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Monday, February 29, 2016

OUR BROTHERS WHO ARE IN

by Howard Winn



"Jane Mayer’s Dark Money—a detailed accounting of rise and rise [of the Koch Brothers]—is absolutely necessary reading for anyone who wants to make sense of our politics. Lay aside the endless punditry about Donald’s belligerence or Hillary’s ambition; Mayer is telling the epic story of America in our time. It is a triumph of investigative reporting, perhaps not surprising for a journalist who has won most of the awards her profession has to offer. But she had to cut through the secrecy that these men have carefully cultivated, unraveling an endless list of front groups. And she had to do it despite real intimidation; apparently an arm of what some have called 'the Kochtopus' hired private investigators to try to dig up dirt on her personal and professional life, a tactic that failed because there wasn’t any. She’s a pro, and she’s given the world a full accounting of what had been a shadowy and largely unseen force." —Bill McKibben, The New York Review of Books, March 10, 2016 issue. Image source: DonkeyHotey



not exactly Heaven but
the billionaire’s equivalent
as they answer the prayers
of a certain kind of Koch-loving
politician such as runs the
state of Wisconsin or represents
Texas in the U. S. Senate
although both have been dumped
as too low in the polls when
there is still the Cuban kid
with the fresh face and the
fresh tongue hydrated often
taking unlimited largess from
the family fortune that has
its foundation in partnership
connections with Adolph Hitler
and the Nazi Political Party
without worry because it
was after all a good business
deal and all that counts is the
bottom line and why do some
people talk of morality in
the context of industrial success
and the accumulation of profits
to use in self-glorification and
many mansions yachts and personal
jets even if the innocents are dying
in death camps dividends are all
important for the trinity to
some consists of two brothers
and the holy ghost of profit
also known as dark money


Howard Winn’s fiction and poetry, has been published recently by such journals as Dalhousie Review, Taj Mahal Review (India), Galway Review (Ireland), Antigonish Review, Literature Today, The Long Story, Pennsylvania Literary Review, Blueline, Chaffin Review, Thin Air Literary Journal, and TheNewVerse.News . His B. A. is from Vassar College. His M.A. is from the Stanford University Writing Program. His doctoral work was done at N.Y.U. He has been a social worker in California and currently is a faculty member of SUNY-Dutchess as Professor of English.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

HIGHLY FUNGIBLE

by Maryanne Hannan



“Mr. Trump’s popularity — his support in some polls is double that of his closest competitors — is built on his unfettered style, rather than on his positions, which have proved highly fungible.” —Trip Gabriel, NY Times, Aug. 5, 2015. Image Source: Angie's Diary




Maryanne Hannan has published poetry in Rattle, Light Quarterly, WomenArts Quarterly, and Minnesota Review. A former Latin teacher, she lives in upstate New York.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

LOBSTERS

by Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco



Three people have died in a series of shootings at three sites near Hesston, Kansas, including a lawn care products factory, authorities said Thursday night. Photo: Fernando Salazar, AP via USA Today, Feb. 25, 2016


When the dogs attack
your dog,

in the new park, you spend the whole time

wondering
if you are wrong, if somehow you

misunderstood.
The light is beautiful
that night:

a hollowed shell.
No one thinks of how the thing

that lives inside
gets boiled alive.

Buried.
Frozen. There
are manuals, online.

You start
shaking

when you see how the dogs’ mouths
are full of blood, you

started screaming
at some point, oh,
no, my god, although you don’t
believe in gods.

Thursday night, another man
shot everyone

like it was in
another language where this thing
just sometimes happens.

People tried
to explain:

the soft
warm evening, what he ate, the curling

screams
like lobsters boiling,

bumping dully
in the pot.


Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco lives in California's Central Valley, where she works as a librarian. Her chapbook Various Lies is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.

Friday, February 26, 2016

MY WHITE FRAGILITY

by James Brock
The New Yorker Daily Cartoon, Feb. 23, 2016
                     
“I have a great relationship with the blacks.”—Donald J. Trump


Rather, I will reboot this poem about the blacks
with a quote from Virginia Woolf:
For she was a child, throwing bread to the ducks,
between her parents who stood by the lake,
holding her life in her arms which, as she neared
them, grew larger and larger in her arms, until
it became a whole life, a complete life,
which she put down by them and said, "This
is what I have made of it! This!"
And what had she made of it? What, indeed?

And thinking of the blacks, their mattering
lives, I look at my whole white life, my bookshelf.
See?  There’s Audre Lorde and Harriett Jacobs
and Kevin Young and Yusef Komunyakaa and Richard
Wright and Ralph Ellison, all their February words!
And I look at my white, complete life, and say,
“I have done nothing wrong.”

