—has also written 24 nonfiction books for school libraries. Her poetry book The Moon Sings Back appeared in 2011. She is a member of the Goat Hill Poets, a performance group and has won the Green Heron Poetry Prize and Tattoo Haiku contest.

Thursday, December 29, 2016


by Sue Reed Crouse

You will tire
of using his face

to pick up dog shit.
You will quit saying cataclysm

because cataclysm unites
a country. You will cull Facebook,

CNN, the front page from your day.
You will say, I’m done, I’m through

fuck it. You will get your household
Canada-ready. You will roam the woods,

call on the willow, golden in the low light
and the pond, steeped in the oak’s rich tannins.

But then, you will go downtown and see
Somali school girls swinging, their shashs

billowing and you’ll drive on Lake Street,
where Dia de los Muertos celebrations—

with marigolds, calavaras, offrendas
were held last week. You will

pass houses
flying the rainbow flag

and you’ll go home
and get to work.

Sue Reed Crouse is a 2011 graduate of the Foreword Program, a two-year poetry apprenticeship at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. Much of her work is elegiac in nature, exploring themes of grief and loss after losing Laura, her 20 year-old daughter in 2008. Finding fresh ways to explore this universal theme through image-driven poetry helps her navigate the sorrow and, hopefully, help others who grieve. Crouse’s work appears in Verse Wisconsin, The Aurorean (Showcase Poet), The Talking Stick (First Prize, Honorable Mention), Grey Sparrow, Earth’s Daughters, Damselfly Press, Midway Journal, Sleet Magazine, Unhinged, Little Lantern Press and a chapbook entitled Gatherings: A Foreword Anthology. Her manuscript One Black Shoe was a finalist for the Backwaters Prize last year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


by j.lewis

Carl Paladino, a western New York builder, one-time Republican candidate for governor of New York and political ally of President-elect Donald J. Trump, came under fire on Friday for racially offensive comments about President Obama and the first lady, who Mr. Paladino said should be “let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe. Obama catches mad cow disease after being caught having relations with a Herford,” said Mr. Paladino, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2010, making an apparent reference to the Hereford cattle breed. He said he hoped the disease killed the president. Asked what he most wanted to see “go away” in the new year, Mr. Paladino — who has a reputation in New York political and business circles for speaking in an unfiltered manner reminiscent of Mr. Trump’s — answered, “Michelle Obama. I’d like her to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla,” he said. —The New York Times, December 23, 2016. PHOTO CREDIT: HANS PENNINK/REUTERS via HuffPost, December 26, 2016

the knock at the door
startled him from half-dreams
into an irritated shout
who's there?
who's there?

no answer

thinking perhaps the single knock
meant, what else, but opportunity
his curiosity carried him
to the door where he queried
'that you, trump?'

again no answer

so it had to be, just had to be
something special for him and him alone
door opened slowly to quell his questions
and there they stood
gorilla on a hereford led by karma
who urged them forward
'get him, my loves, he's yours'

no answer

but with a shove into the room
the hereford took a mad stance over paladino
while the gorilla waited patiently
to drag the terrified peddler of hate
to a cave in zimbabwe where things

require no answer

j.lewis is a nurse practitioner, musician, and internationally published poet, as well as a contributing editor for Verse Virtual. His poems have appeared online and in print in numerous journals from California to Nigeria and the UK. His first collection of poetry and photography A Clear Day in October was published in June 2016. A chapbook is forthcoming from Praxis Magazine in early 2017.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


by William Cullen Jr.

A princess without a royal entourage
always out there with riffraff and rebels
plotting against an empire
for a yet unnamed republic
ready to spill your blue-blood
for the stardust of all people
you shift now to another dimension
as only our memories can glimpse you
moving forward at light speed
you show us the way to freedom.

William Cullen Jr. is a veteran and works at a social services non-profit in Brooklyn, NY. His poetry has appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction, Canary, Gulf Stream, Right Hand Pointing, Star*Line, and Written River: A Journal of Eco-Poetics.


by Diane Raptosh


Any man who stands

                  near a place the U.S. bombs

                                    is straight off

                                                      Enemy Combatant :

                                                                        One might call this

                                                                                          standing while war.

