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Thursday, May 24, 2018


by Melissa Balmain


Just yesterday you were my twin:
Together we breathed out and in,
Our souls entwined since time began—it's
Sad we're now on separate planets.

Melissa Balmain is the Editor of Light, a journal of comic verse. Her poetry collection Walking In on People (winner of the Able Muse Book Award), is often assumed by online shoppers to be some kind of porn.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018


by George Held

unless you have spoken out
in church or synagogue
or demonstrated in the streets
against your own fascist regime
as it squelches one civil right
after another

I know, as long as the sheriffs
concentrate on the Muslims
and the blacks and the Latinx
we can calmly complain among ourselves
about the increasing nastiness
and aggression

as the Other is whisked off
to prison and to the camps
now being built in the pine barrens
beyond the view of the casual
observer of all the nastiness
and aggression

and besides, it’ll be more peaceful
for a while, as long as we keep
resistance to ourselves and act
the part of loyal citizens—we know
the primacy of loyalty today—in
ignoring nastiness

have you calculated like an actuary
how long it will be before they
invade your house at 2 AM
and drag you before your cousin
the magistrate for arraignment
as a traitor

anyhow, it won’t be too long
unless you keep your mouth shut
and switch from Rachel to Hannity
at 9 PM and wear a handsome
red ball cap that says Keep America

Oh, yes, and never criticize a Nazi.

George Held, a longtime contributor to TheNewVerse.News, writes from New York. His twentieth collection is Dog Hill Poems (Seattle, 2017).

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


by j.lewis

thoughts and prayers
get in the way so often now
it's hard to know when to think
and when to pray, or think about praying
or pray about thinking
as if the mere voicing
of the thoughtless prayer
or the prayerless thought
could make anything at all
better than bleeding kids

bleeding kids, kids bleating
parkland comes to mind
as the survivors don't just think
and don't just pray
but stand and challenge aloud
the bleating politicians
who thoughtlessly offer
through hypocritical lips
a silent prayer that they will not
have to stand up, stand against
their donors, take a stand
and watch the campaign coffers bleed

bleeding coffers, coffins bearing
faces bled white against white satin pillows
as if the pain of separation from life
could be soothed by the softness
smoothed by the softly falling tears
tears that tear apart the future
the past, the present as though
thoughts and prayers were knives
hurled against a wall of inaction
politics—inaction in action

guns in action, bolt action
action figures, police reaction
but not until the blood has spilled
thoughts, prayers, blood spilling
every day, every classroom

classes, classes, we all fall down

j.lewis is a Nurse Practitioner who has seen far too much violence in his lifetime to be quiet in the face of the disgrace of unchecked gun deaths in America.


by Jennifer Hernandez

The fire alarm sounds sixth hour
buzz-shriek pierces all senses
vibrates bones and deep tissue

prep period almost over
pile of papers nearly graded
end-of-year vocab tests
never enough time

new batch of students in ten minutes
eighth graders
mentally checked out weeks ago
this sure won’t help

but better during prep
than with a room full of kids
pinballing off the walls
bursting through the doors

one breath of spring air
and they’ll be lost
frolicking in the grass
picking dandelions

No, better to be on prep
to walk out with teachers
who ask, Did you hear
there was another shooting?

not locked in our classrooms
lights off
voices silent
huddled in corners

I can’t help thinking
about the shooters
who pulled fire alarms
lured their targets outward

outside now
we move forward
scan the perimeter
for anything suspicious

anyone running
any prone bodies
pools of blood

Jennifer Hernandez lives in Minnesota where she teaches middle school and writes poetry, flash, and creative non-fiction. Much of her recent writing has been colored by her distress at the dangerous nonsense that appears in her daily news feed. She is marching with her pen. Her work appears in such publications as TheNewVerse.News, Rise Up Review, Tuck Magazine and Writers Resist. She is working on  a chapbook of hybrid writing on teaching as a political act.

Monday, May 21, 2018


by Harold Oberman

It’s days like this
When I’m glad I’m not
Britain’s Poet Laureate.
Appointed by the monarch,
Expected to write verse
About significant national occasions,
There’d be an expectation I’d have to write about this.
Oh Lord
And Ladies,
Commoners and Kings,
Take me to the Tower.

I’m content to be
The self-appointed
Poet Laureate Of My House
And write about
Significant occasions there:

How the AC clicked on for the first time all Spring
Filled the upstairs bedroom with cold air
Soon confused by the ceiling fan
Into a current or eddy or breeze
That stirred the blank pages of this pad Into a rustling call for a blue pen;

How a random bee somehow got inside again,
Buzzed against the window pane until it dropped
Onto the inside sill, exhausted and wing-broken
From, I guess, its quest to get back to the hive
To produce honey or such, or to mate,

Or to meet the Queen.

Harold Oberman is the Poet Laureate of 25-d Montagu Street.  He likes pomp, but not necessarily circumstance or monarchy.


by Joan Mazza

Three days of steady rain, power flickers
off and on, pond overflowing. Flooded roads
and mud slides where trees are taken down
for another pipeline. Another school shooting

with ten dead. In Cuba a plane crashes. Over
one hundred dead. Lava ignites houses, cars
in a Hawaii subdivision. The acrid air is ash
and smells like rotten eggs. Bad news

headlines can flip you into a downward spiral.
I’m not prone to depression, not inclined
to expect the worst. The universe seems
eager to test optimists with an overdose

of cruel reality, reminds us we’re getting
old and no one is exempt from diminishment.
For now, I can read the news. Forgive me
for this day of shallowness, for enjoying excess,

the waste of resources on flowers, fancy hats,
buglers and British troops marching in full regalia.
I don’t care how much it costs. We need
a lift, a smile. We need to believe in love

stories, that one woman can defy predictions
of her limits, can become a princess, if not
queen. No one has to give her away. She’s
a grownup, can walk herself down the aisle.

Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, seminar leader, and has twice been a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. She is the author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam), and her poetry has appeared in Rattle, Off the Coast, Kestrel, Slipstream, American Journal of Nursing, The MacGuffin, Mezzo Cammin, and The Nation.


by Alejandro Escudé

Two young dollar signs
hitched at St. George’s Chapel

and the dollar signs drive off
in a vintage Jaguar convertible.

Super-Mouth pronounces
it faithfully; she says

it’s romantic. But there’s nothing
romantic about dollar signs.

The dollar signs
must fulfill new roles,

Duchess and Duke—and they
sure do know it.

Dollar signs construe
all things under the sun.

The day pristine, the river
flowing, a victor’s history.

Super-Mouth drinks the flowers.
Super-Mouth weeps.

People of Great Britain rejoice!
Dollar signs vow

to cart the monarchy into
the future. Baby dollar signs

hover in the air. The moats
empty, the Queen hears

the jangling of ice cubes
in her rosé. She scans

the new couple, sparkling
like the crown jewels.

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.

Sunday, May 20, 2018


by Jeremy Thelbert Bryant

I can’t breathe as Ivanka’s white teeth flash grin
can’t erase the whites of dead child’s open eyes
can’t forget the beautiful young man with smoke stains
can’t unsee the blurred body dropping from a bullet strike, slow
                like an elegant dancer
can’t ignore the men with kid slingshots shooting into fog

There’s Ivanka, men before her who believe in a god,
there’s cameras and applause
Elsewhere, there is death

Jeremy Thelbert Bryant is a poet and a writer of creative nonfiction. He is a graduate of the low residency MFA program at West Virginia Wesleyan College. When he is not teaching English, he is burning incense, listening to music, drinking coffee, and writing. His work may be found in Pikeville Review and Prism. He finds inspiration in the red of cardinals, in the honesty of Frida Kahlo’s artwork, and in the frankness of Tori Amos’ lyrics.

Saturday, May 19, 2018


two triolets
by Julie Steiner

"Trump finally calls Waffle House hero." —Los Angeles Times, May 14, 2018

"'I'm Not A Hero,' Says James Shaw Jr., Acclaimed As Hero Of Waffle House Attack." —NPR, April 23, 2018

"Trump on Florida shooting: 'I really believe I'd run in there, even if I didn't have a weapon.’" —CNN, February 26, 2018

Heroes ain’t born—they’re cornered.
They say, “I wasn’t brave!
I had no choice,” when honored.
Heroes ain’t born—they’re cornered.
What accolades they’ve garnered,
they claim they don’t deserve.
Heroes ain’t born—they’re cornered.
They say, “I wasn’t brave.”

That puffed-up politician
who claims heroic courage
and lack of hesitation—
that puffed-up politician—
has trademarked truth-distortion.
Disgusted, I disparage
that puffed-up politician.
(Who claims heroic courage?)

Julie Steiner rolls her eyes in San Diego, California.

Friday, May 18, 2018


by Katherine Smith

I was born for the same journey as the birds,
the poem about the poem, the pure lyric
of the ovenbird in the wood
calling for a mate to end its solitude
from the top of the American chestnut tree.
I learned to distinguish the American chestnut
from the oak chestnut by the serrated edge,
from the beech by the clasp at the hooked tip.
I learned to recognize my kind by its serrated song.

I step into the woods this morning,
chasing the ovenbird, stepping around a pile
of mating dung beetles. Pure lyric
was once mine. I woke this morning

to fungus on the radio: sixty Palestinians
shot at the border the day the embassy opened
in Jerusalem, the president’s Indonesian resort
paid for by China, and the Russian oil company sold
to Qataris to pay off the president for lifting sanctions.

Pure lyric was once my everyday speech.
The ovenbird calls in the tree canopy
of hickory and oak.
All winter I taught writing
to teenagers from Honduras
now scheduled for deportation.

I’m part of a vast experiment
like the Lego experiment
in which people are given Legos
and told to build, then watch
as their creations are destroyed
while their despair is measured
and recorded for eternity.

I fantasize about what I’d do
if an ICE officer came to the classroom door.
The sweeps never happen
where I can see them.
One by one my students—
Transito, Luis, Fernanda—
will be dropped off at the border
with their English composition skills,
their aspirations and their associates degrees.

Now it’s May and I’m mildly depressed.
Pure lyric hasn’t been my style for twenty years.
The ovenbird calls deliriously from the top
of the American Chestnut tree.

Katherine Smith’s publications include appearances in Poetry, Cincinnati Review, Missouri Review, Ploughshares, Southern Review and many other journals.  Her short fiction has appeared in Fiction International and Gargoyle. Her first book Argument by Design (Washington Writers’ Publishing House) appeared in 2003. Her second book of poems Woman Alone on the Mountain (Iris Press), appeared in 2014. She teaches at Montgomery College in Maryland.


by Howard Winn

Emerging from the slime
accumulated over past time
it rears its frightening head
licking its lips preparatory
to swinging its massive
posterior shaking off the
gunk which never the less
clings as if a growth on
this beast of the slime
out of the past seeking
a future in the muck of
self-satisfaction at being
an organism that knows
without knowing that it
is the future unless we
eradicate it in its present moment
as it rises out of the self-
serving stinking quagmire

Howard Winn has just had a novel Acropolis published by Propertius Press as well as poems in the Pennsylvania Literary Journal and in Evening Street Magazine.

Thursday, May 17, 2018


by Tricia Knoll

The video: a Syrian boy, Ibraheem, says he has seen
everything. We come to believe he has. The bombs and skies
blew one of his legs into shriveled tags. His mother died.
His siblings died. He and his father found a way to Canada.

We became fragments. Let me not usurp what it means
to pivot on crutches that carry his thin leg along with him.
Let me not pretend I have suffered as he has. Let me hope
that over time his life will coalesce. He will feel safe.

