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Tuesday, January 31, 2017


by Carol Alexander

The dreams unspool like newsreel in the night.
They patrol great rifts with somnambulist grace,
afraid to wake. Winds snatch up small fires.
Ships jam the locks; albatross float in the wrack.
We learned to sing the places of our origins.
Baggage mounts and scarves restrain long, blue-black hair,
 scarves  so beautifully shot with metallic threads.
The same dream dreamt, newsreel of the stunning night,
shows us  rifles, faces bearded with green foam,
the nausea of stale food in the hold.
Overnight, we learn the taste of shame.
Names pile up on documents; the syllables howl.
We thrust our bodies against the dream,
test its give, mallow stickiness of the web.
In attics children hide, clutching an almond or a fig.
Rooftops blacken in fallout; mushrooms sprout in morgues.
After the war, survivors creep outdoors like ghosts.
And in the breadlines, there is ersatz.
A giant mouth is yawning, stuffed with crooked teeth.

Carol Alexander's work has been published in numerous anthologies and literary journals such as The American Journal of Poetry, Bluestem, Boston Literary Magazine, Canary, Caesura, Chiron Review, The Common, Driftwood Press, MadHatLit, Mobius, TheNewVerse.News, Poetrybay, South Florida Poetry  Journal, Red River Review, Split Rock Review, and THEMA. Her poetry collection Habitat Lost will be published in 2017 by Cave Moon Press. Her chapbook Bridal Veil Falls is available from Flutter Press.

Monday, January 30, 2017


by Howie Good

Mothers and babies fleeing the red death
disappeared down a hole in the sea. And
now what do we do? Chant, “USA! USA!”

Chant, “Build a wall.” This is weather
for dogs – bomb-sniffing dogs. No one
is safe. Police are throwing their critics

out windows. Here, as Primo discovered,
there isn’t any why. There’s always only
the creep of shadows. They move, we follow.

Howie Good is the recipient of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry for his new collection Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements.


by Dennis Etzel Jr.

Asmund wakes me up for another game
as the sun tries rising in another December
morning I try to rise he says he likes to wake up
in a little dark time not too early
looks out the window over our back
yard over our Kansas our country
waking up I’ve never woken up in such a dark time
these gradual small wake-ups to dungeon builders

as our resistance is set to dismantle walls Asmund asks
if this little dark time is okay for me to wake up in
I say yes let’s go downstairs with your brothers to sit
navigate the dungeon together keeping the dragons
from getting further ahead as we search for a secret door
for freedom I show my sons how to throw the dice

Dennis Etzel Jr. lives with Carrie and the boys in Topeka, Kansas where he teaches English at Washburn University. He has an MFA from The University of Kansas, and an MA and Graduate Certificate in Women and Gender Studies from Kansas State University. He has two chapbooks, The Sum of Two Mothers (ELJ Publications 2013) and My Graphic Novel (Kattywompus Press 2015), a poetic memoir My Secret Wars of 1984 (BlazeVOX 2015), and Fast-Food Sonnets (Coal City Review Press 2016). His work has appeared in Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, BlazeVOX, Fact-Simile, 1913: a journal of poetic forms, 3:AM, Tarpaulin Sky, DIAGRAM, and others. He is a TALK Scholar for the Kansas Humanities Council and leads poetry workshops in various Kansas spaces.


by Rachel Voss

As a poet in the Internet Age, you find, through a quick search,
that the image you seized upon during a walk to do laundry is not,
sadly, an original one: Trump Tower of Babel.

(And that search just as swiftly uncovers the wisdom of the tarot—
apparently—did you know this?—the Tower card—yes, likely a reference
to Babel—is a trump card which immediately follows the Devil

and is associated with “sudden, disruptive, and potentially destructive
change”—truly, you’ve stumbled into an online abyss of hidden meanings
and Wikipedia distractions.  Return to your laundry.)  Crestfallen,

I do, but realize that as with all myth, it’s what you make of the story
that matters.  Is it a “fact” to hoard like grain in a pyramid built
by literal nonsense, rigid and unyielding?  Or is it a metaphor to continually

mine, one that will somehow always yield gold?  I settle on the latter,
settle into the chatter of the mind, replaying last night’s conversations:
the hungry talk, the ravenous listening, the bread, the wine.

What communion this?  A pop tune, perhaps, a drunken howl—no,
we will never be saints—choral support, the words we somehow all
remember, liked a mantra turned and returned to.

And so the story isn’t about the modern-day Nimrod, the hubris of phallus
gesturing lewdly heavenwards—it’s about the confounding tongues, mysterious
in their multiplicity, voices beautiful in their baffling difference

from our own.  We’ve been talking a lot about ‘doing something’—
and I think the talk, remarkably, is something.  Sing, goddess,
of “a cry of pain that could have got loud and worse but hadn’t” (Bishop)—

a cry that turned into the voice we use when we want to be heard
at a noisy party, or over the din of the city, or ignorance, or when you’re looking
for the right words to say, I can’t understand you, not anymore, we need

to go back to the time when we all used the same language,
a song as elemental as a beating heart, the sound that a human being
makes when it says, I’m here, we exist, and I want you to know

what I mean.

Rachel Voss is a high school English teacher living in Queens, New York. She graduated with a degree in creative writing and literature from SUNY Purchase College. Her work has previously appeared in The Ghazal Page, Hanging Loose Magazine, Unsplendid, 3Elements Review, Silver Birch Press, and Bodega Magazine, among others. 


by David Chorlton

He was found dead between two buildings, a homeless man who grew up in town and had been a fixture on the streets of Libertyville [IL] for many years. But it wasn't always that way. Jack Thomas, 48, was a high school grad with college degrees, a talkative sort who loved cars and music. He was said to be a dreamer who went to California in the mid-'90s to be discovered and returned a different person. —Daily Herald, January 27, 2017. Photo: Jack Thomas via Jack Thomas Memorial Fund.

