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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

FOR ROSH HASHANAH

by Alan Walowitz



       
Victor (Zeke) Zonana (1924-2016)

Now onto this New Year, bad as it promises to be—
there’s rumor You, too, have given up,
filled with Your own brand of regret:
seeing us squander our gifts—
wasting our will as if it were a game,
failing to care for our own,
or honor this place we like to call home.
So now You’re headed out-of-town,
like some will-o’-the-wisp
to locate some new folks, perhaps, and begin
In the beginning, all over again.

But if I’m wrong and it be Thy will
and You’re listening still,
dear God, what the hell,
let us be inscribed again, then sealed.

Though please feel free to pass on him
we’ve loved so well
who takes his place one final time
and happily chants the ancient prayers
for those of us so far removed, we don’t remember how.
But unlike You, our renegade and sometimes vengeful God,
this old man’s not rash nor filled with rage.
But of his own considered will he, too, wants out.
Let it be recorded here, as in Aleppo once,
a temperate man took his life in his hands,
then gently chose—of his own free will—to let it go.


Alan Walowitz has been published in 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 his native borough of Queens, NY. Alan’s chapbook Exactly Like Love was published by Osedax Press in 2016 and is now in its second printing.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

THE VALUES

by Jon Taylor




Ecocide,
genocide, slavery
and war are the four horsemen
of American greatness.

America didn’t invent
these riders of the apocalypse
but has embraced them wholeheartedly
from her first day to her latest.

Ask the felled forests
or the disappeared tribes
or those paraded in the markets
or the lands invaded.

America rose
and became great
and exceptional and indispensable
and will founder on the same steeds.


Jon Taylor is the author of Berry Picker’s Blues, a volume of Michigan/Northwoods/Upper Peninsula poems. He can be reached at taylor.jon440(at)gmail.com.

Monday, September 18, 2017

A SACRED RITE: WHEN ATHLETES KNEEL

by Sister Lou Ella Hickman




                                it could have been genuflections in a church
                                but there was no stained glass    no pews
                                yet they knelt in a presence greater themselves
                                a silence    a sanctuary    on a field  
                               now a battle wages using words that pelt like stones
                                that cannot comprehend
this sacred moment   this most protected of all rights
                                to dissent     to kneel    to stand    to risk it all


Sister Lou Ella Hickman has been an all-level teacher and a librarian. Presently she is a freelance writer and a spiritual director. Her poems and articles have been widely published in numerous magazines. One of her poems was published in the anthology After Shocks: Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo. Her first book of poetry she: robed and wordless, published by Press 53, was released in the fall of 2015.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

HURRICANE SEASON

by Jan Steckel 


Poster by Rusty Ford


The mercury was in triple digits, the moon
ocherous with smoke, cities submerged.
An orange gibbon necklaced in skulls
drop kicked brown-skinned Americans
over borders, polkaed over illegal bodies.

We sandbagged against the Klan,
stored water for dousing crosses,
hoarded fuel to flee Brown Shirts.
Cyclones whirled clockwise
south of the equator,
widdershins in the North.

We covered windows with plywood.
Black Bloc buffeted the downtown.
We all renewed our passports.
Churches built secret shelters
for the undocumented.
It was too late to evacuate the States.

We sheltered in place,
hunkered and braced for
depressions and disturbances.
A brassy trumpet’s wall rumbled up.
The Daily Stormer surged.
The Republic came tumbling down.


Jan Steckel was a Harvard- and Yale-trained pediatrician who took care of Spanish-speaking children until chronic pain persuaded her to change professions to writer, poet and medical editor. She is an activist for bisexual and disability rights who lives in Oakland, California. Her poetry book The Horizontal Poet (Zeitgeist Press, 2011) won a 2012 Lambda Literary Award. Her fiction chapbook Mixing Tracks (Gertrude Press, 2009) and poetry chapbook The Underwater Hospital (Zeitgeist Press, 2006) also won awards. Her creative writing has appeared in Scholastic Magazine, Yale Medicine, Bellevue Literary Review, and elsewhere. Her work won the Goodreads Newsletter Poetry Contest, a Zeiser Grant for Women Artists, the Jewel by the Bay Poetry Competition, Triplopia’s Best of the Best competition, and three Pushcart nominations.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

THE ANTS

by Fred Nagel


Photo from a video provided by Newsy Newslook to USA Today.