The bits and pieces of our fractured world are myriad,
scattered across so many continents and living next door.
In this time we must sew, knit, darn, secure, bind, mend,
link, weave, patch together, perhaps heal.

Tricia Knoll is an Oregon writer whose poetry book How I Learned to Be White (an investigation of how white privilege has impacted her life and how she has come to understand it) is now available from Antrim House. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


a rhupunt
by Elizabeth Spencer Spragins

A Palestinian demonstrator with a slingshot is seen during a protest. CREDIT: Mohammed Salem, The Washington Post, May 14, 2018. “  Israeli forces killed 58 Palestinians at the boundary fence with Gaza on Monday, local health officials said, a level of bloodshed not seen since the most violent days of Israel’s 2014 war in the territory.” —The Washington Post, May 14, 2018.

When dreams draw near
And specters leer
I face my fear
And call the crone.

By night she stands
On sun-scorched sands.
With folded hands,
She weeps alone

For wasted lives
Cut short by knives
Where hatred thrives
On blood and bone.

I search her face
For signs of grace.
“Show me the place;
I will atone.”

She bows her head.
“To mourn your dead
You must break bread
On mount of stone

With open palm.
Present the balm
Of peaceful psalm
Where thorns have grown

On Dome of Rock.
You must unlock
The hearts you mock
In undertone.

You must unwrite
All deeds of spite
As Sarah might
Had she but known.”

Resolve holds strong
Till evensong.
I right no wrong—
Good will has flown.

Elizabeth Spencer Spragins is a writer, poet, and editor who taught in community colleges for more than a decade. Her tanka and bardic verse in the Celtic style have been published in England, Scotland, Canada, Indonesia, and the United States. An avid swimmer and an enthusiastic fiber artist, she currently lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA.

Monday, May 14, 2018


by Carol Parris Krauss

Napping in a Yale dorm common room
Lolade Sinyonbala working on papers
I’m going to have to ask you to leave
Three prom shoppers at St. Louis Nordstrom Rack
We don’t have your size
I’m going to have to ask you to leave
Unloading suitcase at California vacation Airbnb
10-4 burglary in process
I’m going to have to ask you to leave
Native Americans on Colorado State University tour
0.6% Native Americans, 2.3%  Blacks attend
I’m going to have to ask you to leave
Other golfers exist beside Tiger ?
Grandview Golf Club
I’m going to have to ask you to leave
Coffee, black, no cream
$1.00 for your Starbucks trouble
I’m going to have to ask you to leave
Representative Maxine Waters
May 5, 2018
I do not yield. Not one second to you.
Not one second.

Carol Parris Krauss resides in the Tidewater Region of Virginia. She teaches English at Lakeland High. In her free time she enjoys cats and college football. She is a Clemson University graduate. Her work can be found in online and print magazines such as Storysouth, Eunoia Review, and The South Carolina Review.

Sunday, May 13, 2018


by Alejandro Escudé

Pablo Picasso's "Fillette à la corbeille fleurie"
Credit: Courtesy Christie's via CNN.
Christie's sale of a Picasso nude for $115 million
kick-started what some experts have been
calling "the sale of the century"—over 1,000
works of art and fine objects from the
storied collection of the late David and Peggy
Rockefeller. On Tuesday night, the first of
three auctions in New York achieved
a total sale of $646 million for works
from the 19th and 20th centuries. —CNN, May 9, 2018
The girl stares out beyond
an audience of paddles;
she balances herself

on a rose-colored floor;
she weeps for the adults
bidding on her body, seeping
in and out of the walls.

Her hair, uncombed. Her face
reveals a fatherless expression,
and she clutches flowers
that cannot replace
her mother’s coldness.

How much for that basket?
How much for the red towel
one cannot see?

Her eyes, slits of woe,
do not open enough
to fully ever love again.

Bought, she hangs on an avenue
of shallow breaths, inside
a house within
a thousand houses.

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.

Saturday, May 12, 2018


by John J. Brugaletta

How all dissensions strip the body politic

and cast each virtue into festered stench.

Is this a stammer of our history
or the corroded end of moral life?

Our garden is unweeded, and the gorge

gives rise to venomed cates and fetid lies.

Where stand the heroes, heroines to salve
our running sores with clean and dauntless truths?

They speak despite the tide of predators

who seek their heads to dangle at our gates.

But still carnations kiss the air with scent,
birds build, the friendly sun still shines.

And still we counter blows unflinchingly.

John J. Brugaletta is professor emeritus of English and comparative literature at California State University, Fullerton, where he edited South Coast Poetry Journal for ten years. He has published over 370 poems in 75 venues and has six collections of his poetry in print, the latest of which is Peripheral Visions (Negative Capability Press, 2017). A seventh volume, Selected Poems, is in press with Future Cycle Press. X.J. Kennedy has called his selected poems "a vital contribution to American poetry."

Friday, May 11, 2018


by George Salamon

1987 cartoon by Steve Artley

Oliver North, the disgraced Regan administration staffer turned right-wing commentator who was recently tapped to lead the NRA, is already off to a running start at his new gig—smearing anti-gun activists like the Parkland high school protesters as criminals. —Salon, May 10, 2018

Old soldier Ollie North,
Ronnie's  man for Iran-Contra,
Decorated warrior, but
Disgraced wheeler-dealer
For lying to Congress and
Shredding government docs,
Selling arms to Iran and oppressing
People's rebellion in Nicaragua,
Has risen from the golden ashes
Of television celebrity
To lead the fight for making
America stand, once again,
For guns, guts and glory.
Fi on you, Ollie, but
Hold the Semper.

George Salamon served in the Army's 4th Armored Division where he was initially a sniper in the armored infantry. He's been sniping only verbally since then.

