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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

SIX-YEAR-OLD SYRIAN BOY RESCUED FROM DEBRIS AFTER A BOMBING IN ALEPPO

by Ryan McNamara





My body beneath the weight of rock and rubble,
taken by what surrounds me, wanting to return
my feet upon the sturdy earth, but still,
rescue men search through rock and wreck
toward me. My words have fled the border lines
I hear them shouting, say something, please.
Photographers surround my lonely emergence
As I'm lifted like burdened stone, toward war.

As I'm lifted like burdened stone, toward war,
photographers surround my lonely emergence
I hear them shouting, say something please
toward me. My words have fled the border lines.
Rescue men search through rock and wreck.
My feet upon the sturdy earth, but still
taken by what surrounds me—wanting to return
My body beneath the weight of rock and rubble.


Ryan McNamara is a student at Central Connecticut State University majoring in Biomolecular Science. He lives in Meriden, CT. This is his first publication.


Editor's Note: When the bombs rain down, the Syrian Civil Defence rushes in. In a place where public services no longer functions, these unarmed volunteers risk their lives to help anyone in need—regardless of religion or politics. Known as the White Helmets, these volunteer rescue workers operate in the most dangerous place on earth. You can help: Support the White Helmets.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

THANKSGIVING 2016—
A RETROSPECTIVE

by Joan Colby


Image source: Cooking with Drew


Sky of beaten tin
Addressed by the bare
Limbs of the hickories.

We gather to eat
Tradition—our politics
Aligned in fortune.

We plan to march in the new year
Against dark forces
That lean like barbed wire
Upon the liberty
Of an open range.

Today, the pasture has gone
Brown and dormant. Like
Those who say give him a chance.
Those who hunker down when the Nazis
Pound on a neighbor’s door.

It won’t be us, we vow,
Unfolding our napkins,
Slicing the breast and the
Good dark meat,
Ladling the gravy
Of our lives so far.


Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, New York Quarterly, the new renaissance, Grand Street, Epoch, and Prairie Schooner. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards, Rhino Poetry Award, the new renaissance Award for Poetry, and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She is the editor of Illinois Racing News, and lives on a small horse farm in Northern Illinois. She has published 11 books including The Lonely Hearts Killers and How the Sky Begins to Fall (Spoon River Press), The Atrocity Book (Lynx House Press), Dead Horses and Selected Poems (FutureCycle Press), and Properties of Matter (Aldrich Press). Colby is also an associate editor of Kentucky Review and FutureCycle Press.

Monday, November 28, 2016

CHRISTMAS PAST WITH THE TRUMPS

by Alan Walowitz


Image source: Pinterest

The Q17 would take me past Jamaica Estates—
though I didn’t know then of Trump,
whose pop already was a big deal in Brooklyn,
but I knew this was where the rich folks lived.
And I’m sure young Donald, though a bully even then,
wasn’t the one who pushed me aside
and shook me down for a couple of dimes
in the arcade at the Jamaica Terminal
just to get at the shooting range,
with a rifle that shot light at the little metal ducks that
would shut with a snap like a flock of cheap valises.
A guy like him didn’t take the bus, I learned,
and would have pocketsful of dimes to fill his own machines
that lined his basement finished in teak and kingwood—
and had real guns to shoot at summer camps
with riflery and riding, Western and English,
and cloth napkins that came with service
and they didn’t dare call it mess.

My father would drive us through Trump’s part of the world
this time of year to see the Christmas lights of the rich,
and we probably went by his house a couple of times,
though the really well-to-do never put up lights,
while the newly rich installed just one color—a melancholy blue—
on their mansion’s outer edge so passersby like us might be awed by its size,
in the winter dark, while the family that might have lived inside
was off on a cruise, though they likely left the curtains open,
and the white lights shaped like candles on the huge tree
would illuminate those ten foot ceilings, in those cavernous front rooms
that otherwise were never permitted to reveal
even a shadow.


Alan Walowitz has been published various places on the web and off. He’s a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry, and teaches at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY and St. John’s University in Queens, NY. Alan's chapbook Exactly Like Love is available from Osedax Press.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

CONFRONTING THE GHOST OF BULL CONNOR AT STANDING ROCK

by Dana Yost



Pray With Standing Rock November 26th at 3:00 PM Central US Time

So.
Bull Connor lives
again, dragging his water hoses
to North Dakota. The spray of hate
and intolerance. The dogs, the nightsticks,
broken bones and open wounds.

But.
Bull Connor
forgets. On the streets of Birmingham,
people slipped and fell as his hoses shoved
them, slickened their footing, exposed a shin
to dog teeth and paw. But they got back
up. They outlasted the water, the spray
that sliced flesh. They stitched and bandaged and stood
and took it again, the sidewalks resolute
with the content of their character.

In North Dakota, they get back
up, too. They will let their flesh be split,
they will outlast the hoses. Duty and justice
will overtake the ache. Open wound, broken bone: honorable sacrifice
for the right to march over the bridge. Bull Connor with his nozzle
always ends up the embarrassment, the one slip-sliding
down the drizzle, down the sidewalk of disgrace.


