Guidelines



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Monday, October 31, 2016

THE SKELETON RIDES SHOTGUN

by Charlotte Jones
Deathocracy Mask

The night arrives,
that single night of the year,
when the sleigh
pulls free of the underworld,
dragged through the ether
by hellhounds
reined and guided
by the unholy ghost
while the skeleton rides shotgun.

The mission is not to
distribute gifts to
undeserving children,
but to harvest the souls
of those who have bargained
with the devil—
the proud,
the greedy
the politician
who takes away
the rights of the masses.
Their souls in exchange
for power and dominion
over the poor, the weak,
the unsuspecting.

They walk among us,
smug in their undetectability.
You see them on the nightly news,
read about them in the papers,
they sometimes run for president
and rarely, very rarely
they wind up in jail.

But rest assured,
hell awaits.


Charlotte Jones writes poetry and flash fiction in Houston, TX.  Her work has appeared in over eighty literary and commercial magazines including The Bellevue Literary Review, Nerve Cowboy and Barbaric Yawp which nominated her for a Pushcart Prize.  When not writing, she loves to travel, golf, sing and play the piano.

DIZZY

by Melissa Balmain




I once knew all there was to know
about the ways of vertigo:
my ear canals would cease to flow,
the ground zoomed up, the sky, below,
my guts got tossed like pizza dough,
then, after half a day or so
of rest and drinks from PepsiCo,
the ride would slow.

Today I'm well—no inner woe
has thrown me off my status quo—
and yet for weeks it's seemed as though
the world keeps flipping, top to toe,
as polls and tallies do-si-do
and voters swing from foe to foe.
Oh how I miss the vertigo
I used to know.


Melissa Balmain is the Editor of Light, a journal of comic verse. Her poems have appeared in such places as American Arts Quarterly, American Life in Poetry, Lighten Up Online, and Poetry Daily; her prose in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and McSweeney’s.  Her poetry collection Walking In on People (Winner of the Able Muse Book Award), is often assumed by online shoppers to be some kind of porn.

SHE'S A JOLLY GOOD FELLOW

by Paul Smith


Yes, the magic words


‘Extremely Careless’ comes to mind
Let me interrupt
She didn’t know what “C” meant
See?
Every classified document has a header
But there was no header
The “C” was in the body
She just saw a “C”
See?
C C Rider?
See what you have done
No!
Can’t you see can’t you see
What that woman
Is doin’ to me
That would be a reasonable inference
When you see a “C”
And by the way
It isn’t just a “C”
It’s a “C” in parentheses
It doesn’t matter
You don’t need a header
What does it matter?
There was no “A” or “B” or “D”
There were no other letters
To suggest alphabetical order
There were other emails
Other court orders, but
No bodies
None to speak of
What are words anyway
Just approximations
An integral of convergence
That stretches from Delaware to Nowhere
To Somewhere
From the coal mines of Kentucky
To the California Some
Nobody can deny
That he’s a jolly good fellow
That she’s a jolly good felon
That everyone can deny
That’s what the footer said anyway


Paul Smith lives in Chicago and tries to write poetry/fiction that is apolitical, but sometimes circumstances create a perfect storm where peoples' words are so glorious in their non-meaning, he feels obliged to share his wonder at their mystery, convolution and unimportance.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

THE VATICAN'S NEW DECREE ON CREMATION

a sonnet
by Richard Hacken 


The Bios Urn is a fully biodegradable urn designed to convert you into a tree after life. But is it okay with Pope Frances?


New guidelines came out this past Tuesday from Vatican City
Regarding burnt human remains, whether powdery or gritty:

Set them neatly in places that are sacred and Catholic-approved;
They should never be scattered or otherwise randomly moved.
They should not be compressed into dice or shot deep into space:
They were once a live human, so show them the requisite grace.

Don't partition your loved ones (who've suddenly gone caput)
Between Mantua, Aspen and waters just off of Beirut:
Resurrection makes difficult repatriation of soot.

It's more pious to plunk our deceased into boxes beneath
The terrain and to add a memorial ribbon or wreath!

So rather than storing your mom in a crate on the shelf,
Understand the subtext into which such theologies delve:
"If you claim to be faithful, then don't make an ash of yourself."


Richard Hacken has published in TheNewVerse.News a few times. He has also translated into English seven poetry collections of Galsan Tschinag, a Tuvan shaman from Mongolia who writes in German.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

METHANE CLATHRATE

by Peleg Held


“The news last week that summer ice covering the Arctic Ocean was tied for the second-lowest extent on record is a sobering reminder that the planet is swiftly heading toward a largely ice-free Arctic in the warmer months, possibly as early as 2020.” —Peter Wadhams, environment360, September 26, 2016. Photo: Arctic Ocean sea ice melt as seen from the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Cutter Healy via environment360.


Gather last words
basket them drowned
under freighted skies
on a dead sea.

Bring them to pestle and powder
the shell of the old into the blood
of the new. Shout gloryhole
when you crawl in
and when you crawl out.
Say nightshade when
you blow the wick black,
on our lips
is no home.

We whistled the fire up
and up it came, like Jacob
on a lattice, burning
to leave no angel alive.


Peleg Held lives in Portland, Maine with his partner and his dog Emitt. There is also the semi-feral cat, Smudge. And a kid or two. pelegheld(at)gmail.com.