Thursday, May 10, 2018


by Pamela Stewart

CAMERON, Ariz. -- Off a northern Arizona highway surrounded by pastel-colored desert is one of the starkest examples of drought's grip on the American Southwest: Nearly 200 dead horses surrounded by cracked earth, swirling dust and a ribbon of water that couldn't quench their thirst. Flesh exposed and in various stages of decomposition, the carcasses form a circle around a dry watering hole sunken in the landscape … According to the Navajo Nation, 191 horses died of natural causes. "These animals were searching for water to stay alive. In the process, they unfortunately burrowed themselves into the mud and couldn't escape because they were so weak," Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez said in a statement Thursday. A grim photo posted by the Navajo Nation shows the horses, many of them in mud up to their thighs and even their necks. —CBS/AP, May 6, 2018

Each day they are deepened by dust
soon shrunk to no color.

Once the horses slept standing up.

Oh, the stars say, another circle of dead horses!
Another stillness of horses

that didn’t fall in war with manes
unbraided by fire.

These horses, nine of them, drowned
in cages of dust—oracular drought—
no suction of damp, nothing left
to sip for the blowfly.

Only a hand lifted by the mind’s eye
could smooth a neck, lift towards
the still cloudless sky
to be caught between rage and blessing.

A circle of wild dead horses—chapter one.

Pamela (Jody) Stewart is the author of 6 full-length volumes of poems and a number of chapbooks, the most recent being Just Visiting (Grey Suit Editions, London, 2014). She lives on a farm in western Massachusetts.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018


by S. O. Fasrus

“The monarchy is finished. It was finished a while ago, but they're still making the corpses dance." —Sue Townsend

Royal Mugs with royal mugshots
Royal mugshots on plates
Royal mugshots on keyrings
In bargain store crates—

Royal mugshots on cushions
Royal mugs on your mat
Royal mugshots on face-masks
And endless old tat.

I wonder who’s buying
On this royal shopping spree—
As I’m not big on BS
You can bet it’s not me.

S. O. Fasrus is a Social Research Interviewer and Social Justice Activist,. Recent poems in Culture Matters, Easy Street, and the anthology Poems For Grenfell Tower (Onslaught Press).

Tuesday, May 08, 2018


by Dennis DuBois

A demonstrator uses a racket to return tear gas canisters fired by Israeli troops during a protest where Palestinians demand the right to return to their homeland, at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza Strip, May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Not to worry, my friend, nothing
will be asked of you,
but for a moment with your ears open,
to read between the lines.
it is only an intellectual exercise, something
one does to feel good
about oneself, and if you can have it
without risking the moral station
you occupy or an iota
of your accumulated wealth,
all the better. Rest easy
and breathe. Listen:
acre by acre they steal our homeland,
parsed into Bantustans, residence by residence,
they evict or bulldoze our homes.
They destroy our infrastructure, our mosques,
our schools, sanitation facilities.
Denied medical care, we die at the turnstiles,
Our organs transplanted into their people.
The men hide as they are marked.
The women march, children throw stones.
Snipers react with bullets. Tear gas canisters
aimed and fired intentionally
mangle protestors’ faces, eyes go black.
State of the art weapons and bombs
are dropped on us. The air reeks
of what has been lost, of unrecovered bodies,
buried in bombed out buildings.
Our celebrated youth disallowed
travel to collect awards.
Fisherman are attacked
to cut off food supplies.
They reroute and confiscate
aide-bearing ships.
Near and far they track and assassinate
our leaders.They denigrate us,
call us rats, and kill us with impunity
They pull up the roots, set alight
three hundred year old olive trees.
They arrest, jail, and torture our children.
They poison our drinking water, bomb our hospitals.
They remind us of the German pogroms
Even as they do the same to us—
They want it all, all of it,
and they don’t care where we go, but not here,
not in our historical homeland.
What have I to lose? Have I not
already lost everything?
If your heart breaks, or if a feeling of helplessness
overtakes you, it is a start,
a place to cleave toward one another.
The world sometimes offers a lukewarm shoulder,
but solidarity without shared pain,
an intellectual exercise.

Dennis Dubois holds a Master’s Degree in social work and has worked to help others for decades, while writing poems along the way. He has published poems in Bee Museum, Curved House, The Projectionist’s Playground, Runcible Spoon, and MessageinaBottle. He is preparing a collection of poems and a first work of fiction. He is an American expatriate living in Copenhagen.

Monday, May 07, 2018


by Mary K O'Melveny

For several years now, Central Americans seeking to flee violence in their countries have banded together around Easter to cross into Mexico, some to stay there and some to take a chance on applying for asylum in the United States. They have joined forces in “caravans” for safety and to attract attention to their plight. Few in the United States have paid much heed. Until President Trump did, opening another ugly chapter in his anti-immigration crusade. . . . Against that hysteria, a few facts are in order. First, the caravan is hardly an anarchic and lawless endeavor. It is a group of desperate people fleeing, in accordance with internationally accepted rules, the very real horrors of the “northern triangle” of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, one of the most violent regions in the world. Under international treaties and its own laws, the United States is obliged to allow foreigners inside the country or at its ports of entry to apply for asylum. —The Editorial Board of The New York Times, May 2, 2018. Photo: CNN.

When is a caravan a final cortége?
We watch these voyagers limp walk
toward El Chaparral, cavalcades
clutching plastic bags, blankets, hands of
children.  As they march, they talk
of losses along the way, the death shades
that follow them like fellow travelers.
Others who track their route call them bands of
lawbreakers, sneer at ways life unravels
for those in perpetual vagabondage.

When is a caravan a carnival?
those cynics say, as they peer at screens
where misery is displayed between ads
for cars and drugs to stave off madness.
Some crusaders waved flags, screamed
to supporters across plazas, so glad
for a reason to stop marching.  Sadness
infused them with light like haloed beams
from a Delarosa Madonna, as the vastness
of their dispossession made them worshipful.

When is a caravan a transmigration?
In the name of God, all things are possible
said a man fleeing from gangs and guns.
In the name of love, I pronounce you wife
and husband said the Tijuana priest
to four young couples, their futures improbable.
The hour of my deliverance has finally come
said a teenager reciting ways that her life
had been squandered, her friends all deceased.
Their choices are simple – rescue or damnation.

