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Monday, July 23, 2018

THE CANDIDATE

by Aaron Poochigian




Get up, Fernando. We must try again.
I know, I know, this is the age of shrill
abhorrence, but we are American—
the future is a family picnic still.

It’s bad we two have dozed through early summer
here on the peeling stoop of unsuccess
while truth got slaughtered, and the numb got number
to slurs, massacres, treason and the press,

so go put on a suit and running shoes.
We’ll knock like missionaries. If they spit,
whip out their Colts and sputter toxic nonsense,

we can at least yield with an easy conscience,
at least have done our best to do a bit
of good, Fernando, when we hugely lose.


Aaron Poochigian earned a PhD in Classics from the University of Minnesota and an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University. His first book of poetry The Cosmic Purr (Able Muse Press) was published in 2012; his second book Manhattanite, winner of the 2016 Able Muse Poetry Prize,  came out in December of 2017. His thriller in verse Mr. Either/Or was released by Etruscan Press in Fall of 2017. His work has appeared in Best American Poetry, Poetry, and The Times Literary Supplement.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

DOLICHOVESPULA MACULATA, or THE BALD-FACED HORNET

by Tricia Knoll
We look to the animal kingdom
to describe some people we know—
shark, worm, fox, hawk, lame duck,
skunk, sheep, rat, sloth, snake, ass—
mostly to describe the worst
traits humans bring to the table.

What strikes fear in me is the face
of the bald-faced liar, a North American
hornet. Its willingness to commit
matricide. Aggressive when
threatened. Defensive.
Clearly striped in black vs. white.
The struggle within its own nest
between a ruler and the workers.
How they chew live pray into gray
fibers to paper their elaborate nest
in blandness. Work with professionals
to take down a nest too near humans.
One can squirt venom
that blinds you
right into your eye.

Beware the bald-faced liar.


Tricia Knoll is sick and tired of hearing T***p's repeated lies and lies and lies. Her most recent collection of poetry is How I Learned To Be White.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

A FIRE IN WINTER

by Mark Tarren




Now that it is winter,
the snow hides the past
once again.

The white crested forests
of pine, spruce, larch and cedar,

arch back through the shoulder
of time.

The cold is cloaked
in the warmth of fur coats

and the rivers are now
walked upon as roads

with mist from the words of

these men.

Pasternak. Pushkin. Tolstoy.

Gloved hands that quilled
the papers of

samizdat. The shared secret parchment.

There is blood in the snow.
Red
in the whites of eyes
that see

the dying embers of truth.

Shall we burn down the dachas
in Peredelkino?

What has become of the past?
Are our human limbs for kindling?

Across the ocean
the firewood of history burns

these men.

Twain. Hemingway. Whitman.
Take down the collected volumes
from the shelves of memory

in the library of our grief.
For now is the time for forgetting.

From Saint Petersburg to the Mississippi
the forests are being cleared.

For the snow is now melting
and the past is passing away.

For no good is found here
and there are no words left.


Mark Tarren is a poet and writer based in Queensland, Australia. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in various literary journals including TheNewVerse.News, The Blue Nib, Poets Reading The News, Street Light Press, Spillwords Press and Tuck Magazine.

Friday, July 20, 2018

AMERICA BREAKS

a modified abecedarian by Susan Vespoli



"Javiar" 8 yrs old from Honduras. Detained since Feb. Still in custody in a Texas Detention center. Drawing by Billy Burgos on Facebook, July 11, 2018.


America                                               
breaks
babies from                                         
crying mothers we
call criminals,                                      
drags them
down to                                               
encampments for
early agers:                                          
frightened,
forsaken, sobbing behind                    
gates.
Guards, ordered not to                        
hug them,
hold them till their turn                       
in immigration court. Pleas of
“I want to go home” entered to          
judges. Justice?
Juveniles,                                            
kindergartners, toddlers
kind of                                                 
like your kid and mine who we
love, kiss,                                            
nestle, protect from
nightmares of                                      
ogres who steal
offspring from                                     
parents who tried to become
part of a nation that                             
quietly se-
questers children,                                
rounds them up
right outside our doors as we             
sip our coffee, read
stories to our own. Let’s                     
take a look at ourselves and
try to                                                   
understand our part in this:
“us” in the U.S.                                   
vexed and perplexed that a
village of children                               
were locked up. Let us unite into a
wall of votes to                                   
X out the reign of this
x-reality star who                                
yammers piss, twitters
yuk. Let us join together to                 
zip him up.


Susan Vespoli lives in Arizona, has an MFA from Antioch University, and has published poetry and prose in a number of online and print journals.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

MAN WALKS 20 MILES TO FIRST DAY OF WORK, CEO GIFTS HIM CAR AS THANKS

by Liz Ahl 





The U.S. has finally completed
its transformation into a dystopian game show
with an elaborate and contradictory
and ever-changing set of rules
about what constitutes desperation
and what devotion; a thorough blurring
of what constitutes luck or pluck or
good timing on Twitter; about who deserves
the reward of money for necessary surgery,
the prize of the means to get to work,
the jackpot of work itself.

I imagine this young man, a student,
his sigh and maybe swearing and
the slump of his shoulders when his car
failed him. I imagine him deciding,
after all the back-up rides fell through,
to walk twenty miles in the dark.