Their round, brown bodies twinkling in the sun,
They came together, not like one of Marlborough’s victories,
But in a chocolate flow.

On my knees above the patch, I tried
To make out warriors or lovers.
But so small the ants, and teaming,
That their frenzy blurred their meaning.

Hours later, sun slanted low,
I surveyed again the field below.
Legless, the few that lingered there,
Writhed to follow, I know not where.


Fred Nagel is a US veteran and political activist whose articles have appeared in CounterPunch, Global Exchange, Mondoweiss, Popular Resistance, War Crimes Times (Veterans For Peace publication) and Z Magazine. He also hosts ClassWars, a show on Vassar College Radio, WVKR.

Friday, September 15, 2017

RAPTURE: A SORT OF SONNET

by Wendy Taylor Carlisle


Oregon wildfire, September 6, 2017. Photo source: NBC4i


I often think of immolation when the wind
gets up to no good as is does here
in the mountains and reminds me how wildfires
take California, the gulf rains take Houston,

how puffery takes over Washington with
no particular purpose. I have a gracious
plenty of canned goods set by in case
Al Gore is right when he shows me pictures

of what can only be the End of Days—
fires and drought enough to raise a hallelujah.
I’m glad for the heads up and good on Al.
It’s eschatology no matter what you suppose.

The end will come, if you pick science or religion—
either the Rapture or the god dammed secular flame.


Wendy Taylor Carlisle live in the Ozarks where she #Resists Arkansas politics and politicians. She is the author of two books and five chapbooks.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

TWILIT SONNET

by Andrena Zawinski


A homeless woman, her possessions, and her dog on Division Street. Image from Orange County Register via BrokeAssStuart.


In twilight’s dusky backstreets and muted alleys,
the dispossessed huddle for the evening
in boxes or sleeping bags, under freeways,
at doorways, inside storage bins. They retreat

to the bleak hum at the margins of byways
some babbling narratives or needling about,
others planning a way out, a way away,
wandering through fleeting corners of comfort.

Just one more night, like sparrows and pigeons,
they stake their place, tucking into themselves,
roosting deep into nooks along city ledges,      
inside cavities of trees. Once sheltered,                  

their public pieces of darkened parcels
eclipse beneath the wayward heavens.


Andrena Zawinski’s third and recently released poetry collection is Landings from Kelsay Books. Her poems have received accolades for free verse, form, lyricism, spirituality, and social concern. She is Features Editor at PoetryMagazine.com, a Poetry Board member at The Literary Nest, and founder and organizer of the San Francisco Bay Area Women’s Poetry Salon.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

NEVER FORGET

by Scott C. Kaestner




Never forget 9/11.
Never forget Trayvon Martin.
Never forget climate change.
Never forget to tell someone you love "I love you."
Never forget Emmet Till.
Never forget the Holocaust.
Never forget Hiroshima & Nagasaki.
Never forget not all cops are good cops.
Never forget not all cops are bad cops.
Never forget to be kind.
Never forget to say thank you.
Never forget it's an athlete's constitutional right to sit during the national anthem.
Never forget to fight against fascists.
Never forget to seek shelter during a hurricane.
Never forget the United States is a country founded by and for immigrants.
Never forget the lives of soldiers lost fighting for our country.
Never forget a homeless vet.
Never forget our children are watching.
Never forget we're all in this together.
Never forget, never forget, never forget.


Scott C. Kaestner is a Los Angeles poet, dad, husband, son, and dream weaver. Google 'scott kaestner poetry' to peruse his musings and doings.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

HERE, HOLDING ON

by Carolyn Martin


Photo by Rob Sheridan: Ground Zero, New York City. October, 2001.
                                             
                        for New York City


October 1, 2001

Twenty days of barricades
and twos and threes pause
on Chambers Street—
business suits, backpacks, hoodies,
uniforms in every shape.
No one pontificates
over vacant desks and pews,
tear-wet beds, fire stations gone,
bone fragments searching for home.