Friday, October 28, 2016

ON HER BEHALF

a found poem
by Mac McClurkan


The sentence handed down in a trial for incest in rural Valley County, Mont., pictured here, has led to a call for the judge in the trial to be impeached. Matthew Brown/AP via NPR, October 20, 2016.


The defendant’s daughter, age 12, did not attend the sentencing hearing. No one testified on her behalf. The presiding judge in Montana cited the lack of direct input from the victim, or an advocate on behalf of the victim. The defendant, who admitted to raping his daughter multiple times, was sentenced to 60 days in jail. Court records show the victim’s mother, who testified he has two sons that still love him and need their father in their lives, walked in on the father raping the child. The victim’s mother’s mother testified the defendant’s children, especially his sons, will be devastated if their dad is no longer a part of their lives. The defendant’s daughter, age 12, did not attend the sentencing hearing. No one testified on her behalf.


Mac McClurkan is a hobby farmer, disc golf enthusiast, and aspiring writer. He lives in rural Michigan with his wife (who is a MUCH better writer), two dogs, and five chickens. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

A LEGAL CASE AGAINST AUTUMN

by Jo Ann Steger Hoffman


Bold Autumn Colors Abstract is a photograph by Carol Groenen which was uploaded on November 2nd, 2013 at fineartamerica.


Bold autumn steals light from summer.
Even dumber
he strips trees of lavish green dress,
forces excess
of brilliance to camouflage dying.
He’s lying.
He plans to prove summer is trying
to falsely convict him of stealth,
of hiding vice beneath radiant wealth.
Even dumber, he forces excess. He’s lying.


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

DARK FORESTS

by John Ziegler




The sky is an old shawl
of mumbling gray
resting on the rounded hills.

In the east, ancient trees
decompose in mist and moisture
that feeds wild mushrooms
along their rumpled trunks.

The campaign plods on.
Espousers spit turds,
sport tooth-cracking grins,
obscene innuendo,
outright lies,
in your face,
I’m talking here,
you shut up.

Out west, the fallen pines
unpack in corky chunks
on the dry forest floor.
They smell clean.

In the night forest,
a primeval rhythm
pulses with certainty.


John Ziegler is a poet and potter living in State College, PA.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

HOW TO EAT THE MOON

by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer





With salt, of course,
though there’s the matter of how
to get the salt to stick
without the assist of gravity.

And paired with a slightly chilled sauvignon blanc,
preferably from Marlborough, of course,
with its hints of green pepper and grass.

It doesn’t taste like cheese after all,
but then the experts never seem to be right.
It tastes more like, well, hard to say.
Try another bite.

You never thought you’d be here, did you,
sampling these bits of reflected light.
Almost as unexpected as the apology
earlier tonight from the man in the suit
so blue it looked black.

Maybe not a white. A red.
A cab. Dark fruit. Full body.
One that’s needed time to evolve.
Its complex woody tones will compliment
the moon’s impressive density.

What was it he said? “While
we obviously cannot change
the past, it is clear that we
must change the future.”

Toast to the future
and raise your glass
and take another nibble of moon.
Notice how dark it is, really,
about the color of asphalt, worn down.
It’s only because space itself is so dark
that the moon seems light.

All along you thought it was white.
Where else have you been wrong?
Perhaps between sips
and forkfuls you’ll find an apology
ripening there on your own startled tongue.
Perhaps you’ll dare to speak it.
The night makes its usual rounds.


Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer’s poetry has appeared in O Magazine, in back alleys, on A Prairie Home Companion and on river rocks. She was recently appointed Poet Laureate of Colorado’s Western Slope used the position to launch “Heard of Poets,” an interactive poetry map of Western Colorado poets. She directed the Telluride Writers Guild for 10 years and now co-directs the Talking Gourds Poetry Club. Since 2005, she’s written a poem a day. Favorite one-word mantra: Adjust.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

ODE TO TOM HAYDEN (1939-2016)

by Clara B. Jones


To contest the binary is a political act because
Tom was not class-identified—riding Greyhound
To Manhattan with Casey, coming to the party
On the East Side, wearing jeans as young
Revolutionaries honored his plans to change
America The Beautiful after S.D.S. decreed that
Tactics would be decided by participatory vote
And all households would have no fewer than two
Friends from Cuba where macaw vocalizations
Filter through wet leaves, their raspy staccatos
And showy displays overhead—sounds infusing
Darkness between canopy and soil where
Hermaphrodite earthworms live non-binary lives
As soil engineers for microbes and rhizomes as Tom
Engineered comrades revising theories of profit and
Loss—tools of oppression in Braverman's terms.
SNCC a symbol of our will to re-program synapses
While Tom's persona heralded a terra incognita
Of radical outcomes.


Clara B. Jones is a retired scientist, currently practicing poetry in Silver Spring, MD (USA). As a woman of color, she writes about the “performance” of identity, alienation, and power and conducts research on experimental poetry. Clara is author of two chapbooks, and her poems, reviews, essays, and interviews have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous venues.

Monday, October 24, 2016

IMPOLITE AND ARROGANT

by Joan Mazza




the Swedish Academy for the Nobel
says of Bob Dylan, who hasn’t acknowledged
his prize for literature or the invitation
to the event. He can be difficult, they say,

as if this is insightful news of his psychology,
as if he’d care what anyone thought about
his need to be alone, hide out. They say
his behavior is unprecedented, forgetting

Jean-Paul Sartre refused the prize, and that
Doris Lessing, returned from shopping
and approached by a reporter with the news,
responded, Oh, Christ! Not delight or prayer.