I ponder the gravity of the choosing,
which to me feels like choosing
and to him maybe didn’t; I wonder
what I’d choose, and am stumped
because all I can think of are choices
I don’t have to make, all the invisible
freedoms not to choose I wear like skin,
like air; I imagine him google-mapping his route
to measure how long it will take him and then
I imagine him walking twenty miles in the dark
     
or most of it anyhow before the cops stopped him
and—miracle of miracles—bought him breakfast
instead of shooting him dead—in which case
this dead young man would be accused
instead of praised, called foolish
or noncompliant by those who contribute now
to an overflowing GoFundMe in his name;
those who tweet kudos for his devotion to labor
and its just reward would be tut-tutting
and finger-wagging because

—well he shouldn’t be out walking
like that in the middle of the night,
how dangerous     how suspicious
why was he even out there, are we sure?
why not just call in sick    why didn’t he call an Uber
like a normal person     he shouldn’t have
spoken moved looked   shouldn’t have been
silent shouldn’t have done the thing
that made him deserve death instead
of breakfast    what was wrong with him?
he should have known better—

What cruel trick of space-time explains
the difference between this young man
and Trayvon Martin, also black and walking
unarmed alone at night? A higher level of humidity,
a different hour past midnight, a hooded sweatshirt,
two different cops in the cruiser, the casual movement
of a hand to scratch a shoulder—which of these
or the infinite other unwritten and ever-shifting
variables of late-capitalism quantum mechanics
transforms this headline to the version of the story
it so easily could have become?
Has already become? Will become?


Liz Ahl lives in New Hampshire. Her book of poems Beating the Bounds was published in 2017 by Hobblebush Books. Previous collections include the chapbooks Home Economics and Talking About the Weather, published in 2016 and 2012 by Seven Kitchens Press. Her second chapbook Luck (Pecan Grove, 2010) received the New Hampshire Literary Awards "Reader's Choice" in Poetry Award in 2011, and her first chapbook A Thirst That's Partly Mine won the 2008 Slapering Hol Press chapbook contest. Her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Court Green, Crab Orchard Review, Measure, Cutthroat, and other journals. She has been awarded residencies at Jentel, Playa, The Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, and The Vermont Studio Center.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

WHERE IS THE SERVER?

by Lisa Vihos


Image source: @axios


                             after the question from Trump to the media
at his surrender to Putin, 7/16/18
                                       

In this, the Second Enlightenment
(a.k.a. the Demise of Science)
someone is looking for a server.
Is it a room
a box
a chip
a person?
Where are they keeping it?
What is the server saying?
Who has the goods and when
will we receive them?
When will we get supersized?
When will we get our Happy Meals
and all the refills we’ve been promised?

Let’s make a deal:
Bring the 33,000 emails
by midnight tonight,
and you will receive
a lifetime supply of bump stocks
and two free coupons
to the opioid epidemic.
Bring $800 for a DNA test
and your child will be returned.

Come forth, O Server
and tell us all the Deep State secrets
you have stored for so long.
Bring the candles
and the vintage wine.
Reveal us to ourselves
in this never-ending nightmare
that we once upon a time called home.


Editor's Note: “Face it. @realDonaldTrump does have a good point: if the 33,000 emails once on Hillary's server had been found and made public, she wouldn't be president.” —Elizabeth Drew


The poetry of Lisa Vihos has appeared in many journals both print and online including Big Bridge, Big Muddy, Bramble, Forge, Red Fez, Seems, Verse Wisconsin, and Wisconsin People and Ideas. Her fourth chapbook Fan Mail from Some Flounder is just out in 2018 from Main Street Rag Publishing. She is the poetry and arts editor of Stoneboat Literary Journal and the Sheboygan organizer for 100 Thousand Poets for Change

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

TWO NEW NEWS BROADCASTS

by Alice Twombly






                      I
The Evening News: July 4, 2018

A stag, with a full rack of antlers,
stands stationary on my front lawn  at dusk.
I run outside with my only weapon—
a mop still damp from washing the floor,
point it at him, shouting: Nothing.
I charge him, waving the wet rags back and forth, like a flag.
He moves a few feet away and stares at me.
I advance further, but each pause generates only
small indifferent changes. Finally, I run towards him screaming with all the energy
I possess. He bounds at last into the next yard,
turns for a final look, and disappears into the dark.
The next morning, I see what he had done before I’d noticed  him—
petals strewn everywhere, and every plant I’ve nurtured
all  summer, decapitated at the bud, eaten, and destroyed.

                            II
The Midday News: July 16, 2018

He sells the farm, the antiques and the wall hangings,
chases away the loyal dogs,
poisons the wells, floods the crops with leaded water,
jacks the flagpole, torches the flag
and takes down those old Post Magazine covers of the Four Freedoms
that had hung on the wall since World War 11.
Driving the landowners off their historic land
he buys it on the cheap,
and using the unskilled, dazzled, and defrauded labor that remains
begins erecting the first stages of the Putin Trump Tower
on the burnt fields of that defruited and polluted plain.


Alice Twombly is a teacher, photographer, poet, and political junky. A New Jersey resident, she curates a monthly poetry reading in Teaneck, NJ: “Thursdays Are For Poetry at Classic Quiche.” She teaches adults at The Learning Collaborative in New City, NY and lectures at local libraries. A member of “Brevitas,” an online poetry collective in NYC. Her work has been published in The New Jersey Poetry Monthly, First Literary Review-East, The Red Wheelbarrow, and Brevitas.

LYRICS FOR TREASON DAY, JULY 16, 2018

by Michael Brockley


“Send in the Clowns” trumpet solo performed by the US Air Force Brass in Blue.