In Florida, the best hanging tree is the live oak,
with its big low-limbed girth.  At the Lee County
Courthouse a live oak has been made into a chainsaw
sculpture of an American bald eagle in flight.  On my commute
to school, with my black president and my black
boss man, I go along Michigan Avenue,
right through the black heart of Dunbar.  My neighbor
is anxious.  Someone has given the Asian food
delivery guy the building’s passcode.  He’s
probably on probation.  Our Sheriff shaves
his head, wears his green uniform, says how
we are not willing to face our problems.
He says I should have a registered gun in my glove
compartment.  I should keep a gun in my desk
drawer, packing heat in my classroom.  The evangelist
at my university shouts through his bullhorn
how my students are going to hell, all of them
texting their next booty call.  I think how language
is dripping in the blackness.  It’s like that tar baby.
Elvis’s hips, Beyoncè’s X, are they not black, too?

When I think black I think cinder black.  Or my
one black kiss—Jesus, she was a cheerleader at Idaho
State, straight out of Pocatello—which was for me
for being sweet. I am a nice guy. I like
Kendrick Lamar.  I like his pyrotechnics. When I think black
I think the earth cindered, all that burning,
my life cindered, desiccated, to the whitest, white ash.


James Brock has published four books of poetry, and he is currently writing plays for Ghostbird Theatre Company in Fort Myers, Florida.  He also teaches writing and literature at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

HOME

by William Marr


Art by Banksy


with wings
anywhere can be home

yet all this starving refugee can do
is drag his tired feet on the ground
and watch the shadows
of a flock of flying birds
while fiercely swallowing
his dry saliva


William Marr has published 23 volumes of poetry (3 in English and the rest in his native Chinese language), 3 books of essays and several books of translations. His most recent book, Chicago Serenade, a trilingual (Chinese/English/French) poetry anthology, was published in Paris in 2015. His poetry has been translated into more than ten languages and included in over one hundred anthologies. Some of his poems are used in high school and college textbooks in Taiwan, China, England, and Germany.  He is a former president of the Illinois State Poetry Society and has received numerous awards, including three from Taiwan for his poetry and translations.  A PhD recipient and a retired research engineer, he now resides in a Chicago suburb.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

NOT WANTING TO TALK POLITICS WITH THE CHECK-OUT GUY

by Patty Mosco Holloway





I came to buy just milk and whole grain bread.
The chips, the dips, free samples make me sick.
No chocolate kale for me until I'm dead--
Was that a voice in Health Aids I heard click?
"Have you tried ever in your life a 'cleanse'?"
Please, take me out of here, just let me pay.
It's more than my shy colon she offends--
Oh, no! Now Check-Out Guy cites the Debates.
I don't care what you think about Herr Trump,
won't listen to your "done is Hillary."
It's mum I'll be, on my own log, a bump.
But do tell Ted my bread is gluten-free.
   Now hurry, bag my stuff. I'm in a rush!
   "At least Mark Rubio is nice," you gush.


Patty Mosco Holloway is a writing teacher.  She lives in Denver, Colorado. She often "hears" the starts of poems in conversations.  Advice:  Don't talk to her.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

SWAGGER

by Herb Kauderer







not understanding
that presentation
is all about posture

the presidential hopeful
offends the interstellar alien
with a proffered hand

his campaign ends painfully,
his promise of war fulfilled


Herb Kauderer is an associate professor of English at Hilbert College, and the author of over a thousand published poems, including ten books.

IT'S KALAMAZOO'S TURN,
THE FACEBOOK POST SAYS

by Elizabeth Kerlikowske






A man is shooting people from his truck, just

any people. Four old friends. A father and son.

A mother walking with her kids. A teenager

now on life support. Our town is such a nice

town, this hurts us all. We are not perfect, but

we are a town that tries. I stayed home the day

after the shootings. I didn’t want to see anyone.

At home I could pretend things were the same,

that my KIA dealership was not the one that . . .

that the close by restaurant was not where . . .

but today, I left my sanctuary under overcast

skies.  I remember when JFK was killed how

the clouds were gray and girls said even the sky

was crying. We were young and made meaning

from it and now, we are old and know there is

no meaning, only the terrible coincidence of living

your life as if it was yours to keep instead of

target practice for some killer. Kalamazoo is so

small, I know someone who knows him.  I want to

drive by my dealership. I don’t know why. Instead

I head downtown to retrieve a lost umbrella.  No

easy smiles on the street. The sky, if it’s not already

crying, will be soon.


A retired professor of English at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, Elizabeth Kerlikowske served 25 years as president of Friends of Poetry in Kalamazoo.