Were I indiscreet, I’d tell you where he’s
holed up. You sure wouldn’t believe that he’s
here, underground in my basement, playing
cassettes on the stereo so loud my floors

vibrate. He's smoking,  stinking up my entire
house. My cats like him, as does my old dog,
but he doesn’t always come upstairs for meals
I’ve fixed, only shrugs when I ask him

if he wants shrimp or crab. Don’t answer
the phone, he told me as soon as he arrived.
It hardly ever rings, I said, astonished
at his demand, when I recognized him

on my porch and let him in. He parked his
car out back, but there’s no one here to see.
I’m deep in the woods, far from the road.
Today I hear him singing, strumming

his guitar. He says prizes don’t mean a thing.
I ask if I can take a photo before he leaves.
(When is he leaving?) He sticks out
his pouty lip, says, It ain’t me, babe.


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

Sunday, October 23, 2016

ANECDOTE TO A HEARTACHE

by Darrell Petska




My grandson
who is 4
and enamored of
all things "Frozen"

overheard mention
of a gun—
What's a gun?
he wanted to know.

Our hearts ached
as he looked
adult to adult,
awaiting a response.


Darrell Petska writes poetry and fiction within reach of his three grandchildren in southern Wisconsin.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

IMAGINE

by Janet E. Aalfs

Throw pillow cover by society6.


She, as you.
She, as I.
Even the one

who stands behind
cheering him on.
Will not, does not, cannot.

All the leaves, every color
and shape, every size,
old ones, young ones, sun-washed,

rain-lashed, turn in the wind.
We see them.
As she as you as I

fluttering, lifting, fall.
Light hidden on the undersides
silver-soft, then gone.

Even the one
who swears he'll fight for her.
Even she.

Would not, did not, could not.
Hear them, so close.
Though the wind in every wave

remembered it, told it, wept.
Tides calm to raging
turned and turned and yet.

The one who smooths his brow
and kisses him to sleep.
Even she.


Janet E. Aalfs, poet laureate emeritus of Northampton, MA, 7th degree black belt, Jian Mei Internal Arts branch chief instructor, and founder/ director of Lotus Peace Arts at Valley Women's Martial Arts, has been teaching and performing weavings of poetry and movement arts locally, nationally, and internationally for 40 years. Her writing has been widely published, and her most recent book of poems is Bird of a Thousand Eyes, Levellers Press.

Friday, October 21, 2016

SCHOOLYARD RETORT WITH 14 LETTERS:

a found poem by Dale Wisely




i

Putin would rather have
a puppet as president. 

No puppet, no puppet.

And it's pretty clear --

You're the puppet.
It's pretty clear you won't admit —

No, you're the puppet.

ii

For the clue schoolyard retort
you can find ten possible solutions. 


Schoolyard retort with 4 letters
Schoolyard retort with 5 letters
Schoolyard retort with 6 letters


Sources: Transcript of 3rd Clinton-Trump debate; Crossword Solutions Dictionary.


Dale Wisely edits Right Hand Pointing, One Sentence Poems, and White Knuckle Chapbooks.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

MOSUL




John Guzlowski's writing has appeared in Rattle, North American Review, Ontario Review, Nimrod, Salon.com, and many other journals and reviews.  Garrison Keillor read his poem "What My Father Believed" on The Writers Almanac. Guzlowski's 5th book of poems Echoes of Tattered Tongues was a highlighted book in this year's Publishers Weekly Poetry Month issue. 

MIERCOLES NEGRO

(Black Wednesday)

by Thor Bacon 




So is the baker guilty, too,
who baked the loaves
served at the Last Supper?

Am I also tinged
if I sell diamond earrings
to an adulterer?

And, if I stay quiet,
not sure what to say exactly —
am I party to the flames and rubble?

The election will solve nothing.
Still, we have to vote.
Still, we have to ask each other, "Why?"

And today, Wednesday the 19th, I hear
shouting and weeping down the crowded caminos
of my virgin's heart.


Thor Bacon is an American poet whose work has appeared most recently online at International Times, and in print with The Aurorean.  He resides in Michigan, working as a goldsmith.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

THE END

by George Held


Image source: Christian Science Monitor


The ending becomes clearer,
The fire and ice of catastrophe,
Ecological collapse or nuclear
Dystrophy striking Earth’s
Set for the last time on its human stage,
“The End” dissolving on its screen . . .
The exits are closed
While the Harvest Moon
Looks indifferently down.


George Held, a frequent contributor to TheNewVerse.News, has a new poetry collection Bleak Splendor (Muddy River Books, 2016).

SOME YEARS ASK

by Carol Dorf

Some years ask, "Which side are you on?"
You might answer, "I'm on the side of the bees,
and the waters rising against the coastal shores."
You listen to a debate, and wonder, "Have I been
clear. Or I'm ok about reading dystopias, but
don't think I live in one, and don't want to find
myself there." I'm on the side of the kindergarten
children who tumble together on the rug, eager
for a story, after eating school lunches portioned
onto small trays. I'm on the side of the whales
who need quiet to hear each other calling across
the sea. And I'm on the side of the fat women,
and the crips, and every contractor who wanted
to be paid. "Which side are you on?" is
the refrain, while the future echoes on the screen.


