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Sunday, February 25, 2018

THE ARMED TEACHER

by Anna M. Evans



I own an arsenal of ways to think,
and choose the weapon just as I see fit.
I’m packing color markers and red ink;
my Power Points are reinforced with wit.

I used a Glock once, at a rifle range,
but, even muffled, couldn’t stand the sound.
I wasn’t a bad shot, but it was strange,
the way the target swung with every round.

Sometimes I think, what if it happened here?
I’d lock the door, of course. I know the drill.
But every day we need to fight the fear,
and fear’s not something you can shoot to kill.

So, you can keep your bullets, guns and knives.
I’m armed with words, and working to save lives.


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

TRUMPET MINISTRATIONS*

by Jennifer Davis Michael




Perhaps the application
of an ear trumpet

to amplify the cries
of a ravaged nation.

Or the sounding of a blast
heralding the doom
of democracy,
the triumph of bombast.

The ancient shofar
has yielded to tweets—
“My button is bigger”—
braying for war.

Jericho town
had beautiful walls
until Joshua bugled
and they all fell down.

John of Patmos heard seven
trumpets, unrolling
the scrolls of apocalypse,
unveiling heaven.

Our manacled minds
check Facebook and hope
for Shelleyan prophecy:
can spring be far behind?


*After mishearing the phrase “Trump administration” on the radio.


Jennifer Davis Michael is professor and chair of English at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, specializing in British Romanticism. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Southern Poetry Reviw, Cumberland River Review, Literary Mama, and Mezzo Cammin, among others. She has also published a book of criticism, Blake and the City (Bucknell, 2006).

Saturday, February 24, 2018

BREATHMAKER

by Jeremy Bryant


"A five-day-long bombardment by Syrian government forces is reported to have killed more than 300 civilians in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area." —BBC News, February 23, 2018


This image—girl child with blood as rouge, with liquid eyes—how?
What words? "These children are part of the human cost."
There is only this—brokenness, only an endless gloaming.
What sights in the blurry background?
A mother who was making bread when the roof fell,
a mother whose dust caked face is lined with vertical tear stripes,
a mother waiting for her child's last breath. There is only this.


Jeremy 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. Bryant is a spiritual writer who often explores universal suffering. His work may be found in Pikeville Review, EAOGH, TheNewVerse.News, and Prism.

Friday, February 23, 2018

HELL IS PUNGENT WITH GUNS

(My Neighbor Calls Gun Owners ‘Beelzeguns,’ 
Says They Call Themselves ‘Gun Nuts’ 
Because Otherwise They Don’t Have Any Balls)

Graphic from Jon Stewart's The Daily Show.


by Ron Riekki


There have been two killed and twenty injured
by gun violence in the U.S. since Parkland.*
The melting pot is melting because of climate
change and the heat of being ambushed by
a blizzard of shrapnel. I taught a course on gun
violence and near the halfway point a student’s

girlfriend was shot and killed on campus. Life
used to stand until a Loaded Gun carried me
away to my graveyard shift where I don’t teach
anymore, sunk into the valley of security,
unarmed security, where I’m paid to stay awake
and at night, in the mountains of dark I remember

a kid telling me during that class that he used to take
his gun and shoot it at the lake at his parents’ camp,
December, Alabama, trying to make the bullets
skip. I asked him if he thought he might have
killed someone by mistake doing that and he told
me, Nah, no one was around for miles. There’ve

been more than two killed, more than twenty injured
now since.* Since. In Detroit, I remember a moment
on the street where someone commented on
another person’s visible bullet-hole scar.  He
lifted up his shirt to reveal more and then a bunch
of those nearby started sharing their bullet holes,

pant legs rolled up, shirts off, the drinking
of wounds. In Virginia, I delivered a Feast Pizza
to a trailer where the guy sat on his historical sofa
holding an old shotgun pointed at my college chest.
I asked what the hell he was doing and he said,
I just wanted to see your reaction. His girl-

friend told him to put the gun down,
but he didn’t. When I got back to the Dominos,
one of the other drivers asked, Did he do it to you?
He likes to do that to everyone who delivers there.
A cop told me about a kid who got shot in the eye
and the bullet ricocheted and came out the other eye.

During EMT class, the instructor asked if any
of us had been shot and one of the students
raised his hand; he’d shot himself by mistake,
cleaning his gun. The instructor told us a story
of how he got shot by a kid when he was doing CPR
on a rival gang member that they didn’t want saved.