Monday, February 22, 2016

BUNDY@MALHEUR

by Isaac Mason



“Let's make sure I read this correctly: Cliven Bundy requested a federal public defender from the big, bad government? You've got to be kidding me! For 20-plus years, Bundy has shamelessly been grazing his cattle on the taxpayers' dime, and now that he's in cuffs, he'll take more government/taxpayer help? My only comment: Please call me for jury duty!”  —Bill Taylor, Letter to the Editor of OregonLive.com, Feb. 21, 2016; Photo via OregonLive.com: The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office released the mugshot from Cliven Bundy's arrest.


When the elders
of the Burns Paiute nation
included in the 1868 treaty
by which they
ceded tribal lands
around Malheur Lake
a provision guaranteeing
"protection against bad men,"
it would be pleasing
to imagine they foresaw
the occupation of Malheur
by Ammon Bundy
and the Oregon Militia
158 years later.

When Bundy and Company,
strutting and fretting
on YouTube,
declared themselves
advocates of the public's right
to free use of the public lands,
it would be pleasing
to imagine they meant
something beside the right
to burn where you like,
to graze where you like,
to ride your four-wheeler
wherever you like,
and to bury your shit,
as the Militia at Malheur did,
at an ancient Paiute
cultural site.


Isaac Mason is the name assumed by a person working under false credentials at a major Chicago law firm. He lives with many cartons of books in a neighborhood where you would not feel comfortable. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Duende, Steel Toe Review, Polychrome Ink, and elsewhere.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

TO:

by Sarah Stern



Roger Harvell Cartoon



Boil seven brown eggs in water
Turn off the kitchen light as the day begins
See the sparrows perched, earrings, on winter trees
Miss you—all of you—always
See the banner headlines and hope still
Know that we are here now
Forget not what makes us happy
Pee clear with no pain
Love you forever, even when I'm gone.


Sarah Stern is the author of But Today Is Different (Wipf and Stock, 2014) and Another Word for Love (Finishing Line Press, 2011). Her poems have appeared in numerous publications, recently in The American Dream, The Man Who Ate His Book: The Best of Ducts.org, Epiphany, Freefall, and Verse Daily. She is a four-time winner of the Bronx Council on the Arts' Poetry Award. She graduated from Barnard College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. She is the Acting Director of Communications at the EastWest Institute and lives in New York City.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

AMERICA'S DIVIDES

by Gil Hoy




Centre of equal daughters, equal sons, 
All, all alike endear'd, grown, ungrown, young or old, 
Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich, 
Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love . . .  

Embedded into this video is a 36-second wax cylinder recording of what is thought to be Whitman's voice reading four lines from the poem "America:”  Recording: Copyright Eric Forsythe, 2012–2013. Made available on the Whitman Archive with permission of the rights holder. Audio may be reused for non-commercial purposes, with credit to Eric Forsythe and the Walt Whitman Archive. For more information on this recording, see Ed Folsom, "The Whitman Recording," Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, 9 (Spring 1992), 214-16.


                         I.

I see you, Walt Whitman---an American
Rough, a Cosmos!  I see you face to face!

I see you and the nameless faceless
Faces in America's timeless crowds of men
and women who you saw in your mind's eye.

I see you crossing the river on your ferry.
I see you walking down the public road

Where everyone is worthy. Neither time,
Place nor distance separates.
     
                         II.

You once saw the currents of corruption,
Fast flowing into the land that you loved.
You once saw that which had departed

With the setting sun, half an hour high,
For when another is degraded,
so are you and I.

You once saw what had flowed in with the
Rising flood-tides feverishly pouring---

Tides saturated and soaked with exploitation,
Bribery, falsehood and maladministration.

                         III.

When you saw the motionless wings of
Twelfth-month sea-gulls, When you walked

Along Manhattan Island---When you watched the
Ships of Manhattan, north and west---

Could you see Wall Street banks
Seizing the homes of your beloved countrymen,
Voyaging in their fragile ferryboats? The carpenters,

Quakers, scientists and opium eaters; The immigrants,
Squaws, boatmen and blacksmiths; The farmers,                        
Mechanics, sailors and priests?                                                

                          IV.

Could you see the monstrous megaton corporations
Feasting on America's flesh blood bones, those
Nameless faceless parasites

Sucking the soul from your loved land,                                            
Like a malevolent disease?                                                              

                            V.
For you saw quite clearly the political and
Economic malfunctioning mutant ties that connect us.
Neither time, place nor distance separates.

And you saw very clearly the sickly green sludge
Secreted by lobbyists to their bought and sold

Henchmen soldier baby-kissers, to slow and
Stop the flow of nourishing rushing sea tides
Into your dear, revered democracy.

                            VI.