Light in the window blinds marks a beginning
and the historians are busy.
Sparrows in the orange tree
sing morning news
as coffee water wakes up to a boil.
There aren’t enough votes
to stretch the darkness into one more hour of sleep.
The choice is rebellion
or breakfast. Waffles today,
served without discussion
over anything but music. A bad dream
sticks to the plates though,
and won’t wash away. The water swirls
around and around
in the eye of a storm.


A wounded train cries out to the rain
that there is still far to go.
The sidewalks are polished misery.
In the park the cormorants rest on their island
with the dripping palms
and hang out their wings to dry.
When the telephone rings
somebody speaks in Spanish, so quickly
the words fly off around the kitchen
where they can’t be caught
and understood. I’d like to be friendly
but this isn’t a day for it. It still feels uncharitable
to simply hang up
and a weak apology is the best I can summon.
There goes my voice
through the wire stretched across the yard
where the pigeons with their cold, pink claws
are waiting, whatever the weather.


There’s a somber warning
in the news again, and hummingbirds
flashing their gorgets
against a morning thundercloud.
Weeds take hold
of more territory each day
and legislation of hurricane force
is being signed into law
as we pull them.


Between the cats who show up to be fed
and coyotes running wild in the neighborhood
we’re not sure which side to be on.
The yard is eerily still this morning

while the sky fans its feathers
and a talon scratches the silence open.
Families have been divided, friendships

broken, but the homeless men
sitting in a vacant lot
have nobody left to betray them, and nothing

but the cold wind for company.
No use telling them
to join the crowd now gathering to make the best
of the situation, having learned

to laugh away our anger
and play the rain like harp strings when it falls.


A Fire Department ambulance blocks two lanes
next to the light rail station
where a man is lying down, too far gone
to appreciate

that the day’s faraway events might
have repercussions for him
when he awakens
and attempts to stand up
with nothing to hold on to. Flashing lights,

a siren, and the ambulance
leaves without him. We don’t know the protocol
for stopping to smell a person’s breath

and test his viability
in a time so burdened with violence and tragedy
that we bleed
from other people’s wounds.

David Chorlton is a transplanted European, who has lived in Phoenix since 1978. His poems have appeared in many publications on- and off-line, and reflect his affection for the natural world, as well as occasional bewilderment at aspects of human behavior. His newest collection of poems is Bird on a Wire from Presa Press, and late in 2017 The Bitter Oleander Press will publish Shatter the Bell in my Ear, his translations of poems by Austrian poet Christine Lavant.

Sunday, January 29, 2017


by Floyd Cheung

Cartoon by Mike Luckovich

transfer power
to a small group

not your victories
not your triumphs
little to celebrate
across our land

this moment
belongs to


demand a righteous
system flush with
one glorious destiny

The oath I take today is
For industry
wealth ripped

a decree to

a vision
America First

I will
with every breath
let you down

understanding the right
interests first

impose our way
for everyone

old alliances
will eradicate the Earth

the bedrock of
our country,

The Bible tells us, "How good and pleasant it is when
America is totally unstoppable.”


black or brown or white,
salute the American

be ignored again

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America.

Author’s note: Erasure poems preserve the order of words in the original text but delete many in order to create a new work, in this case a distillation of Trump’s inaugural address as it might have been heard by some.

Floyd Cheung has taught American literature at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, since 1999. His chapbook Jazz at Manzanar was published by Finishing Line Press in 2014.


by Brigitte Goetze

Archive photo: AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Winnipeg Free Press-Wayne Glowacki

The alternative ways are in stark opposition, but if she works patiently through her difficulties, trusting herself to life, living each day as fully and as truly as possible, seeking through sincerity of living to solve the problem of their opposition, she may perhaps find a way to a reconciliation. —Ester Harding

Power will have its way,
no matter how damned
its path. Like flood water
it will widen a small crack,
splitting the land into two,
uprooting what stands innocently
in its commandeered course.

You, who live upstream,
pick up whatever tool you have,
wheelbarrow, shovel, hoe,
rush up the Hill, help
draw a ditch across the slope,
diverting the deluge’s downpour
away from seedlings and old shrubs.

And you, who live downstream,
join your neighbors,
fill sandbags or nourish those
working: many a place can be
cordoned off from the swollen,
murky, ice-cold torrent against
which weapons of war are useless.

Energy cannot be destroyed, but
it can be channeled. Even if some will not
be protected from the inevitable
mud flow, yet, it may not devour all.
We are able, willing, and ready
to defend with our hands and hearts
what we have labored so hard to build.

Brigitte Goetze lives in Western Oregon. A retired biologist and a goat farmer, she now divides her time between writing and fiber work.


by Kristina England

Cover created by Tim O’Brien, Professor at Pratt Institute and President at Society Of Illustrators


Hate crimes are increasing in schools.
That's a lie, Mother stammers over the phone.
No, it's a fact.
Well they deserve it,  
putting "Black Lives Matter" stickers
on the back of their cars.
Of course they matter . . . 


The drought outside is not a drought.
The planet is not warming.
It's just a dry spell.
Let it go. We'll be fine.


Pink hats.
More than one million?
There were no pink hats.
Even if there was an "alleged" march,
it's obvious they didn't vote


Mother puts shackles on my hands,
says it's the latest fashion,
says to be happy where I am.
Silent, stay, good girl.

I am in a room with no mirrors
no windows, no way of reflecting.
I shed tears into my hand,
look for hope in a cupped pond,
but the water has seeped,
through, skin cracks in
white-walled room.

I start chanting, release me, release me.
Mother fixes her crown and says,
There's no prison here.
We live in a castle made of ice cream.

I chant louder and louder
until I can hear a frenzy of pink hats
chant in unison.