By a kid, I mean a child. By a child, I mean that we
are drowning in the shallow end. After school shootings,
gun sales go up. I mean, throw up. As in puke. “It’s too
soon to talk about gun control.”  Hell, it’s too late.
Graffiti by my apartment says, What You Rape
Is What You Sewer with an AR-15 policed underneath,

plastered to the wall, pulverized to the wall in onyx
paint. Two times in my life, when talking about gun
control, I’ve had a person reach over and pull a gun out
of nowhere. Anti-magic. One was under a couch.
Another in a purse. As if guns were cigarettes.
As if guns were TV channels. As if the guy who lived

across from me in Chicago wasn’t shot and killed
in his apartment. My favorite superheroes never
use a gun. That’s for villains. Batarangs and bat-darts—
sure, but I always prefer those who simply outsmart, whose
sheer intelligence comes out. The opposite of those
who cure guns with guns, who stop choking by choking

more. The king of choking. We elected the king
of choking. Chos—a Persian word for fart.  The NRA chos-
king. A rump . . . Real hunters use bow-and-arrow. They bow
before the flesh and honor the animal by using every
body part, not sitting next to an elephant, leaning
against its belly with the gun in his crotch. Cowards.


*Accurate as of February 21, 2018. The numbers have enlarged since then.


Ron Riekki wrote U.P.: a novel (Great Michigan Read nominated) and edited The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works (2014 Michigan Notable Book), Here: Women Writing on Michigan's Upper Peninsula (2016 Independent Publisher Book Award), and And Here: 100 Years of Upper Peninsula Writing, 1917-2017 (Michigan State University Press, 2017).

Thursday, February 22, 2018

COST

by Neil Creighton


Parkland students watch as Florida legislators vote down a resolution to discuss a ban on assault weapons.


So Sam rose early, saddled his donkey,
and took his children up the mountain.
And his children said
“Where is the offering, our father,
and who is this god we praise?”
“You are the offering, my children.”
Then hail of fire descended
and bright blood flowed until all were gone.
Sam sighed, thought he would pray,
wept a little as he descended the mountain.
A congregation waited below.
“It’s hard,” he said, “so hard.
But what can we do?
We don’t wish it but we must worship.”

And the great congregation shouted “Amen”.


Neil Creighton is an Australian poet whose work as a teacher of English and Drama brought him into close contact with thousands of young lives, most happy and triumphant but too many tragically filled with neglect. It also made him intensely aware of how opportunity is so unequally proportioned and his work reflects strong interest in social justice. Recent publications include Poetry Quarterly, Poeming Pigeon, Silver Birch Press, Rat's Ass Review, Praxis Mag Online, Ekphrastic Review, Social Justice Poetry, Peacock Journal, Poets Reading the News and Verse-Virtual.

A CHILDREN'S CRUSADE

by Ralph La Rosa




The evolution of revolution
is a student-led crusade,
its first and foremost resolution:
the NRA must be waylaid.


Ralph La Rosa’s work has been published online, including at TheNewVerse.News, and in the books Sonnet Stanzas and Ghost Trees.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A KEEPING PLACE

by Mark Tarren



Mungo Man returned to ancestral home where he died 40,000 years ago. Traditional owners say the return of the remains of the historic Mungo Man, who was removed by scientists from his resting place more than 40 years ago, will provide closure and is a step toward reconciliation. More than four decades ago anthropologists removed the ancient skeleton of an Aboriginal man—the discovery of which rewrote Australian history. Now he has been returned home to his descendants, travelling for days in a hearse from Canberra. —ABC News, November 17, 2017. Photo by Dean Sewell, The Guardian, November 19, 2017.


These are the winds
of Country.

That birthed fire leaf and smoke
fish, ear and bone

upon the grinding stone
sparks hooded in a eucalypt sky
the footprint of a face.

A fire of Yellow Box and peppermint
of scented leaf, sand and cloud

that carved out a timbered lake
with gentle ochre limbs

hands crossed deep across
the womb of beginning
in the wounds of Country.

These are the winds
of Mutthi Mutthi, Paakantji
Ngyiampaa

sung forever in the tears
of the tall man’s journey
to return to Country.

My white skin burns against
the red-gum casket lung

unable to remain in this life
as he wraps me to unfold me

in the ancient sands
of dunes and desert wounds

the crack, cry and howl as
my white skin dies
swept away
in the scales of shedding,

of waiting.

Come and dance across our hearts
so we can find

the first fire that remains.


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.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

YEARS AGO AT THE TROLL FACTORY
(A FLASHBACK)

by Melissa Balmain



CNN video from Oct 26, 2016.


"What to know about the Russian troll factory
listed in Mueller’s indictment" 
Vox, February 16, 2018


Chug-chug, the googly-eye machine
goes round; a massive table brims
with squat injection-molded limbs
and fluffy topknots (orange, green)
as workers in white coveralls
toil on without a kasha break.
At last: "We've done it, no mistake!"
the comrades whoop. Then silence falls
as they behold their masterpiece—
that gruesome grin! That triple chin!
That overcooked-kolbasa skin!—
and plot its glorious release.