Mary K O'Melveny 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, May 06, 2018


by Jacqueline Jules 

Evidence for the largest single incident of mass child sacrifice in the Americas— and likely in world history—has been discovered on Peru's northern coast, archaeologists tell National Geographic. More than 140 children and 200 young llamas appear to have been ritually sacrificed in an event that took place some 550 years ago on a wind-swept bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, in the shadow of what was then the sprawling capital of the Chimú Empire. —Kristin Romey, National Geographic, April 26, 2018. Photograph by Gabriel Prieto.

The remains of children and llamas in Peru
reminds me of Abraham, how he didn’t argue
for Isaac the way he did for Sodom and Gomorrah,
how he acquiesced, traveling three days as commanded,
building an altar, binding his son.  Imagine
Isaac’s terrified eyes until an angel appears
with new instructions.

Which brings me back to the bodies in Peru,
breastbones bent to extract 140 hearts
offered to appease an angry god, demanding
what’s most precious as ultimate bribe.

Like a folktale reinvented around the globe,
sacrifice is not confined to geographic region.
From ancient times, somehow humans have believed
we have to kill to demonstrate devotion.

When the angel told Abraham to offer a ram instead,
it was more than a revelation, it was a weaning.
Spiritually, we were babies, still sucking
on our first source of sustenance.

Think of how we despaired later on,
when the Temple was destroyed and
we were told we couldn’t burn animals
anymore. What can we put on the altar now?
We cried. How do we please now?

The answer still seems to baffle us.

Jacqueline Jules is the author of the poetry chapbooks Field Trip to the Museum, Stronger Than Cleopatra, and Itzhak Perlman’s Broken String, winner of the 2016 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize from Evening Street Press. Her work has appeared in over 100 publications including TheNewVerse.News, The Rising Phoenix Review, What Rough Beast, Public Pool, and Gargoyle.

Saturday, May 05, 2018


by Gil Hoy

Doctor, Doctor
Can you write me a letter?

Just say that my
health is the best

Better than all the rest

That my genes are blessed

Forget the usual tests.

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, Clark Street Review, and TheNewVerse.News.

Friday, May 04, 2018


by Akua Lezli Hope

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice . . .  is dedicated to the victims of American white supremacy. And it demands a reckoning with one of the nation’s least recognized atrocities: the lynching of thousands of black people in a decades-long campaign of racist terror. —The New York Times, April 25, 2018

We are constrained by the smog
created by this history
between slavery and civil rights
something obscures understanding
death, maintaining status quo
pain of the unrequited
failed promises, justice denied
no explanation for why
assassinated aspirations
the tumult and terror of
long enduring enslavement
large jars of soil from profane sites
of murder, disinter witless tragedy
to forget is to disable
to forget is to cripple
steel pillars are mute towers
piercing witness, carved remembrances
aligned, mass incarceration now
wrongfully convicted prisoners
presumptions of guilt for those
summarily dispatched unarmed,
whose names are known and multiply in
bleak countings of perpetuated loss
to forget is to repeat

Akua Lezli Hope is a creator who uses sound, words, fiber, glass, handmade paper and wire to create poems, patterns, stories, music, adornments, sculpture and peace whenever possible. She has published 125 crochet designs. Her poetry collection THEM GONE will be published by The Word Works Publishing in June, 2018.

Thursday, May 03, 2018


by Marguerite Guzman Bouvard

At her regular spot on East 46th Street and Park Avenue, Nakesha Williams could often be seen surrounded by her belongings, including books that she was reading. Credit Luis Alfredo Garcia via The New York Times, March 3, 2018.

thrived around a grate on 46th street in New York City,
where people hurry past to their destinations. Nakesha,
a brilliant and promising student whose life spiraled
into homelessness because of mental problems
made this grate her dominion. Surrounded by a cart,

bags of clothing, books and papers, she read
Anna Karenina, The War of Worlds, and wrote letters,
refusing to stay in homeless shelters, because she knew
they were unsafe or to accept medical care because
she didn't want to be labeled. But there were people who

passed by and became her friends. P.J. who brought
her toiletries, a raincoat, leather boots, and underwear.
A street vendor, a Moroccan immigrant, who parked
his coffee cart near the grate made her a breakfast
of eggs, a bun and cranberry juice, and protected her

from a man who taunted her, blocked another one
from stealing her purse. Another vendor,
an Egyptian immigrant who operated a sandwich cart
prepared her favorite lunch, chicken and rice. An optician
who passed by left her small gifts, hand lotion,

socks, and sneakers. When Nakesha died, P.J. knew
that her body would have been buried with unclaimed bodies
in a mass grave, and so she had her cremated, placing her ashes
in a mother of pearl urn flecked with gold. An office worker
who learned of P.J.'s efforts collected donations for the funeral

service and sent P.J. an envelope with money
and 21 signatures. Nakasha's college friends
gathered at the grate and lit candles for
her memorial service, reminding us of the
light that too many pass by.

Marguerite Guzman Bouvard is the author of nine poetry books, two of which have received awards. She has also written a number of non-fiction books on social justice, human rights and women's rights. She is a former professor of Political Science and Poetry and is now a Visiting Scholar at the Environmental Studies Program, Brandeis University.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018


by Alejandro Escudé

There’s no free association on the mood-bus.
The mind of the President’s lawyer and his team
of modules; so that, you have a blank canvas
awakened at birth to reveal the edgings of industry.
He says, “I hope he’s doing alright.” The word
“alright” refers to business. It’s not Jesus dying
on the splintered cross, or Peter observing
the feet of his followers. I see a guitar hanging,
Mussolini, his mistress, Italians spitting words
like spit and spit like words over their corpses.
I dated a girl once I met on a website, beautiful
and dumb. She had one phrase she’d text
over and over again: “Are you serious?”