Mother frowns, asks a servant
to bring her another reporter's head on a platter.
And cut off these daughters' ears.
All of them, the servant asks.
All of them, she says,
then goes back to tweeting about her day.

Kristina England resides in Worcester, Massachusetts.  She is a writer and photographer.


by Kenneth Arthur

"Relativity" by M.C. Escher

Hooded walkers circle
the courtyard stairwell
intent on mysterious missions,
ascending, descending, never arriving.

Hoods up. Get in Line.
Eyes straight ahead.
Ascending patriots on the left,
Descending on the right.

Others watch amazed, amused.
Some sit pensively in despair.

foot up foot down
foot up foot down
foot up foot down
march march march
Eyes straight ahead.
go go go
Do not notice that man you passed.
You will be at your destination soon.
That is not the same man you passed before.
Soon we will be great again.
How can you possibly pass the same person?
Do not believe your eyes.
You are on your way to greatness.
Hoods up. Get in Line.
Eyes straight ahead.

Atop the grand building
where columns and archways
impose facade upon
impenetrable interior,
no one disrupts the procession.

Kenneth Arthur is a former professional computer nerd and currently a minister in the United Church of Christ. Besides dabbling in poetry, he is the author of a book of theology scheduled for publication in 2017. He currently lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan.


by Lucia Cherciu

He wants to close borders and build a wall
while refugees are waiting in pain.
We watch in disbelief and want to crawl

back into bed and hide for four years, then all
come out and vote. We brainstorm ways to strain
his plans to close borders and build a wall.

What strategies shall we use to stall
the madness derailing from his chain?
We watch in disbelief and want to crawl

as every day new stories snowball
into disasters and catastrophes that sustain
his plans to close borders and build a wall.

Those of us who lived under dictators can recall
the disappointment, hurt, and disdain.
We watch in disbelief and want to crawl

and set up stages and struggle to tell all,
gather crowds at street corners and explain
what happens when someone builds a wall.
We watch in disbelief and want to crawl.

Lucia Cherciu is a Professor of English at SUNY/Dutchess in Poughkeepsie, NY, and she writes both in English and in Romanian. Her new book Train Ride to Bucharest is forthcoming from Sheep Meadow Press. Her other books include Edible Flowers (Main Street Rag, 2010), Lepădarea de Limbă/The Abandonment of Language (Vinea, 2009), and Altoiul Râsului/Grafted Laughter (Brumar 2010). Her poetry was nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017


A Rhupunt by Elizabeth Spencer Spragins

The white man buys
With gold-plate lies.
His honor dies
On rocks that stand.

With greed, with guile,
Pale fists defile
The streams with bile
That poisons land:

“Hail, bottom line!
For leaks, a fine;
Let squaws drink wine!”
We understand

Their appetite
For oil will blight
Our sacred site,
Yet they demand

We yield this ground.*
Despoilers pound
The earth, and mound
Its bones and sand

With metal paws.
The hungry jaws
Of drill that gnaws
Devour our land.

Their serpent’s bite
Pours black of night
Through earth despite
Our protests and

Appeals to law.
So from the maw
Of death we claw
The dead, command

Their ghosts with dance,**
Add spear and lance
Of spirits’ stance
To human hand.

We string each bow
With words, strike blow
In court; the snow
We will withstand.

Foes agitate
With stones of hate;
Lakota wait
On rocks that stand.

* Current plans call for the Dakota Access Pipeline to pass under the Missouri River less than one mile upstream of the Standing Rock Reservation.  The Lakota have protested on the grounds that the project will contaminate their sole source of drinking water and disrupt their sacred lands.  

**By 1890 the Lakota faced starvation as a result of the U.S. Army’s systematic decimation of the buffalo, their primary food source. Members of the tribe began to practice the ghost dance, which was said to harness the spirits of the dead to fight on behalf of the living.  Sitting Bull was arrested for refusing to stop this practice, and the resulting conflict led to his death and the subsequent massacre of his supporters at Wounded Knee.

Elizabeth Spencer Spragins is a linguist, writer, and editor who taught in North Carolina community colleges for more than a decade.  Her tanka and bardic verse in the Celtic style have been published in England, Scotland, Canada, and the United States.  Recent work has appeared in Quarterday Review, Society of Classical Poets Journal, Bamboo Hut, Skylark, Atlas Poetica, Halcyon Days, and Peacock Journal.  She lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA.

Friday, January 27, 2017


by Linda Lerner

Photo credit: Nick Cobbing at LegalPlanet

I thought of the polar bears when
he told me of waking up with
his arm flapping around like it wasn’t his

not right away, of course,
but after he’d gotten more accustomed
to it, like the polar bears

who’ve been unhomed & had to
scavenge for food on land when
the ice began melting,

told him I understood, though
I’ve never seen a polar bear or been
in his place; he thought that having scraped off the
last vestiges of immunity after a bad fall
I felt more vulnerable but that’s not what I meant,
something had gradually shifted; none of us
were where we thought we were;
one morning a stricken body politic
woke up flapping about in utter confusion asking
                                                what just happened 
my friend looked at me and asked,
one hand forcing the other to get past it

Linda Lerner has new work in Onthebus, Chiron Review, Gargoyle, and SoFloPoJo. In spring 2015, she read six poems on WBAI for Arts Express. Her recent collections include Yes, the Ducks Were Real and Takes Guts and Years Sometimes (NYQ Books) and a chapbook of poems inspired by nursery rhymes Ding Dong the Bell Pussy in the Well.

Thursday, January 26, 2017


by Melissa Fite Johnson

A woman wears a Statue of Liberty crown and holds a torch at the Women’s March in New York on Saturday. Credit Sara Hylton/The New York Times via Alaska Dispatch News, January 22, 2017

1. Dry throat I must coat with water or I’ll cough. 
2. Dog-sitting for a friend so she can march. 
3. The angry parent who checked Facebook 
to confirm I’m a liberal teacher.  

He might find this poem.
It makes me squirm, the thought he could take 
my thoughts from my head. My old professor 
always says, It’s easier not to write. 
Today, it was easier not to lurch 
open the garage, turn the key, thrust myself 
into history, into the brave crowd 
filling their lungs with songs instead of doubt. 
My body won’t speck a grainy photograph. 

August 28, 1963, a young girl rested 
her arm on a rail, her head on her arm. The video 
unspools her at “sweltering with the heat of 
oppression.” Every phrase was 
a lighted match. Each flame passed through her. 

January 21, 2017, what words, what fire
I could have carried home like a torch.

Melissa Fite Johnson’s first collection, While the Kettle’s On (Little Balkans Press, 2015), won the Nelson Poetry Book Award and is a Kansas Notable Book.  Her poems have appeared in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Rust + Moth, Broadsided Press, velvet-tail, and elsewhere.  Melissa teaches English and lives with her husband in Kansas.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


by Devon Balwit 

Isidro Baldenegro (d. 2017), a subsistence farmer and community leader of Mexico’s indigenous Tarahumara people in the country’s Sierra Madre mountain region was jailed for 15 months for organizing protests against illegal logging and his work to defend the forests, lands and rights of indigenous people.
Goldman prize winner Isidro Baldenegro López, who was known for his activism against illegal logging, was shot dead months after Berta Cáceres was murdered 
The Guardian, January 18, 2017

Congratulations, you have won a prize!
Even now, we are preparing your bullet;
someone is digging your grave.

We thank you for raising your head above
the parapet, helping our assassins, for walking
ahead of the crowd, for speaking out.

Even as you topple, we are felling your trees,
damming your ancestral waters, wringing
profit from all that is profitable.

And do not worry; we have our eyes on your sons
and daughters, already seeking the next winner,
attentive, proactive, ready to reward passion.

Devon Balwit is a writer and teacher from Portland, OR. She has two chapbooks forthcoming—how the blessed travel from Maverick Duck Press and Forms Most Marvelous from dancing girl press. Her recent work has found many homes, both on-line and in print.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


by Jo-Ella Sarich

Myo Yan Naung Thein "spent six months in prison last year after posting a satirical poem to Facebook deemed insulting to the then president Thein Sein. Two of the lines read: 'I have a tattoo of the president’s face on my penis / My wife is disgusted.'" —“Free speech curtailed in Aung San Suu Ky’s Myanmar as prosecutions soar,” The Guardian, January 8, 2017

That time you
lay, wine-numbed, upon the bench
cling-wrapped like luncheon meat, and branded
yourself ‘Slut’ in another language
(accidentally, you didn’t discover until that
night out in Roppongi)

When you ran outside and cried
into the sun. And
That friend had
her twin’s names tattooed
on her wrist, and tattooed
Angel wings around
the name of the one
who first learned to Fly.

When That razor
was like a river in your hand
when you dug deep so they would see,
that being is just a hair’s breadth. When you carve
Freedom, and it’s just a word written in another language, just
thousands of tiny pin pricks that span the world. Like
light seen from space, if you see his back it’s
golden with his scars. I want to


my fingers along them with the lightest touch,
connect them like humanitarian corridors. Because you can’t
lose those scars. But That leopard
could change its spots just by dreaming it can Fly, so

turn the page quietly, and I’ll write you a poem
in a place where no-one will ever read it.

Jo-Ella Sarich lives in Petone, New Zealand beside the beautiful Wellington harbour. She has worked as a lawyer for a number of years, and has a husband and two small girls. She has recently started writing again in her spare time. Her poetry has appeared in Tuck Magazine and The Galway Review, and will be appearing in the upcoming Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017.

Monday, January 23, 2017


by CL Bledsoe & Michael Gushue

The problem is bears in the classroom.
The problem is bears who don't know
which utensil is for the pâté, which
is for olives.
The problem is that I'm right.
The problem is our tax dollars at work.
Ask all the questions you want. Questions are free.
Answers require donations.
The problem is bears who don't speak proper English.
The problem is bears stealing jobs.
The problem is union bears.
The problem is the lack of bear vouchers.
Bears should be left up to the states,
the largest donors.
Bears eating pâté. Bears who can spell their government
representatives' names and use a touch-tone phone.
The problem is bears who don't know how to stitch
their own wounds.
The problem is bears on death panels,
bears running internment camps.
The problem is bears as Uber drivers.
Bears want to take away our pâté knives.
The problem is bears don't eat pâté
and the ones who do don't vote.
The problem is bears taking our guns and making them into backscratchers.
Russian bears who've invaded our classrooms after the arctic ice melted.
The problem is what's going on behind the bears' backs
while we're watching their teeth.

CL Bledsoe is the assistant editor for The Dead Mule and author of fourteen books, most recently the poetry collection Trashcans in Love. He lives in northern Virginia with his daughter.

Michael Gushue is co-founder with Dan Vera of Poetry Mutual and Poetry Mutual Press. He co-curates the intermittent reading series Poetry at the Watergate with Deborah Ager. His chapbooks are Gathering Down Women, Conrad, and Pachinko Mouth. He lives Washington, D.C.

Sunday, January 22, 2017


by Allison Blevins

Photo by Fletcher Gravy

I think about the absolutes of motion when I’m naked,
how a pendulum swings, how a scale unbalanced
must wobble, how my skin ripples, weight unsteadies.

Something alive is buzzing in the kitchen, leg
against leg, string against bow, the sound
of nothing, boxed and electrified.  A blackness

circles in the sky above my son’s school most afternoons.
I could say blackness as if dawn or sleep
or blood rising to air were sinister, but the feeling

on my skin is more like dust, fine and granular, settling
even in my throat.  I could say the circling and flapping
and cawing will alight as sediment, in the corners,

in the morning, after God has closed his eyes,
after God has opened them again.  My children
cannot see my body unclothed.  When I walk naked,

I am emperor.  I parade the living room, parade
an ocean of blind children.  The images they steep in
invisible.  On the playground at my son’s school

children in puffed and quilted jackets gather and ring
around a solitary boy.  The children silent, the boy’s mouth
buzzes, all the feathers, dark and rustling, fall from above.