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.

Monday, February 19, 2018

SHE WAS PLEADING WITH HER EYES

by Darrell Petska


Samir Salim is a White Helmets volunteer in Syria's Eastern Ghouta. Already out on a rescue mission when another air strike hit, Samir rushed toward the smoke: a Syrian government air strike had destroyed his house. He saved his infant nephew, sister, sister-in-law and father, but he could not save his mother crushed by the ceiling. He vows to continue his work.


Save the baby, Samir.
Now, fast to the girls.
Your Papa: Take him!
His cries tear my heart.

Samir, my angel,
release my soul
from this burden of being.
Be strong, as I taught you.

I am above you, Samir.
I am all around.
Tell them we are more,
more than paltry flesh.

Inhabit their eyes, my son.
Toward life's supple altar
draw their misspent hearts.
Show them we can fly.


Darrell Petska learned of Samir Salim and his family and felt a great sadness.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

VIGIL

by Sister Lou Ella Hickman


The Pieta Com. by Water-Lilly-Love at Deviant Art


                your child’s body stretches out on your lap    a pietá
                 as you remove the thorned crown of thoughts and prayers
                                       blood slowly crawls down the leg of your chair
                 then drop by drop marks your vigil on the floor
                                      visitors pass           your silence answers their questions
                 the outside darkness fills the window pane
                 the Senator's secretary says
                                      i have to lock up now
                  you reply
                  i’ll be back tomorrow


Sister Lou Ella Hickman is a poet, writer, and a certified spiritual director.  Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines such as First Things, Emmanuel, Third Wednesday, and TheNewVerse.News.  Her first book of poetry was entitled she: robed and wordless.

HONORING THE FALLEN

by Mary Kay Schoen




At Chichen Itza the guide said the ancient
Mayans threw innocents into the cenote
human sacrifice to forestall the end of the world

In World War II young Americans
died to defeat an evil regime
human sacrifice to make the world safe

At Littleton and Sandy Hook
and the school down the street
we send in our children

innocents in the line of fire
to defend the rights of congressmen
to finance reelection to defend the rights

of the folks who want assault rifles handy
in case the US Armed Forces are insufficient
or a deer might bound away

Shall Congress not hand out thanks
and Gold Stars to all the grieving parents
whose children gave their lives

to keep safe those seats on Capitol Hill?


Mary Kay Schoen is a Virginia writer whose feature stories have appeared in The Washington Post and association publications. Her poetry can be found in Persimmon Tree, America, and an anthology of Southwestern poetry from Dos Gatos Press. She spends too much time reading the newspaper.

RINSE AND REPEAT

by Rene Mears


Family members embrace following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Feb. 14, 2018, in Parkland, Fla. “Deadliest School Shootings in Modern US History” —VOA, February 14, 2018


Snow falls
Summer calls
                  Crying out for what can not be.
Winter’s chill
Sparrow’s trill
                  Darkness reigns, I can not see.
Many fools
Always cruel
                  The soul, all that remains
Only pawn
Myself gone
                  Invisible, are the chains
Your woe
Strikes the blow
                 So many lying still, asleep
Another gun
Better run
                 I’m left alone, to weep.
Never ends
These trends
                 Infinity. Infinity.  No way to decease
Winter’s chill
Sparrow’s trill
                 Funeral. Funeral. Forget the peace.


Rene Mears lives in Castle Rock, Colorado.  Nurse by day, aspiring writer by night.  This is her first published poem.

THEY AREN'T JUST TAKING SELFIES

by Tricia Knoll


Florida student Emma Gonzalez to lawmakers and gun advocates: 'We call BS'. CLICK HERE to see her dramatic speech via CNN.

having sex before graduation,
or trying pot before sloe gin.

They volunteer, ride horseback
to halt pipelines, engage

with hip hop, rockers and rappers
to say words that need saying,

march in Washington and our city,
enlist, vote, call for police accountability,

and want citizenship for DACA immigrants.
Teenagers and twenty-somethings

see a world every day on their phones
where shooters slaughter friends

in school because there is no will
to ban assault weapons and control guns.

They know shots crack living room windows
on residential streets, that gangs fight useless

wars. When young people knew rightness
of the opportunity for gay marriage,

the nation swayed and so did judges.
They are screaming for gun control

and the right to sit in school
and learn without fear

with no more brush-off praying
for teachers and families

until something is done.
Yell with them.

We need them
to know we’re with them.