That was it. “Are you serious?” I wasn’t serious.
The ground gave way, or the server, and I saw
she was a myriad of connections. Her system
opened before me and she posed on a shell,
beckoning with her infinite curls. And he was
there to defend me, the businessman-lawyer,
extending the trial. My voice trilling with anger.

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.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018


by Mary O'Melveny

Women at the site of a car-bomb attack in Kabul in May 2017. Credit Shah Marai/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images via The New York Times.           Afghan photographer Shah Marai was among the nine journalists killed in Kabul on Monday as they “rushed to the site of yet another bombing, when a second attacker detonated his explosives amid the reporters and first responders. Altogether 25 people were killed.”  —The New York Times, April 30, 2018          A week before, “on April 22, 2018, an ISIS-affiliated suicide bomber in Kabul, Afghanistan killed at least 57 and injured more than 120 people lining  up to receive national identity cards that would allow them to vote in  the country’s parliamentary elections.  Twenty-two women and eight children were among those killed.  A neighborhood resident,  Mohammad Kalgrim, told a reporter ‘I have carried so many bodies that I cannot even talk.’ Most survivors of the blast said they were no longer likely to cast votes.” The New York Times, April 22, 2018

Our dead lie scattered
like funerary flowers
while tattered voter cards
sift downward past shards
of glass.  Entwined with ashes,
like ribbons of faded hours,
they land in drainage moats
where torn school uniforms
drift past like tiny boats
in reddened waters.

We must endure, if able,
the weight of such sorrow.
A small girl whose pink schoolbag
becomes her final pillow.
The body of her young mother,
hollowed out like a vessel.
A clerk, smothered by debris,
lists at his wooden table,
still holding forms and pencils,
his stricken face sallow.

We bore them all away
from places that had heard
their final words.  We worked
all day harvesting slain
neighbors like crops.  None shirked
as firemen tried to wash away the sins
of our street corners
and cordons of policemen
tried to contain mourners
wailing above the din.

Once, the things we ferried
were cups of cinnamon tea,
books of ghazals, prayer carpets,
promises of prophets.  We passed time
at windowsills or waiting in lines.
We pursued relief from lesser grief
like failures of imagination.
Now, we move evidence of ruination.
Unbalanced by weight of what we carried,
we have been silenced.

Mary O'Melveny is a recently-retired labor rights lawyer and "emerging" poet living in Washington, DC and Woodstock, NY.  Her work has been published in various print and on-line journals and on blog sites such as Writing in a Woman's Voice and Women in Woodstock.  Her first poetry chapbook A Woman of a Certain Age will be published in September, 2018 by Finishing Line Press.

Monday, April 30, 2018


by Lois Rosen

Nate at Instagram

Although a Needville, Texas principal
threatens suspension,

though parents in Billings, Montana warn
they’ll ground their kids,

though the NRA tweets an AR15 photo
I’ll control my own guns, thank you,

though South Carolina Governor McMaster
calls the walkout left wing and shameful,

though the church shooter’s sister hisses
I hope it’s a trap and they all get shot,

students join hands, make speeches,
chant, read victim’s names,

hold signs sob, pray, stand silent
for six minutes. There are no words.

Lois Rosen won Willamette Writers’ 2016 Kay Snow Fiction Award. The Rainier Writing Workshop awarded her an MFA and a Debra Tall Memorial Scholarship. Her poetry books are Pigeons (Traprock Books, 2004) and Nice and Loud (Tebot Bach, 2015). Lois’s writing has appeared before in TheNewVerse.News. Her story “The Hollywood Life” was performed at the inaugural Liars’ League PDX.

Sunday, April 29, 2018


by Jill Crainshaw

Source: Inter-Korean Summit Press Corps/Pool via Bloomberg.

How do you cross a line
Drawn in nuclearized sand?

Lift one foot and then the other
From the bony grip of history

Even if movements are awkward and
Bodies petrified from standing still

Too long estranged from heart-beats
That keep muscles supple;

Ancient enemies hand in hand
With clumsy unfamiliarity

Step north and then south
Step south and then north

Limbering up and stretching out—

Jill Crainshaw is a professor at Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, NC.

Saturday, April 28, 2018


by Lauren Wellman

Cartoon by Joe Dator

In a recent blog post, Facebook's vice president for ads, Rob Goldman, argues his platform's users aren't its product. Even though Facebook primarily makes money by selling targeted ads based on what it knows about you, Goldman says that the real product is the ability to connect people—ads merely exist to "fund that experience." —Louise Matsakis, “Facebook’s Targeted Ads Are More Complex Than It Lets, On,” Wired, April 25, 2018

Leverage my every click Facebook, stalk me
Through the virtual world, tangled up in social
bots. I don’t want to disappear and I want
To disappear. You get me, you got me. I’m yours.

Do you know me better than I know myself?
Do you detect my every dopamine shift and predict,
My hungry clicker is ready for a gambling binge
in Vegas? Right now, interjects dope man, fly for $149!

This is how we roll, oh, nerd daddy, it’s on--invisible
soothsayer, insomniac confessor, my dealer.
You know what I like (thumbs up!). That’s why we stay,
candyboy, on good terms. My soul, among billions

of users, a digital refugee spilling its whispers
to data miners for pesos on the bitcoin.

Currently based in Oaxaca, Mexico, Lauren Wellman is a scrivener at Bland Alchemy, Inc.

Thursday, April 26, 2018


John Savoie teaches great books at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018


by Edward Zuk

Image from “Environmental Plundering Agency by Brian McFadded at The Nib.

When health and safety threaten greed across this land of ours,
To whom do corporations turn to exercise his powers?
Who trashes standards then explains it with a bland cliché?
It is Scott Pruitt, mighty leader of the EPA!

Who scoffs at scientists and what they claim to be “the truth”?
Who likes to joke with lobbyists inside his soundproof booth?
Who flies in secret round the world in first-class all the way?
It is Scott Pruitt, jet-set madman of the EPA!