Carol Dorf's chapbook Theory Headed Dragon is available through Finishing Line Press. Her poetry has been published in Glint, Slipstream, Spillway, Sin Fronteras, Antiphon, Composite, About Place, The Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, Scientific American, Maintenant, OVS Best of Indie Lit New England, and elsewhere. She is poetry editor of Talking Writing and teaches mathematics.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

TRUMPET SONG

by George Salamon


"In West Palm Beach on Thursday. reporters covering Mr. Trump returned to a table reserved for the press to find a sign bearing a swastika and the word 'MEDIA' scrawled on it, Jim Acosta. a senior CNN White House correspondent reported." The New York Times, October 13, 2016


The media is Jew-infested
And so is our global elite.
We cheer our next leader
Who'll de-jewvenate our state
And make it great again.
Fellow Americans, this is the drill:
Let's keep the foreskin growing,
With each of us holding his own,
And save our land from being overrun
By mongrel generations.


George Salamon is having less and less fun by the day following the 2016 presidential campaign in St. Louis, MO.

Monday, October 17, 2016

IN THE CLASSROOM

by LouAnn Shepard Muhm




I mention Eric Garner.

All the usual tropes are in attendance.

This was not his only arrest, is in the front row,
wondering when we will get back to
what matters: graded things, things with points.
Her anxiety manifests in demands for rubrics
and in her bouncing leg, her rolling eyes.
She does things right, has no mercy
for digression, for mistake.
She will go home tonight and listen
to her brother and her father fight,
each so disappointed in the other’s
imperfection.

Next to her sits if he hadn’t been doing anything wrong
nothing would have happened to him,
fingering the cross she wears,
this Catholic girl who wants to be a nun
but likes a boy in class. It pains me
to watch her clumsy, unsuccessful bids.
The war inside her is constant
and unrelenting, but she has the naïve
trust in the world that so few
sixteen-year-old girls have anymore.
It’s hard not to envy her,
harder not to cringe against
the ways her knowledge may come.

Everybody knows not to talk back
to a police officer no matter what
is headed for the military, and
I can feel him wondering
what he would do:
chokehold or no chokehold,
chokehold or no chokehold,
can feel the adrenaline jolting him
at the thought, graduation
only two months away
and everything so suddenly looming.

It’s sad, but I don’t see how
that makes it OK to riot
keeps looking at his phone,
waiting for his girl to text him
from the math class three doors down,
waiting for her to tell him
where they can go later to fuck,
waiting for her to confirm that they will
again today, after practice, as they do
whenever they can, because they can
and because they are young
and because it is new
and all-consuming.

Maybe there’s a lot of racism
in other places, but
I just don’t see it here
has a hard time sitting in the desk
at six-foot-two, and wonders
how long he can lift
in the weight room after school
and still get his chores done before dark.

Meanwhile, just last year two people
in this class called me nigger
slides down in her chair,
trying to disappear out of this
conversation that is focused on her
without being focused on her,
as so many conversations have been

and stop asking me if I live on the rez
remains silent as always,
pulls the hood of his sweatshirt
further down his forehead,
turns his music
up.


LouAnn Shepard Muhm is a poet and teacher from northern Minnesota. Her poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies, and she was a finalist for the Creekwalker Poetry Prize  and the Late Blooms Postcard Series.  Muhm is a two-time recipient of the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant in Poetry and has been awarded scholarships from the Key West Literary Seminar, Vermont Studio Center, and Sierra Nevada College. Her chapbook Dear Immovable was published in 2006 by Pudding House Press, and her full-length poetry collection Breaking the Glass (Loonfeather Press, 2008) was a finalist for the Midwest Book Award in Poetry.  Muhm holds a Master of Fine Arts in poetry from Sierra Nevada College, and was recently granted an 18-month Artist's Fellowship by the Region 2 Arts Council of Minnesota.

POLICE VS. BLACK MEN

by Phyllis Wax


A responding officer [in El Cajon, California] fatally shot Mr. [Alfred] Olango after he pulled an object from his pocket, the police said. On Wednesday night, the police identified the object as a vape smoking device with a silvery cylinder the police said “was pointed toward the officer.” —The New York Times, September 28, 2016


We’ve done a good job
keeping them apart –
segregated schools,
segregated housing.
No wonder each looks
at the other as the other.
No wonder they fear
each other.  No wonder
the finger pulls the trigger                
so easily


Social issues are a major focus of Milwaukee poet Phyllis Wax.  Among the anthologies and journals her work has appeared in are Portside, TheNewVerse.News, Surreal Poetics, Ars Medica, Naugatuck River Review, Your Daily Poem, Star 82 Review. When she’s not writing you might find her escorting at a local abortion clinic.  She can be reached at poetwax38[at]gmail.com.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

DAKOTA

by Jay Sizemore


Image source: Daily Mail, September 3, 2016


How beautiful must the world be
to make me stop and notice
I am a narcissist?
I’m so far away from the plains,
the rolling weeds and sagebrush,
dirt-dry plateaus cracked like ancient faces.
I’m so far away from open fields
stretched equidistant to every inch
of the empty and aubergine horizon;
the sky seems endless as a child’s imagination,
white puffy clouds like floating castles
turning purple and gray along the dust bowl rim,
with rain shaft ropes tethering those
mountainous zeppelins to the Earth.