Allison Blevins received her MFA at Queens University of Charlotte and is a Lecturer for the Women's Studies Program at Pittsburg State University and the Department of English and Philosophy at Missouri Southern State University.  Her poetry has appeared in such journals as the minnesota review, Sinister Wisdom, Pilgrimage, and Josephine Quarterly.  She lives in Joplin, Missouri, with her wife and two children.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

JANUARY 13TH, 2017

by Marc Swan

In a short hop against convention, my wife
and I were married on a Friday the 13th. Today
a road trip to honor one. We drive to Belfast, two
hours north, to the Farmer’s Market. My wife’s
a large fan of fresh produce even in wintertime. We
meet a local farmer with twenty-three water buffalo.
I’m staggered by the number, more shocked by how
they survive. This isn’t India or Southeast Asia. She
assures me they have a warm barn, plenty to eat.
My wife buys milk for yogurt. The farmer tells us,
you’ll be amazed. I’m starting to feel the healthy
pull of the day. We travel route one to Rockland
for lunch, the warmth of an Irish cafe. Good food,
friendly staff generous with their time, tables fill
as people trundle in from the cold wind blowing
outside. From here we drive south to Wiscasset
to see a favorite shop owner who in short order
expresses her growing feelings about the election.
Every Friday thru the holidays she’s been donating
twenty per cent of her sales to five nonprofits that
will likely be battered under the new regime.
Her heart sings Cohen’s “Hallelujah" as we talk
of support for those things that separate thinking
folks from those who think chaos should reign.
Across the street in another store, a saleslady we’ve
never met senses our liberal lean. Running her hands
thru her thick blond-tinted hair, she talks of the march
in Washington and how important it is to be there—
she will “next Saturday.” Eyes water as she goes
on about rip and tear on what was once understood
as democracy too quickly becoming something
with another name from lessons never learned:
fascist, authoritarian, despotic and in these
difficult times we live, simply wrong.

Marc Swan’s poems have recently been published or forthcoming in Scrivener Creative Review, Crannóg, Mudfish, Gargoyle, Nuclear Impact Anthology, Coal City Review, among others. He lives with his wife Dd in Portland Maine. 


by Lynnie Gobeille 

AMERICA IS TAKING A STAND FOR EQUAL RIGHTS. JANUARY 21 AT 1:00 PM EASTERN TIME, RISE FOR ONE MINUTE OF SILENCE FOR WOMEN'S EQUALITY. Saturday, January 21, there are women’s marches and rallies planned in all 50 states. At 1:00 PM in Our Nation's Capital and at the exact same moment in every time zone across the United States, stand up for equality in one minute of silent solidarity. From Hawaii to Maine, Alaska to Florida, and every great state in between, for one shared silent minute, we rise for our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, and ourselves. 1@1 is a small, symbolic act in support of the American ideal of one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. It is one powerful minute to connect, reflect and recommit to making that American ideal a reality. Whether able to attend a rally or not, all Americans can join this unifying action on behalf of women, girls and the future of our nation.

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness, but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice towards those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black." —Robert Kennedy, April 4, 1968

Let’s just say
For the sake of argument
That this is the last poem
I’ll ever write—
(having just shoveled an entire driveway
. . . good lord at my age, that’s quite the feat . . .
feet- no pun intended)
And there's a good chance I might die tonight . . .
Would I want this poem to contain
A seagull?  A fence?  An open gate?
Perhaps my sister’s new garage door happiness?
The draining of the swamp?
Toss in the news of the Ft. Lauderdale Airport shooting
A line or two just to prove I was still aware—
Of the total lack of kindness every where.

I would, of course, want to include a stanza
To clarify Why I no longer march . . .
Not against or for—
make love not war.
Yet I find it difficult to phrase
To sum up all those years and causes
Crossing those picket lines—
yes . . . I have the scars to prove it—
carrying signs.

Every where a sign—
Long haired hippie freaks need not apply,
Power to the People
Four dead in Ohio,
and it's 1, 2 , 3
What are you marching for, don’t ask me.
I don’t give a damn—my last stop was in Vietnam
We shall overcome—
We Shall Overcome.

But let’s get back to the A-bomb in this title.
Oppenheimer was merely a scientist—
or perhaps he was a poet just like me—
Creating and solving the huge man-kind mystery.
Ay, there’s the rub in life.

Lynnie Gobeille is passionate about  poetry.

Friday, January 20, 2017


by Rick Mullin

Here we have the world turned on its head.
It comes: The Zero Hour Inauguration.
Skies grow orange and the trees glow red.

It brings to mind the burial of the dead,
but for the living, an incarceration.

Here we have the world turned on its head!

The flower girl imparts a sense of dread,

the chessmen might despair of compensation.
Skies grow orange and the trees glow red,

we can’t remember what the thunder said

and heavy metal rallies in formation.
Here we have the world turned on its head!

The Angels’ sermon: Prismic Light instead
of Fire. Bagpipes drone in affirmation,
skies grow orange and the trees glow red,

the sentence fragments drop like molten lead
into the auric ghost holes of a nation

where we have the world turned on its head.
The sky grows orange and the trees glow red.

Rick Mullin's new poetry collection is Stignatz & the User of Vicenza.


by Lucia Galloway

Poster by Jennifer Maravillas for the Women's March on Washington

There is only this way,
this one way,
to breathe   while
rain falls­—
finally falls & falls­—
in Southern California.
Comes in repeated fits,
storms over parched lands
& lawns.  Pools at our doorsteps
from overflowing gutters, sheets
off the pavements of parking lots,
carves new rivulets
in our gardens, our
paths and trails.