He kicks and headlocks edicts, punches rules right in the nose,
Then knocks out regulations with his well-timed body blows.
Who cares if it’s all legal or the courts demand a stay?
He is Scott Pruitt, fearless fighter of the EPA!

When nonexistent death threats make this dauntless man afraid,
Security is there so that he will not be waylaid.
It’s well-spent dollars from the taxes of the USA
To save Scott Pruitt, precious treasure of the EPA!

When streams and rivers are too clean and need some mercury,
When oil is trapped in parks without a well to set it free,
When species are endangered but somehow still hang around
Without that one more final blow to lay them in the ground,

When woodland ponds are lacking coal ash and some manganese,
When people ought to breathe in smoke and lead from factories,
What do the billionaires and massive corporations say?
We’ll call Scott Pruitt, matchless leader of the EPA!

Edward Zuk is a poet from British Columbia, Canada. His work has appeared in The Queen's Quarterly, The Raintown Review, Modern Haiku, and TheNewVerse.News

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


by George Salamon

The Washington Post, April 22, 2018

Only old folks and children
Do no harm to the present
By thinking of the future.
In the corridors of power in Washington,
In the bunkers of Pyongyang
They plot our future
For which we'll pay the usual price
In corpses, cripples and orphans,
In poverty, disease and despair.
During our long march of folly
We have rarely allowed history
To become our teacher,
Preferring to gulp the snake oil
Of one ism or another.
Like fireworks on the 4th of July.
Teachable moments soar and sparkle.
And then, in a puff, they are gone.

George Salamon would like to be but does not expect to be surprised by headlines. He lives and writes in St. Louis, MO.

Monday, April 23, 2018


by Charles Hughes

Pink, perfect orchid blossom off its stem,
Still ballerina crumpled to the stage.
A little life gone out of this new day
That could, being a school day, be the one

When a small child you love far more than flowers
Performs her class's active-shooter drill
For real, because an angry man acquired
A real AR-15 to bring to school.

She leaves at home dance slippers, princess dresses.
Beginning kindergarten, she's been brave—
Unlike her country, which (you sense she senses)
Will only do so much to keep her safe.

Charles Hughes is the author of the poetry collection Cave Art (Wiseblood Books, 2014) and was a Walter E. Dakin Fellow at the 2016 Sewanee Writers' Conference. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Christian Century, the Iron Horse Literary Review, Measure, the Sewanee Theological Review, The Saint Katherine Review, Think Journal, and elsewhere. He worked as a lawyer for thirty-three years before his retirement and lives with his wife in the Chicago area.

Sunday, April 22, 2018


by Jenna Le

A sperm whale found dead in southern Spain was killed after ingesting 64 pounds of mostly plastic garbage, a necropsy of the marine mammal recently revealed. The 6-ton, 33-foot-long juvenile male beached near a lighthouse in Cabo de Palos in the region of Murcia in February. An examination of its digestive tract uncovered items such as plastic bags, raffia sacks, ropes, pieces of nets and even a plastic jerry can, authorities said Friday. Experts at Murcia's El Valle Wildlife Recovery Center, which carried out the necropsy, said the whale was unable to expel or digest the trash, causing it to die from peritonitis, or an infection of the abdomen. —EcoWatch, April 10, 2018

After the sperm whale
choked to death on plastic waste
(sixty-four pounds' worth),
I swore off all things plastic:
forks, tea stirrers, me, free verse

Jenna Le is the author of two full-length poetry collections, Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011) and A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora (Indolent Books, 2018; 1st edition published by Anchor & Plume Press, 2016), which won 2nd Place in the 2017 Elgin Awards. Her poems have also appeared in AGNI Online, Bellevue Literary Review, Denver Quarterly, Los Angeles Review, Massachusetts Review, and West Branch.

Saturday, April 21, 2018


by David Chorlton

While scouring the Sonoran Desert for objects left behind by migrants crossing into the United States, anthropologist Jason De León happened upon something he didn't expect to get left behind: a human arm, stripped of flesh. This macabre discovery sent him reeling, needing to know what exactly happened to the body, and how many migrants die that way in the wilderness.  In researching border-crosser deaths in the Arizona desert, he noticed something surprising. Sometime in the late-1990s, the number of migrant deaths shot up dramatically and have stayed high since. Jason traced this increase to a Border Patrol policy still in effect, called “Prevention Through Deterrence.” Over three episodes, Radiolab investigates this policy, its surprising origins, and the people whose lives were changed forever because of it. Photo: Backpacks left by migrants crossing the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. (State of Exception/Estado de Excepción, Parsons School of Design at The New School. Created by photographer Richard Barnes and curator Amanda Krugliak with Jason De León. Photo: Marc Tatti via Radiolab.) 

The ravens don’t much care
about the border, bouncing
as they do
between one country’s light
and another’s. And a hawk can cast
its shadow on both
sides at once
with a wingspan as wide
as a bobcat’s leap
and an eye as focused as a border guard’s.
It’s mostly quiet
here, except for the trucks
that move in their sleep
while the desert shifts beneath them
faster in Spanish
than this gravel road allows
as it dips and crackles
underfoot. The vegetation
greens into sunlight
and dries back to desperation
depending on terrain
while mountain after mountain
cuts into a sky that burns
at its edges come June.
Right now, a hammer taps
in a mechanic’s tinny workshop
where his radio is tuned
to salt and teardrops.
There’s a heaven
for the poor who look across
at where they’ve heard
a land of plenty
is at hand, but all they see from here
are saguaro
and the buckled ground
where a mule is a man with no face
and coyotes
dispense promises
of work in one language,
pay in another,
with a long walk through the night
and slow death in the sun
for those whose mariachi prayers
go unanswered. Supply
and demand are the laws: the land
demands rain
while the sky won’t supply it.
The doves call
out to springtime, and a breeze
responds. Who’s there; who wants
to enter? Who is it
wants to build a wall
to keep the heat away?