How beautiful must the world be
to make me care about the future
my children will live to see?
Some hold onto hope like eagle feathers
in their hands, have seen the stars
through a portal of smoke
cloaked in a buffalo’s hide.
They have stood for centuries
at the edge of a graveyard,
watching the white man dig more holes.

How beautiful must the world be
to make me want to live here
inside its nebular womb?
With every breath, the timeline of existence
shrinks backward one step.
In my heart, I could wear a headdress,
I could smell the burnt leaves
wafting like spirits around my skull,
like voices turned to ashes
swirling and sticking to my tongue.
I could sing songs around the fire
in a language I never learned.

How beautiful must the world be
that I shut off these engines of dinosaur teeth,
that I throw my hardhat to the ground
and climb down from my mechanical cage,
that I brush the crushed grit from my jeans
and embrace the joyful tears
streaming down my face
with so many arms around me,
welcoming me home like a long lost son,
turning to stand in line
against something as intangible as time?

How beautiful must the world be
that I admit I’ve always been wrong
about everything I’ve ever believed?
This world must be beautiful,
with its birds, its light-flickered murmurations,
its ponds with surfaces kissed
by hungry fish mouths catching flies.
It’s a beauty that never asks to be observed,
and that is just what makes it
so irreplaceable.


Jay Sizemore was born blue, raised by wolves, and learned to write by translating howls. He doesn't regret his wisdom teeth. He thanks you for your concern. His work can be found here or there, mostly there.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

NEVERMORE

by Susan McLean




Ah, distinctly I remember it was early in November
when the hearth-fire’s dying ember cast dark shadows on the floor.
As dry leaves went whirling, flying, suddenly I heard a sighing
as of someone softly crying, “Let me in! Unlock your door.”
Only this and nothing more.

Had she come again? I wondered.  As the storm clouds flashed and thundered,
in the throes of hope I blundered, flinging wide my chamber door.
But the vision I confronted was not her for whom I hunted.
Grief arrived and joy was blunted: through that doorway I deplore,
hope would enter nevermore.

Like a ghastly apparition on a grim and solemn mission,
an unnerving politician pushed his way into the room,
and I had the premonition that his access code to fission
soon would cause our demolition. Like a specter from the tomb,
in he came: the Trump of Doom.


Susan McLean is an English professor at Southwest Minnesota State University.  Her books of poetry are The Best Disguise and The Whetstone Misses the Knife.  She has also translated over 500 satirical poems of the Latin poet Martial, published as Selected Epigrams by the University of Wisconsin Press.  Her light verse has often appeared in Light and Lighten Up Online.

Friday, October 14, 2016

CONSTRUCTING A NEW LANGUAGE

by Megan Merchant

“Perhaps Trump is the ultimate gift to feminists: a grabber and bragger who has focused the world’s attention on the outrages women quietly endure on a chronic basis without notice. And perhaps we can now see the mid-90s response to Bill Clinton’s own accusers — subdued or defensive among liberals on account of his women-friendly politics — as a near miss of an opportunity, a cultural shift that could have built on the momentum of Anita Hill, but never did. The stories emerging about Trump, as well as his own words, could give women a new way of seeing their own experiences with sexual assault going forward — as part of a pattern of male behavior that has been noted, flagged and loudly denigrated.” —Susan, Dominus, The New York Times, October 13, 2016


There is a story that begins with a father
giving his son a bag of nails and instructions

to pound one into the fence with each flare of anger
and at first, there were more than three dozen,

then two, then a single day without a slip.
The son was proud, said “Dad, look.”

He nodded, continued “Now, for each day
you stay calm, pull a nail. What do you see ?”

A fence with scars.

And some in our country will say that’s
where the light gets through, or you won’t notice

if we build the fence bigger,
or the holes are there—get over it,

but the CDC has recorded that one in every five
women in our country is raped,

and that’s only what’s reported, their kits neatly
packaged, sit on a shelf, twenty deep to a bin.

The room stuffed with scars and swabs.
The nail hammered in, torn out.

And what if I told you that almost half
were before age eighteen. But numbers blur.

You think there can’t be that many, say hysteria,
drama, revenge, lying bitch.

So I ask, where does anger go ? If not packaged
in bullets and bombs, it stews in the mouth,

tingles down to hands. Drugs, rubs, robs.
Leaves holes.

Have you ever noticed the way women
walk in the dark ? Arms crossed over breasts,

clutching her body, because it is a thing that
can be taken.

If you are willing to listen,
you will learn the language of trauma.

A gospel of mirrors
and a man with a mouth full of nails

claiming words don’t matter. But they do.

Stories come into being to save lives.
To warn others from danger.

Anyone who has survived will tell you,

the human responsibility is to do more
than just listen.