A lifelong resident of the Upper Midwest, Dana Yost was a state and national award-winning daily newspaper journalist for 29 years. Since 2008, he has published four books. His fifth book, a history of 1940 Middle America, comes out early in 2017. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

OTHER SIDE GHAZAL

by Judith Terzi




The quinceañera, the college graduation. You won't be here.
For your parents' fiftieth. Sorry, you won't be traveling here.

Deported for one ounce of grass. You rode the big bus twice.
You wander dreamless south of the border. You won't be here.

Your mother––sin papeles. Twenty years of tucking corners.
Ten more nurturing others' kids. She can't go there, she's here.

Your father––paperless––mower of grass, nurturer of crops.
Builder of bookcases, family, walls. Thirty years of here.

No re-entry to the USA. No entry. Stay in Aleppo, Mosul.
Trek to Gaza City, Jordan, Istanbul. No welcome mat here.

Endure the tarp of tents, bitterness in your husband's glance.
Let dust on your wife's hijab thicken. You can't come here.

Another quiet cycle through your prayer beads––misbaha.
Kiss weariness from your children's smiles. Not allowed here.

We're sorry our gods have seized the heart of this matter.
They say our country may be great again. You won't be here.


Judith Terzi's poetry has appeared in a wide variety of journals and anthologies including Caesura, Malala: Poems for Malala Yousafzai, Raintown Review, Spillway, Unsplendid, and Wide Awake: The Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond. If You Spot Your Brother Floating By is her most recent chapbook from Kattywompus Press. Her poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and Web.

HOSPITALS

by Marilyn Peretti


Several medical facilities, including a children’s hospital and the largest general hospital in the area, have been hit or destroyed since airstrikes on besieged East Aleppo resumed on November 15, said the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières Saturday. —Medecins Sans Frontieres, November 19, 2016

I'm in a good hospital
my visitor recalls
the small dark
shack-of-a-hospital she saw
once in Guatemala
I recall recent news
second bombing
of the largest functioning
hospital in Aleppo
the great horror and puzzlement
of terror from the air
air meant for breathing
viewing stars and flying
but now constant terror
threats from dropped submunitions
of sharp metal fragments
striking child after child


Marilyn Peretti from near Chicago continues to feel bombarded with the infractions of our human interactions, heightened by the war in Syria, the invasive Dakota Access Pipline, and this Presidential election result. Recently in rehab following surgery she spent long hours writing. Her poems are published in Kyoto Journal, Journal of Modern Poetry, TheNewVerse.News and others.

Friday, November 25, 2016

EXPECTING A TRUMP PRESIDENCY

by Michael T. Young


Eviction of Nikkei from Bainbridge Island, March 1942. Image source: Friends of Minidoka. Most of the Japanese-Americans interned at Minidoka were from Seattle and Bainbridge Island as well as Alaska and Oregon. Many were housed in a temporary camp at the Puyallup Fairgrounds. They were then sent by train to the Minidoka Center. The Minidoka Relocation Center was on 33,000 acres of unused federal land in Jerome County, in south-central Idaho located on the north bank of the North Side Canal providing water diverted from the Snake River to vast irrigation tracts.


It surely won’t be as bad as people say.
The news plays on our fear, exaggerates.
It’s not like they’ll be marching us away.

It’s not like he made lists of who will pay,
who said he’s a fool the public overrates.
It surely won’t be as bad as people say.

He wouldn’t dare to bundle us like hay,
mark those who wear hijab, open the gates,
rounding them up and marching them away.

It doesn’t matter if you’re straight or gay.
He can’t determine rights by who one dates.
It surely won’t be as bad as people say.

The checks of government will keep at bay
his burning ego and his raging hates.
It’s not like they’ll be marching us away.

Ignore the knocking. It’s just another day.
Don’t be afraid of how he celebrates.
It surely won’t be as bad as people say.
It’s not like they’ll be marching us away.


Michael T. Young's fourth collection The Beautiful Moment of Being Lost was published by Poets Wear Prada. His chapbook Living in the Counterpoint received the 2014 Jean Pedrick Award. He received a Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the Chaffin Poetry Award. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals including The Cortland Review, Main Street Rag, Off the Coast, Peacock Journal, and The Potomac Review. His work is also in the anthologies Phoenix Rising, Chance of a Ghost, and Rabbit Ears: TV Poems. He lives with his wife, children, and cats in Jersey City, New Jersey.

THE TRAIL OF FEARS

by Alejandro Escudé


Opening scene of The Gold Rush by Charlie Chaplin


As if the sun had turned into a great pyramid
as if the moon were the trophy wife of Ares
as if the sidewalks were now trapped in the 50’s,
just the sidewalks, as if the purr of the cat where
the same purr of the cat in Slovenia, in Krakow,
as if the professor were under arrest, handcuffed
to the rusty rail of a secret prison, as if the road
were now one long burning trail, a fiery border
on each side and just beyond a trio of Cherokee
staring across to a herd of dead, scattered buffalo,
as if the arrowhead had been taken to a Hooters
in downtown Denver, where it was left on a greasy
table along with leftover fries like the bodies
of Syrian children, as if all Americans were
exiled from America, a great migration across
an invisible land bridge, sidestepping mammoth
carcasses and landmines, sabertooth skulls,
to reach a country that no one ever promised.