Tricia Knoll is an Oregon poet who has signed petitions for gun control for more than forty years. "We are children" say the survivors in Parkland. Do we need to hear more? She doesn't. She is tired of the empty rhetoric of pray for the families and do nothing to stop gun lobby money in Washington. Her book How I Learned to Be White is coming out from Antrim House in 2018.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

DRIVING ALL NIGHT IN THE RED STATES

by David Tucker


Graphic from The Georgetown


I will drive all night in the Red States
I will take backroads through towns with one traffic light.
I will shop at gunshows that stay open late,
their windows festooned with assault rifles
at discounts that will make me weep.
I will make my peace with Jesus billboards
that glow from hilltops and welcome signs decorated
with bullet holes. I will make no comments
on the sexual confusion
of flag-emblazoned pickups, the twinkle
of their gun racks. I will give in
to the longing of satellite dishes as they turn
to early bird jewelry sales at four in the morning.
I will marry a trailer park beauty
who sits in a lawn chair beside a road, winding
pink curlers into her hair, I will slouch
in a lawn chair beside her, smoking Camels
as the sun comes up. I will reject national healthcare
and Islam, I will ban homosexuals and burn newspapers,
I will denounce foreign nations, ambitious women
and abortion, I will ignore the jails overflowing
I will oppose food stamps and Spanish,
I will wave to everyone who passes
glad to see them,  glad to see them go.


David Tucker’s book Late for Work won the Bakeless Poetry Prize, selected by Philip Levine, and was published by Houghton Mifflin. He also won a Slapering Hol Press national chapbook contest for Days When Nothing Happens and was awarded a Witter Bynner Fellowship by the Library of Congress. A career journalist, he supervised and edited two Pulitzer Prize winners for The Star-Ledger newspaper.

Friday, February 16, 2018

THRESHOLD

by Scott Bade


A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose is all
of them aligned in their identity a row
of matching matches each one the source
of course of course to the extinguishing
moment that follows a spectacle of what
we have to believe about what we can’t
believe. I’m not shaking anymore, neither
am I feeling much beyond the growl of dog
fattened on tables scraps lounging next to
the fire as someone pounds on the front
door their urgency their hands their rapid
fire knocking their pulling and pushing
and twisting the door handle it will not
give it won’t turn and then the turning
to living room window peering through
frantic hands binocularing now a palm
flat slapping window all heat red as you
guessed it a rose blooming in palm’s lined
lives & the dog’s ears inside perking
as the flames spread from room to room


Scott Bade earned his Ph.D. in creative writing at Western Michigan University (WMU). In addition to teaching at Kalamazoo College and the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Scott is also the coordinator of the WMU Center for the Humanities. He is a former poetry editor for Third Coast Magazine and editorial assistant at New Issues Press. His poems have appeared in Fugue, Shadowgraph, H_NGM_N, Foothill and elsewhere. 

LIKE A BULLET HOLE

by Alexis-Rueal




What is left to write when everything
comes out looking like a bullet hole?
When everything sounds like
a coffin door closing.
How do you make room for a pen
in your hand when you are too busy hugging
toddler nephews tight and thanking
God and fate that they’re too young for school?
This time.
How many synonyms are left for despair
and fury? Do they even mean anything, anymore?
How does the poet write
when it has all been written before?
How does the poet write when they know
they will write it again tomorrow?


Alexis-Rueal is a Columbus, Ohio poet whose work has appeared in online and print journals throughout the US and in Europe. She has appeared in festivals and venues throughout Ohio and Kentucky. Her first full-length collection I Speak Hick was published by Writing Knights Press in 2016.

17 HEARTS FOR VALENTINE'S DAY

by Tammy Nuzzo-Morgan



Mourners hug during a prayer vigil Thursday for victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting at Parkridge Church in Coral Springs, Florida. Rhona Wise / AFP - Getty Images via NBC News.



b                e a           t
            red balloons
        b             e     a            t
            red cards
b    e        a                t
            red roses
           b                         e                 a                 t

17 hearts for Valentine’s day           

red                        red                     red               red

b                e a           t
           red hall floors
        b             e     a            t
            red on walls
b    e        a                t
            red of youthful flesh
           b                         e                 a                 t           
         2/14                    celebration of love                
        
2/14/18    life seeps         a                        way                         
children weep

b                e a           t
        b             e     a            t
b    e        a                t

           b                         e                 a                 t

be                          at                peace




Tammy Nuzzo-Morgan, named 2017 Long Island (NY) Poet of the Year by the Walt Whitman Birthplace, was the 2010-2011 Suffolk County Poet Laureate. She is the Founder/President of The North Sea Poetry Scene, Inc., President of The Poetry Place, and the editor of the poetry anthology series Long Island Sounds. She is the author of five poetry collections including Let Me Tell You Something, For Michael, and Life’s a Beach.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