Megan Merchant is mostly forthcoming. She is the author of two full-length poetry collections: Gravel Ghosts (Glass Lyre Press) The Dark’s Humming (Winner of the 2015 Lyrebird Prize, Glass Lyre Press, forthcoming 2017); four chapbooks and a forthcoming children’s book with Philomel Books. She lives in the tall pines of Prescott, Arizona.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

ODE TO FOREIGN POLICY

by Daniel D'Arezzo


An American warship stationed off the coast of Yemen fired cruise missiles on Thursday at radar installations that the Pentagon said had been used by Yemeni insurgents to target another American warship [ in two missile attacks in the last four days. The American strikes were the first direct attack by the United States against Yemen’s Houthi rebels, members of an indigenous Shiite group with loose connections to Iran who are fighting the Yemeni government. The strikes were approved by President Obama, said Peter Cook, the Pentagon spokesman, who warned of more to come if American ships were fired upon again. —The New York Times, October 12, 2016. Photo: The United States destroyer Mason in the Gulf of Oman in September. Pentagon officials say Yemeni rebels have fired on the ship twice in four days. Credit Blake Midnight/U.S. Navy via The New York Times.

I stubbed
my toe
in the dark.
I’ve done it
before, on
one chair or
another, oh,
about a
million times.

It hurts.
You’d think
I’d learn
and turn
the light
on, but
I don’t.
That’s what
I’ve learned.


Daniel D'Arezzo is a retired publishing executive who lives in Buenos Aires with his husband, Rafael Cerezo. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A CACOPHONY OF CRANES

by Janet Leahy




Sandhill cranes prance the fields
of the Necedah Wildlife Refuge.
They relentlessly clear their throats.
Is this an attempt to find a softer song
to replace the rough ratcheting
that is their call—an attempt to fine-tune
the echo chambers in long necks
to find a kinder music for sky travel.

It is fall of 2016
politics of the season reverberates
with ratcheting calls.
The election draws near
there is no gentle music
air waves guzzle with discordant
degrading language.
Sandhill cranes whisk away,

we rush out to cast an early ballot.


Janet Leahy‘s poems have been published in print and online journals.  Most recently her poems have won second place and honorable mention in the 2016 People and Ideas Poetry Contest.  She has published two collections of poetry, The Storm, Poems of War, Iraq, and Not My Mother’s Classroom

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

HELLO, ALEPPO

by Siham Karami


France has announced it will ask the international criminal court to investigate possible war crimes committed in Syria's Aleppo. Rebel-held eastern Aleppo city, besieged since early September, has been the focus of an intense aerial bombardment campaign by Russian and Syrian fighter jets. For their part, anti-government fighters are trying to break the siege and connect with other rebel-held territories to the west of Aleppo, Syria's second city. "We do not agree with what Russia is doing, bombarding Aleppo. France is committed as never before to saving the population of Aleppo," Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French foreign minister, told France's Inter radio on Monday. —Al Jazeera, October 11, 2016. Image source: Reuters via Al Jazeera.


Aleppo wakes to brute victory nonsense,
another corpse called dawn, pale scar of incense.

This week this family had but stones to eat,
and played with rubble. For Syria? Bashar's two cents.

Put a plan in place. They'll kill food convoys.
Outlaw love. Throw feathers, tar on sense.

Dear Russia, count the children killed for one stuffed scarecrow.
What could your heart, dead now, live for or sense?

They wash up on the shores of everywhere
in waves of family—keep out!!—each pair of eyes, ignored, dissents.

Rag-tag fighters with their cobbled guns
blew the superpower's mind to lower sense.

A father plants impossible red roses, hears bombers
play Beethoven overhead: a brief soaring sense.

I shoot this arrow to the deaf-mute smoke
rising from the shattered core of innocence.


Siham Karami lives in what was the path of Hurricane Matthew, and survived. Recent work can be found in such places as Measure, The Comstock Review, Sukoon Magazine, Mezzo Cammin, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, The Rotary Dial, Right Hand Pointing, Angle Poetry, Think, and the Ghazal Page

Monday, October 10, 2016

SELF-UNMADE MAN

by Orel Protopopescu


Cagle Cartoon

Such a self-destructive talent
is a rarity on earth.
What heroic liquidation
of the gifts of chance and birth!

Could another heir to millions
have corralled the tricky skills
he expressed erecting towers
on fat piles of unpaid bills?

Who raised armies of attorneys
twisting laws to break his fall,
then retreated from his failures
like a Roman leaving Gaul?

Smartly stashing spoils of combat,
filing bankruptcy four times,
he redeemed his reputation
while committing legal crimes.

Such swashbuckling, bold bravado
took him nearly to the peak.
Cheering hordes adored their leader.
How they loved to hear him speak!

But his toxic mouth undid him,
spewing sexist, racist lies,
for what won his nomination
soon conspired  to lose the prize.

And the world gasped in amazement
at this fierce, pig-headed horse,
who could race himself to pasture
while he seemed to run the course.