One way    while
crews erect viewing stands
in DC­-mile after mile
of bleachers, media towers­-
along the storied route.
While in airports, passengers
clutch boarding passes, eye
podium monitors.
While on basement floors
& kitchen tables, women paint
slogans: Resistance is Joy.
Pack boots, mufflers
& down jackets.
D.C., Chicago, Tucson, Denver, L.A.
. . . (will the buses make it?)     while
the women hope that nothing happens,
knowing that nothing
can mean anything now.

Lucia Galloway’s chapbook The Garlic Peelers won the Quill’s Edge Press 2014 inaugural chapbook competition.  She is also author of Venus and Other Losses (2010) and a chapbook, Playing Outside (2005), and has published work in Tar River Poetry, Comstock Review, Midwest Quarterly, and Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond, among other publications.  Her poems have received awards from the Bread Loaf School of English, Artists Embassy International, Rhyme Zone, and the MacGuffin National Poet Hunt.  She lives in Southern California, where she curates a reading series in her home town of Claremont.  


by Jon Wesick

I hope I’m wrong,
so wrong my name becomes slang
for a tragic blunder
as in, “Custer sure pulled a Wesick
at the Little Bighorn!”

I hope jobs return to the rust belt
and displaced workers
will now buy gold-plated mansions
and endow professorships at Harvard.
I hope the new president’s tweets
scare the beards off ISIS
and that from now on all terrorists
will come with big letter T’s
tattooed on their foreheads.

I hope greenhouse gasses
bring back the black rhino
and mountain gorilla.
I hope the free market
lowers the cost of heart transplants
and cancer treatment to $1.95.

I hope doctors determine cake and ice cream
make the most nutritious breakfast
and that playing video games
burns more calories than running.
I hope high school students don’t need algebra
for high-tech careers and that cheerleaders
want to sleep with guys who can’t dance.
I hope I really can earn $100,000
by working 3 hours a week from home.
I hope our new president
rekindles the American dream.

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.


by Mary Saracino

Poster by JessicaSabogal for We the People which will flood Washington, DC with NEW symbols of hope on January 20. You can download the set of posters for free at

I will wear black on January 20
a national day of mourning
while the collective soul of America
lets loose a dirge as an illegitimate president
takes the oath of office
his place secured in history
by fake news, voter suppression
the deception of a foreign dictator
and his own brand of white supremacy
spewed from his bully pulpit of
racism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia
and every other kind of –ism the world has ever witnessed

On the next day the women of the world will don
pink pussy hats, take to the streets in cities far and wide
to march in protest, defying the fake king, the tyrant
in the Oval Office
reclaiming their vulva power,  the power to
procreate truth, to name evil, to smash
the glass ceiling of lies that tries to silence us

Mary Saracino is a novelist, poet, and memoir writer who lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her most recent novel is Heretics: A Love Story (Pearlsong Press 2014). Her novel, The Singing of Swans (Pearlsong Press 2006) was a 2007 Lambda Literary Awards Finalist. Mary’s short story, "Vicky's Secret," earned the 2007 Glass Woman Prize.


by Barbara A Taylor

acute trumpitis  
the doctors’ surgeries
are overflowing

"Each day demands that I write and that my fingers touch and feel the earth." Barbara A Taylor's free verse poems, renku, haiga, haibun, award winning haiku, tanka, and other Japanese short form poetry appear in many international journals and anthologies on line and in print. She lives in the Rainbow Region, Northern NSW, Australia. Diverse poems with audio are here and here.

Thursday, January 19, 2017


by John Brooks

The carcass of a dead cow lies in the Black Umfolozi River, dry from the effects ot the latest severe drought, in Nongoma district north west from Durban, South Africa, on November 9, 2015. (Photo: MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images) via Forbes.

seen in a dream:

it was a day in early May
when my love and I went walking,
and came upon a shopping street
of smiles and pleasant talking

where gentle commerce, kissed by breezes
under mildest skies,
proves the wisdom of peaceful nations
and gentle, tranquil eyes

where prices just—
when haggled settled in prompt and balanced measure—
pass on goodwill, then more goodwill,
an ever-flowing treasure

and though the smiles may sometimes flash
like lovey-dovey corp-prop,
the vibes they pulse are so sincere
the darkest cynics’ thoughts stop

where sunlight softly shines on skin
of every varied hue,
tattooed “FAIR TRADE”
for it’s fair trade the livelong day they do

makers, buyers, sellers, all
craft laws and customs too—
a demos-dappled, fair-spun world
of fairness through and through

where differences of every scope
‘twixt persons, groups, and nations,
instead of sparking conflict meet
respect and admiration

and women bask in happiness
of luminous equality,
while men assess all hyper quests
to dom but rank frivolity

with each child’s rights kept well in sight
health, safety, education—
not mom’s, not pop’s, or others’ chattel,
sublime emancipation

cis, bi, and gay, hermaphro, trans
walk arm in arm so winsome,
for all sex o and g id
full tolerance and then some

the air so clean,
completely free of fossil fuel exhaust,
all power, transport, factories green
because we know the cost

where vegan ways have won the day
‘cause land-use, carbon eco,
for Gaia, humans, fauna kind,
much more than trendy deco

and stable climes bless stable lands—
temps to precipitation—
the dream realized—full zero C!—
for each and every nation

where soft, caressing zephyrs wafting
from a nearby sea
with placid wave sounds free the soul
of all anxiety

and all those found in need receive
an adequate basic income,
and since all lead self-purposed lives,
contentment in their hearts thrums

while all, liaising every way,
pursue accord in every sense
with greetings, meetings, and farewells
eschewing petty dissonance

for each supports the wider commons
because it’s understood
that one’s desires should be fulfilled
within the greater good