Here, they’re awed.
Tower shadows fled.
The first time in thirty years
Village streets and living rooms,
store fronts with their sidewalk signs,
responders struggling with ash
bathe in sun. They bathe in the sun.

Here, light takes hold
and I, a stranger from 3,000 miles west,
grab a subway strap,
head to an uptown hotel
to write this down.

August 7, 2017

Here, breaking news:
DNA defines one more loss.
(Male. Unnamed. Per family request.)

Who’s left?

Eleven-hundred twelve gathered
in dusty dark, sharing thoughts
they thought as shadows dissolved.
Comparing notes on deals signed,
dinners served, dreams deferred
for the practicalities of work,
little words unsaid.

Here, holding on—each to each—until
they’re freed from this room
where they’ve agreed on the coarsest truth:
closure is a human myth.        


From English teacher to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin has journeyed from New Jersey to Oregon to discover Douglas firs, months of rain, and dry summers. Her poems and book reviews have appeared in publications throughout North America and the UK, and her third poetry collection Thin Places was released by Kelsay Books in Summer 2017.

Monday, September 11, 2017

HAIKU

by Lee Nash



hurricane season
a journalist flies
against the flow


Lee Nash lives in France and freelances as an editor and proofreader. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in print and online journals in the UK, the US and France including Acorn, Ambit, Angle, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Mezzo Cammin, Orbis, Poetry Salzburg Review, Presence, The Interpreter's House, The Lake and The World Haiku Review.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

MOTHER EARTH

by Scot Siegel


Image source: America By the Numbers


Record snowfall in Australia.
Record wildfires across the west.
Record hurricanes and floods
Batter the Gulf, and bear down
On the Eastern Seaboard. In Texas
A preacher locks a door. Loss of
Permafrost in the Arctic, and don't
Ignore that rift across Antarctica.
105° in San Francisco. Smoke
On the coast so thick you can't breathe.
The president wants a wall. No,
He wants a garbage chute. Dreamers
Have no place in this country. Christ,
They have no place at all. Who are
The Dreamers? What does it mean
To dream? God, it makes me want to stop
Cursing, and get some religion.
The real kind. God, anytime now.


Scot Siegel, Oregon poet and city planner, is the author of five books of poetry, most recently The Constellation of Extinct Stars and Other Poems (2016) and Thousands Flee California Wildflowers (2012), both from Salmon Poetry of Ireland. His poetry is part of the permanent art installation along the Portland, Oregon Light Rail Transit ‘Orange Line.’

Saturday, September 09, 2017

THE LAWMAN

by Alejandro Escudé


Caricature of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio by Lem Luminarias.


Arpaio sees a cage before the soul
of any brown-skinned man—

There is a god in every racist being,
chimeric fool, derogatory chant.

Arpaio sees a cage before the soul
of any brown-skinned man—

The mind molds prisoners, releases them as well,
fright detracts the willing and the fair.

Arpaio sees a cage before the soul
of any brown-skinned man—

The foreigner beneath a tarp of fear hides
from the sheriff hunting desolate lands.

Arpaio sees a cage before the soul
of any brown-skinned man—

More fascist general than lawman, stink
of Southwest sweat, sunglasses large and dim.

Arpaio sees a cage before the soul
of any brown-skinned man—

I spot the van along the American road,
a hot, disgruntled breeze, no court, and dry as death.

Arpaio sees a cage before the soul
of any brown-skinned man—

I speak, when helpless, in swallowed knives.
Nowhere to run from the people’s armored beast.

Arpaio sees a cage before the soul
of any brown-skinned man.


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.

Friday, September 08, 2017

ONCE A STORM HAS LEVELED A CITY, THERE IS LITTLE MORE IT CAN DO

by Devon Balwit 


Island of Barbuda left 'a rubble' by Hurricane Irma as Prime Minister says 90 per cent of buildings destroyed —Mirror Online, September 7, 2017


We reach for superlatives,
devastation dragging us
beyond speech. What lies
on the other side of End Times?
What does completely feel like?