Orel Protopopescu won the Oberon poetry prize in 2010 and has a commended poem in the 2016 Second Light Live competition, to be published in November. What Remains, her chapbook, appeared in 2011.  Thelonious Mouse, her fourth picture book, won a Crystal Kite, 2012, from SCBWI. A Thousand, Peaks, Poems from China (with Siyu Liu) was selected for the New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen Age list. A Word’s a Bird, her animated, bilingual (English/French) poetry book for iPad, was on SLJ’s list of ten best children’s apps, 2013. Her poetry has appeared in Spoon River Poetry Review, Oberon, Poetry Bay, Light, Lighten Up Online, TheNewVerse.News and other reviews and anthologies. She teaches at the Walt Whitman Birthplace, Huntington Station, New York.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

MISOGYNY ALA DONALD

by David Spicer



I agree: we need to strike with force
and hijack our favorite fetish. Shout
Shit! at our divorce depositions, buy
a bus ticket to Buffalo, Wyoming
with our lawsuit checks. Before we leave,
let’s sing our inner rock songs, wear
rattlesnake skin cowboy boots, and tickle
Heather on her tasseled tits while she’s
corkscrewing an orgasm down the grind pole
in the dank pit of The Holy Moly.
We can steal a bottle of our favorite Korean
champagne, rub it against the sunburned
barmaid’s crotch and tell her the next
round is on her. We’ll film the janitor
in flagrante delicto and crunch her
cauliflower ears, and then raid the fridge
of its last slices of Boston crème pie.
Bug anybody we can, shout horny
come-ons in our black leather
dusters, and then label each other
The Fuck Geeks of Sauerkraut Doom.
Yep, let’s break the rules every chance
we get and feel great about it, let’s be
boys being boys and climb the prettiest
willow we can find and whistle-whisper
to her so sweetly she sighs and swoons
under the mighty, cloud-kissing moon.


David Spicer has had poems in In Between Hangovers,  TheNewVerse.News, Gargoyle, The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares,  Mad Swirl, Reed Magazine, Slim Volume, The Laughing Dog, Easy Street, Ploughshares, Bad Acid Laboratories, Inc., Dead Snakes, and in the anthologies Silent Voices: Recent American Poems on Nature (Ally Press, 1978), Perfect in Their Art: Poems on Boxing From Homer to Ali (Southern Illinois University Press, 2003), and A Galaxy of Starfish: An Anthology of Modern Surrealism (Salo Press, 2016). He has been nominated for a Best of the Net twice and a Pushcart, and is the author of one full-length collection of poems, Everybody Has a Story (St. Luke's Press, 1987), and four chapbooks. He is also the former editor of Raccoon, Outlaw, and Ion Books. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

NOTE TO SELF

by Thomas R. Smith




Well, we die whether we stay together or fall apart.
Finally the world goes on its way without us.
The most scourge-like name alive today will one day
be spoken seldom if at all.  To what purpose
this sighing and raging?  To what purpose this pain?
The main thing is to be a part of one's time,
no matter which side seems to be winning.  It's OK
to be a noble failure, a fool in the eyes of the world,
to die in the relentless faith of a Pete Seeger
or Rachel Carson.  The big truck taking up so much
space will one day come to the end of its road.
Insults will be forgotten.  Offended decency
will be forgotten.  In a hundred years, new
people and new problems.  And we can be
sure there will be some glory in being alive
in just their moment, as there is in ours.
Even as I write and as you read, the termites
of ruin are chewing day and night at the under-
side of the hypocrite's mask that shines with
such shameless intensity in the national
spotlight.  The time to speak is always now.
Say your truth if only for those who may be
listening from the galleries of dead and unborn,
if not the childish public locked in their
death tango with destruction.  Reserve for yourself
days of uninterrupted silence in which to hear
those things that have settled in your heart most deeply
sing their faithfulness beneath time's altering sky.


Thomas R. Smith has had hundreds of poems published on three continents.  In the United States, his poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.  His poems were included in Editor's Choice II (The Spirit That Moves Us Press), a selection of the best of the American small press, and in The Best American Poetry 1999 (Scribner).  His work has reached wide national audiences on Garrison Keillor's public radio show Writer's Almanac and former US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser's syndicated newspaper column, American Life in Poetry. His most recent book of poems is The Glory from Red Dragonfly Press.

Friday, October 07, 2016

SUFFERING CHRISTA

by Devon Balwit


The artist Edwina Sandys with her sculpture “Christa,” the centerpiece of an exhibition [at New York's Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine] of more than 50 contemporary works that interpret the symbolism associated with the image of Jesus. Credit Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times, October 4, 2016


Nowadays, it’s easy to imagine a suffering Christa—
the mothers of Aleppo, limp children at the breast,
Black mothers in America bent over sons in the road,
the mothers called to school in the wake of a shooter.

Who feels the world’s nails more keenly than the mother,
flesh pierced by the suffering of those she formed and suckled,
side oozing, rib cage unable to rise as her children lose breath?

She hangs between stars and rubble, arms outspread.
Lift her your sponge of vinegar.  Sit vigil.
You do not need to believe, only bear witness.
Better yet, shield the tender bodies of her young.


Devon Balwit is a poet and educator from Portland, OR.  Her poems have found many homes, for which she is grateful.  She welcomes contact from her readers.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