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.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

GIVING THANKS IN THE DISUNITED STATES OF AMERICA

by George Salamon


Archive photo of Thanksgiving at the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society in New York City.


Give thanks with a beholden heart
To 12 million Americans who voted for Bernie Sanders.
Give thanks because of the future we could build with them.

Give thanks with a sympathetic heart
To two of ten Americans whose vision is not electronically enslaved.
Give thanks because they insist on seeing for themselves.

Give thanks with a delighted heart
To Susan Sarandon, celebrity with mouth and mind.
Give thanks because she spoke truth to DNC's power.

Give thanks with an empathic heart
To Mitch Hedges, cattle farmer in Paris, Kentucky.
Give thanks because on November 8 he understood that "there was nobody to vote for."

Give thanks that all Americans
Are neither wolves of Wall Street nor sheep on Main Street.
Give thanks because more of them begin to see through
Slogans touting "change" or "greatness."
Give thanks that some of those duped and disenfranchised
No longer are seduced by circuses performing for them.
Give thanks because they may discredit and dismiss
The folklore of capitalism as provider and protector
Of government for the people.

Let's eat!


George Salamon experienced his first American Thanksgiving at the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society in Manhattan in 1948. He was asked to slice a turkey and his picture doing that appeared in the centerfold photo section of a New York tabloid, with a caption claiming that the turkey was the first one he had seen. That was correct, but the paper's reporter never asked him if he had ever seen a turkey before. Some things have not changed since then. Salamon now lives and writes in St. Louis. MO.

AMERICAN ICON

by Lylanne Musselman


Image source: Terapeak

I saw a bald eagle today
soaring back and forth,
sewing the edge of a
pure, fleecy cloud as if
it were being threaded
from the top of his snow
white head to the tip
of his ivory tail feathers.

I imagined he was quilting
a fresh, new day for Americans,
or embroidering a body bag
to collect the fragile bones
of this once strong,
colorful, united tapestry.              


Lylanne Musselman is an award winning poet, playwright, and artist. Her work has appeared in Pank, Flying Island, The Tipton Poetry Journal, Poetry Breakfast, TheNewVerse.News, among others, and many anthologies.  In addition, Musselman has twice been a Pushcart Nominee. Musselman is the author of three chapbooks, with a fourth forthcoming: Weathering Under the Cat, from Finishing Line Press. She also co-authored Company of Women: New and Selected Poems (Chatter House Press, 2013). Presently, she teaches writing at IUPUI, and online for Ivy Tech Community College.

GUZZLING DOWN THE BLUES

a post-election ghazal
by Joe Pacheco

I wake up each morning but can’t turn on the news,
My coffee’s cold and bitter with the Sore Loser Blues.

Start to write a poem, but I can’t find my muse,
She’s run away and left me with just Sore Loser Blues.

Called up Liberty Travel for a one-way Canada cruise,
They told me they’re booked solid with the Sore Loser Blues.

I’m keeping my Clinton sign, in case we didn’t lose,
But don’t know where to hide it with these Sore Loser Blues.

Maybe I’ll jump into the mainstream and drown my liberal views,
It’ll be easier to swim the narrows with the Sore Loser Blues.

The President-elect is desperate, no Dems left to abuse,
He’s willing to twitter anyone with the Sore Loser Blues.

Our nation’s divided, Pacheco, pick a side to choose,
It’s either freeloading Red states or the Sore Loser Blues.


Joseph Pacheco is a retired New York City superintendent  living on Sanibel Island. His  poetry has been featured several times on National Public Radio’s Morning EditionLatino USA and WGCU. He has performed his poetry with David Amram’s jazz quartet at the Bowery Poets Café and Cornelia Street Café in New York City. He writes a poetry column for the Sanibel Islander and his poetry has appeared in English and Spanish in the News-Press. In 2008 he received the Literary Artist of the  Year award from Alliance for the Arts. He has published three books of poetry, The First of the Nuyoricans/Sailing to  SanibelAlligator in the Sky and, Sanibel Joe’s Songbook.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

NOVEMBER'S FEAST

by A.S. Coomer



Airwaves shocked full of jingoist jingles,
ones & zeroes blinking red & blue & filtering fuzzy hatreds into you.
Sing me to sleep, America. Put me on out, lay me low, down,
somewhere green, somewhere dark, out of my misery.
November’s laid out like a feast, plates & platters of curated misinformation,
prepped prejudices propped up, steaming & juicing, on hot beds of hostility.
The feast seems to be never-ending but not all are invited.
The few will dine then trickle scraps unscrupulously down
to us mangy mutts, waiting with wide eyes & wagging tongues
for whatever it left of the land we stole to begin with.


A.S. Coomer is a native Kentuckian serving out a purgatorial existence somewhere in the Midwest. His work has appeared in over thirty publications. He’s got a handful of novels that need good homes. He also runs a “record label” for poetry.

MY CHERRY TREE HAS FAILED TO YIELD

by Gregory Palmerino




Gregory Palmerino’s essays and poems have appeared in Explicator, Teaching English in the Two Year College, College English, Amaze: The Cinquain Journal, International Poetry Review, Courtland Review, Shot Glass Journal, The Lyric, the fib review, The Road Not Taken, Autumn Sky and The Society of Classical Poets. He teaches writing at Manchester Community College and writes poetry in Connecticut’s Quiet Corner, where he lives with his wife and three children.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

SALIENTS

by Mara Adamitz Scrupe


Adamitz Scrupe's original drawings “Fallible” (left) and “What” are from a series entitled “Mourning Drawings”. More information about these and other artwork is available at www.scrupe.com.