What if the king wasn’t caught in a trap, and we were no longer stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues? What if we had never stood on a corner in Winslow, Arizona? Or lost our driving wheel? What if we weren’t running on empty and were still too proud to beg? What if we quit holding out for a hero? What if the king couldn’t find a new place to dwell while midnight no longer fell on the oasis? What if we know who stopped the rain? What if she wasn’t a black-haired beauty, and there were no diamonds on the soles of her shoes? What if she hadn’t had Bette Davis eyes, and the king hadn’t seen her first? What if she hadn’t been Jessie’s girl? What if a peaceful man hadn’t pulled into Nazareth, and the knight hadn’t been on the run? What if there hadn’t been a wino in the road? What if we’re no longer living in a Cheerio world and God hadn’t kissed this guy? What if we miss our water? What if there isn’t a piece of our heart left to take? What if there are no more clowns to send in?


Michael Brockley is a 68-year old semi-retired school psychologist. He has been publishing poems for approximately four years now and recent poems have appeared in The Blue Nib Magazine, Zingara Poetry Picks and TheNewVerse.News.

RUSSIAN FELLOWSHIP

by David Feela


Just as Quakers sit in silence
moved to stand
when the spirit insists

so does the American public
occupy its bench
in perfect contemplation

of the moment.
Then Democracy quietly rises
without speaking,

shuffles into the bathroom
and with uncharacteristic clatter
bolts the door.


David Feela writes a monthly column for The Four Corners Free Press and for The Durango Telegraph. A poetry chapbook, Thought Experiments, won the Southwest Poet Series. The Home Atlas appeared in 2009. A Collection of his essays, How Delicate These Arches, was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award. Unsolicited Press will release his new chapbook, Little Acres, in April 2019.

Monday, July 16, 2018

REVERSALS

by Terese Coe





In loss is meaning,
in emptiness, seed,
in ruin, a mirror
of wholeness and deed. 

A seed reserves need
and comes to birth
in the presence of water
and sunlight and earth.

And well we may wonder
when there is no birth
when there is no water
what life has been worth.


Terese Coe’s poems and translations have appeared in 32 Poems, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Cincinnati Review, New American Writing, Ploughshares, Poetry, Threepenny Review, Agenda, The Moth, New Walk Magazine, New Writing Scotland, Poetry Review, the TLS, The Stinging Fly, and many other publications and anthologies. Her latest collection Shot Silk was nominated for The Poets Prize of 2017.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

SONG FOR PATTI

by John Azrak


Patti Smith’s books, particularly Just Kids and M Train, reflect the same humanitarian, progressive, genuine spirit found in her eclectic music, a catalogue that spans over fifty years. Patti has been nominated this week for the New Academy’s alternative to the suspended Nobel Prize in Literature for those “who have told the story of humans in the world.” Photo: Patti Smith performs at Glastonbury in 2015. Credit: Dylan Martinez/Reuters via The Guardian.


In the early days of rock ‘n roll
when licensing was free
Patti Smith crossed her poem “Oath”
with Van Morrison’s garage rocker “Gloria”
on her album Horses turning her disavowal
of her family’s Jehovah’s Witnesses
into a punk anthem
with a scorching opening refrain
Jesus died for somebody’s sins
But not mine—

Just a kid when she turned her back
on religion (critics clamored atheist)
living with Robert Mapplethorpe,
avant-garde photographer and lover
who broke her heart when he came out
of the closet in her wiry arms,
nearly shattering her self-esteem—
a woman was expected still
to convert her man; and hadn’t Patti
read that Rimbaud regretted never finding
the perfect woman! –-but she remained
ever faithful to their soulful bond,
returning to NYC (though newly married)
to nurse Robert, stricken with AIDS,
holding him in her arms unafraid
when there was everything to fear
Jesus died for somebody’s sins
But not mine—

She married guitarist Fred “Sonic” Smith,
band mate and muse, not on the rebound
but so she didn’t have to change her name,
she joked, choosing a life of relative seclusion
in his native Detroit where they worked
on their own music and in tandem
raised two children, performed locally
until she returned thirteen years later
to a jam packed Central Park SummerStage
to read from The Coral Reef, her mystical
prose poems about Robert, a tribute
to his art four years after his passing,
with the support and musical backing
of her self-made, selfless husband
Jesus died for somebody’s sins
But not mine—

Fred died suddenly of heart failure
the following year and then shockingly,
not six months later, her beloved brother
(and road manager) Todd’s heart gave out
but somehow Patti’s remained strong,
dedicated as she was to her children,
Jackson and Jesse, holding them together
with an unbroken faith in love and music
and the gift of life she kept in motion;
in the wake of her unthinkable losses,
Bob Dylan, old friend from their Village days,
asked her to join him on the road—
a short stint to decompress, exercising
her voice until “magnified,” she later wrote,
by the loved ones she’d lost
Jesus died for somebody’s sins
But not mine—

Patti and Dylan sang his “Dark Eyes,”
their first duet reprised on occasion
over the twenty years she regained her voice
as a prime mover of humanitarian causes
on the international stage; so no surprise
when Dylan asked her to stand in for him
at the Nobel Laureate’s ceremony
where she sang “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall”
(her selection) winning over the strait-laced
audience with a poignant interpretation
and pregnant pause over a lost lyric—
the moment of silence capturing it seemed
her dear ones missing— the rising applause
befitting a woman who was a minder
of her fellow man, and as fate would have it,
soon after bound for Kentucky to care for
and work alone with Sam Shepard,
the signature playwright of her generation,
Pulitzer Prize winner of Buried Child, Off-
Broadway icon, poet, songwriter, musician
chronicler of Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Review,
virile screen actor and Patti’s former lover
who remained her friend for fifty years
now suffering the crippling and devastating
symptoms of Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS)
robbed of the ability to write in his preferred
longhand or type drafts of his final novel;
Patti visited Sam’s ranch faithfully
to help transcribe his recordings,
to work out scenes and revisions orally
to help guide the novel to completion
never letting Sam believe, she responded
in a recent interview, that they were working
as if there were no tomorrow
Jesus died for somebody’s sins
But not mine— 


John Azrak lives in New York and has published fiction and poetry in a wide variety of literary journals and anthologies. 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

TIMEOUT FOR PROGRESSIVES

by George Salamon


T***p May skeletons dance at 2017 BRIT awards.