You saw the evil dark patches---the clinging selfish
Steadfast pernicious grasp of the flourishing one
Per cent oligarchs, Who lusted, grubbed, lied, stole--

Were greedy, shallow, sly, angry, vain, cowardly,
malignant--Seeking only to hold onto their fool's
Gold and preserve the status quo.

                           VII.

Each still furnishes its part towards the death of
America's democracy. Each still furnishes its part

Towards destroying her soul. The mocking bird
Still sings the musical shuttle to the tearful

Bareheaded child, and the final word superior for
America may still be her death, death, death,
Death. The sea has whisper'd me, too.


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.

Friday, February 19, 2016

GOVERNANCE

by Michael Cantor




You start by just ignoring there’s a brake,
or anything that might intrude to take
your mind off never thinking how to make
a final, saving, unexpected snake-
like motion; but instead remain opaque
within your fierce intensity and stake
that rubber to the center line, forsake
eye contact, floor the monster – see them quake –
and watch it all become a piece of cake,
the coward’s headlights sure to bow and shake
because they realize it’s not a fake –
you’re in your zone, your mind is set, you ache
to see them crawl and beg to compromise.
And if they don’t? Well that’s the risk we take.


Michael Cantor’s full-length collection, Life in the Second Circle (Able Muse Press, 2012), was a finalist for the 2013 Massachusetts Book Award for Poetry.  A chapbook, The Performer, was published in 2007; his work has appeared in The Dark Horse, Measure, Raintown Review, SCR, Chimaera, The Flea, and he has won the New England Poetry Club Gretchen Warren and Erika Mumford prizes.  A native New Yorker, he has lived and worked in Japan, Latin America and Europe, and presently divides his time between hurricane-threatened Plum Island, MA, and drought-threatened Santa Fe, NM.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

SCALY QUESTION

by Marcus Bales


Cartoon by Matt Bors via Daily Kos, Feb. 17, 2016

Scalia's gone ahead;
I'm bearing up dry-eyed.
I didn't wish him dead,
but I'm not sad he died.

At every human turn
within the legal fray
he mocked humane concern
and stood athwart the way.

He even said don't spend
on innocents' defense:
procedure's proper end
is killing innocents.

A creature of the right
he's now the devil's minion --
and say, who's going to write
Thomas's next opinion?


Not much is known about Marcus Bales, except that he lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and his poems have not been published in The New Yorker or Poetry.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

THE MADELEINE ALBRIGHT VILLANELLE

by Pedro Poitevin

From this week's New Yorker.


There is a special place in hell
(a little sad, a little scary)
where chickenhawks and vultures dwell.

Not far from where good Dante fell
some godforsaken February,
there is a special place in hell.

The geysers and volcanos swell.
The lava tarnishes the prairie.
And chickenhawks and vultures dwell

over a crumbling citadel
devoid of prey or adversary.
There is a special place in hell,

just like she told her clientele
before she hit the cemetery.
There, chickenhawks and vultures dwell,

aligned as in a villanelle.
One greets her: “Madam Secretary—
there is a special place in hell
where chickenhawks and vultures dwell.”


Author's Note: After Madeleine Albright had her "undiplomatic moment," I gave myself permission to have my own. This poem is my attempt at imagining a special place in hell for foreign policy hawks and hedge fund managers.

A mathematician by profession, Pedro Poitevin is a bilingual poet and translator originally from Guatemala. He is a contributor to Letras Libres and Periódico de Poesía, the poetry journal of the National Autonomous University of México (UNAM). Poems in English have appeared or are forthcoming in Rattle, Angle, Mathematical Intelligencer, Everyday Genius, and Nashville Review, among other venues.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

X GAMES

by Mark Danowsky


The BMX icon Dave Mirra took his own life last week, shocking those who knew him and those who simply admired him through his sport. The question immediately arose as to whether CTE – a degenerative brain disease that arises from concussions and is associated with impaired judgment and depression – contributed to his death. —The Guardian, Feb. 10, 2016


Death finds us
alone, guard down

                                    a step away

This is your purpose
they said, fly

                                 good trick

And then descent
pressure, lost

                                 time

A pass on
your future, gift

                                 in memoriam

Caution ourselves
fragile, fierce

                                 we step mindful


Mark Danowsky’s poetry has appeared in Alba, Burningword, Cordite, Grey Sparrow, The Lake, Mobius, Right Hand Pointing, Red River Review, Shot Glass Journal, Third Wednesday and elsewhere. Mark is originally from the Philadelphia area, but currently resides in North-Central West Virginia. He works for a private detective agency and is Managing Editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.