                        in meth lab country              we shove rags           
                                                                                    in our mouths           
so nobody knows      we’re             abandoned   

lately I hear   more

            than I have in years in referendum’s         heat
so hot
                         we’re home-stunned/ advantaged still     

whispering/ triumphal:       if all my dreams         came true                              

            rednecks & crackers            & good old boys        
(accurate as anything           I guess) alongside my aunties & uncles

& first cousins left-behind Jack Pine Savages      if you’re looking up  
 north

            know a .22’s perfect for squirrel     dead aim blind

            sharpshooters           in this homegrown war you never
saw coming    & the angels of our better natures shift

                        to snipers/ take the blunt/ try hard          not to die
 (for whatever that’s worth)                        & journalists opine


            & pundits outline options    it won’t last    long    
or        get off your over-educated asses       & rumble        

                                    respectively

            & the spotlight's on misfits & white woman renegades & lip
service & the other audience/ the other side/ half          over the shoulder

                        patriots           ever bruise-less         ever unblemished
 cocksure until                       


            today the tree guy I’ve known since he was a twelve year old kid                 

                     came by (& Iraq        & Afghanistan  & a bad attitude)

stands at my door  we two in-country real-life rural witnessers       


            we in the fire             we       waiting it out in a gale hermetic
as felted wool            we two     fixed        in the blind spot      


                                                            our salients                spelled out


Mara Adamitz Scrupe is a writer and visual artist. She was born and raised in Minnesota and has lived in Virginia for the past thirty years. While both her home and her adopted States went for the Democratic candidate, she’s pretty sure almost all of her relatives voted Republican.

ERASURE

by Terry S. Johnson

from “Trump Turns Staid Process Into Spectacle as Aspirants Parade to His Door,”


President-elect Donald Trump heads inside the clubhouse following his meeting with David McCormick, president of the management committee at Bridgewater Associates, at Trump International Golf Club in Bedminster Township, N.J. Drew Angerer/Getty Images via NPR, November 20, 2016


                                                                        Trump
                        inscrutable
                                                Spectacle                                            for
                                                                                    the world
                                       a pageant

                                                                        Teasing
           contenders

                        The Club’s      farmhouse

                                                         gushed


                                    former adversaries
 “phony”

                                                 Preference for older white men

                                                            military

                        No
public process
                                                 Discarded

                        election cycle


                                                                        Make
                        deals
                                                                                                Shape
                                                posture
                                                                       
                                                            Bursts
            of

                                                                                            disapproval

                                                                                    “ – nothing

funny at all.”


Terry S. Johnson explored careers as a newspaper advertising clerk, a library assistant and a professional harpsichordist before serving as a public school teacher for over twenty-five years. She earned her M.F.A. in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and has published in many anthologies and journals.  Her first book Coalescence was published in 2014 by WordTech and won an honorable mention award in the New England Book Festival.

Monday, November 21, 2016

THE THIRTEENTH MORNING AFTER

by Lyndi O'Laughlin


Image source: Loyal White Knights


Someone put an Amazon box
with a dirty bomb
under the Wizard of Oz’s throne,
blowing millions of barefaced replicas
into a blameless wind,

some lined-up right now
outside the local tattoo parlor,
needles buzzing over the raw flesh
of “Stars and Stripes Forever”.

The Victory Klavalkade Klan Parade is
planned for December, pale guys
and the women who love them
will wave from the beds of
pick-up trucks slithering down
a slick shiny boulevard in
North Carolina, and light will try to glint
off the gun metal barrels of dusty rifles
hanging on racks in back windows;
confetti and balloons will thrill
the children of the children and
maple trees along the parade route
will blow backwards into
the indifferent faces of crows,

and there is so much joy
around me that I turn away,
walk myself into the ocean,
breath salt water and fish scales,
stroll by anemones and sea stars
hiding under vast islands of
Huggies, Big Mac wrappers,
condoms and water bottles.

I’ll nap in a kelp bed, wake to
my own whimpers and howls
bubbling forth like the bays of
a three-legged red bone hound
tethered underwater to a coral reef,
head straight back, mouth an open gash,
seven billion balls of air bubbling forth.

It’s a comfortable enough seat,
this rocky outcrop, and I hardly
have to crane my neck at all
to see the soft underbelly
of that great white shark,
circling the shipwreck on my left.

Nothing to be done today
but keen bad poems,
let them rise in bubbles that
break the surface with a feeble crack
like the chipped edge
of a flat oar,
knowing I will never again
have to wonder—
how the Holocaust was
able to happen in the first place.


Lyndi O'Laughlin has a degree in nursing, but spends her time writing poetry from her home in Kaycee, Wyoming. As a progressive living in a rural, conservative area, poetry has become her way of expressing views that question the status quo. 

BEFORE THE ANTI-TRUMP RALLY

by Jon Wesick


Model Train Museum, Balboa Park, San Diego


Three hours sleep, one hour early
I wander Balboa Park. If only
today was just about healing crystals
and the gentle girl selling yoga pants.
It’s unseasonably hot as if flames of spite
burned the calendar back to August.