A poem without a view,
No endless outrage, no
Social conflicts or
Racial clashes.
A poem to be seen, but
Not to be heard.
We sang and danced
In the Tavern of
Once Upon a Time.
Those were the days,
But they did end.
What are the great things
We're dreaming of today?


George Salamon lives and writes and dreams occasionally in St. Louis, MO.

Friday, July 13, 2018

TRADING FLESH FOR METAL

by Austin Davis



On Monday, police said [Matthew] Edwards shot and killed his wife and their three children — Jacob, 6; Brinley, 4; and Paxton, 3—before turning the gun on himself. The family instantly became five of the 1,200-some people killed that way each year in the United States. —delaware online, July 12, 2018


House Republican appropriators Wednesday rejected a proposal to designate millions of dollars for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for gun violence research, voting 32-20 to keep the language out of a fiscal 2019 spending bill. —Politico, July 11, 2018


I.

I realized that poems nowadays
are measured by the lull between bullets
instead of a lover’s heartbeat
after I got my haircut at Supercuts
by a woman with a Pink Lady Handgun
staring me down from her hip.
The woman looked as if
she’d been attacked on her way to work
by the bubblegum monster
I used to draw on all my math homework
but she had a smile on her face,
something that was missing from me.

It’s SO CHIC—
my husband makes me take it
with me wherever I go
and at first I was against it
but then I got used to it
and now I feel SOOOOOO
safe and protected
and are you okay
because you look a little bit like
a skydiver wearing a paper parachute
who just noticed
he was a foot from the ground.

II.

Well, last year I had a vase
thrown at my head in Greer, Arizona
after I told a white man in white pants
that he was cleaning his assault rifle
as if it was a porcelain doll
because he felt naked without it,
not because of his OCD.
I told him that keeping
his bullets in a different room
could never stop them from crawling
under his pillow every night

and if I wasn’t holding his gun right then,
the man would have shot me
and ended my life right there.
One moment would have shattered
into a million, but instead,
there was a silence
deeper than any grave.

The crickets outside
went back to their small talk,
the trees held back their laughter,
and the scared old man
cried with his head on my shoulder
until morning.

III.

During March for Our Lives
almost a month ago
I watched Donald T***p
ride his motorcycle
to his Palm Beach Golf Course
and complain about
those young, idiot protesters
over a little wine and cheese
when just four years ago,
T***p had accused Obama
of “playing golf on the job.”

IV.

If saving 600 women
from being killed every year
because their insecure boyfriends
are overcompensating
isn’t “part of the job,”
then I think we need to change
T***p’s job description
from ‘President’ to ‘orange cement.’

If standing between 2,555 children
and the bullet their fathers
forgot was in the rifle
isn’t “part of the job,”
then I think someone better add
“20% chance of death”
to the weather forecast
on the school announcements
every morning.

If preventing 13,000 homicides
and giving more than 35,000
Americans another day
to tell their girlfriends and boyfriends,
wives and husbands, sisters and brothers,
and mothers and fathers
that they love them
isn’t “part of the job,”
then I think we’re just letting
those who are malnourished of power
but are the least suited to hold it
trade our human flesh for metal.


Austin Davis is a poet, writer, and spoken word artist from Mesa, Arizona. Austin's poetry has been widely published in literary journals and magazines, both in print and online. Most recently, Austin's work can be found in Pif Magazine, Ink in Thirds, Folded Word, The Poetry Shed, In Between Hangovers, One Sentence Poems, and Tuck Magazine. Austin’s first chapbook The Moon and Her Ocean was published in 2017 by Fowlpox Press. Cloudy Days, Still Nights, Austin’s first full length book of poetry, was published in May, 2018 by Moran Press.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

BY THE RIVER

by Jan Steckel




“Happy is he who takes your little ones
and dashes them against the rocks.”
—Psalm 137:9


By the waters of the Rio Grande
our hands were cuffed,
our children taken.

We didn’t know in Bohemia’s Terezin,
Theresienstadt was a model camp.
Propaganda film: a Jewish orchestra
before it went up in smoke.

We’d heard Argentina
stole babies for barren
military couples, dropped mothers
from helicopters into the sea.

Tornillo in the Texas desert:
white tents pitched overnight.
Drone-photo of boys marched in lines.
Journalists not allowed inside.

In jail I got a receipt
for my wallet, but none for my son.
By the Rio Grande,
I lay down and wept.


Jan Steckel'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 fiction and poetry have appeared in Scholastic Magazine, Yale Medicine, Bellevue Literary Review, Canary, Assaracus, and elsewhere. Her work was nominated three times each for the Pushcart and Sundress Best of the Net anthologies, won the Goodreads Poetry Contest three times, and earned various other awards.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

OPERATION SARAH

by Matt Witt


LONDON — Facebook was hit with the maximum possible fine in Britain for allowing the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica to harvest the information of millions of people without their consent, in what amounts to the social network’s first financial penalty since the data leak was revealed. The fine of 500,000 pounds, or about $660,000, represents a tiny sum for Facebook, which brings in billions of dollars in revenue every year. But it is the largest fine that can be levied by the British Information Commissioner’s Office, an independent government agency that enforces the country’s data-protection laws. —The New York Times, July 10, 2018. Photo via MadhouseNews.


I asked Facebook
for the key words
they have been selling
to anyone who wanted to
target me
for any purpose.