as my love and I drank up these nectars
imbibed as we were walking,
our faces creased in wondrous bliss
without the need of talking

but then I roused and knew I’d dreamed
but a hope of some day could be,
then lay awake to fear the quickening
trump of one day will be

of a nightmare of our making
on the path we’re treading now,
what we’ll swear we tried our best to stop
as we bring upon ourselves

for oh I fear heat-shackled skies
and fear how quick the seas will rise
fear too huge seas of hate will bring
great storms and inundation

so too I fear vast droughts will come,
and famine and starvation,
and with them swarms of grief will come
for each and every nation

with demos, good will, fair trade, all
sucked dry from all topographies
a cracked-earth, cordoned, craven world
of discord’s rank demographies

and with it all more wars will thrive
in all their sundry ways,
from guns and bombs to drones and bots
to nuclear array

and so I fear that Death will come
to rule the livelong day

and then with ease blood seas will fill
once-could-be springtime streets,
and fish will nibble bashed-out brains
that schemed their own defeat

and so at last we’ll rue we hadn’t
dissed the tough decisions,
shunned prudence, foresight, skill, and guts
and doomed a higher vision

but when I woke my love and whispered
all I’d dreamed and what I feared,
my love first flinched, then, calm, insisted,
“you must do more than shedding tears

“for what you fear will surely come
so plentifully, in clover,
if those of us who’d like your Street
stay passive till it’s over

“of course we’re foolish not to see
your Street’s a perfect Neverland,
but we’d be ghoulish if we flee
from striving to make it Everland

“’cause if we strive we’ll celebrate
the stuff that life is made of,
and not buy in to self-defeat
and all that we’re afraid of

“that way—you bet—we’ll bring ourselves
as close as we can come—
‘cause it takes balls, no santa claus—
to streets of the springtime sun”

Author’s Notes: “Shopping Street of the Eternal Springtime Sun”—a poem concerned with environmental justice and other key, global social justice issues—utilizes a light verse style, including, for the most part, a whimsical tone (with a gothic-apocalyptic interlude), sing-song rhyming with hip-hop inflections, and line endings that closely parse the syntax as a means of both heightening and leavening, by contrast, the seriousness of the subject matter: an evocation of alternative utopian and dystopian futures leading to a call to action to, as much as possible, realize the former and avoid the later. Though rough notes and initial drafts began earlier, “Shopping Street” experienced the bulk of its creation during the rise to power of D****d T***p within the US Republican Party and received its final revisions in the wake of T***p’s election and impending inauguration as 45th president of the United States.

A particular challenge in composing and revising this poem has been anchoring and interweaving its often conceptual content with resonating concrete images and other sensory elements.

The poem’s original inspiration came in an afternoon walk with a lover on a beautiful spring day in the hills overlooking Kamakura, Japan – an area of abundant natural beauty by the sea about an hour’s train ride south of Tokyo. The route we took descended, with seamless effect, from the hills into the most pleasant pedestrian shopping street I recall ever experiencing – this street serving as a sensory catalyst for the utopian shopping street of the poem.

This inspiration combined with my reading of Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature—a book which offers hope for humankind’s future through the continued nurturing and enhancement of societal institutions, values, policies, laws, customs, and other guidelines and behaviors which are outgrowths of various human virtues, among them a capacity for enlightened reasoning and an expanding circle of empathy that includes all of humankind—to produce the core of the poem’s content and energy. 

Countering the hopefulness of Pinker’s vision is the ongoing planetary emergency posed by global warming resulting from anthropogenic climate change and its numerous potential—and already to some degree ongoing—disasters, among them, according to recent research, the possibility within this century of multi-meter sea level rise and super storms of unprecedented, within the span of human history, destructive power, both of which are touched on in the poem.

Although a number, at least, of the world’s nations now seem—especially with the coming into effect of the Paris Agreement on combatting climate change—to be focusing significant resources on achieving the goal of a transition to a world of 100% clean energy, it is sometimes difficult, given the climate-related policies of the 45th POTUS and the continuing inadequate pace, globally, of this transition thus far, to avoid feelings of despair. The poem addresses such feelings as well, ending, in its final stanzas with an exhortation, however blunt in its quaint simplicity (but again leavened, I hope, by a tone of playful whimsy), to transform such despair into useful action. Though my belief in the efficacy of such exhortations, and of making the efforts exhorted, is far from firm, I at least like to believe, and to make the efforts.

John Brooks is a writer, child sexual abuse survivor-activist, climate change activist, and animal rights activist (among other things, of course) deeply concerned with anthropogenic global warming and its massively dystopian consequences if humanity’s thoroughly inadequate—though in some locations and respects noticeably improving—response continues. His self-published novella Preludes depicting the horror of child sexual abuse from a child’s perspective, has received a number of favorable reviews by readers. @jbwriting

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


by Eliza Mimski

This poster was created by Shepard Fairey who eight years ago made the iconic Obama poster that captured a period of HOPE in America. Today we are in a very different moment, one that requires new images that reject the hate, fear, and open racism that were normalized during the 2016 presidential campaign. So on Inauguration Day, We the People will flood Washington, DC with NEW symbols of hope. You can download the set of posters for free at: You can choose to support this We the People art project via Kickstarter.

1969. Nineteen years old and pregnant.
I couldn't afford to keep the baby.
In those days, before Roe vs Wade,
you had to prove to two psychiatrists
that you were mentally unable to go through
with the pregnancy.
They wrote letters to the medical board of the
hospital performing the abortion.
Insurance didn't cover the psychiatric visits.

The first psychiatrist asked if I would kill myself
if I didn't have the abortion.
I said yes, I would take my life,
even though this wasn't true.
He jotted some notes on a yellow legal pad.
He asked me little else.
The second psychiatrist asked if the sight of a penis
frightened me. I said yes. I lied that the sight of a penis frightened me.
He wrote that down.

My fate was in their hands.
They determined
my future . . .

The state of Texas now requires women
who have abortions or miscarriages
in hospitals,
in abortion clinics
or in other health facilities
to bury or cremate the fetal remains.

In Indiana, Mike Pence signed legislation
to force women to have fetal funerals
for abortions or miscarriages.
This can be carried out by the facility.
A name for the fetus during
transport to the burial ground
is not required.

Eliza Mimski is a retired high school English teacher living in San Francisco. She is still coping with the election and the news by writing poetry. Her work has appeared in Quiet Lightning's Sparkle and Blink, Fiction 365, Poets Reading the News, and is forthcoming in Anti-Heroin Chic.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


by Earl J Wilcox

Poster by ErnestoYerena for We the People which will flood Washington, DC with NEW symbols of hope on January 20. You can download the set of posters for free at You can choose to support this We the People art project via Kickstarter.

The crape myrtle have long ago dropped their snowy flowerlets.
Seedlings spread asunder along the drive way commingle with
elm and river birch leaves sticking to the soles of my shoes.

High on scrawny deadwood oak and cherry quaint mocking birds
harass me, their sniveling artfully calls my name as if I give a damn
they are jealous of my red hat, purple sweater. Everything in their

vision--and mine—clashes like the winds of war this week
before our democracy inaugurates a senseless man fixed
on his prosperity with such narcissism the mind not only

boggles, the brain buckles, sheer madness mocks mankind.

Earl J. Wilcox writes poetry daily, publishes some of it online and some in print journals.

Monday, January 16, 2017


by David Radavich

This poster was created by Shepard Fairey who eight years ago made the iconic Obama poster that captured a period of HOPE in America. Today we are in a very different moment, one that requires new images that reject the hate, fear, and open racism that were normalized during the 2016 presidential campaign. So on Inauguration Day, We the People will flood Washington, DC with NEW symbols of hope. You can download the set of posters for free at: You can choose to support this We the People art project via Kickstarter.

I am the one you want.
The one who can be

Beast, flower, rock,
Arab, Jew, atheist, member
of a congregation,

waters flowing over
the dam,
leaves falling
in a pattern of forgetting.

I want to be on your list.

Registry of those cast out,
cursed and damned.

We wander
and we recollect,
we migrating passerines.

Our faces are wind,
our hearts are silence.

You are the terrorists
whose eyes create shadows.

David Radavich's recent poetry collections are America Bound: An Epic for Our Time (2007), Canonicals: Love's Hours (2009), and Middle-East Mezze (2011).   His plays have been performed across the U.S., including six Off-Off-Broadway, and in Europe.  His latest books are The Countries We Live In (2014) and a co-edited volume called Magic Again: Selected Poems on Thomas Wolfe (2016).   He is currently president of the North Carolina Poetry Society.

Sunday, January 15, 2017


by Catherine Wald

"Nearby, off to one side, Mahalia Jackson shouted: 'Tell them about the dream, Martin!'” —Drew Hansen, The New York Times, August 27, 2016

I heard this story from a Friend who was there at the
Mall in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963.

It was, the Quaker said, a woman from the speaker’s congregation
who interrupted the great man’s speech.

            “Tell them about your dream, Martin,”
            she bellowed.

            (Later I learned it wasn’t just any little old
            church lady, but Mahalia Jackson.)

                                    “Tell them about your dream!”

That was when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. put down his
prepared pages and began to preach his vision.

            That was when the capital crackled with electricity

                        and the words caught fire.

                                    They’re still burning today.

Catherine Wald’s chapbook Distant, burned-out stars was published by Finishing Line Press in 2011. Poems have appeared in American Journal of Nursing, Buddhist Poetry Review, Chronogram, Dragonfly, Friends Journal, J Journal, Jewish Literary Journal, "Metropolitan Diary" (The New York Times), Minerva Rising, Quarterday Review, The Lyric and Westchester Review.  She is author of The Resilient Writer: Tales of Triumph and Rejection from 23 Top Authors (Persea 2004).

Saturday, January 14, 2017


by Ron Singer

Although the day was mild, for winter,
I decided to wear my warmest coat.
Nor did I neglect to transfer my gloves.
I prepared and ate a hearty breakfast,
balancing food groups, vital nutrients.
Checking my wallet, I removed a ten,
leaving enough to placate hold-up men.
On the train, I read selectively
from the paper: soccer, basketball scores.
When the train was full, I ceded my seat
to someone who looked needier than me.

Why do I feel so vulnerable today?
Could it be the prospect, or certainty,
of a four-year political winter?

Ron Singer’s seventh book, a collection of Maine poems, Look to Mountains, Look to Sea (2013) won an award and was nominated for a Pushcart. His eighth Uhuru Revisited: Interviews with Pro-Democracy Leaders (2015) can be found in about 100 libraries across the U.S., and beyond. His ninth, and most recent, is a double memoir Betty & Estelle/A Voice for My Grandmother (2016). 

Friday, January 13, 2017


by Chris O'Carroll

The issues your wise tweets elucidate,
The tone you’ve done so much to elevate,
Lawsuits you’ll never settle (oh, but wait),
Women not hot enough to violate,
The torture you have pledged to reinstate,
The faith you feign but can’t quite fabricate,
The sanity you sometimes simulate –
These are the things that make our country great.

The faux respect world leaders cultivate
Now that a cartoon is a potentate,
The brownshirt crowd to which you gravitate,
The autocrats you hope to emulate,
Life-saving health care you’ll eliminate,
Your plastic swagger as you vacillate,
The bloated deity you venerate
In every mirror – these things make us great.

Chris O'Carroll has been the featured poet in Light, and has published poems in Angle, The Asses of Parnassus, The Orchards, Parody, and The Rotary Dial, among other journals.  D****d T***p has never called him "overrated."