There have always been two Americas. Banana Republicans
elected the America of empty promises,
magical thinking, witch hunts, and internment camps;
the America of George Wallace and Bull Connor.

Little hope
for a country this far gone.
If I’m lucky, a lonely exile
of plantains and fried yucca.
The bureaucracy of overseas visas
so disheartening.

There’s a Japanese bridge
in the gully below the tea garden.
Up ahead a Baroque tower
and gold-flecked dome of lapis lazuli.
I’ll miss this place, its people,
my language

One protester shot in Portland.
My bulletproof vest, too bulky
for today. Ten minutes left. No time
for the Model Train Museum’s miniature world,
a world more perfect than this.
I backtrack toward a perilous future


Anti-Trump protesters in Balboa Park. Nov. 12, 2016. Photo by Jean Guerrero/KPBS


Jon Wesick hosts Southern California’s best ice cream parlor poetry reading and is a regional editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual. He’s published hundreds of poems and stories in journals such as the Atlanta Review, Berkeley Fiction Review, Metal Scratches, Pearl, Slipstream, Space and Time, Tales of the Talisman, and Zahir. The editors of Knot Magazine nominated his story “The Visitor” for a Pushcart Prize. His poem “Meditation Instruction” won the Editor’s Choice Award in the 2016 Spirit First Contest. Another poem “Bread and Circuses” won second place in the 2007 African American Writers and Artists Contest. Jon is the author of the poetry collection Words of Power, Dances of Freedom as well as several novels.

UNTITLED

by Karen Neuberg

And I’m carrying my teaspoon
filled with water and I’ll pour it on
the raging fire and I’ll go back and get
more water and that’s what I’ll do
unless I find a bucket to fill and pour,
or a power hose to flush it all away
and I will never stop helping
the greening to return.


Karen Neuberg's most recent chapbook is Myself Taking Stage (Finishing Line Press). She has previously published at TheNewVerse.News.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

SPECTRUM: NOVEMBER 8, 2016

by Deborah Kahan Kolb




The day the red-ones drew the curtains and chose the orange-one
to mind the white oval that had embraced the black-one
nearly three thousand days --- that day

was the day the blue-ones formed
a veined parenthesis to contain the pulsing mass
of the red-ones, spilling sideways,

was the day the red-ones and the blue-ones
never turned to purple and the green-ones
stayed scattered, shoots pushing up to be counted,

was the day the brown-ones huddled and burst, and
waited for the white-ones, the eye-holed pointed ones,
to bear a burning broken cross, its twisted arms akimbo,

was the day the pink-ones, like the blue-one who
missed her grip at the finish, snatched steel from
between their legs and bound themselves each to each,

was the day the tan-ones veiled themselves
into invisibility,

was the day the yellow-ones shifted, and strove
for the exits,

was the day the beige-ones bent double, and breathed
dios mio,

was the day the rainbows clung together, their colors melted
and shriven,

was the day a keening Hallelujah rose up from the teeming streets
and evanesced into the violet sky,

was the day I waited for the raging ones to bring a yellow star
for me.


Deborah Kahan Kolb is the author of the forthcoming chapbook Windows and a Looking Glass (Finishing Line Press, 2017). Her work has appeared in Poetica, Veils, Halos & Shackles, and Voices Israel. She lives in Bronx, NY. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

FOR THE PLEASURES OF SERIOUSNESS

by David Chorlton






But I think there's an appetite for seriousness. Seriousness is voluptuous, and very few people have allowed themselves the luxury of it. Seriousness is not Calvinistic, it's not a renunciation, it's the very opposite of that. Seriousness is the deepest pleasure we have. But now I see people allowing their lives to diminish, to become shallow, so they can't enjoy the deep wells of experience. Maybe it's always been this way, when the heart tends to shut down. If only the heart shut down and there were no repercussions, it would be O.K., but when the heart shuts down, the whole system goes into a kind of despair that is intolerable." —Leonard Cohen to Anjelica Huston in Interview, November 1992


Strange, how a voice
can stay beside a person
for forty years without
its owner ever
stepping forward to be
introduced. On a cold night
in Vienna the vinyl
sang “Suzanne” for company
in a small apartment
with no view except
onto a lonely courtyard
starlight could not reach.
“It’s four in the morning . . . “
and always was
even on the radio
AM show. “Howdy”
said the host in his best
Austrian-English before
pronouncing Le-on-ard Co-hen
to introduce a song
that matched the weather.
Years later, in an Arizona
mining town
entering retirement
a poet set the needle down
and “One by one the guests arrived”
across the desert hills.
Deeper now
and deepening, the timbre
ripened with experience
passing through years
stained by war until it
could “run no more
with that lawless crowd
while killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.”
Everybody knows
what he referred to
while few could say it
with such elegant simplicity.
Out walking, when
a song came uninvited
to mind, it told me “We are ugly
but we have the music.”
It could plead
for “the light in the land of plenty
to shine on the truth someday.”
Whiskey warm
and cured in decades
of cigarette smoke
the voice endured
with a smile depression
can’t erase. In my Secret Life
I smile too, but in recognition
more than humor.
A man in his mid-seventies
ran skipping onto stage
to perform the soundtrack
for many of our lives. He was
still reading our collective minds
while opening his own.
He left the stage
the time I saw him
after three hours with a thousand
people, addressing us
one by one.


David Chorlton first heard Leonard Cohen songs on Austrian radio when he lived in Vienna. Since moving to Phoenix in 1978 he has kept up with new releases in between excursions to enjoy Arizona's landscape and wildlife. His Selected Poems was published by FutureCycle Press in 2014.

Friday, November 18, 2016

DOG WHISTLE POLITICS

by Jacqueline Jules





A pitch prepared for ears
sensitive to a certain frequency.

Meaning my neighbor
doesn’t hear the same message
in the sign he posted in his front yard.

Words that scream for me
like teenagers in a slasher movie
don’t make him blink. No more disturbing
than a housecat meowing for supper.

He waves at me from his white porch
wearing his red sweater, unaware
of the sirens he’s set off in my head.

Though I suspect he steams, just as I do,
at the prospect of sharing a sidewalk
with someone who steps on his vote.

I wipe my eyes on the sleeve
of my blue sweater. Breathe deep.
Remind myself
we are both howling
at the same cruel moon
for different reasons.


Jacqueline Jules is the author of the poetry chapbooks Field Trip to the Museum and Stronger Than Cleopatra. Her work has appeared in over 100 publications including TheNewVerse.News, Potomac Review, Innisfree Poetry Journal, Little Patuxent Review, and Gargoyle. She is also the author of 35 books for young readers.

WITH A NOD TO JACK CADE'S REBELLION

by William Aarnes




First thing we do
let’s lock up all

the pollsters in solitary.
Then let’s stretch a cable

a hundred or so feet
above Times Square

and see if journalists
can maintain their balance

as tightrope walkers.
Then let’s deport all

the microchips.  Then
let’s tax the rich

out of enjoying influence.
Let’s open gated communities

to families fleeing
oppressors.  Then let’s see

if we can save
the planet from ourselves.


William Aarnes lives in a county where 73.9% of the voters cast ballots for Trump.

O, SAY CAN YOU SEE

by George Held


Mr. Mammon. Posted by Fearguth at bildungblog, February 25, 2016.


Once-temperate female Facebook friends
Who’d reckoned Hillary would win for femmes
Now sound in defeat as intemperate
As the rightwing half of the electorate.

Some blacks and Latins now prove as hateful
Toward whites as the most bigoted of baleful
Enemies who supported the winner, Trump,
Who they’d supposed would land on his rump.

Now that there’s no hope for e pluribus unum,
And our petitions are voided in a tweet,
As we prepare for Armageddon in the street,
Listen up to what the Whitelash has spoken:

A land run by conglomerate Trump Bannon
& Co., in thrall to almighty Mammon.


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

Thursday, November 17, 2016

MY GRANDMOTHER, A SHAMAN, HAS WORDS FOR THOSE WHO VOTED FOR TRUMP

by Ron Riekki




She recites a prayer, or perhaps it’s a curse,
that the souls of the unjust will also have years
to howl, that their revelation will shake their heart

until their cobweb racism awakens the spiders
of their hate and they’re forced to eat the insides
of their insides. She holds in her hand an iron pipe,

invisible, but visible, iron and air, and she sucks
deep on its end, telling me that she is taking away
their stupidity, gullibility, hegemonic ability,

and leaving them on vacation, meaning, etymologically
empty, vacated, so that something other than dumb
sexism can rest in their hollow bones. Her eyes

are fuses. Her skin reels. Her tears are middle
passages, saying we could have made history
but instead we made a bed to fuck the poor.

Behind her, there is no snow. We have assimilated
out of the Arctic, lost our language, bathed
in a drumless Michigan that has turned blood red

from apathy, tricked, pathetic, pricked to death
and not even realizing the rigor mortis. I watch
my mother open her mouth so wide that her lungs

are visible, iron and air, and I wonder if those
so easily swayed, so cinematographically fooled,
would even witness the protests of her body.


Ron Riekki's books include U.P.: a novel (Sewanee Writers Series and Great Michigan Read nominated), The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works (2014 Michigan Notable Book awarded by the Library of Michigan and finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award/shortlisted for the Grand Prize, Midwest Book Award, Foreword Book of the Year, and Next Generation Indie Book Award), and Here: Women Writing on Michigan's Upper Peninsula (2016 IPPY/Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal Great Lakes—Best Regional Fiction and Next Generation Indie Book Award—Short Story finalist).

MOTHER BONES

by Caroll Sun Yang




What if your mother, who is your fire
picks for a leader, a villainous brute
who like your mother, claims rights to life,
except in the case, of nature’s sick error.

What if your mother, who is your fire
glowered your way, hissing abort
sinful jade loner, pregnant with seed,
who born now stands, man six-feet.

What if your mother, who is your fire
spat at your choice, because of some lover,
who sired the bloom, chose to fly solo
and what was then left, she deemed debris.

What if your mother, who was your fire
fails to amend, her mendacities,
pregnant with seeds from this philistine,
who born now stands, head of this land.

And flocks of sobbing girls are heard,
chorus fetal, hands on pubis begging sleep.
And it sounds like a blazing, witchy cackle
of all sick mother's bones on fire.