There were 139 words or phrases.

This data about a person’s interests
is valuable
to help someone to
sell you a product,
decide whether to hire you,
rent to you,
accept you as a student,
or disrupt your community group
or social movement.

Many were accurate about me,
or I’d like them to be.

“Fine-art photography.”
“Hiking.”
“Lakes.”
“Community organizing.”
“Working families.”
“Racial equality.”
“Feminism.”
“Climate change.”

But bots are only human.
So Facebook was also selling
fake news
about me
with irrelevant words
out of the blue.

“Lotus Cars.”
“Salerno.”
“Beetroot.”
“Pro-Ject.”
“Bible.”

And “Sarah.”

Maybe because I have 16 Facebook friends named Sarah.
A community organizer now on the city council.
A muckraking journalist.
A longtime neighbor.
A local painter.
And a dozen more.

Or maybe the same bot
that mistakenly included “Bible”
thought I might be a student of
Sarah, biblical wife of Abraham,
who at the age of 90
gave birth to Isaac,
and lived to be 127.

Last night I dreamed that
all two billion Facebook users
started occasionally “liking” things we don’t like,
commenting about topics of no interest,
inserting random words into posts,
forming strange sounding groups.

Since we were all doing it from time to time
our “friends” were not confused,
but, together,
we made Facebook’s data worthless
so no one would buy it.

In my dream, we called it “Operation Sarah.”


Matt Witt is a writer and photographer who lives in Talent, Oregon. He was recently selected a Writer in Residence at Mesa Refuge in California and has been selected an Artist in Residence at Crater Lake National Park, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, and PLAYA in Summer Lake, Oregon. His writing has been published in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, the literary journal Cirque, and many other publications.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

RESCUE EFFORT

by Catherine D’Andrea 


“Rescue Effort Still Underway to Save Boys Trapped in America” by Pia Guerra TheNib, July 9, 2018


A cave in the earth holds
rushes of water
foreign hearts
trapped in a hidden chamber.

Rushes of
familiar blood
move
with atrial
ventricular
compulsion.

The dark
pump and pound
whooshes
inside and around us.
We dive
into waiting
the drain
the exchange
knowing each other’s need
to breathe.


Catherine D’Andrea lives in Connecticut with a fat, orange tabby, a crazy calico, and a funny husband. She is a mother, teacher, and student, who believes life is a mystery, not to solve, but to explore. Poetry helps her do that.

Monday, July 09, 2018

THE PETITION TO END THE RUSSIAN DANCING BEAR ACT

by Tricia Knoll


Statues of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus are shown in a cage of chain-link fencing on the lawn of Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Indianapolis on July 3. The statues were placed there to protest the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. (Ebony Cox/The Indianapolis Star/AP via The Washington Post, July 3, 2018)


A signature is one wave in the ocean of sound
that may wash up on shore with a sigh.
Tired cursive words that feel like twigs
scratching recycled paper to beg for ending
the torture of whales with sonar blasts
during naval exercises. Exercises … those acts
of the puissant against those under the club
who are forced to dance. Without needing
words or even a name, a rector hauls
a nativity scene out of storage
and locks Joseph, Mary and her baby
behind chain link on a lawn in downtown.
Urgent, visible truth. Images of right whale dolphins
torn apart from blood in their ear canals
lined up on the beach. Isn’t that how
panic rises fast under pressure?
Trying to do something even if it feels
like rushing to scrawl your name in sand
before the next wave erases it.


Tricia Knoll is a Vermont poet who necessity drives to sign petitions. Her recent collection of poetry is How I Learned To Be White (Antrim House, 2018).

THINKING ABOUT MANNERS

by Mary K O'Melveny


Man’s Incivility to Man by Tom Tomorrow posted July 3rd, 2018 at TheNib

Aisles that were once filled with jeans
house metal cages built from cyclone
fencing.  One can hear toddlers’ screams
filling up the air, cutting to bone.

Across the country, mothers’ keens
echo into night.  They too are prone
to constant sorrows. Who can shed such scenes?
These are sins for which we must atone.

Surely, thoughts of disappeared teens,
breast-feeding babes, disoriented, flown
by night to unknown places, unseen
by anyone who knows them, alone

in their fears, fates left to news magazines
or strangers who cannot translate each moan
and wail and are not paid to do so, means
that public outrage can be shown

to those who devised such schemes,
oblivious to their human toll, backbones
bending like prairie grasses.  Perhaps it seems
right to them, stealing children at border zones,

sending a tough message to libertines
who would welcome anyone, who drone
on about human rights while the world’s seams
unravel like some cheap suit.  Those who bemoan

these desperate stories, as cold machines
of detention and terror ramp up, are prone
to sympathy for families steeped in scenes
of unfathomable anguish and unknown

outcomes.  Some know these horrors mean
lifelong damage, not just tears caught on cell phones.
Inevitably, reactions fill up with spleen,
Commentators and politicians bemoan

a lack of civil discourse.  Fury, it seems,
is too raw for a democracy, even as we alone
return to old auction block agonies.  Between
families rendered helpless and politicians prone

to lies, how can we react as if our TV screens
are filled with Mister Rogers?  The gauntlet is thrown.
Moments for calm debate have long passed.  Ravines
divide us now.  Stolen children have set the tone.

When horrors perpetrated in our names are too extreme,
much more is required than consulting tomes
of manners.  Speaking truth to power may not be routine
but politeness won’t save the world we had known.