DORSIMBRA FOR COURTLAND SYKES

by Diane Elayne Dees



In Missouri, an acolyte of President Trump is running for the U.S. Senate and denouncing “manophobic hell-bent feminist she-devils.” The candidate, Courtland Sykes, . . . is worth quoting as a window into the backlash against #MeToo and empowered women: “I don’t buy into radical feminism’s crazy definition of modern womanhood and I never did,” Sykes wrote on his campaign’s Facebook page. “They made it up to suit their own nasty, snake-filled heads. . . . I don’t buy the non-stop feminization campaign against manhood. I want to come home to a home cooked dinner at six every night, one that [my fiancée] fixes and one that I expect one day to have daughters learn to fix.” —The New York Times, January 31, 2018


My head is filled with snakes of many kinds—
huge pythons, cobras, moccasins, and corals.
Unlike Medusa’s, mine are hard to find;
they lurk within and poison my morals.

The venom of equality
is stored in my fangs,
paralyzing your patriarchal limbs,
rendering you unprivileged.

The reptiles crawl; they hiss, prepared to strike
at monsters who are deadlier than they
could ever be. You hold me in contempt,
for my head is filled with snakes of many kinds.


Editor’s note thanks to the Poets Collective: The dorsimbra, created by Eve Braden, Frieda Dorris and Robert Simonton, is a 12-line poem consisting of (1) a quatrain of iambic pentameter rhyming abab, (2) a quatrain of "short and snappy" free verse, and (3) a quatrain of blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameter). The final (12th) line is the same as the first line. The form's creators suggest the use of enjambment, interlaced rhymes, and near-rhymes to bind the three stanzas.


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

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

THE SPACE ROADSTER

by Martin Elster



Even Elon Musk, engineer of the circus show, was surprised that his audacious stunt worked. “Apparently, there is a car in orbit around Earth,” he tweeted. His plan is for the $100,000 Tesla Roadster—with the message “Don’t panic!” stamped on the dashboard and David Bowie playing on the speakers—to cruise through high-energy radiation belts that circuit Earth towards deep space. —The Guardian, February 7, 2018


Elon, you’ve lost one of your cherry cars.
We doubt you miss it, though, for Starman steers it,
piercing the emptiness en route to Mars
and the ring of rocks beyond. What flyer fears it,

the absolute of space? Not this fake pilot!
Its gaze is black as the gaps between the stars,
and yet the worlds and suns seem to beguile it.
Who would have thought that dummies in red cars

could zip into earth orbit and keep going?
They flabbergasted us, your booster rockets
which settled like a pair of sparrows (owing
to bang-up engineering). In your pockets

were all the funds you needed for a test
that bested your most hopeful expectations.
Now car and mannequin are on a quest
to beat our wildest visualizations

as earth recedes with all its blues and whites
as Mars grows closer with its browns and coppers
as space becomes spectacular with lights
as we audacious apes become star-hoppers.


Martin Elster is a composer and serves as percussionist with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. His poetry has appeared in Astropoetica, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, The Chimaera, and The Road Not Taken, among others, and in anthologies such as Taking Turns: Sonnets from Eratosphere, The 2012 and 2015 Rhysling Anthologies, New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan, and Poems for a Liminal Age.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

ITALY

by Susana H. Case


Monolithic domes in Italy, Texas.


(ITALY, Texas) — A 15-year-old student in Texas was injured in a shooting in her high school cafeteria Monday morning and a 16-year-old boy, also a student at the school, was taken into custody, sheriff’s officials said. —Time, January 22, 2018


Italy, Texas, so named because a guy
once took a vacation overseas
and came back impressed, is filled with domes
that look like giant, peeled half-
grapefruits. You can put them anywhere.
Next to a power plant, if you want to.

Today, a teenager shot another teenager,
but we can’t do anything about that,
all the guns. Italy is filled
with domes of polyester and PVC,
reinforced with concrete, which means
no tornadoes
or earthquakes
or firestorms
can destroy them.
You can’t even shoot
a bullet through them.
They will last a century—with rebar, centuries.

The thing is, they’re ugly.
Not at all like Brunelleschi’s opulent
Duomo in Florence, in the real Italy, though
Michelangelo compared it to a cricket cage.
Ugly grapefruit halves.

Not as ugly as going to a school to shoot
a young girl. Those domes can take a lot
of abuse, as long as you don’t use propane
or natural gas, which can leak and accumulate,
maybe even kill you. They won’t kill
you as easily as a gun.


Susana H. Case is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Drugstore Blue from Five Oaks Press, 2017, as well as four chapbooks. She is a Professor and Program Coordinator at the New York Institute of Technology in New York City.

Monday, February 12, 2018

I LOVE A PARADE

by Linda Ferguson




as spontaneous as kissing,
one that opens like skies and camellias in January,
one that’s snug as the petals of artichoke buds,
one as knock-kneed as newly born calves in the spring.

I love a parade that knows the way, like elephants returning to a stream,
or a parade without purpose, one that drifts along, trailing its fingers in a summer lake,
or one that’s as wistful as the hound with its nose pressed
against the rough grain of gray fence planks.

Let’s have a parade that gleams like the keys that open the hidden doors,
or like the intrepid turtles that continue to carry small polished maps of the world –
a parade that smells of peaches and petrichor and pine –
a parade that surprises, like the sight of your name, handwritten in ink,
on a cream envelope.

Let’s have a barefoot, makeshift parade made of pinecones and popsicle sticks and twine –
a red-wagon parade, with wheels that squeak and trumpets that strain and ponies that canter
along crooked brick streets.

Give us a piggy-back, leapfrog, hopscotch parade –
a parade of acorns and feathers and beads,
a parade of thick knitted socks and worn wooden clogs,
a parade with spider web streamers and twig batons
covered in clumps of fresh emerald moss.

Let’s have a parade of flags stitched with verbs
like gentle and shimmy and billow and mist
or humble signs printed with pudding and pillow
and button and bone and apple and toe—

Let’s see a parade of dazed passengers stepping off a plane
into a long embrace,
a parade of soldiers lifting their palms,
a parade of perpetrators asking forgiveness,
a parade of jurors confessing, I, too, have sinned,  
a parade of ancestors promising, it will be alright.

Come, let our parade know the beams of a blue supermoon,
let our parade know the loneliness of being lost at sea—
let our parade be the one that remembers
how footprints tremble when they touch
foreign soil.


Linda Ferguson is an award-winning writer of poetry, fiction and essays. Her poetry chapbook was published by Dancing Girl Press. She has a passion for teaching creative writing classes that inspire and support students of all ages.

BELLS & WHISTLES

by Paul Smith




I love a parade
with all the bells and whistles
tanks and cannons and ICBM’s
and, of course,
Sidewinder missiles
I love to watch the men march
and hear their stomping feet
all pound as one in unison
thudding down the street
I love to see the beamish boys
cheering for the troops
waving at their gravity
with manxome jaws outstuck
I love to see the young girls
swept up by fervor true
swooning at platoons festooned
in khaki, white and blue
as the marchers pass the graveyard
their drums and bugles cease
their toots and tweets
a still salute to fallen men
who now lie still
and march no more
the lull is brief
just a moment
a semi-quaver of relief
then right on cue
the band strikes up
Hail to the Chief!


Paul Smith lives near Chicago. He writes fiction & poetry. He likes Hemingway, really likes Bukowski, the Rolling Stones, Beatles, Kinks and Slim Harpo. He can play James Jamerson's bass solo for 'Home Cookin' by Junior Walker & the Allstars.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

DAY RUNNERS

by Laura Rodley


Photo by the poet.


Graying, white foam kicked aside
snowplow’s blade scraping bottom
thrusting wave after wave aside
breaking tides over guardrail
back into the forest’s ledged shelf,
twenty miles an hour, speed of broken sleep,
catching waves solidified as snowfall,
driver dressed in buffalo plaid shirt,
no buffalo skin upon his lap,
pink salt swirling behind, above his exhaust pipe.
He must not reach his own edge,
maintain sharpness as he thrusts the blade
down Route 2, Greenfield to Williamstown,
and back again, coffee in his thermos,
another plow ahead, wave after wave,
cars in a line behind him, crawling.


Laura Rodley, Pushcart Prize winner for her New Verse News poem "Resurrection," a quintuple Pushcart Prize nominee, and quintuple Best of Net nominee, with work in Best Indie Lit NE.  Publisher Finishing Line Press nominated her Your Left Front Wheel Is Coming Loose for a PEN L.L.Winship Award and Mass Book Award. FLP also nominated her Rappelling Blue Light for a Mass Book Award. Former co-curator of the Collected Poets Series, Rodley teaches the As You Write It memoir class and has edited and published As You Write It, A Franklin County Anthology volumes I-VI, also nominated for a Mass Book Award. She was accepted at Martha’s Vineyard’s NOEPC and has been a consecutive participant in the 30 poems in 30 days fundraiser for Literacy Project. Latest books Turn Left at Normal by Big Table Publishing and Counter Point upcoming by Prolific Press

Saturday, February 10, 2018

TO EMMA LAZARUS IN THE WAKE OF 45

by Gail Thomas



Art by Dow Phumiruk.