Caroll Sun Yang holds her BFA in Fine Art from Art Center College of Design, an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University and is a certified Psychosocial Rehabilitation Specialist. Her work appears in The Los Angeles Review of Books, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Necessary Fiction, Word Riot, Columbia Journal and Juked. She spends hours hunched over her unborn debut collection while writeressin' and matriarchin' in Eagle Rock, Ca. She can never have enough personality-disordered friends/ lo-fi anything/ human touch/ sarcasm/ cell photo filters/ art films featuring teens/ Latrinalia/ frosting flowers/ bio changes. She spews forth as Caroll Sun Yang on Facebook.

LINGERIE COUNTER

by Clara B. Jones


Claes Oldenburg. Lingerie Counter. 1962. Textiles, canvas, plaster, enamel, metal stand, neon tube, mirror, and fiberboard Ludwig Museum - Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest . . . with the addition of Ivanka Trump’s $10,800 “bangle” that she wore from her Metropolis Collection on 60 Minutes.

Trump is a Pop Artist with enough influence to have
poetry recover its power from the Romantics
and their natural tone inspiring Ivanka and Gucci
and other global icons—
balancing perfect acts for their new collections.
There is no rap masterpiece
since Killer Mike® didn't “get the message”
like Hillary didn't send the e-mails that Wikileaks exposed.
Obama has been sad for the last year
but we can think of several ways to thank him
though Michelle is a dealmaker
and her war with 50 Cent® is about to end
if she gets 5% of the profits
when the Oval Office is painted red.
Michelle said
I am for an art that helps old ladies across the street*
when Trump performed in the Green Room
where his show was stunning.
Call 1-800-800-1234 to order his book.
The price will never change.
Something happened
but it never got out of hand
since Trump's career is on the rise
and he fries tasty catfish.
Barak wants to end global warming
but Michelle wants to fight vile diseases—
having said that it's Thanksgiving
so what is Trump going to cook if poems are at stake?
Trump has prescriptions for migraine headaches
but knows his problems are genetic and Melania has
the right to remain silent so nothing will be held against her.


*Claes Oldenburg (1961)


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 three chapbooks, and her poems, reviews, essays, and interviews have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous venues.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

REBIRTH

by Howard Winn

Image: “Rudy Giuliani’s Scar Power Grabs” by Keith Seidel for Washington Monthly Magazine


Floundering in the sea of anonymity
with head barely above the surface
weighted with the concrete blocks
of three wives some past but always
present he was desperate to be important
again in a world that had left him
behind if not the eight-ball at least
the news of the day and that coveted
spot in the political power structure
where he could be someone rather
than no one so he embraced the Satan
of the moment masquerading as the
savior who would recreate the past
that was now irrelevant in the present
complexity of society and truth from
science as well as standards from
faith had to be denied in order to be-
come important once more so again
he could be America’s heroic mayor.


Howard Winn's work has been published in Dalhousie Review, Galway Review, Descant. Antigonish Review, Southern Humanities Review, Chaffin Review, Evansville Review, and Blueline. His latest work is Acropolis, a novel published by Propertius Press. He is Professor of English at SUNY-Dutchess.

NOSTALGIA

by Gil Hoy


Caricature of Steve Bannon for The New Statesman


Their homes, cone-shaped wooden
poles covered with buffalo hides.

Set up to break down quickly
in order to move to a safer place.

A reddish brown squaw sits inside of
one of them, adorning her dresses

her family's shirts with beads and quills.
She watches over her children, skins

cuts and cooks the buffalo meat, pounds
clothes clean with smooth wet river rocks.

But then she sees the blue cavalry
coming, she starts to run again.

Is that what made America great,
back then?

Negro families working hard on hot cotton
farms, sunrise to sunset, six days a week.

Monotony broken only by their daily beatings
by their singing of sad soulful songs.

Like factories in fields, dependent upon
the demands of cotton and cloth.

You could buy a man for a song,
back then.

Is that what made America great,
once again?

They say the full moon today is bigger
and brighter than it’s been in 69 years--

since Jackie Robinson played his first
big league baseball game.

But there are swastikas in our schools
today, gay pride flags being burned.

Whitelash. While those in government spew
anti-Muslim venom and rant of white power.

Just as the old new man at the top
gets set to solemnly swear, he'll
make America great again.


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.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

AFTER THE CATASTROPHE

by Siham Karami




Tell me the evenings will deepen
the indigo sky in my brain.
This blue is too endless for laughter—
who'll bring me the color of rain?

Where rivers no longer meander,
sharp borders sink into the plain.
We slice the horizon to order,
but where is the color of rain?

The revelers' feet heard a rumbling
as mountains rose up to complain.
We woke up too late to find morning
and lost the soft color of rain.

The seabirds aloft in the sunlight
a whisper of breeze would sustain.
Old roots pummeled hard under asphalt
break through in the color of rain.

Remind us of wandering prophets;
Remind us of beehives and grain;
Ferment all our sterilized palettes
and reverence the color of rain.


Siham Karami's 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

RESULTS: HATRED IS A CANCER IN AMERICA

by Sarah E. Colona


Such malignancy
cannot be cut out without
great disfigurement.