Monday, February 15, 2016

SABLE CLOUDS

by Gil Hoy



A candle is seen at the steps of the US Supreme Court February 13, 2016 in Washington, DC, following the announcement of the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia, a fiery conservative who helped shape American legal thought, was first appointed to the highest court in the land in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan, making him the first Italian-American to serve there. Scalia was 79. (Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images via The Dallas Morning News, Feb. 13, 2016


Even the darkest
rain silver
when

religions
are freer
elections
are fairer

different fellows
making different
sounds

sleep more soundly

sickrooms are
open

women’s bodies are
their own

men and women
love who they
love


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.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

MAKE-BELIEVE QUEEN BEY

by Matty Layne




many a gay have played Beyoncé
for a day. a night really. we drag our-
selves on stage, reach for revenge in
that paper—those ones & fives we tuck
under the seams. tuck, like everything else

between our thighs. down in the bayou,
I wove a weave into my own fair hair,
glued fierceness to my lashes, layered
my face w/ base after a close shave—
that green shimmering beneath my eyes.

how i filled nude hose with rice, tied two
knots for c cups so the boys could cop
a more natural feel—as if they would
know the difference. how i cinched my love
handles w/ a duct-tape corset, squeezed

into red sequin hot pants & stomped those
six-inch stilettos down the steps. Bootylicious.
i knew my audience. how they watched me—
bite by bite—down that pb&j on stage. they
weren’t ready for that jelly. you can’t serve

a crowd what they expect. but i’ll never be
the Queen. my body can’t fill those cups.
i’ll never wipe away the base & still carry
color on my face. no natural ’fro to tuck
beneath a black beret, & i’d never fit into

leather hot pants these days. i can’t afford
the golden rounds of ammo to drape over my
flat-chested fantasy of what it must be like.
but I do know that bullets look so much
better outside of a beautiful black body.


Matty Layne is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing & Environment at Iowa State University. His queer 'lil ditties on social justice have appeared in or are forthcoming from TheNewVerse.News, This Week in Poetry & The Furious Gazelle.

BRIEFLY BOWIE

by Guillermo Filice Castro





Last
night
I was
Bowie

briefly

gliding
from
empty
office
to
empty
office

asking
each
time

where’s
the dance?

only to continue
bowie-ing
my way
through
transparent
walls

in a pearl
grey suit
that
was

more
Cohen
than
Bowie

more

femme
than
butch

never
finding
anybody

much less the dance

my eyes
under a wide-
brimmed
hat

stage-worn
& hushed

as Mars


Guillermo Filice Castro is the author of Agua, Fuego (Finishing Line Press, 2015). He’s a recipient of an Emerge-Surface-Be fellowship from the St. Mark’s Poetry Project. A native of Argentina, he now resides in New York City.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

FACT CHECK

by Dorothy Baird




generosity suffocates
under the weight of incivility
the tongue bludgeons
with fudged facts and loud voice
slips like reality from smiling lips
snippets of sound bites
recast a person’s words
gives the crow’s croak
to the nightingale
the cloak of honesty
does not conceal intent
nor does it disguise
the will to mislead
fraudulent films damage
before they’re found out
editorials emerge as rants
headline news stories
turn print yellow
truth sacrificed
to emotions unrestrained


Dorothy Baird has taught writing and literature in both high school and college. After frequent relocations took her family zig-zagging across this country, she considers herself a corporate tramp. Now happily settled in Chapel Hill, NC, she is busy with poetry.

Friday, February 12, 2016

WAVES

by Geoffrey A. Landis




"Cosmic Chirp From Black Holes Colliding Vindicates Einstein:" The sound of the collision from a billion light-years away is the first direct evidence of gravitational waves, the ripples in the fabric of space-time that Einstein predicted a century ago. —NY Times, Feb. 11, 2016


Waves in space and time:
a billion light years away
black holes whirl and dance.


Geoffrey A. Landis is a scientist, a science fiction writer, and a poet. As a scientist, is a fellow of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts, working on developing new concepts for space missions.  As a science fiction writer, he's written one novel and over fifty short stories, winning the Hugo and Nebula awards.  As a poet, he has written numerous poems, including this one.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

CORN ROWS

by Lind Grant-Oyeye



Cornrow Braiding Originates in Africa: Like many other “Africanisms” in the new world, knowledge of African hairstyles survived the Middle Passage. Heads were often shaved upon capture, ostensibly for sanitary reasons, but with the psychological impact of being stripped of one’s culture. Re-establishing traditional hair styles in the new world was thus an act of resistance; one that could be carried out covertly. Photo source: Yarbrough, Camille. Cornrows. (with illustrations by Carol Byard). Coward, McCann & Geoghegan 1979 via Cornrow Curves.



“Those rows in the backfield, they need more water,”
Mom whispered.
“More cow dung,” Dad claimed.
I guess he meant more carefully manicured manure.