Mary K O'Melven
y is a recently retired labor rights attorney who lives in Washington DC and Woodstock NY.  Her work has appeared in various print and on-line journals.  Her first poetry chapbook A Woman of a Certain Age will be published by Finishing Line Press in September, 2018.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

ON NOTICING HOW MANY PRO-LIFE MEN ARE SMOKERS

by Julie Steiner




Sing about the sanctity human life has.
Preach with all your passion: Abortion’s murder!
Afterwards, wind down with a soothing ciggie,
     smug in your maleness.

Suck the calming poison that causes cancer.
Taint the perfect organs your Maker gave you.
Human life is precious in women’s bodies.
     Not in your own, though.

Slowly self-destruct, in a way that rules out
making any life-saving gifts to others.
Maim your liver, pancreas, kidneys, heart, lungs.
     Damage them. Waste them.

Vandalize these treasures, so you and others—
patients needing transplants—will perish sooner.
God made women vessels of life, not you, right?
     Men don’t get pregnant.

Smoking? That’s your medicine. Helps you function.
Helps you fight anxiety, which unmans you.
If you quit, you’ll crumble. Complete your mission!
     Think of the children—

millions—who will live when abortion’s outlawed.
(Care about them only until they’re born, though.
Vote against the programs that help support them.
     Kids are expensive.)

Think of justice: women should feel the birth pangs
God assigned to Eve, in His perfect wisdom.
Sin and death were caused by a wayward woman.
     Women should suffer.

Virtue equals maleness. Its root's the Latin
vir, “a man” . . . not homo, “a human being.”
Eve is evil. Punish, control, subdue her,
     adamant Adam.

Let your male self-righteousness rise like incense.
Smoke like that proverbial chimney, built on
hearthstones far beneath you, where women labor.
     Tower above them,

fiery martyr. Fume at the fallen females.
Wheeze your hymns to Him—to Almighty Maleness.
God forbid that women should say, as men do,
     This is my body.



Julie Steiner lives and writes in San Diego. Besides the TheNewVerse.News, the venues in which her poetry has appeared include the Able Muse Review, American Arts Quarterly, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, First Things, Rattle, and the Rat's Ass Review.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

PRUITT’S PSYCHO FANCY

an erasure poem by James Penha
derived from Scott Pruitt’s resignation letter




It has been an honor to serve you
Truly
your confidence in me has blessed me personally
beyond what anyone anticipated
at an unprecedented pace
and I thank you for the opportunity
to achieve those ends
it is extremely difficult for me
to cease serving you
because I count it a blessing to be serving you
in service to you
to bless you serving
as President today because of God’s providence
that same providence brought me into your service
as I have served you
I have blessed you
and enabled you
Thank you again Mr. President
for the honor of serving you
in all that you put your hand to.


James Penha edits TheNewVerse.News .

Friday, July 06, 2018

THE BORDER FAR AWAY

by Jennifer Davis Michael





My son is white like me, the border far away.
According to his papers and my scar
where forceps dragged him earthward, he is mine.
We don’t discuss what’s happening down there
—I mean, down at the border. He’s just six.
He’s learning how to swim. A patient guard
shapes his flailing dog-paddle to a stroke
that might cross rivers. She lightly pins his feet
to bend his body to a diving arc.

“Far away from home, it looks like darkness”:
his random comment on the vegetation
we speed past on the way back from the pool.
He sleeps that night, surfacing only once
from nightmares of the house crumbling around us.
I guard the borders of his innocence,
my trigger-finger on the remote control.


Jennifer Davis Michael is Professor and Chair of English at the University of the South in Sewanee, TN. Her poems have appeared previously in TheNewVerse.News and also in Mezzo Cammin, Literary Mama, Cumberland River Review, and Southern Poetry Review, among others. 

CAGED

by Buff Whitman-Bradley


Empty holding cells are seen in the East Block for condemned prisoners during a tour of California's Death Row at San Quentin State Prison. Credit: Stephen Lam/Reuters via The Boston Globe.


When we visit San Quentin's death row
We sit with a prisoner
On plastic chairs
Inside a small cage,
Conversing and eating greasy snacks
For a couple of hours.
It's a tight space for three adults
And it doesn't take long
For claustrophobia to creep in.
But that same area
Would be ample
For a single small child.
You could put a nice ball in there,
Maybe a stuffed animal.
The children who aren't walking yet
Could crawl around on the floor
And pull themselves up
On the bars.
The walkers would be safe
From running too far
And into harm's way.
The climate inside is controlled
So the children would be warm in winter
Cool in summer.
The guards would come by regularly
And slide food through the slot
In the door
So the kids wouldn't go hungry.
And when they crave social interactions
They could call to each other
In their cute little voices
Through the bars up and down the line.
Initially, some might miss their parents
And cry themselves to sleep,
But children, as we know,
Are supremely adaptable
And after a while would surely become used
To their new surroundings,
Might begin to think of their cages
As a kind of home,
Might before long
Forget their law-breaking, border-crashing parents,
Might even bond with the uniformed upholders
Of American values
Who rescued them
From lives of international crime.


Buff Whitman-Bradley's poetry has been published 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 Wednesday, Watershed Review. He has written several books of poems, including When Compasses Grow Old, To Get Our Bearings in this Wheeling World, and Cancer Cantata. He was the producer of the Courage to Resist Audio Project and editor of the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War based on his Audio Project interviews. In addition, he co-produced two documentary films, Outside In and Por Que Venimos. He lives in northern California with his wife Cynthia.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

THE CAPITAL

by Alejandro Escudé




I know what the journalists were doing the second the glass doors shattered,
each shard like a news story broken, a gun loping in from the lobby
like a wounded wolf.

Now journalism itself shatters like those glass doors.

I worked at a paper just like the one shot up in Annapolis,
slaving away there in my twenties, first as secretary
then as a full-fledged writer making eleven hundred dollars a month.