            A high percentage of framed homes
            will be destroyed, with total roof failure
             and wall collapse.

Before, we had a view
from our open window. Now,
there is no window.

            Fallen trees and power poles will isolate
             residential areas. Power outages will last
            for weeks to possibly months.

Our habits powered our bodies,
opinions towing us through the feed
like a plane its banner, a boat its skier.
In the aftermath, we gather
wherever there is a signal,
pulsing distress.

            Most of the area will be uninhabitable
            for weeks or months.

Elsewhere, others continue about their business
as we dig out. Someday, this will be story,
we soothe fellow sufferers.

We cannot wait.


Editor’s Note: Italicized lines as well as the poem’s title are found in “No, Hurricane Irma Won’t Be a ‘Category 6’ Storm,” The New York Times, September 6, 2017. 

Devon Balwit is a writer/teacher from Portland, OR. Her poems have appeared in TheNewVerse.News, Poets Reading the News, Redbird Weekly Reads, Rise-Up Review, Rat's Ass Review, The Rising Phoenix Review, Mobius, What Rough Beast, and more.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

SPIDER CAUGHT IN THE ASH WEB

by Tricia Knoll



Image source: Hiveminer


Ash flakes into the new fall spider’s web
on the corn stalks. Wind ferried specks
from the wildfires raging on the cliffs,
smoke hazard on the east-west freeway,
a breathing caution. Ash on the rose petals,
fading ones facing diminishing blooms.

The Dreamers’ frail web tears,
dragged down under ash, victim
of fires hundreds of miles away.
An urge to struggle free of this
drift acknowledges the flames
of hope that kindled the work,
the time of learning to weather
seasons, grow up in storms,
and pursue the road of their lives.


Tricia Knoll is an Oregon poet watching the ashes of burning trees fall on Portland, Oregon. Ash coating the garden flowers, tomato plants, mucking up windshields. At the same time, the news on DACA and its impact on hundreds of thousands of young people seems overwhelming.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

ADVICE TO A PRESIDENT

by Howard Winn




from a president
literate and wise
protect our democratic institutions
for those are what
distinguish us from the
world’s dictatorships
and it is our role
to provide that pattern
which has been
established by wise
people over time
for presidents are temporary
guardians of unique
traditions established out
of the experience of
many judicious men and women
certified by courts of law
and genuine patriotism
not tin horn palaver
for the unique American
experience that must be treasured.


Howard Winn's work, both short fiction and poetry has been published in Dalhousie Review, The Long Story, Galway Review, Antigonish Review, Chaffin Review, Evansville Review, 3288 Review, Straylight Literary Magazine, and Blueline.  His B. A. is from Vassar College. His M.A. is from the Stanford University Writing Program. His doctoral work was done at N.Y.U. He is Professor of English at SUNY.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

POT AND KETTLE

by Jerome Betts


Safety first: the many hats of George Osborne. Composite: Rex/Getty via The Guardian, June 5, 2016.


“Welfare for Osborne was just a bottomless pit of savings, and it didn’t really matter what the human consequences were, because focus groups had shown that the voters they wanted to appeal to were very anti-welfare . . . “ —Nick Clegg in a Guardian interview 2 Sept 2016.

“Like the Living Dead in a second-rate horror film, the premiership of Theresa May staggers on oblivious.” —Editorial in London Evening Standard edited by George Osborne, 31 August 2017.


Hard hat on head, photographers on hand,
He knew to whom this image most appeals.
Disabled? Jobless? A negligible band,
Their money useful, though, to grease his wheels.

Cold-bloodedly, the snake, now scotched, not killed,
Still slithers towards its overarching goal,
A prospect leaving half a nation chilled,
The pitiless George Osborne in control.


Jerome Betts lives in Devon, England, where he edits the quarterly Lighten Up Online. His verse has appeared in a wide variety of British magazines and anthologies as well as UK, European, and North American web venues such as Amsterdam Quarterly, Angle, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Light, Parody, Per Contra, TheNewVerse.News, The Rotary Dial and Snakeskin.

Monday, September 04, 2017

AN AMERICAN WORKER SPEAKS TO THE LEADERS OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY

by George Salamon


This graphic appeared in various newspapers on Labor Day, 1941. The prose poem beneath the graphic reads as follows: I am Labor. I stand before you on this, my day, free and proud. I am the incarnation of Work, and Work is the foundation of modern civilization. Before the silvery bombers can take the air my skilled fingers have fashioned and serviced them. The shining shell, the precise rifle, the intricate clockwork of tank and ship, these grew beneath the trained and intelligent hands with which I get my living. Because the things I do are basic and necessary, I yeld my dignity to no man. Because of that dignity, I prize my manhood and my freedom. I Shall defend it. To those who would degrade me to an automation, make me a slave, I return loud and scornful laughter. Here in my United States I am more than a Worked, more than a Laborer, I am a Man. This manhood, this freedom, on my own Labor Day of 1941, I do not propose to yield. Source: Urania.


"Republican politicians have always been in our pocket. Now we have most of the Democrats."  Jeff Faux, "Class War: The view from the Board Room," The American Prospect, January 15, 2014

"We have set up a series of policies that work for those at the top and leave everyone else behind. And what I say is it's time to change that." Senator Elizabeth Warren, "On the road with Sanders and Warren: Will the Democrats follow them to the left?"  The Guardian, August 27, 2017


Once we were brothers and sisters. you and me,
Standing together to battle America's plutocracy.
We fought the same sweatshops, the heartless boss,
The same low wages, capitalism's cross.
You helped balance the economic scales of power,
FDR even made the cruel bankers cower.
But, Nancy and Chuck, you were skillful and quick
To get out from under, you mastered that trick.
We toiled and endured, we had little choice
While you were able to gain a powerful voice.
We trusted you, then, do you remember when?
When the New Deal gave us the right to organize,
Granting millions a fair chance in the race of life.
When your party tried to eradicate poverty,
Moving us a step closer to social equality.
Then the political wheel turned to the right,
Many Democrats abandoned our common fight.
For decades now, we've tumbled into rage and despair,
Even helped elect a huckster billionaire.

This is now, but we both need what was then.
On this day of labor, remember when.


George Salamon who lives in St. Louis, MO would love to see the "for" return to "government for the people."

Sunday, September 03, 2017

BROKEN RECORD(S)

by Edmund Conti




Most lies. Most firings.
Fewest hirings.
Most gaffes.
Most laughs.
Most insults.
Fewest results.
Most lies (latest count).
Most cronies (large amount).
Most vacations
at southern plantations.
Believe me.  Believe me. Be-
lieve me.  Believe me.  Believe
me. Believe me. Be…


Edmund Conti has been published in new verse news, in new verse news, in new verse news, in new...

Saturday, September 02, 2017

CRYING NAZI

by David Spicer




O Crying Nazi, cry all night long
because you’re a goddamn human being,
Crying Nazi, you weep like a mourning
mother at her son’s closed casket.
You weep like a goddamn lynching victim on his nickering horse.
You weep like a maniac suffering a nervous breakdown.
Crying Nazi, I don’t feel sorry for you.
Crying Nazi, are your parents proud of you?
Does your sister call you a creep?
Do you hate yourself, deep down in the coal mine shaft of your soul?
You’re embarrassing yourself, Crying Nazi.
Will you forgive yourself for your crybaby tears, Crying Nazi?
O Crying Nazi, will you ever cry again?
It can’t go well if you do.
Have you cried many times as an adult?
Did women think you’re too sensitive to straddle you?
I don’t understand you, Crying Nazi.
Does the sun ever shine on your glossy pate when you sin?
O Crying Nazi, how many people have you stabbed,
how many Mexicans have you tarred and feathered?
Have you ever prayed in a mosque or synagogue?
I saw you blubber on tv, Crying Nazi, and I’m not empathetic.
You’re a sissy.
Were you a good little boy playing Cowboys & Indians,
always the cowboy?
O Crying Nazi, are you a misogynist, too?
Or do you love all women as long
as they’re not black, brown, yellow, red, or Semites?
Will you ever fall in love with someone?
When you cry, Nazi, do your fellow Nazis
bristle that you’re such a pussy?
Crying Nazi, is acid in your tears?
Do you chew your bile at breakfast or supper?
Do you hate yourself, Crying Nazi?
Crying Nazi, did you study a lot of Hitler books?
Did you read them in lotus position on your easy chair?
Do you idolize Sheriff Joe and David Duke?
Could you ever be your own hero, Crying Nazi?
What shade of red is your blood, Crying Nazi?
Do you bathe yourself with your tears?
Has life been easy or hard for you?
Can you look into the eclipse and see the blackness
in your fellow Nazis?
Will you immolate yourself until your skin
barbecues into blackness?
When did you learn to hate, Crying Nazi?
Did a black boxer beat the hell out of you in the ring
and then brag about it?
Do you cry yourself to sleep in your cell at night?
I wonder if you regret your twenty minutes of infamy.
I wonder if God loves you, Crying Nazi.
Do you hang out with your Nazi buddies in chow hall?
O Crying Nazi, cry for the Charleston Nine.
Cry for Trayvon Martin.
Cry for Ferguson.
Cry for Buchenwald.
Cry for the martyred saints.
Most of all, cry for your fellow Nazis.
Stop crying for yourself, Crying Nazi.
Maybe you’ll meet a girl who loves you
because you’re bald.
Maybe she’ll love you because you’re cute.
Or maybe she’ll love you because you’re a Crying Nazi.
Then you can father crying Nazi babies.
Crying Nazi, you’re an oxymoron.
Do you get high, Crying Nazi?
Do you eat a lot of beef or are you a vegan?
I know you don’t eat nails, Crying Nazi.
They’d make you bawl, Crying Nazi.
Do you jack off in your cell at night, Crying Nazi?
O Crying Nazi, I feel your hateful pain.
How many guns do you own?
I saw you wearing your zebra outfit in jail the other day, Crying Nazi.
You looked sad as a fallen cake.
You looked sadder than a Syrian orphan.
Sadder than a basset hound who’s lost his best friend.
Sadder than a starving cat.
Sadder than a melting snowman.
You didn’t look proud, Crying Nazi.
Where was your Sieg Heil! when you needed it, Crying Nazi?
Will your hate buddies protect you against the Mexican Mafia?
The Black Brotherhood?
High prices in the commissary?
I’m sorry I judge you, Crying Nazi.
So, when you get out of jail, I’ll buy you a Heineken
and a one-way ticket to Death Valley,
throw in a Bible to read on your bus trip
and leave a two-dollar bill in it, Crying Nazi,
along with a little note reading
Prove you’re a goddamn human being, Crying Nazi:
Love yourself a little more, and maybe, just maybe
you can love the rest of us, too,
because we’re all goddamn human beings,
Crying Nazi.


David Spicer has had poems in Chiron Review, Alcatraz, Gargoyle, Easy Street, Third Wednesday, Reed Magazine, TheNewVerse.News, Santa Clara Review, Rat’s Ass Review, Midnight Lane Boutique, Ploughshares, The American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. The author of Everybody Has a Story and five chapbooks, he’s the former editor of raccoon, Outlaw, and Ion Books. His latest chapbook is From the Limbs of a Pear Tree available from Flutter Press.

Friday, September 01, 2017

T***P ADDRESSES THE SURVIVORS

by Earl J Wilcox




Thank you all for coming.
It’s so good to see such a great crowd,
especially those of you in pajamas,
without food, but carrying your pets,
and those who came wading or boating
in hip-deep waters, such a sacrifice, and
I am so pleased to see you old folks carrying
your meds, particularly one old grandma,
what a trooper you are granny,
to come all this way to see me here.
This morning, Melania and I are so thrilled
with this great turnout, your happy, smiling
faces, cheering us on. Truly we all—men and
women and children and dogs and cats, the
lame, the sick and frightened, such beautiful
faces—all are making America great again!
Thank you all for coming to see me.


Earl J. Wilcox, once a graduate student in Texas, lives now in SC, sends his best thoughts to his Texas friends enduring the heavy Harvey rains.