It’s not as if I am new to this old field.
It’s not as if I am a hired hand or something.

I have planted these rows before, seen rain
change to sunshine, change to rain.
I have seen floods like tears run through
old furrows between rows, between hard dust.
I have carefully tended these corn rows before.
I have even pictured them growing firm roots.


Lind Grant-Oyeye was born in Nigeria. She has work published in several literary magazines world wide and recently won the UHRSN human rights poetry award.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

ELEGY FOR WASIL AHMAD

by Lucille Gang Shulklapper


An image taken from social media shows the child soldier Wasil Ahmad being declared a hero last year for leading a militia’s defense against a Taliban siege. The Taliban announced on Monday that they had killed Wasil. —NY Times, Feb. 2, 2016


 Born into war,
    delivered by history, blood spilled
        with your birth, spattered on unseen hands.

The messengers raced away,
     gunmen on motorbikes, their message delivered
         two bullets to your head, no motorbike for

you, but a gun as big as  you were,
    a uniform made for a man, a helmet on your head,
        a child soldier, a human shield.  The Afghan government

has no details.  There will be
    an investigation of a child walking to his
        fourth-grade class. What did he see on his way?

Not the mountains in the distance,
    Not the flat land beneath his feet, not the
         hands of fruitless war,  only the marketplace of his world.


Lucille Gang Shulklapper’s work appears in numerous journals and anthologies, including TheNewVerse.News, Strand magazine, and Poetic Voices Without Borders, as well as in five poetry chapbooks and a picture book, Stuck in Bed Fred. Having taught reading K-college, made recordings for the blind, and raised a family, she is  presently a volunteer with Caregiver Youth of America.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

NEW DEAL

by George Held



Image source: DonkeyHotey



The Thirties, the Honest Decade,
When the Depression made the US nation
Face its ragged heart and wretched soul.

The Obama Era, the rotten eight years
When the US nation let racism,
The feral cat, out of the bag again

And refused to face its ragged heart
And wretched soul, and let them fester
Like a million dreams deferred so long

They colored the land with blood
Spurting from myriad wounds inflicted
By AK-47 or Glock 9,

And now it’s time to choose whose
Name will label the next four or eight
Years, which flawed candidate

Is toxic enough to scare the US
Nation into facing its wounded fate,
Its ragged heart, its wretched soul.


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

Monday, February 08, 2016

THE GHOSTS OF ISHINOMAKI

by Luisa A. Igloria



In early summer 2011, a taxi driver working in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, which had been devastated by the tsunami a few months earlier, had a mysterious encounter. A woman who was wearing a coat climbed in his cab near Ishinomaki Station. The woman directed him, “Please go to the Minamihama (district).” The driver, in his 50s, asked her, “The area is almost empty. Is it OK?” Then, the woman said in a shivering voice, “Have I died?” Surprised at the question, the driver looked back at the rear seat. No one was there. A Tohoku Gakuin University senior majoring in sociology included the encounter in her graduation thesis, in which seven taxi drivers reported carrying "ghost passengers" following the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. —The Asahi Shimbun, Jan. 21, 2016. Photo by Getty Images via International Business Times.


There was something
I was trying to finish—
A lunchbox
for my little one:
balls of pearled rice,
the pale white body
of a radish undressed
on the chopping board.

*

Take me
to Hiroriyama,
I say to the driver.
After we crest
the hill he stops.
The road disappears.
There is nothing there.
Every time, I die again.

*

I am a shimmer
in the twisted grass,
a shadow on rusted
copper. My hands,
two pale fish lost
in a river of red
at the ends
of my sleeves.


Luisa A. Igloria is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world's first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (selected by Mark Doty for the 2014 May Swenson Prize, Utah State University Press), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, Montreal, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She teaches on the faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University, which she directed from 2009-2015.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

THE PAISLEY SHIRT OF "EL CHAPO" GUZMAN

by Alejandro Escudé





I too wore a paisley shirt like the drug kingpin
in middle school, and girls thought it was sexy,
because paisley says, “I’m macho and I’m crazy.”
A paisley shirt looks like the world from space,
swirling clouds over continents, how loco fame
is just a form of fireworks. There he is. It is.
A peasant who knows as much as a rich man,
with the confidence to smile, escape the slammer,
un wey with the touch of gold, his shirt collar
too big, like a satellite dish, a flagship’s flag,
or the scarves on the mic of a rocker. Yet Penn
wanted to show what little choice the narco
had, whose poor voice was topped by a cock
inside a chicken coop, crowing under the sun.