MY COLOR

by Eaton Jackson


“Implicit bias is the mind’s way of making uncontrolled and automatic associations between two concepts very quickly. In many forms, implicit bias is a healthy human adaptation — it’s among the mental tools that help you mindlessly navigate your commute each morning. It crops up in contexts far beyond policing and race (if you make the rote assumption that fruit stands have fresher produce, that’s implicit bias). But the same process can also take the form of unconsciously associating certain identities, like African-American, with undesirable attributes, like violence.” —Emily Badger, The New York Times,  October 5, 2016. Photo: Late last month in El Cajon, Calif., demonstrators protested the fatal shooting of a black man by a police officer. Credit Gregory Bull/Associated Press via The New York Times


my color
forces you to
close your eyes in fear and squeeze the  trigger
one  two  three  four  five  six times
until my color falls to the ground  until
my color jerks spasmodically no more
one  two  three more salvos into
the inanimate object of my color to make sure
that my color is dead
explosions that
the kids playing ball in the park dismissed as firecrackers
until the shooter’s chest heaves no more with primal fear
Until the frozen aim thaws
lowers slowly its nozzle
at the ground where
the six footer
threat to your life
is now  prostrate at a skewed angled lifeless colorless
unseeing, open-eyed stare at your partners
also gun-drawn
applying CPR.
RIOTING THROUGH THE NIGHT

primordial anger as combustible as the overturned car
seething like molten asphalt       running people
running    people  running stumbling falling stumbling back up
towards a recently renovated convenience store
towards the innocent, pretty store

running   running  right  through shuttered  windows
busted open  by thrown missiles        running    running  
and  more  town-folks   and more homies  join in
ripping at the innards of the  convenience store
whose high visibility quotient      no fault of its own

but merely a child of town’s  exaggerated soaring architecture
no fault of its own,
now raped of everything inside
defiled virgin in tatters among the smoldering ruins    
and the riot runs on

the burning building  breaks into half
falling
into its own leaping inferno.


Eaton Jackson is an aspiring Jamaican writer. He has been a permanent green card resident in the United States for the past four years. Writing has been an attempt at fulfilling an artistic yearning and a source of therapy for him, when life’s aches, pains and depressions rain down.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

SALAD OF LATE SUMMER TOMATOES ON ROSH HASHANAH

by Karen Greenbaum-Maya




Sheltered from scorch
at a west-facing wall,
morning spent shaded,
they’re rather small.

Cut in halves, then thirds,
then thirds again.
Eighteen chunks each.
L’chaim. Say when.


Karen Greenbaum-Maya is a retired clinical psychologist, German Lit major, and two-time Pushcart nominee. Her work has won Special Merit and Honorable Mention in the Muriel Craft Bailey Memorial contest of Comstock Review. Photos and poems appear in many journals and anthologies She co-hosts Fourth Sundays, a poetry series in Claremont, California. Kattywompus Press publishes her chapbooks Burrowing Song (2013) and Eggs Satori (2014), and Aldrich Press publishes her book-length collection The Book of Knots and Their Untying (2016). 

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

DON'S POSTURE

by Andrew Frisardi 


Image Source: Say No to Grump


after “God’s Grandeur” by Gerard Manley Hopkins


The world is scourged with the posturing of Don.
He will lash out, like tinsel in brash lights.
He heckles into hatred, with a wreck of rights
Crushed. Why do some then now not call his con?
Civility has gone, has gone, has gone.
All is seared with words; bleared, smeared with sleights;
And wears Don’s smirk and shares Don’s smell: our sights
Are low now, nor can truth tell, being pawn.

And for all this, his flatulence is never spent.
There live the vilest gases deep down him;
And though the last lights off the campaign went
Oh, curses, at the brown rim backside, brim—
For the Wholly Self-Engrossed over the bent
Truth broods with loose mouth and with ah! cruel whim.


Andrew Frisardi has published poems in numerous online and print journals; and his volume Death of a Dissembler was published in 2014 by White Violet Press. He has also done a lot of literary translation, most recently Dante’s Vita Nova(Northwestern University Press, 2012) and Dante’s Convivio (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming in 2017). Originally from Boston, he currently lives in central Italy but has his absentee ballot set to go for November.

Monday, October 03, 2016

DARK SHADOWS

by George Salamon


"President Rodrigo Duterte said Friday that he would like to kill millions of drug addicts in the Philippines, defying international criticism of his country's bloody war on narcotics and escalating his rhetoric with a reference to the Holocaust." —The New York Times, September 30, 2016


From Germany's ashes in 1945 we witnessed
A phoenix struggling to rise.
One wing whipped up the cinders as
The other remained rooted in the fires.
Finally, the peacock's shining plumage
Spread its light against a grey Northern sky.

And now, seven decades later and
Six thousand miles from Europe's bloodlands
Hitler's yardstick of death continues to
Measure our species' resolve
On self-extinction.


George Salamon taught German literature and culture at several East Coast colleges, served as staff reporter on a business journal and senior editor on a defense journal. For he past five years he has written from St. Louis, MO.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

BIRTHER

by Alejandro Escudé




The word enough
to welcome back
the stone-kings

of yesteryear,
who carved out land
through betrayals.

The xenophobe
raised by feckless
tirades, citizens

bled like calves,
hordes circling
tall, cold flames.


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, October 01, 2016

AM I DREAMING?

by Gil Hoy


Cover by Barry Blitt, The New Yorker, October 10, 2016.


Am I dreaming?
Having a nightmare?

Is the man
who would be
commander in chief
in 6 Weeks

in a Tweet-Fight
with Miss Universe
at 4 AM?

America's birds
can all be seen,
flying south.

Every living thing
that can,
is hibernating early.




Gil Hoy is a Boston trial lawyer currently studying poetry at Boston University through its Evergreen program where he had 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 Brookline MA Selectman for 4 terms. Hoy's poetry appears or is upcoming in Right Hand Pointing-One Sentence Poems, The Potomac, Clark Street Review, TheNewVerse.News and The Penmen Review.