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

Friday, April 20, 2018


by Gary Glauber

Starbucks Logo Mermaid Redesign by Cory Marino at Deviant Art

No one wanted to wait on the mermaid.

I couldn’t believe the rudeness.
She was out of her element,
waiting on this long line
nowhere near the water.
The barista acted like
she wasn’t even there.

But she was. Patiently waiting
her turn, eager to order.
She deserved her vanilla latte
as much as the next guy,
who happened to be me.

I had been behind her,
trying to pretend I didn’t
notice her resemblance
to the national chain’s logo:
same enchanting smile,
same long locks of hair.

Did they not hear
that uniquely dulcet tone,
the unmistakable foreign accent?

I stood there mute
when they passed her by
& turned to me instead.
I refused to be party
to this obvious act
of blatant prejudice.
What was the deal?
No shirt, no legs, no service?
No way.

Her scales glistened in
what I perceived was anger
or at least righteous rage.
It reminded me of that time
at the barbershop
when they refused service
to the giant who stopped in
for a trim.
They said it was
by appointment only,
& ignored the way
he barely fit into the chair.
He sat there for a time,
all awkward knees & elbows,
but these barbers were a stubborn lot.
He looked at me, shrugged his shoulders,
let out exasperated sigh, then got up.
Something in the look
told me he got this a lot.
“There’s small,
& then there’s petty,”
was what he said
before storming out.

When I finally opened my mouth
it was with fast solution at hand.
I spoke out the very order
she had been repeating
over & over again,
followed by my own.
I spoke slowly & the barista
repeated it back.
I gladly paid for hers,
& was happy to hand over
the green & white cup
a few minutes later,
not so much as an act
of flirtatious friendliness,
but more one of
true civil justice.

Gary Glauber is a poet, fiction writer, teacher, and former music journalist. His works have received multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations. He champions the underdog to the melodic rhythms of obscure power pop. He has published two collections, Small Consolations (Aldrich Press) and Worth the Candle (Five Oaks Press), and a chapbook Memory Marries Desire (Finishing Line Press).

Thursday, April 19, 2018


by Dianna MacKinnon Henning

Give my umbrella to the Rain Dogs / For I am a Rain Dog too.

Don’t assume the springs won’t break free
from their box mattress—sheets flaunting their disarray
across the bed, or

count on scenery through unwashed
windows, or that mice, anticipating
your arrival, will vacate. If

there’s a wishing-well in the front
yard, likely its weed-clogged, so
cast no coin, make no wish. If

you should happen to rest
on the hay-stuffed sofa, and a torrential
downpour slams your solitude, or should you

contemplate buying this foreclosed relic
for a getaway, don’t ease into the solitude
of sleep. Just when such calm seduces

you on the edge of its tricky precipice, thunder
shivers the walls of your potential buy, and any sanity
you thought you possessed surrenders to the rain

dogs—their teeth slavered with hope.

Dianna MacKinnon Henning holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College. Published in, in part: The Moth, Ireland; Sukoon, Volume 5; Naugatuck River Review, Lullwater Review, The Red Rock Review, The Kentucky Review, The Good Works Review, The Main Street Rag, California Quarterly, Poetry International and Fugue. Finalist in Aesthetica’s Creative Writing Award in the UK. Three-time Pushcart nominee. Henning  received several CAC grants and taught through California Poets in the Schools and through the William James Association’s Prison Arts Program. Henning’s third poetry book Cathedral of the Hand published 2016 by Finishing Line Press.


by James Bettendorf

Records fell as an April snowstorm blanketed the Upper Midwest. —CHANNEL 3000

The shadow I see in the meadow is really a sheep in wolf’s clothing.  I go swimming in the small pond but the ice is so thick I have to break it with an ax so I can’t chop the tree branches into firewood.  It is so cold in April I choke on clouds of ice.  I wrap myself in a buffalo robe for warmth but the snow keeps falling.  I wear a large wool hat but the snow keeps falling.  The sun is shining but the snow keeps falling.  Even the sunshine I feel is eight minutes old.  My congressman gives me the cold shoulder.  It is hard to believe anything he says. Perhaps I don’t get his attention.  If I see a poisonous spider I will crush it with my shoe.

James Bettendorf is a retired math teacher writing in Brooklyn Park, MN. He completed a two-year poetry internship in the Loft Master Track program in 2009 and has published a book of poems swimming in the earth which includes art by his daughter. He is also a contributor to  Gatherings, A Forward Poetry Anthology and In the Company of Others. He has had poems published in several journals including Rockhurst Review, Light Quarterly, Star Line, Ottertail Review, Talking Stick, and Free Verse along with several on-line publications.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


by Richard Meyer

The male ostracod Cypideis salebrosa, his genitals shaded in the photograph. (Maria João Fernandes Martins)

By studying dozens of fossilized ostracods, [researchers] have found that species where males . . .  have larger penises—disappear far more quickly. They say that it’s not size that matters, but what you do with it; what ostracods do with it is go extinct. —The Atlantic, 11 April 2018

Attention homo sapiens—
the men, that is, the average ones,
the less endowed below the belt—
that insufficiency you’ve felt
is but a myth—you’re now set free
by studies in biology.

Among the creatures in the sea,
the species known as ostracods
whose males possessed prodigious rods
became extinct while others thrived.

No longer lacking, flawed, deprived,
with evolution on your side,
embrace your normal tools with pride
and know in life, to their chagrin,
the biggest pricks don’t always win.

Richard Meyer’s poems have appeared in various publications, including Able Muse, The Raintown Review, Think, Measure, Light, TheNewVerse.News, Alabama Literary Review, and The Evansville Review. He was awarded the 2012 Robert Frost Farm Prize for his poem “Fieldstone” and was the recipient of the 2014 String Poet Prize for his poem “The Autumn Way.” A book of his collected poems, Orbital Paths, was a silver medalist winner in the 2016 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards.