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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

TWO POEMS

by Michael H. Brownstein



Image source: Odyssey


ONE MONTH AND WE ARE ALREADY EXHAUSTED


The eighteen wheeler tortoise stepped, jerked, fell back into place:
How can we do this day after day?
The Ozarks grow steeper, brush grass grayer, mice grow bolder inside our walls.
Some days you need to wear a helmet, fatigues.
Others, paper and pen well do, a tablet perhaps, a way to form context. .

Why not words to combat fallacy,
To write on a wall when there is no need for a wall,
Meditations to dissolve conflict?

In the battle of bullies and bullying leadership,
In the battle of superegos.
In the battle of grenade popping automatic weapon thinkers…
The semi reaches the top of the ridge,
Lowers its gears, slowly winds its way down to the hollow.


THE WALL IN QUESTION

A wall built on tumbleweed, spit, grasshopper larvae
Help us, people--help us understand—help us visualize--
I understand none of this. Is there a way I can know?
A wall built of bone marrow mortar and dog piss,
Violent thought and disconnection, the rapid fire
Of bullet cored brick. Help us understand where
This river enters the realm, where this river empties
Its blood to the valleys of snow, how the impact
Of dour men with raccoon hat hair suck away the core.


Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. His work has appeared in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, Poetrysuperhighway.com and others. In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including The Shooting Gallery (Samidat Press, 1987), Poems from the Body Bag (Ommation Press, 1988), A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), What Stone Is (Fractal Edge Press, 2005), I Was a Teacher Once (Ten Page Press, 2011), Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012), The Possibility of Sky and Hell: From My Suicide Book (White Knuckle Press, 2013) and The Katy Trail, Mid-Missouri, 100 Degrees Outside and Other Poems (Kind of Hurricane Press, 2013). He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).

Monday, February 27, 2017

THE SHIP OF FOOLS

by Darrell Petska




In Plato's Republic a ship of fools sailed—
can you see one now, just rounding the bend?
Already the ship lists heavily, its new captain
unskilled and lacking in sailorly knowledge.

Will the ship capsize? Chaos sweeps the deck,
its sailors bumbling their jobs as the ship veers
first toward one shore, then the other. From on high
descends a flurry of orders to right the vessel,
but their predicament grows worse by the moment.

Each sailor, believing to have the answer to their peril,
snitches and backstabs, crying foul of the rest.
Blood and curses fly, their captain at the helm inept,
or disinterested. Erratically onward they sail,
mutinous words like life jackets tossed about.

Someone barks an order—another sailor
no more skilled, rising up to wrest command,
but little does it matter: onto its side rolls the ship,
its unruly crew leaping overboard—
the captain fleeing in a lifeboat lugging gold.

Once tall and stately, the ship takes on water,
some fortunate ballast preventing its quick demise.
Will a wiser captain and crew come to the rescue?
Or will this ship, and its storied past, be remembered
for those who so miserably sailed it last?


Darrell Petska's writing appears in The Missing Slate, Whirlwind, Verse-Virtual, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, previously in TheNewVerse.News, and numerous other publications. Darrell cut short his career as a university editor to be the arbiter of his own words. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

WHAT T***P WAS REALLY SAYING

by Kathleen A. Lawrence



Image by DonkeyHotey

      a word collage from T***p’s
           2/15/17 press conference

I’m not ranting and raving. This is how I won.
Lying, hacking, cheating and very fake news.
It’s all fake news, and lies. I like them.

I am putting out lies. I am running a Russian scam.
It’s a ruse. I am false reporting. I am. I am. I am.
I’m so beautifully brutal, like a nuclear holocaust.

I’m fantastic. I’m terrible.
I’m one of the bad ones, like North Korea.
I hate, but I’m the least racist.

I shame. I have a certain bias.
I can’t fix the inner cities. Why should I?
I like bleeding jobs.

Can I be honest with you?
It’s great that that there’s one Chicago that’s luxurious.
I think it’s great that I can divide this country.

I think I’m great. Pretty great. Really great.
I am a fine tuned machine.
Just push my stupid plastic button.

Just look, look at me.
I can make it bad, really, really bad.
I’ve got uranium. I’ve got secrets.

I don’t think. I don't care about any of you.
Well, maybe some of you. I just don’t think.
It’s really bad, but I don’t think.


Kathleen A. Lawrence’s poems appeared recently in Rattle’s Poets Respond, Eye to the Telescope, Silver Birch Press, and haikuniverse. A poem in Altered Reality Magazine was nominated for a 2017 Rhysling Award from the Science Fiction Poetry Association. She was a Poet of the Week at Poetry Super Highway in January 2017.

SELECTIVE MEMORY AS FUTURE TOPIC FOR AN ELEGY

by Lyndi Bell O'Laughlin


The “good old days” induce a thin,
waxy coating on the outermost cells
of the lining of the throat,
carry a subliminal aftertaste
of Let's pretend that didn’t happen,
our capacity for denial so dignified
it should wear a chimney pot hat,
its name unmentionable, like Yahweh,
multiplied by seven billion.

The pain of contradiction and repetition
destined to repeat the curly climb
of Pacific Salmon full of eggs,
ignoring the promise in each other's eyes,
there is just the blinkless
death spiral of instinct to extinct,
this being the only way
some are able to rise each morning,
are able to shove a foot down a pant leg
before brushing their teeth with the frightful paradox
I am not to blame, but the blame is mine,

and the sunrise spreads its royalty over
bombed-out ruins and refugees,
exiles, gut piles, and Goldman Sachs;
water and air grow confused,
don’t know where to go
Image source: Smith & Wesson
to escape the uncle's hand,
dry earth shrivels and shrinks,
tries to swallow.

The poets conjure sublime descriptions
of the beauty of a spruce bough in winter;
poems that sing rhythmic sunrise colored
sleights-of-hand that make me yearn for the day
my sister and I snuck into our parents' closet,
hoping to catch the loose corner
of a shiny-bowed Christmas present;
and for a moment we did,
then remembering hard enough,
the glittering gift of my imagination disappears,
and there is only the stack of dog-eared Playboys,
the empty vodka bottles,
the battered 20-gauge shotgun
leaning cockeyed in the corner.



Lyndi Bell O’Laughlin is a poet from Wyoming, USA. Lyndi’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Blood, Water, Wind, and Stone: An Anthology of Wyoming Writers (Sastrugi Press, 2016), TheNewVerse.News, Gyroscope Review, Unbroken Journal, and elsewhere. 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

FALSE SPRING (OR NOT)

by Joan Colby


Giraffes at the Brookfield (IL) Zoo enjoyed the unseasonably warm, spring-like weather on Saturday. —WLS, February 18, 2017.


It might feel good, but February’s intense heat is a very bad sign. The United States hits record high temps, as a climate change denier takes the reigns at the EPA. —Jeremy Deaton, ThinkProgress, February 23, 2017


The giraffes have exited their enclosure
To frolic at the Brookfield Zoo and rollerbladers
Score the lakefront with their raspy scales
While dog-walkers dodge and cyclists bail.
The waves lap at the breakwaters
As records shatter, volley ballers
In shorts and tanks leap and twist
While political appointees continue to insist
Global Warming is a left-wing myth.

Examine the glaciers from the satellite,
Splotches where ten years back there were acres.
The polar bears grow thin on thin ice.
Denials are simply words. The earth doesn’t care
As it continually gets hotter and hotter
And the open-water swimmers breaststroke
To the Crib far out in the blue waters
Glittering in the mid-February mild air.


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.

THREE EGRETS

by Buff Whitman-Bradley




As we stand outside the bank
Holding signs
To protest profiteering
From the ravaging of our environment
Three egrets fly past just above us
And over the maniacal traffic
Of the freeway
Heading to a small marshy area
By the frontage road on the other side.
Three egrets that remind us in this moment
Of our immutable interdependence –
Animal plant stone
Earth water air.
Three egrets
Whose cells, like our own, thrum
With the ancient music of all that is.
Three egrets that know nothing
About carbon emissions and methane plumes
About melting glaciers and dying oceans.
Three egrets that know nothing
About parts per million and tipping points
And the dire predictions
Of climate scientists.
Three egrets that know nothing
About mass mobilizations
To resist the slashers and gougers and despoilers
Nothing about blockades and lock downs
And urgent uproarious disobedience
To disrupt business as usual –
But that is not the egrets' work,
It is ours.


Buff Whitman-Bradley's poetry has appeared in many print and online journals, including Atlanta Review, Bryant Literary Review, Concho River Review, Crannog, december, Hawai'i Review, Pinyon, Rockhurst Review, Solstice, Third Wednesdayand others. He has published several collections of poems, most recently, To Get Our Bearings in this Wheeling World. His interviews with soldiers who refused to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan became the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. He lives in northern California with his wife Cynthia.

Friday, February 24, 2017

ALTERNATIVE FACTS

by Nancy Iannucci 




Bridget Bishop’s tavern
was a bump on a buggy ride
from Salem Village to Salem Town

where the menfolk congregated
like hogs over mugs of grog
they watched her closely
as she weaved in and out
of each Goodman,
bobbing like a blood-red
cherry in a cocktail.
they licked their lips
when she spoke outhouse-speak
& tried into the sunrise to intercept
her pass, grope her smicket
underneath a thicket
of red calico but she was
brassy, nimble like a cricket.
her familiar tormented their flesh
as they slept wet from dreams
of her dancing above their beds:
It was Bridget Bishop! they pointed.
She pinned me down in the night;
I could not sleep nor breathe!
the townsfolk sat & swayed
to a melody of alternative facts
& with their eyes closed
chanted in their Sunday best,
Guilty! Lock her up!
Hathorne's gavel pounded
sending her swinging
to the whine
of frictional
wood and twine
& it was there at
Proctor’s Ledge where
the menfolk licked
their lips for the
last time
trusting their
satanic satyriasis
had been cast out
with the witch.


Nancy Iannucci is a historian who teaches history and lives poetry in Troy, NY. Her work is published/forthcoming in numerous publications including Bop Dead City, Allegro Poetry Magazine, Star 82 Review (*82), Gargoyle, Amaryllis, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Typehouse Literary Magazine, Nixes Mate Review,  Poetry Breakfast, Rose Red Review, Three Drops from a Cauldron, and her poem “Howling” won one of Yellow Chair Review’s Rock the Chair Challenges.


Details at ExtraNewsFeed

Thursday, February 23, 2017

BORDER/NO BORDER

by Wendy Taylor Carlisle


A woman traveling alone with her infant, seeming to understand that she will be arrested, walks toward Canadian police on the far side of the border from Champlain, NY.  Photo by Kathleen Masterson/VPR via NPR, February 17, 2017
Members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police help a family from Somalia on Feb. 17, 2017 along the U.S.-Canada border near Hemmingford, Quebec. (The Canadian Press/AP) —The Washington Post, February 23, 2017


While some refugees are also crossing into Manitoba and British Columbia, according to the Canada Border Services Agency, some 452 people made refugee claims in Quebec in January alone, after being arrested for illegally crossing the border on foot with their strollers and suitcases in tow. Paradoxically, since the Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the U.S. came into force in 2004, people entering from the U.S. can only claim refugee status in Canada if they cross outside the designated ports of entry—in other words, illegally. —Montreal Gazette, February 16, 2017


Trudeau: Canada will continue to accept asylum seekers from US 
The Hill, February 21, 2017


She stands at end of Roxham Road
At the unmarked Canadian border
A Road Closed sign, then
15 feet along a well-walked path

border/ no border

The woman clutches
the handle of a rolling suitcase
Her baby wrapped
in the other arm

Across the border/ no border

Mounties in uniforms
Ma’am they say, ma’am
she does not understand
she is holding her son

border/no border

ma’am they say
we have to arrest you
if you walk across
at this here

border/no border

the men do not pull their guns
the guns gleam
in their leather holsters
car seat in a Mountie cruiser

Guns/ no guns

The woman steps into the cruiser
a border-jumper choosing not to live
in fear of what comes next
in crazy country, still she hesitates

border/no border

before she hands the baby
to a Mountie. In Canada
after 24 hours she’ll be released
or seen by a judge.


Wendy Taylor Carlisle lives and writes in the Arkansas Ozarks.

ACCOUNTABLE



Jim Hanson is a retired Senior Researcher at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale where he worked and taught in community development. He currently resides in the St. Louis area. He has a doctorate degree in sociology and is a lay-ordinated Zen Buddhist.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

FOR LAWRENCE KING

by Danielle Shorr





It is valentines day again
Larry is putting on his black boots
zipping them up smoothly,
he knows a thing or two about confidence,
how to swing his hips with an internal rhythm,
kick up his heels as he walks past a crowd.

These boots are like ones he used to wear
but the latest edition
bought with the paycheck from his new job-
he is proud today.

This queerness has always been
a heart without a name,
worn loudly,
second nature.

Makeup done
full face with
brows arched higher than his dreams for the future-
he has many.

We don't know where he is going tonight
maybe to a bar on Santa Monica Boulevard
or a house party adorned by candy hearts and balloons
or maybe on a date

It could be his first or more likely it isn't because he loves
to talk and smile and his friends swear he can
make anyone see light in a dim room
he’s walked through many
but has learned how
to sway against the darkness

Today Larry is 24
or he would've been
had the bullet not met
the back of his head that day
9 years ago in computer class

I wonder about his plans
like they’re still a possibility

I wonder about him the same way
my mother asks if I got home safely from a night class
there is more fear than optimism
and his fate feels almost inevitable
with the way the years have unraveled since his death

Fifty bodies on a night club floor
still isn't enough to warrant protection-
pride,
still a synonym for target

They say humanity is getting better
but we still haven’t heard acknowledgement
and it doesn’t matter how vocal you are
because the silencing will always be louder

This institution is deafening
our sensitivity to noise has diminished-
when was the last time you heard his name in a classroom?

2008 was the year of the swine flu
never ending headlines about things that kill
not one mentioned hatred


Since her start in slam poetry at the age of 17,  Danielle Shorr has continued to write with consistency. From competing at Brave New Voices in 2014, to placing as a finalist for the title of Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate, Danielle has built a resume on experience and passion. As an undergraduate student at Chapman University, Danielle has helped bring student poetic voice to the university, co-founding the first poetry club in 2015. In 2016, Danielle published her first full book of poetry Beyond Existing.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

THE NEW AMERICA: BRING YOUR OWN DEATH

by George Salamon


"As states have faced  challenges to carrying out executions by lethal injections, various work-arounds and alternatives have been proposed . . . Arizona may have come up with the most original concept yet: an invitation for lawyers to help kill their own clients. With drugs that can be used for lethal injections in short supply, the Arizona department of corrections' latest execution protocol states that attorneys for death row inmates are welcome to bring their own." The Guardian, February 15, 2017


No more irresolution
For those awaiting execution.
It's rugged individualism to the end
Thanks to Arizona's new godsend.
Where the condemned's lawyer
Is appointed his destroyer.
Once witness and fellow weeper,
He may play grim reaper.
We shuddered once to that final yelp,
To be marketed as an existential act
Of self-help.


George Salamon is still trying to watch the American scene sixty-nine years after his arrival from Europe.  He does it now from St. Louis, MO.

Monday, February 20, 2017

MY QUESTIONS FOR ANY WOMAN WHO HAS ESCAPED FROM HUMAN TRAFFICKING

by Sister Lou Ella Hickman


Advertising campaigtn by Greg Wong for Restore NYC - Awareness for Sex-Trafficked Survivors



In honor of Restore NYC and all places of haven.


                                will you learn to love your skin again
                                 now scarred and scared
                                will the memory in your muscles
                                  relearn how to let go in trust
                                will your eyes come to understand
                                  that your tears
                               your weeping, your sobbing
                                 are prayers releasing your heart from horror
                             will your feet discover again the way
                                 the way a woman walks into life each day
                                and, finally, will your sacred breasts and womb
                                                realize again how they temple your soul
                                these are the questions only you can answer
                                                with a life that came back from the dead

                                             
Sister Lou Ella Hickman, I.W.B.S. published her first book of poetry, she: robed and wordless in 2015 (Press 53).  She has published numerous poems in Spiritus, Commonweal, First Things, and Sojourners. One of her poems appeared in After Shocks: The Poetry of Recover for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo and one in Down to the Dark River: Contemporary Poems about the Mississippi, edited by Philip C. Kolin and Jack B. Bedell.  She lives in Corpus Christi, Texas and she is also a spiritual advisor.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

SECURITY

by Joan Mazza


Drawing by Tom Gauld for The New Yorker, January 10, 2017


In scary times, I have my ways to cope.
I make art and distract myself by listening
to books or reading. I get some neglected
chore done, one unpleasant overdue task.

I purchase supplies to last more than a year.
Paper towels, toilet tissue, Kleenex by the case.
Soap and bleach, lotion, dental floss, toothpaste,
cotton swabs. Of course, I buy more six-packs

of canned green beans, corn, tuna by the dozen.
I maintain my stash of pasta. Who knows what
tweet might interrupt the flow of goods in shipping
containers crossing the oceans? Even

my cold tablets, nail polish, and art supplies
are made in China, all Smithfield pork processed
there. So I buy while I can, not quite the prepper,
not rich enough for a condo underground

in New Zealand or a pilot on call to take me there,
but I’m good at this, once an adept and eager
camper. Watch me rake my wood paths
and place Band-Aids on the coming avalanche.


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

Saturday, February 18, 2017

THE WARRIOR'S GRAVE

by Alejandro Escudé


This 3,500-Year-Old Greek Tomb Upended What We Thought We Knew About the Roots of Western Civilization: The recent discovery of the grave of an ancient soldier is challenging accepted wisdom among archaeologists. In late June 2015, the scheduled end to their season came and went, and a skeleton began to emerge—a man in his early 30s, his skull flattened and broken and a silver bowl on his chest. The researchers nicknamed him the “griffin warrior” after a griffin-decorated ivory plaque they found between his legs. Stocker got used to working alongside him in that cramped space, day after day in the blazing summer sun. “I felt really close to this guy, whoever he was,” she says. “This was a person and these were his things. I talked to him: ‘Mr. Griffin, help me to be careful.’” —Smithsonian, January 2017

The mouth grows
isolation

under the olive groves
a warrior waits

gold-laden, bronze statuettes,
oh rings double-scored

and you mount the Mount
to be with her;

she who knew you best
and whom you challenged,

as far as mainland Greece,
across the lunar bay

and into the ancient palace
of words

death finally made you a poet
as it does to us all.


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, February 17, 2017

THE DIVIDED STATE OF AMERICA

by Anna M. Evans




I wonder how they sleep at night, those folk
who disagree with me. Although their views
are driving current policy, the joke
is on them when they watch the nightly news
and see the protest rallies everywhere—
each witty hat, each cutely-worded sign.
Aren’t they ashamed? Do they not even care
the country will remember them as swine?

But then I see they think the same of me:
that they're the strong, while my kind are all flakes.
Impossible for either side to see
the other’s merits or their own mistakes.
By day, we all shake our self-righteous heads;
at night we lie uneasy in our beds.


Anna M. Evans’ poems have appeared in the Harvard Review, Atlanta Review, Rattle, American Arts Quarterly, and 32 Poems. She gained her MFA from Bennington College, and is the Editor of the Raintown Review. Recipient of Fellowships from the MacDowell Artists' Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and winner of the 2012 Rattle Poetry Prize Readers' Choice Award, she currently teaches at West Windsor Art Center and Rowan University at Burlington County College. Her sonnet collection, Sisters & Courtesans, is available from White Violet Press.

AMERICA 2017

by Edward Zuk


An old, crass, sad, vindictive president;
Congress a swamp its citizens abhor;
A cabinet of the incompetent;
The coasts and heartland in a shouting war;

Cracked pipes and bridges no one tries to fix;
Firms profiteering from the people's health;
Churches that preach on cash and politics;
Bankers and brokers hoarding all the wealth;

Companies persons; prisons privatized;
Courtesy dead; the crazies resolute;
News faked; land fracked; science politicized;
Judges abused; the Truth in disrepute;

And the poor hurt and lashing out in pain
Are what will make the country great again?


Edward Zuk is an essayist and poet from British Columbia, Canada.  His work has appeared in Haiku 21, Queen's Quarterly, Raintown Review, and other publications.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

DEAR PAUL RYAN

by Jacqueline Jules


Paul Ryan caricature by DonkeyHotey


After you’ve carried out your promises
to the American people,
I hope you’ll come to the chemo clinic with me.

Wait in my seat—rigid blue plastic,
stainless steel frame, comforting
as the flicker of fluorescent tubes
from the popcorn ceiling.

Notice how the legs of your chair
wobble on uneven green tile
while you listen
on a dying cell phone
to a bean counter at Blue Cross
explain why you don’t deserve
the drug your doctor prescribed.

Feel the bones
up and down your spine
burst into flames.

Then you can come home with me.
Sip canned soup at my table,
littered with pre-existing bills
for care no longer covered.

And you can tell me again
why you are so pleased
to be the face of the political party
which proclaims all life is precious
(no matter how tiny) as long
as no taxes are raised to protect it.


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 40 books for young readers.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

IMMIGRANTS SPEAK TO THE NEW PRESIDENT

by Austin Alexis




We flee poverty
the way the U.S.A. will,
at some point,
seek escape from you.
You are to us
as a flaw is
when it mars a $1000 bill.
We so need that capital,
that liberating opportunity,
that expanse of fertile green.
If only you didn't shed
your blot on its face,
rendering it nightmarish,
its once-prized images and concepts
now garbled, unreadable.


Austin Alexis has been published in The Ledge: Poetry and Fiction, J Journal, Chiron Review, The Lyric, Home Planet News, TheNewVerse.News, and the anthologies Rabbit Ears: TV Poems and Poets 4 Paris (bilingual edition). His full-length collection is Privacy Issues (Broadside Lotus Press, 2014), and he has two previous chapbooks from Poets Wear Prada.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

POETS IN MOURNING

by Kate Carey




We scoured the world,
searching for bits that were not broken.
We find everyone is broken
and everyone is reaching for that bottle of glue.

The day after the election, my sister
called me at work and I found shelter
in a supply closet
so we could loudly openly weep,
mourning for our futures,
faces drowning in tears,
throats bubbling with absolute terror.
We were trying to make sense of a world that didn’t make sense.

I texted every black woman I loved,
every white woman I loved,
my half-Cuban, half-‘rican best friend, my sister, my husband.
I reached out, showing where the thornprick bled red
“I hurt.” They clasped back “Us too.”

If our hurt were electoral votes, that
mother fucker’d be obliterated.

A magazine article titled ‘Edible Philly.’
And how now our country looks like a
tasty morsel
on a gleaming plate
for this conglomerous king.

We’ve elected an angry hairpiece to lead us,
gave a tyrant access to our vulnerabilities.
Let us set fire to the idea that dissent is not an option.


Kate Carey is a 20-something who writes while she’s supposed to be doing other things. Her day job is not very interesting but her life is beginning to be. She has had one poem published in Dying Dahlia Review. She lives in Philly with her parents and resents she had to say that part at all. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

THE FIRST THREE WEEKS OF THE FIRST HUNDRED DAYS

by Penelope Scambly Schott



This is a factual fact.
Day by day, it keeps on coming.
Rain. Hail. The winds
that brought branches crashing down.
Three days of darkness.
Three days of cold.
A lighter rain. Flakes
floating. Once
a snippet of blue sky.
But if you weren’t looking,
you missed it.
Another executive order.
New snow on top of dirty snow.
Ice.
It was the ice that was the worst,
paws of the old dog
splaying in four directions.
She looked at me
with baffled accusation.
More and heavier rain.
The saturated hillsides
slipping down the hillsides.
Darlings, where are we going?


Penelope Scambly Schott was awarded four New Jersey arts fellowships before moving to Oregon, where her verse biography A is for Anne: Mistress Hutchinson Disturbs the Commonwealth received an Oregon Book Award for Poetry. In 2013 she had two books published: Lovesong for Dufur and Lillie Was a Goddess, Lillie Was a Whore. Penelope’s most recent book (2014) How I Became an Historian is a lyric examination of the connections between past and future, both in her family and in the larger world.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

AGAINST THE NEED TO WRITE POEMS IN THE AGE OF T***P

by Alan Walowitz


Photo Illustration by Jackie Friedman | Images courtesy iStock, Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images via The Week


In poems the facts don’t seem to matter much
but these alt-facts just rip the poems right out of me—
the thought of madmen milling unvetted at our ports
to eat the still-beating hearts of our young
keeps me up long into the night, and sometimes gets so bad
I have to head downstairs for a late-night snack myself;
aliens hover at the polls ready to disguise themselves as the dead—
how can I make even a gesture toward a poem,
under these intolerable conditions.
Wordsworth knew it’s best to conjure up a lake lapping steady
and not fire up the hookah his friend had left as a house-gift,
though God know Coleridge has convinced me once or twice to try
and it’s worked nicely some dark and stormy nights
while waiting for an imagined visitor on business from Porlock.

Me, I prefer to know some things might be true—
the time on the clock should be approximately right,
then I can look outside and tell day from night,
though wrong from right has always been a tougher sell
in someone like me who likes to make stuff up.
But here they are the alt-facts lined up right outside my home
in pretty paper, ready to prop up whatever I might prefer to think—
a tsunami’s due that will make my property waterfront,
or a torrent of water slushed down any unsuspecting throat
will wash the truth right out of even the most innocent.
Whatever I feel, what joy, what many-splendored
wonders of this brave new world we’ve stepped into
across the threshold of the T***p-house mirror—
hell, there’s no longer reason to write a poem.


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. He’ll be reading at the Cornelia Street Café on Tuesday, March 7th at 6 pm.

THUMPED

by Peter Krass


Caricature by DonkeyHotey


We get up from bed, but can’t be awake.
This must be a bad dream, a nightmare,
though sunlight burns behind the window shade,
a car’s engine growls back at a dog
taking its first morning dump
and the overhead neighbors clomp across the ceiling.
If only our thoughts could rise to that elevation.
Instead, they lie on the floor, then sink lower,
unable to stand, let alone walk.
Even pajamas no longer see the point.
Why bother getting dressed? they ask.
Coffee reminds us of other nightmares,
ones from which we could shake ourselves awake.
Also that dream of a gushing waterfall,
beautifully treacherous, alluringly violent,
and when we awoke, the bedsheet cold and wet
with embarrassing urine, leading us to wonder
if that were the beginning
of our own ignoble, feeble decline.
That must be what’s happening now,
the end of a dream, the start
of an ending, a crisis in formation,
this time involving everyone and something
even worse, more disgusting, terrible.


Peter Krass is a freelance writer and editor living in Brooklyn, N.Y. He teaches creative writing at The Writers Studio in New York, and he recently served as poetry co-editor for a forthcoming issue of Epiphany that will celebrate The Writers Studio's 30th anniversary.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

STRANGERS ON A TRAIN

by Devon Balwit


Top photo: “How New Yorkers Deal With Swastikas on the Subway” by Gregory Locke, The Forward, February 5, 2017.

Images collide in my news feed
the way strangers do on a train,
strangers on a NYC subway car,
rubbing out swastikas, the words
“Jews belong in the ovens,”
above archival Giacometti,
working papier-mâché
over the armature of a man,
a man gaunt like the Jews
after their ride in the trains,
heads shaved, teeth stripped,
children gone, names erased,
Giacometti’s man rising
like a corpse, refusing to stay dead,
race hatred rising, spectral,
bans, deportations,
Giacometti, the NYC riders,
showing what resistance looks like
when train doors open on shadows,
showing what makes a human being.


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.

GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE

by Chris O’Carroll


Confronted with new evidence of torture and mass hangings in one of his military prisons, Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an exclusive interview February 10, 2017 with Yahoo News that the allegations were the product of a “fake news era” and charged that a human rights group, Amnesty International, had fabricated evidence to discredit his embattled government.


Our prez now finds a brand new soulmate;
Putin’s not his only bro.
Assad, fellow fan of torture,
Learns to whine that news is faux.


Chris O’Carroll has published unfair attacks on the president in dishonest journals on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s disgusting the stuff he gets away with. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

#LOVETRUMPSHATE

by Brian Glaser


Levi Snyder-Allen dressed as a wolf when he joined his mother Diana at a North Dakota oil pipeline protest. The wolf is an endangered species in North Dakota. About 30 protestors gathered for a "Stand With Standing Rock" demonstration against the North Dakota Access Pipeline in Santa Ana on Saturday. (Photo by Bill Alkofer, Orange County Register/SCNG Nov. 27, 2016)


By ordering construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline to resume, the President is participating in one of this country’s oldest traditions—repressing Native Americans.
—Bill McKibben, The New Yorker online, February 8, 2017

Dakota Access protesters vow 'mass resistance.' 
They will be hard to stop. 
CNBC, February 8, 2017


“No trespass, no peace.”
That’s the chant as my son heard it when we stood
with thirty others
at a Santa Ana intersection
to show solidarity with the water protectors of Standing Rock.
As a beginner, I was impressed by the preparation of the young woman
who had organized the gathering:
not only summoning us all,
but the extra signs, bilingual informative flyers, a whistle to acknowledge
the gestures of agreement from passing cars.
And the chants, begun across the street from where we stood,
connecting us like impalpable thread.
Just today, the Army announced that it will shut down
the encampment blocking the black snake
in December.
Kurt Vonnegut said of the afterlife that one might have to choose
an age to remain for eternity.
I might choose sixty-five or so,
I think, but forced to commit to one I would miss
the overtones and undertones and ironies
with which the chant describes the changing years
of my already forty-three:
no trespass, no peace.


Brian Glaser has worked as a grant writer, a dramaturge, and a professor, and he has created six environmentally themed courses at his current school, Chapman University. Glaser has published more than thirty poems, translations, essays and reviews.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

PROSTITUTE

an anagram poem by David Spicer





For months I’ve watched Rose,
not a woman of ill repute
but a unique kind of poet,
a smooth blonde who’s a poster
girl for works of prose
she recites by rote
for the misogynist she touts
every morning. She doesn’t protest
when asked to produce tropes
glorifying him, writes riots
of rhetoric that possess a tinge of eros,
that she delivers with poise
to the cameras as though a tourist
familiar with any kind of ruse.
She holds a gold-sequined purse,
proceeds to tutor
male reporters who don’t trust
her to do anything except roust
questions in their heads they store
away, just to deprive them of a rest,
to convince herself she can pour
her special brand of suet
for them, and then stir
it, inducing a rise
from them, supplying enough rope
so they stop, think, and sort
thoughts in their sore
minds, the last step
before she fools them to posit
they have passed a test
which allows them to tour
her body that she’ll pose
for them, and instead she’ll step
forward to reveal her intellect’s tits,
an act she considers anything but trite,
but expected for her kind of prostitute.


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

BANANAS

by Scott C. Kaestner




tired of writing about the t***p administration
so today gonna’ write about… um
hmm… let’s see… that’s it…
bananas!
ya’ heard me, bananas!
the potassium rich phallic fruit
bright yellow and ready for action
affordable and portable, simply delicious
just peel back the outer layer and bite into it
an andy warhol painting, a velvet underground album cover
founder of republics, foreign multinational corporate dominance
impoverishing the working class and abusing their labor… you see
the world is bananas… a place where fruit can be a tool to abuse power
a place that has everything for everyone being denied by a greedy few
instead of feeding the masses bananas are used to entrap the masses
sometimes too green or too rotten or they fall into tiny lil’ spoiled hands
which leads me to our current president… oh wait… fuck… nevermind…

BANANAS!


Scott C. Kaestner is a Los Angeles poet, a dad, Lakers fan, guacamole aficionado, and leftist dreamer. Google 'scott kaestner poetry' to peruse his musings.

SHE PERSISTS

by Cally Conan-Davies





Beyond my door is a stream I sit beside
and consider the lastingness of things
—rubber soles, for instance, and woollen socks,
a glass bottle, a foam cup, a knot of fishing line—
things that get caught up in the stream.

The hills sharpen the shriek of the owl
and one thought tears away
like a hound into the wind:
men must give a mind
to earth's own laws. I've seen

her body of fresh water
glaze the dark roots of her weedy banks,
her luxury of flowing downstream not locked in
to anything but pouring and falling down; her lowly law:
to round the shape of everything she meets.