    
The mother of exiles is pissed, her lips
no longer silent. Her beacon hand
sputters against the brazen lout
who threatens to bolt the door.
When a mother is pissed,
you’d better watch out.
When a mother is tired
of your bullshit,
you’d  better watch out.
When a mother is backed
into a corner, she will use
her teeth and voice to protect
the weak, the huddled, the hurt.
Her name is Queen of Heaven,
Empress of Hell, Demeter,
Fatima, Kali, Yemaya,
Ptesan-Wi, Asasa Ya,
Gaia
Lady of All the World.


Art via Pinterest.


Gail Thomas has published four books of poetry, and her work appears in many journals and anthologies. Her chapbook Odd Mercy was chosen by Ellen Bass for the Charlotte Mew Prize of Headmistress Press, and Waving Back was named a Must Read for 2016 by the Massachusetts Center for the Book.  She lives in Northampton, MA. Her last poem for TheNewVerse.News was published in 2012.

Friday, February 09, 2018

ON HEARING LOSS

by Melissa Bentley


A poster in Kasur, Pakistan, includes a picture of Zainab and the message: "Protest. Protest. Protest. Daughter Zainab, we are ashamed. But if not now, then never. Zainab, in light of your martyrdom, we will seek accountability for all similar events in the past. We will not rest without that." Photo by Diaa Hadid/NPR, February 1, 2018


From the comfort of my heated driver’s seat,

I listened to a Pakistani Mother pray
for God to hear her plea
   for the safety of

        her
    daughter
                   her
                  child,

whom the reporter had just told me
was found on a trash heap near her home -
raped, murdered, thrown away,
before the age of 6.
That child will not sit up on that heap of shit,
slide down, and take the short walk home today.
She will not show up at her Mother's door
now, tomorrow, or
               
                    ever.

I’m watching the sun rise
on my drive,
in pink and mellow skies,
listening to a Mother’s cries.

You tell me,
does God hear a
Mother’s prayer?


Melissa Bentley lives in North Carolina. She enjoys a variety of creative activities in addition to her day job.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

CRAWPOCALYPSO

by Rick Mullin


The marbled crayfish is a mutant species that clones itself, scientists report. The population is exploding in Europe, but the species appears to have originated only about 25 years ago. Ranja Andriantsoa for The New York Times, February 5, 2018

Met excuses aan Hank Williams.


Goodbye Zoe, whaddya know, me oh my oh,
Me gotta go throw ‘way dem books filed under “Bio”!
Frankenstein got claws ‘n’ spine, me oh my oh,
Clone of a beast gonna have some feast like Russian spy-o!
Jambalaya and a crawfish pie a la car-tay.
Eurozone gotta crustay-shone too big to par-tay!
Au revoir to the reservoir, and adieu to you all,
Ain’t no bang gonna end our thang cause it’s a-sex-ual.






Rick Mullin's newest poetry collection is Transom.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

OPPOSING THE GREAT LEADER

by Howard Winn


is an act of treason
if he is the country
but if he is only a
hot-air balloon
waiting the pin-prick
of truth to fall deflated
at our feet as the mere
rubber lawn decoration
for Halloween or a plastic
rabbit for the Easter
holiday to celebrate his
myth of the second coming
he must be deposed in
celebration of veracity
for to honor this figment
of his own manufacture
is the worst blasphemy of all



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.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

EARTH LIGHTS

by Sally Zakariya


Artist's Conception of the Humanity Star from Cumbrian Sky.


Rocket Lab Just Launched a Disco Ball into Orbit—
And It Could Be the Brightest Star in the Sky 
Newsweek, January 25, 2018


In the Big War, I’m told,
they turned off all the lights
at night to fool the bombers

But now earth lights shine
out to space, tracked day
and night by some celestial
bird circling with a camera
tracing longitude and latitude
orbit by orbit, building a map
of where we light up, where
we outshine the stars at night

Our lights spill out like dirty
wash water from a pail
across a shiny clean floor
and now someone launched
a fake star into the sky—a
disco ball that will reflect
the sun’s rays back to earth

Humanity Star the makers call
their sparkling orb, and just like
the humans it was named for
this flashing star pollutes
the heavens, graffiti in the sky


Sally Zakariya’s Pushcart Prize-nominated poetry has appeared in some 70 print and online journals and won prizes from Poetry Virginia and the Virginia Writers Club. She is the author, most recently, of When You Escape (Five Oaks Press, 2016), as well as Insectomania (2013) and Arithmetic and Other Verses (2011), and the editor of a poetry anthology Joys of the Table (2015). A former magazine editor, Zakariya lives in Arlington with her husband and two cats.