The editor and I smoked cigarettes and drank coffee mornings
outside a building just like the one shot up in Annapolis.

Oh how that gunman took their lives—breezily—as the traffic flowed by.

The writers proud of their by-lines
and of the by-lines to come; their stories like headstones
in the rolling cemetery of the news.


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.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

FLAGS, BARBECUES, AND FIREWORKS

by Gil Hoy




On America’s birthday,
I worry that

Fraying, sinewed
colored threads
are fading,

Red-hot, burning coals
blaze too bright,

Deep-seated, divisive
discords may be ready

to explode.


Gil Hoy is a Boston poet and trial lawyer who studied poetry at Boston University through its Evergreen program. Hoy received a B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science from Boston University, an M.A. in Government from Georgetown University, and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. He served as a Brookline, Massachusetts Selectman for four terms. Hoy’s poetry has appeared (or will be appearing) most recently in Chiron Review, Ariel Chart, Social Justice Poetry, Poetry24, Right Hand Pointing/One Sentence Poems, The Penmen Review, I am not a silent poet, TheNewVerse.News and Clark Street Review

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

THE ALARM

by Pepper Trail





I was looking forward to this evening
After long hours of work
Sitting quietly in the upstairs room
Gazing out at the waning day
The sun bright on the eastern hills
At peace, a glass of wine, a book

But the news of the day has gutted me, again
I slump, hollowed out, unable to escape
Or, for this moment, to resist, the horror
The endless horrors, one following the other
The government-orphaned children, lost
Huddling in the white tents, torn from their mothers
The Supreme Court, that I somehow still believed
To be the last defender of the powerless, their last refuge
In a time when the weak are scorned and dehumanized
When justice is bought, the Supreme Court
Blesses the President’s power to demonize and exclude
(T***p v. Hawaii)
Upholds the racists’ right to disenfranchise
(Gill v. Whitford)
Allows religion the sanction to discriminate
(Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission)
Attacks unions while allowing corporations unlimited power
(Janus v. AFSCME)
And now, the last “moderate” justice gone
The last hope for balance lost

Night has fallen. Up and down the street, the cicadas
Begin to sing.  We call it singing, but it is not
It is a sound of drums, an urgent percussion, it rises
To an almost unbearable pitch and intensity
The shriek of an alarm, echoing against the shut-up houses
Will the doors open? Will my neighbors come out
To stand on their porches? Will we look at each other
Speechless in that din?  Will we come down our steps
Approach, shake hands, acknowledge this extremity?
Will we, at last, awake?


Pepper Trail is a poet and naturalist based in Ashland, Oregon. His poetry has appeared in Rattle, Atlanta Review, Spillway, Kyoto Journal, Cascadia Review, and other publications, and has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards. His collection Cascade-Siskiyou was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award in Poetry. In his spare time, he leads natural history tours around the world.

Monday, July 02, 2018

THE INVITATION

by Paul Hostovsky




Being white and having attended a few
racial justice meetings where the talk
is of cultivating authentic relationships

with people of color, I ask a black co-worker
if he’d like to come over for dinner. He answers
my question with a question of his own: “Why?

I mean, it’s not like we’re friends or anything.”
“Well, I’m trying to cultivate,” I sort of recite,
“more authentic relationships with people

of color.”  He makes a face. “Cultivate?
As in, your garden? As in, you want some more
purple eggplants, some more token negritude

in the pale, pathetic, privileged patch that is
your life?” Ouch. He isn’t going to make this
easy for me. Lean into the discomfort, I remember

them saying at the racial justice meetings
in the suburb where I live, where a person of color
is as rare as a white eggplant among the aubergines.

“Not token,” I say, smiling and wincing
at the same time. “For real.” And it feels a little like
asking someone out on a date, someone

a little out of my league. “Well the real question,”
he says, stroking his chin in a pensive attitude, twirling
his imaginary mustache, sizing up my imaginary

chef’s hat, “is what’s for dinner? Something
toothsome, I hope.” And he gives me his white teeth.


Paul Hostovsky's ninth book of poetry, Is That What That Is, was published by FutureCycle Press in 2017.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

ALWAYS TURN RIGHT, NEVER

by Carol Parris Krauss


People rallied in New York, including marching across the Brooklyn Bridge, on Saturday to protest President Trump’s immigration policies.CreditChristopher Lee for The New York Times, June 30, 2018



Daddy told Carolyn, one of the older
church ladies, to always turn right.
Even if it meant you had to go circle
the block, or drive 20 extra minutes.

This 89 year old mountain boy
pointed out that more accidents
occur when people are turning left.
It was hard to tell if he was being

mischievous or issuing true advice.
He did grease the rail tracks when he
was a teenager, and hid out to watch a
train slipping backwards through a

Canton, NC night. Or was it advice
given by a man who should no longer
be driving, but still roamed the roads
in his paper boy hat and bifocals

dense like a Mason jar. Scaring
small children, dogs, and bikers as
he piloted his SUV. I thought about his
advice for several days. I could not

shake his words. I, like so many others
before me, conjured up my witty response
four days after his initial comment. It
still needs a little polishing, but goes

something like this: Today’s roads have
changed a lot since you began to
drive, Daddy. Cars have changed too. 
Do the sensible thing, turn left, Carolyn. 

I implore you. It may be seem odd
at first, but it’s not  dangerous. Carolyn,
Oh, Carolyn, right just ain’t so right 
these days. 


Carol Parris Krauss is a mother, teacher, and poet from the Tidewater region of Virginia. This Clemson graduate enjoys her family, pets, and garden. Her work can be found in various online and print magazines such as The Amsterdam Quarterly, Poety24, CHO, Storysouth, Pedestal Magazine, and the SC Review.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

CROSSING THE LINE

by Donna Katzin




She only knows one number by heart—
ten numerals imprinted in her brain—
all that remains of family
for a six-year old girl. 

Ten numerals imprinted in her brain,
she cries for help to call her aunt.         
For a six-year old girl,       
an angry sea of grey men rises.

She cries for help to call her aunt
as strangers swirl around her. 
An angry sea of grey men rises, 
washes her from her mother.

As strangers swirl around her,
she is swept up in a wave that 
washes her from her mother
caged behind a chain-link fence.

She is swept up in a wave that
she cannot comprehend,
caged behind a chain link fence,
charged with no crime.

She cannot comprehend
this place without a name—
charged with no crime,
hums herself a lullaby.

In this place without a name
she only knows one number by heart,
hums herself a lullaby—
all that remains of family.


Donna Katzin is Executive Director of Shared Interest, social investment fund that promotes equitable development in Southern Africa.  She also coordinates Tipitapa Partners, which works with communities of organized women in Nicaragua. She is the author of With These Hands, a collection of her poems and photographs that focuses on South Africans on the front lines of their country’s struggle for economic and racial justice.

Friday, June 29, 2018

DONALD HALL (1928-2018), CURMUDGEON OF CURMUDGEONS

 by Earl J Wilcox



I do get it, Donald (may I?) all your cranky
Ways when you arrived at your eighties.
I’m there myself, too, and every day when
I watch the world go by, I share your sense
That history has left us, bereft and almost
Pissless without our wives, our old friends
Galway and Dick and Jane so many others
We have (alas) forgot their names. But you
Did buck up, you old son of a bitch (may I?)
And we admired your wild and wooly ways,
Looking like a battering ram who needed
To be shorn when you arrived at the
Obama White House. I never heard you
Speak or read or rant, but brother I feel
Your presence just the same. Today, I
Reel from the pain of losing you and
Our long gone generation. And I will try
By God to keep on writing as long as I
Can think of you meeting and shooting
The breeze with that other old man in
The cloak. Hail and Farewell, Don.


Earl J Wilcox turns 85 in a few weeks. His aim is to stop writing only when he turns 90. Until then, poetry and baseball keep him going most days.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

DISASTER TENTS

by Tricia Knoll


Getty Images via Daily Kos, June 26, 2018


Beige vinyl heaves in the wind
like a lung. Crackles. I know.
The whine of the air-conditioner
insists that you cluster on low-slung cots
to speak directly into each other’s ears
or not talk at all. Intermittent cold blasts
interrupts every dream. Forget privacy.
Forget home and bedtime stories.
Store what you have under your cot.
They pitch these tents under all-bright
overhead lights. You will not sleep well
in this compound of generators, toilet
and bath modules, chain link and guards.
You will hear others' nightmares.
Your feet will scuffle on vinyl ground.
Hold your children. Let them not be stolen.
You may despair. The tent compresses you,
an I cannot breathe of internment.


Tricia Knoll lived in one of the FEMA disaster tents going up to house immigration refugees. She was a responder to Hurricane Katrina. She understands the differences between her experiencce and those of todays' traumatized families. She knew exactly when she would go to her real home, certainty. She asked to be in this tent, free choice. She was not afraid, privileged.  She cannot forget what it felt like to live inside one of these disaster tents.

INTOLERANCE DEGREE ZERO: A LETTER FROM HOMELAND SECURITY, THE US ATTORNEY GENERAL, AND THE POTUS

by Roxanne Lynn Doty


As the White House faces court orders to reunite families separated at the border, immigrant children as young as three years old are being ordered into court for their own deportation proceedings, according to attorneys in Texas, California and Washington, D.C. —The Texas Tribune, June 27, 2018


Dear Migrants and Asylum Seekers,

     We are implementing policies to keep our homeland
safe from your scattered bones and disobedient
dreams that traverse la linea between our air and yours.
We have executive orders, vacant Walmarts
and Bible verses on our side.  In the name of sovereignty,
we will send vultures to swoop heavy over the hearts
of your children, seal loopholes in arid scratches of earth
with blood from blisters on your feet. We will erase
your name and bury your destiny in an open grave
on the migrant trail as we watch the sky rain dust
from skeletons of all the crossers we have funneled
into the killing fields of the Sonoran, Mohave
and Chihuahuan Deserts. And if you emerge
from these wastelands, we will warehouse your sons
and daughters behind the stripes of our flag,
as sludge spills from the sewers of our mouths.
God bless America, we are not a sanctuary,
we do not do body counts, and we do not keep track
of where we send your babies.


Roxanne Lynn Doty lives in Tempe, Arizona. Her short stories and poems have appeared in Forge, I70 Review, Soundings Review, Four Chambers Literary Magazine, Lascaux Review, Lunaris Review, Journal of Microliterature, TheNewVerse.News, Ocotillo Review, and are forthcoming in Saranac Review, Gateway Review, and Reunion—The Dallas Review. Two of her short stories were finalists in the 2012 and 2014 New Letters Alexander Patterson Cappon Prize for Fiction, and the editor of Lascaux Review nominated one of her stories for the 2015 Million Writers Award.

WOW! HE TWEETS

by Ron Riekki




When he writes “Wow!”
he really means
the opposite of Mom,
the word flipped
upside-down
like families
he’d love to drown.


Ron Riekki wrote U.P. and edited The Way North (2014 Michigan Notable Book), Here (2016 Independent Publisher Book Award), And Here: 100 Years of Upper Peninsula Writing (Michigan State University Press, 2017), and Undocumented (with Andrea Scarpino, MSU Press, 2019).