                                    Still I have yet to speak

                                                       of this in any classroom, yet to speak

                                                                        of nature recently freshened

to Brand: Wilderness™

                  as new world currency;

                                    I’ve yet to point

                                                      to the system

                                                                        of criminal justice

                                                                                          as so many schemas

                                    evolving in tandem;

                                              yet to point

                                                          to higher ed as host

to new mall cities,

                  not to mention

                                    the privatization

                                                      of all that used to be part

                                                                        of the Commons :

                                                                                          schools, public works

                                    parks, fire

                                                      departments  :   soon enough

                                                                        the postal and ambulance service,

Medicare / Medicaid.

                  The making public

                                    of the formerly private :  the orderly

                                                      outsource of chi

                                                                        to handheld devices,

                                                                                          the offshore of memory

                                    to the machine—

                                                      the shower, last bastion of solitude.

                                                                        They don’t have ears

and yet spiders

                  will shake

                                    their strings, reframing

                                                                        vibrations other

                                                                                          arachnids feel

                                                                                                            when leaves

                                                      they’re standing

                                                                           on quiver.  Whatever :

                                                                                         Thoughts glide in

on rhythmic pulses,

                  nothing like

                                    linear-sequence flows

                                                                        we’ve been taught

                                                                                           to instill   drill in   construct

                                                                                                            and there’s something

                                                      mugged about all

                                                                        the states’ answers—somehow


thesis statements sticking

                  to their guns.

                                    To take in scenes

                                                                        like stands

                                                                                    of weeping birch trees

                                                                                                      asks for a wholeness-synthesis-

                                                         simultaneity, so here

                                                                          I’ll smuggle in

                                                                                          a smithied image:

 pinnate leaves—

                  ridged like vaginal walls

                                      to fetch the attention

                                                                        of winds. Still listening?

                                                                                          I’m a little down

                                                                                                            about every system

                                                         of ranking, down on

                                                                        the quantification

                                                                                          of no end of thing     ~~    quick

name the quotient

                  of a cubed human squeeze  ~~

                                    down about

                                                                        the billionaires’ balls-out-incursion

                                                                                    into food/earth. Water/air.

                                                                                                      Furrowed vaginas. Against that

                                                      junta of generals

                                                                        hunched in power’s tower

                                                                                          graphing the next class war/

world war what-have-you.

                     And while I’m on a roll,

                                    might I gently suggest

                                                      the conscious uncoupling

                                                                                          of market from self? Of big-league

                                                                                          fake from the real?

                                                      This is to say that if over all

                                                                        I seem at a hard bloodboil

                                                                                                      against most scenes like state

-by-state financial cleansing, or floored

                        by the foreground status

                                    of the mock-up self—the world-scale

                                                                        rape of hallowed, heaving truth;

                                                                                          the statutory frack

                                                                                                            of commonplace terms

                                                like entitlement,

                                                                        political correctness   liberal bias;

                                                                                          states’ rights   law and order

sexual preference;

                      Shariah Law   illegal alien

                                     and food stamps  ~~ as if welfare

                                                        meant actual transfer

                                                                        of wealth to minorities. It’s mostly due

                                                                                          to the ways reigning narcissists

                                                      vivisect language

                                                                        to more or less moon you.

                                                                                          This sort of act’s

moral errancy actually lifts them,

                  how the Fed early

                                    this month huddled in

                                                                        to hoick up its rates.

                                                                                          Which brings us

                                                                                                            to the housing crisis,

                                                      the files of rank poverties

                                                                        birthed by nation-state’s neglect,

                                                                                          the Reichwing crew busy

blading their hands in a bid

                  to remake Magnate Nation more openly

                                    vampire-wan. I think

                                                                        I was saying that if I seem

                                                                                          not entirely myself

                                                                                                            you’ll have to forgive.

                                                      I’m pretty sure

                                                                        my sole choice now

                                                                                      is to become an expat

                  of the exterior.

                                    Step into here.

Diane Raptosh’s fourth book of poetry American Amnesiac (Etruscan Press) was longlisted for the 2013 National Book Award and was a finalist for the Housatonic Book Award. The recipient of three fellowships in literature from the Idaho Commission on the Arts, she served as the Boise Poet Laureate (2013) as well as the Idaho Writer-in-Residence (2013-2016), the highest literary honor in the state. Her poems have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies in the U.S. and Canada. A highly active ambassador for poetry, she has given poetry workshops everywhere from riverbanks to maximum security prisons. She teaches creative writing and runs the program in Criminal Justice/Prison Studies at The College of Idaho. Her most recent collection of poems Human Directional was released by Etruscan Press in Fall 2016.