She sings syllabically. She looks troubled.
She is and she isn't. Doing her cold work
she streams. She won't go quietly
because the quality of water is not just
locked in. It is fluidity and partner to the wind.

She is what comes from broken stones,
she won't be silent. She is water-talk
from a clouded mountain thrown down on her
and from the weight of this history
she can improvise a trickle in the dust.

She is last and thirst, her religion is open to life.
She puts her money on the ground and sees it gone.
She is the bend in the spear grass. She gives
her light to irises. She stands
in the poppies where a battlefield was.

By otter and crow, these are the faithful facts.
The stream flows even past the span of stone and heron.
She is the engine drinking in every moment,
clear, and charged, and overlapping,
and making things green where she passes

streaming . . .


Cally Conan-Davies is a writer who lives by the sea.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

WHEN WE TALK




Michelle Marie was a blog correspondent for Stop Street Harassment and reader columnist for The News Tribune.

WONDER WOMAN IS MAYBE A 5 AT BEST

by Daniel M. Shapiro





The Orange Menace offers $10 million to “the man who invents the best device—
THE best device—for grabbing a woman and making her keep quiet about it. GO!”

The Orange Menace ends up hiring his sons, who repurpose a glove designed to conceal
offshore funds. They buy silencing technology from a mastermind for steaks and ties.

The Orange Menace enjoys setting traps. He tweets, “@realAmazonWW can’t fight.
She’s nothing without bracelets and tiara. Knows where I live. Do her hips look bigger?”

The Orange Menace hears a bump on the roof, an invisible jet he refers to as “a rip-off.
Disaster.” He puts on the glove. Wonder Woman walks through an unlocked door.

The Orange Menace lunges at her. She feels nothing. The glove has malfunctioned because his
sons made it too large. Wonder Woman slips her lasso around The Orange Menace for his truth.

“What do you want in life?” Wonder Woman asks. “All I want is to be loved,” The Orange
Menace says. She records the confession, which goes viral. “Fake news. I have it all!” he tweets.


Daniel M. Shapiro is the author of Heavy Metal Fairy Tales (Throwback Books, 2016) and How the Potato Chip Was Invented (sunnyoutside press, 2013). He is a senior editor with Pittsburgh Poetry Review.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

THE BALLAD OF BRAVE SIR BANNON

by Arnold Snarb
Bannon head caricature by 


In the distant future, a decade from now,
            when our planet has ceased to be,
those intergalactic aliens
            shall recite my song with glee.

So gather round, ye representative few
            who make up the Electoral College,
And I’ll tell ye a tale of doughty deeds
            That’ll fill your brain with knowledge.

O I sing of a lad who fought the good fight,
            or would, had he shown up to fight it,
but word of a protest made him think twice,
            so he said, well they can just bite it.

A true son of Eire, a man of the Cross,
            in his blood run the waters of Shannon:
nor better a bloke e’er ran Breitbart News
            than wild-eyed, race-baiting Bannon.

A son of the South who gave fatwa ‘gainst Islam
            and savaged the global elite;
when he found out that Jews went to school with his kids
            he cut out two holes in his sheet.

A Birther by birth, he was early to ken
            the charms of our Dear tweetin’ Leader.
So he rolled up his sleeves, and pulled down his pants,
            said here’s all that you’ll need to beat her!

The shit that he peddled the Donald sold wholesale
            and they shared an establishment beef:
Though he’d worked for a decade at Goldman Sachs
            he’d make T***p Pussy Grabber in Chief.

A cock-of-the-walk who never looked back
            at the three divorces behind him,
that dark day in Cambridge he chickened out,
            O Brave, Brave Sir Bannon!

The protesters stood all night in the rain
            with their signs, petitions and banners
while safely ensconced on the Upper West Side
            Was Brave, Brave Sir Bannon!

One day he’ll return, Harvard’s Prodigal Son,
            and stick like a fly in the ointment;
on wind of impeachment he’ll take the next plane
            for a cushy K-School appointment.


Arnold Snarb is a poet and scholar who holds degrees from Harvard, Oxford and Yale. He is currently working on a memoir written in blank verse that recounts his youth and education.

Monday, February 06, 2017

THE NEW CURRICULUM

by William Aarnes




                        America First

At dinner tonight
our eighth-grader repeated

how all the kids just love
their Patriotism teacher.

She asked if we knew
that for centuries

people have misjudged
that Samaritan as good.

Each evening she seems
more and more suspicious

of our baffled looks,  
of our needing to have explained

something so self-evident
as the moral that only someone

alien to our way of life
would help a victim

who probably deserved
a worse beating than he got.


William Aarnes lives in South Carolina.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

DAKOTA CLEARING

by Peleg Held



On February 1st, several water protectors established the "Last Child Camp" in exercise of the 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie Treaties. In response the Morton County Sheriff, National Guard, and armed mercenaries raided the camp arresting over 70+. —Winona LaDuke Honor the Earth, February 3, 2017


A man in holster and badge parts the fabric
of a Tipi. He is looking but doesn't see
the enemy or the polls as they converge
over his head. Behind him, his people come
as they have always come, with the license
of force and numbers to clear the land.
Warriors wait, laughing, chanting, bound
together by song and the smoke of their fire.
Under the earth, cold iron rings the emptiness
as a black snake dreams of the last child
on the land and how good it will be to be full.