Sarah Elizabeth Colona lives and teaches in her home state of New Jersey. She is the author of three poetry collections: Hibernaculum (Gold Wake Press, 2013), Thimbles (dancing girl press, 2012) and That Sister (dancing girl press, 2016). Sarah's poems also appear in Unruly Catholic Women Writers: Creative Responses to Catholicism (SUNY, 2013).

Monday, November 14, 2016

PROTEST AT UNION SQUARE, NOVEMBER 12, 2016

by Sarah Stern


A woman holds a poster regarding safety pins as a sign of solidarity against intolerance during a protest against US President-elect Donald Trump at Union Square on November 12, 2016, in New York. Americans spilled into the streets Saturday for a new day of protests against Donald Trump, even as the president-elect appeared to back away from the fiery rhetoric that propelled him to the White House. AFP via Inquirerer.Net


This is what democracy looks like
                Radishes, scallions and brown bread
No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here
                Emma Lazarus, let's please have lunch today

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free
                You wrote that poem already
A prayer for our country
                Emma Lazarus, come with me to shul today

Sit with me by Lady Liberty
                The New York Harbor, Leonard Cohen, Hallelujah
The little girl on her dad's shoulders down 16th street
                Holding on with me.


Sarah Stern is the author of But Today Is Different (Wipf and Stock) and Another Word for Love (Finishing Line Press). She is Associate Director of Communications at Bank Street College of Education and lives in New York City.

OPTIONS TO CONSIDER AFTER A TRUMP VICTORY

by David James
CREDIT: MATT / THE TELEGRAPH 


You can stumble
into your cave of despair and blame

half the electorate for their blind
ignorance; you can stick your head
in the sand and try to hide the shame

you feel for your country; you can live behind
four walls of silence and let the world implode

on itself.  Or you can gather your belongings
and move to Croatia or Singapore.
But it won’t change a thing. On the long road

to heaven, you’ll find lepers and hypocrites, almost anything
floating between paradise and hell.

The fact is, no election could ever save us.
No truth can be hidden for long.
No amount of rain can fill the old well

if the well’s dry as a bone. To live with disgust
is to admit defeat. To admit defeat is to lose

all hope. And to lose all hope it to give in
to darkness. Sorry, I can’t let that happen. I’ll stand here
in the light, work hard, and wait for the good news.


David James' third book My Torn Dance Card was a finalist in the 2016 Next Generation Indie book award. More than thirty of his one-act plays have been produced. He teaches at Oakland Community College.

DONALD TRUMP, KATE MCKINNON, LEONARD COHEN

by Jaimee Hills





Are people safe? You've struck a chord
as we become an angry horde.
Appreciate the optics, now you’ve stopped her.
With painted signs, they chant, they sing,
the minor crowd, assembling,
as cloudy skies compose a helicopter.

A vote inside a vote machine
meaningless but for what it could mean
felt like gambling in a bankrupted casino.
The votes rolled in, in waves like water;
the careless don’t care about my daughter,
heat rising like the shock of jalapeño.

Though someone else's dream is you,
dream on we do, dream on we do,
hardy as the gardens of Pompeiians.
The flowers find the seasons strange,
there’s a changing to their change,
squalled shorelines and the stooping Himalayans.

It’s not illegal just to breathe.
We’ve always struggled. Always seethe.
It feels the wind is howling, blowing through you.
Within the ocean's current form
a shifting rage, a stirring storm,
the bitter burning tongue of Hallelujah.


Jaimee Hills is the author of How to Avoid Speaking, winner of the 2014 Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize. She has been a featured reader in the O.B. Hardison Poetry Series at the Folger Shakespeare Library and her work has appeared in Best New Poets, Mississippi Review, Drunken Boat, Blackbird, and elsewhere. She teaches at Marquette University and lives in Milwaukee, WI.

THE WEEKEND AFTER

by Katherine Smith





The quiet of the street’s
Unbroken, except for
The intermittent roar

Of leaf-blowers beneath
The maple trees next door,
The sound of aluminum

Bats struck against a ball.
The shouting near the school
Not far from where I live

Grows louder as I walk
Towards it, past the park.
The light this afternoon

Filters through crimson rain
Of walnut leaves to chips
Of bark beneath the slide,

Merry-go-round and swing.
A sheepdog with my Thai
Neighbor passes by, and he

Scoots his dog’s white rump
To mulch beside the curb
So I can pass. In DC

The protests have begun
And a cold front moves
If not through autumn sky,

Quite yet, then through the hearts
That thump within the half
Of us like a blade. I think

Of the writing prompt,
Abandoned for a walk,
That asked us poets to devise

A proper response to one
The history books will call
Winner. But here I pause

To watch a team of girls
At the softball pitch,
A group of dads, who coach

The way to swing a bat.
I contemplate the courage,
Dignity, and grace,

The beauty, human, flawed,
Of course, as all beauty is,
Thrown towards us like a ball

We couldn’t catch.


Katherine Smith’s previous publications include appearances in Poetry, Cincinnati Review, Missouri Review, Ploughshares, Southern Review and many other journals. Her first book Argument by Design (Washington Writers’ Publishing House) appeared in 2003. Her second book Woman Alone on the Mountain (Iris Press) appeared in 2014.