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.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

AFTER MY FRIEND ROSEMERRY WRITES ABOUT FAILURE AND MERCY

by Phyllis Klein




Aboriginal Brass Band Offers Burst of Hope in a Bleak Community
—NY Times, Jan. 24, 2016


I write back to tell her
about the Brass Band revival
in Yarrabah, Australia. How Anglicans
made the mistake of dragging Aboriginals
over to their mission and forced
them to labor in the 1890s.
How their children got yanked off
into dormitories, stripped
of their culture and language
like saplings with the wrong kind of bark.

Again, this white failure to understand
how the harness of racism
traps us all in a world without mercy.
Again, this felling of trees
in a forest already depleted and suffering.
Rosemerry, I say, I couldn’t ever believe 
in a journey from revulsion to hope.
But look, I say, but look, 
right here in the New York Times,
even this story has one slice of sun 
in the chapel of despair—the Brass Band. 
Listen, can you hear it as background
for Christian hymns, its instruments
able to withstand humidity
and heat, the music shimmying up tree trunks
into bluesy sky, unable to be enslaved.

And here is the band coming
out of its silence of fifty years.
Here is Greg Fourmile on euphonium
and Paul Neal, tenor sax,
didn’t know how to clap to rhythm,
let alone make music. Here are
the school kids and the grandmothers of Yarrabah
doing the best they can
to take the beat of healing into their hearts and ours.

They play for us, for everyone
who wants pride to replace shame,
for the terrible things we have done
and had done to us, and the need to go on.
For the meanness of power
and the sirens of greed.
For the insistence on healing,
the reforestation of what has been cut
but not destroyed.


Author’s Note: This poem was written in response to a poem by Rosemerry Trommer published in Rattle, Poets Respond.

Phyllis Klein believes in poetry. Her work has appeared in the Pharos of Alpha Omega Medical Society Journal, Emerge, Qarrtsiluni, Silver Birch Press, and The Four Seasons Anthology (Hurricane Press, 2015). She is very interested in the conversation between poets and readers of poetry. She sees artistic dialogue as an intimate relationship-building process that fosters healing on many levels. She lives and works in the San Francisco Bay area as a psychotherapist and poetry therapist.

Friday, February 05, 2016

BIOGRAPHY/MALHEUR

by Amy Eisner



Cattle at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge wait out the fog of a cold, winter morning January 11, 2016. Image source: Oregon Public Broadcasting.


Her childhood cards said interested, alert, and eager to learn.
In her twenties she was an associative thinker and loved
to work numbers, fold them like origami in a spread
sheet. But she has no head for numbers, they slip through.
Her boyfriend said it was obnoxious to put him on a list
after laundry, and eventually he slipped through too.
In her thirties she had babies, became a thing of many:
mouths, wakings, -pieced toys. By her forties she is simply
scattered. "Get your [ship] together" reads the tote bag
in the store. (She has become a shopper, provisioning being
the only news she can solve.) This week she thinks often
of white men in the cold, in the bird refuge
they have claimed as their own. If they stay long enough
will we come look at them through binoculars, mark them
by the particular scruff on their duck canvas chests?
On so much land the fog must roll in layers: blue, sooty,
breathy, tinged with sun, filling secret baskets in secret
Paiute graves, filling the bunchgrass and the people squatting
in it--new arrivals with binoculars in their mitts watching
us watch the tribe watch the birders watch the ranchers
(oh, the ranger and the cowman should be friends)
and the vision of what you can own in a glance
multiplies to a power, like Galileo's scope, devised
to make a man on a ship fifty miles away appear five.
You can see the ship, you can see the man,
but what can you own but what you admit?


Amy Eisner teaches writing at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Her poems have appeared in Confrontation, Fence, Valparaiso, and other journals.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

by Roger Stoll




my town council convenes
in suits and dark dresses
up on their dais
far away from us

their voices are soft
speaking through microphones
talking in monotones
one phrase then another

they talk of budgets
fire fighters and police
buildings and zoning
garbage and streets

i know this matters
i know it's important
but i cannot give it
the attention it needs

instead i think
of the planes and the drones
the missiles and bombs
the guns and the soldiers

the rubble of buildings
the dead in the streets
the refugees fleeing
the cities and towns

but the things we do there
to the people in those towns
are not the decision
of anyone here

not the decision
of those in my town
of those on the council
not even the mayor

the things that we do
far away in those places
are decided by others
in chambers like this

in chambers like this one
where some of them sit
on daises much like
the one that is here

their voices are soft
speaking through microphones
talking in monotones
one phrase then another

they too talk of budgets
but for soldiers and guns
for tanks and bombs
and planes and drones

i know this matters
i know it's important
but i cannot give it
the attention it needs

instead i think just
of the fear and the pain
the wounds and the blood
the loss and the grief...

the council adjourns
and everyone smiles
their work for the night
is done...