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

SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME

by Jack Powers 





Washington was a sea of pink pussy hats Saturday
         and New York and Stamford and Chicago and LA
while Anne and I sat at home, realizing we missed out,
         thinking if we all march on Day 2, what's left for Day 100?

I emptied the dishwasher, let the dog lick the plates,
         read the signs on TV: We shall overcomb,
Ovaries before Brovaries, Electile Dysfunction.

I re-tied my blue and orange Asics, perfect marching shoes,
         bought in a mall in California when one of my old sneakers
fell out of our rental car. I'm obsessed with avocados.
         But low blood sugar is costing more rain forests.

I called Will on his first day at NYU, my brain a half step
         behind my mouth. You keep contradicting yourself, he said
when I told him to eat well and then to find cheaper food.

I sounded just like my father. Some days I can't get both feet
         out of my mouth. Last year I wrote about wanting to be black
when I was young, about fro-ing my hair and reading Soul on Ice.
         about dressing up for Mardi Gras as a black jazz musician,

playing "When the Saints Go Marching In" on a kid's plastic trumpet.
         Zak shook his head, said something about appropriation.
True. True. But I nailed that Louis Armstrong rasp,
     
singing, Lord, I want to be in that number, Oh, when the saints!
         squeezing the red and green plastic valves, mopping my brow
with a white handkerchief. He was so damn cool. I am not.
         Zak asked me to hide the picture when his girlfriend visits.

 In a dream last night, I proposed to Anne by spreading
         peanut butter on her hand and licking it off.
To make matters worse, I told her about it in the morning.

The Times' top left column seems dedicated to T***p's lie of the day:
         crowd size, illegal voters. By Day 100 will everyone want a do over?
For dinner I may eat crow again with just a sliver of avocado,
         keep my sneakers tied—ready next time to shut up and march.


Jack Powers teaches special education. English and math at Joel Barlow High School in Redding, Connecticut, and directs the school’s Writing Center. He won the 2015 and 2012 Connecticut River Review Poetry Contests and was a finalist for the 2013 and 2014 Rattle Poetry Prizes. His poems have appeared in The Southern Review, The Southern Poetry Review, Barrow Street, Poet Lore, Cortland Review and elsewhere. 

Saturday, February 04, 2017

THE GOVERNMENT

by Samantha Pious




after a ballade by Christine de Pizan


Where will outcasts comfort find
—asylum-seekers, refugees—
 now the land we thought to be
the sunset gates, the golden door,
the harbor where the tired, poor,
and fearful could at last breathe free
has neither love nor amnesty?
The one-percenters are severe;
the young professionals, resigned.
The government won’t deign to hear.

To lawyers they have no recourse,
ill-counseled by their advocates,
without protection from the courts.
The officers who stop and frisk
interrogate with undue force—
and sometimes suspects disappear
before they’re properly accused.
(But could that ever happen here?)
The magistrates condemn, unmoved;
the government won’t deign to hear.

Where shall they go, when there is no
safety here, or anywhere
that hope is vain, and friend is foe?
The underground will take them in
if they believe the garbled voice,
the tiny hands, the laquered hair,
the orange pawn—or puppeteer?—
who has big plans for his first year.
(But will he keep Obamacare?)
The government won’t deign to hear.

Folks, after this election year
the ship of state has sprung a leak
while navigating up shit creek.
We’ll have to pray or maybe hope
our captain doesn’t rock the boat.
The government won’t deign to hear.


Samantha Pious's first book A Crown of Violets (Headmistress Press, 2015) offers a selection of the French poetry of Renée Vivien in English translation. Some of her other translations and poems have appeared in Adrienne, Lavender Review, Mezzo Cammin, and other publications. Her poem "The Government" is loosely adapted from the Middle French of Christine de Pizan (1364-ca. 1430), an Italian-French woman poet and philosopher of the Late Middle Ages.

WE ARE ALL KENTUCKIANS NOW

by Diane Elayne Dees




How do we mourn
those who lost their lives
in the great Bowling Green
Massacre? For no one knows

how many died, who was left
lame or blind, who tearfully stares
at the photo of a dead loved one
at the end of each day.

How can we grieve
when the talking heads conspire
to cover up the detritus
of a bloody national tragedy,

while the women wearing hijabs
laugh at us behind their sinister
veils? The survivors have been
silenced, their misery dismissed.

How do we move on
if we are not allowed to rage
at those who came from a foreign
place, and quietly entered

Bowling Green and slaughtered
unknown numbers? The secret
had to be exposed, the reckoning
will come in time. Prepare.


Diane Elayne Dees's poetry has been published in many journals and anthologies. Diane also publishes Women Who Serve, a blog that covers women's professional tennis worldwide.


Friday, February 03, 2017

WHAT I TELL YOU THREE TIMES IS TRUE

by Sheila Wellehan



A lie told often enough becomes the truth. –Vladimir Lenin 

Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:  What I tell you three times is true. –Lewis Carroll


When you tell a story three times
it becomes the truth.

Assert it four times
you slam shut open windows and doors.

Spinning the false tale five times
kills every bee in its hive.

With the weight of six repetitions
tall buildings collapse and the sky rains bricks.

Singing the same song seven times
poisons every ocean, every lake.

If you mislead eight times
you blind everyone who’s survived.

When you deceive nine times
they believe it even in heaven.

Repeat a lie ten times
that’s it, it’s the end.


Sheila Wellehan's poetry is featured in Chiron Review, The Fourth River, Off the Coast, Poetry East, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. She lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.