but i can’t i can’t
keep thinking of fear
and pain and loss
and grief

i know these things matter
i know they’re important
but i cannot give them
the attention they need

perhaps
if the guns
and the bombs
were right here

perhaps
if the planes
and drones
roared above me

perhaps if
the rubble
the dead in the streets
the refugees fleeing
the fear
the pain
the wounds
the blood
the loss
the grief
all came to my town

then perhaps

then perhaps
it would matter

then perhaps
it would matter enough

to give it
the attention
it needs


Roger Stoll is a retired music teacher in San Rafael, California. He has published political verse in the North Bay Progressive Newspaper, the Pacific Sun and TheNewVerse.News, as well as essays in the San Francisco Examiner, ZNet and Counterpunch. He has been arrested numerous times while committing civil disobedience on behalf of numerous causes and is a member of the political affinity group ¡Presente!.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

IF WAR IS A HEADLESS BODY

by Diane Sahms-Guarnieri


Image source: Truthout.org via flickr


then what would you have me say
to this Veteran of Foreign Wars?

Retired military.  He’s living PTSD.
Attends therapy weekly.

Day by day -
dust covered cobwebbed dreams

spin into hellish-waking nightmares
filament by filament

each strand a broken memory.
War’s understated motto: Kill or Be Killed.

Served 26 years, since he was 19.
Straight out of high school

entered camel humped wars
of dirty sand and intense heat.

While in Iraq wandered
into their market place

into the minotaur’s “staged” rage.
An Iraqi (barely able to speak English)

said, “Chop Chop! Come on – Chop Chop!”
Communal eyes followed

a buff-built man dressed as evil genie.
A downward swinging wave –

one-cleaved sparkling and sharp cut.
A hooded head, beheaded.

As if lawlessness ended
with a thud.


Diane Sahms-Guarnieri, a native Philadelphian, is the author of three full-length poetry collections: Images of Being (Stone Garden Publishing, 2011), Lights Battered Edge (Anaphora Literary Press 2015), and Night Sweat (Red Dashboard Press, 2016). Her poems have appeared in a number of on line and print publications. Awarded a grant in poetry from the AEV Foundation in 2013; served as Poet in Residence at Ryerss Museum and Library and as Poetry Editor of the Fox Chase Review. On Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qir5_xPSNiU

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

GRIM NEWS FOR THE REAPER

by George Salamon

The crash of an MQ-9 Reaper drone near Creech Air Force Base in Nevada on Dec. 11, 2014. The investigation determined the cause of the accident to be pilot error during a training flight. (U.S. Air Force)

"A record number of Air Force drones crashed in major accidents last year . . . Driving the increase was a mysterious surge in mishaps  involving the Air Force's newest and most advanced 'hunter-killer' drone, the Reaper . . . ” The Washington Post, January 20, 2016


Poor Reaper, no longer able to tell
Which way is up and which is down.
Swept away, as the Bible tells us,
Like beasts in the sky.
Its guidance system is no match
For the wrath of the Lord, and
Reapers are dropping out of the clouds.
Grim news for the Air Force's favorite drone
That could signal the demise of its Reapers
And turn its Curtis Lemays into weepers.


George Salamon has seen a cruise missile but not a drone. He professed German at several colleges and wrote about "weapon systems" for the St. Louis Business Journal and Defense Systems Review.

Monday, February 01, 2016

POLITICIAN

by David Spicer





Landlocked again in frozen Iowa,
I’m still the captain of my ship,
I’ll still charm all of you sardines
and mackerel until you swoon,
all of you sharks and seagulls
who’ll swallow anything,
I won’t show mercy when you
float in the fever you catch.
I can cajole you to destroy each other,
or dazzle you to hug in a unified trance
before you lose grip and slide
into the twilight of your dance.
I can convince you to swim in oil-soaked ice,
and you’ll delight in this devilish smile
while we brandish my motto for the mission:
Our Love of Me Beams Like a Hundred
Lighthouses. Your wet minds are useless,
I’m a trickster who’ll defeat any fool
or liar, so when belief sinks in your
hypnotized faces, I’ll swagger
toward you — I’m a riot of one,
and you’ll stutter at my beck and call,
for I possess the ships, the oars, the nets,
I’m my own harpoon: none of you can
elude the epidemic of me as I gore
you, skewer you, and sell your
sorry souls to the highest bidder.


David Spicer has poems accepted by or published in such magazines as Reed Magazine, The Curly Mind, Slim Volume, Yellow Chair Review, Jersey Devil PressTheNewVerse.News , On the Rush, Circle Seven, Phantom Kangaroo, Bad Acid Laboratories, Inc., and elsewhere. He is also the author of one full-length collection of poems and four chapbooks, plus eight unpublished manuscripts.