Monday, February 05, 2018

SIX SIXTY-SIX ON TWO TWO EIGHTEEN

by Jill Crainshaw




Tricolor ribbons—red, green, orange—
Zigged and zagged down
Below the horizon as the sun
Slipped and slid up a frigid February trellis.

No erratic needle and thread could mend
The widening hole; Mr. Dow Jones
Squinted into metallic light—
dove for cover, not meaning to

Stir a beast long-burrowed in down under deeps.
What devilish poetry is this? Crows spread the
Rumor: winter candlesticks cast long shadows
And the hedge-hog, startled, returns to his slumber.


Author's Note: In a peculiar confluence, the Dow Jones lost 666 points Friday (2/2/18). Friday was also Groundhog Day and Candlemas (a day when some Christian traditions bless candles they will use for light throughout the rest of the year). Other Christians associate believe the number 666 to be “the sign of the beast.” My poem emerged out of this confluence of symbols and events.


Jill Crainshaw is a professor at Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, NC.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

DOWNTOWN COURTYARD

by Mike Bayles




A freezing rain coats the sidewalks
people from the city bus
clutching bags while going into the wind
the sound of a church bell at noon.

People from the city bus
walk from place to place to
The sound of the church bell tolling
for a long line to the free meal site.

A walk from place to place
people bear the weight of their lives
a long line at the meal site
a man on the park bench ignored.

People bear the weight of their lives
face a change of weather.
A man on a park bench ignored
dreams of better times.

Facing a change of weather
people go into a coffee shop, last dollars spent,
dreams of better times
shared by those in line.





Mike Bayles, a lifelong Midwest resident, writes about human connections with nature, different settings and with other humans. His most recent book is Breakfast at the Good Hope Home (918 Studio Press), a literary collage, that tells a story about a son visiting his Alzheimer's father in the nursing home.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

STATE OF THE UNION

by David Rosier


Cartoon by David Fitzsimmons

All shapes, all shades, all sense,
This winter day, lost in fog
In our deceived, defiled land
Still stolen by a demagogue.


David Rosier is a poet and author who lives in the small arts community of Spring City, Utah.  He is also a musician.

Friday, February 02, 2018

MEN WITH NO LIPS

by Tricia Knoll




I’ve learned to be afraid of them.
Someone is going to tell a lie.
Go after the drug peddlers, ignore
drug companies pumping opiods.
Refurbish Hotel Guantanamo
with used mattresses from high-rise hotels.
Breathe deep of clean, clean coal.
Pretend the sick get health care
or that your dreams are equal
to those of people without a country.
I'm never afraid to kneel
and know its rightness.

White guys who smile by folding
their lips in, straight lines across the face
to hide  the aging of the down curves
but not to show teeth. Some public relations
gimmick to refrain from being read as wolf,
predator, out to get you. Smuggy. Smirky.
Someone is telling a lie.  I’ve known frogs
I trusted more.


Tricia Knoll is an Oregon poet who once heard of an art installation by Robbie Conal called "Men With No Lips." So here we are in the news of the State of the Union. Men without lips.

"Men With No Lips" by Robbie Conal
"Can't Even" by Robbie Conal

Thursday, February 01, 2018

AMERICAN DAEDALUS

by Alejandro Escudé




America first, because I’m qualified to say American first. America first, as in the first crocodile. America first, as in the rich literary history of the United States. America first, as in Huck Finn killing the pig to cover his tracks. The estuary. America first, as in Chicago, Hog Butcher of the World. America first, Sandburg, Sandburg. America first, the red wheelbarrow again the wall there. The rising tide of America. And the woman rocking on the porch, the water rising. Flood waters in New Orleans. America first of the dress socks you wore to Davos. The helicopter rising amid snow you’d never know. Fuck you, fuck you. America first, of the Dodge Challenger that ran over the protestor. Did you know she was there, in front of your hood? Blood smears the shape of the continent? America first, the city on the hill. What hill? The city, you bastard, the one you saw from your New York City skyscraper. I remember sweaty mornings in the summer. Do you know what summer is? The sweat, sweat, sweat. And now, America first, where does your wife sleep? The house where Melania, goddess of the hunt, sleeps. Do the rest of us sleep, the ones that need the jobs? Do you know what a job is, hovering about the river? What river? Fuck you, the river, the river, the river. There is a dog barking in the distance. Do you hear that dog? Do you hear history knocking? The book that lies open on the coffee table, abhorred. How many us had to die. How many of us gave an open night just to earn a college education? By the time you’re forty you want to blow up the circuit before the circuit. The boss that gave you shit. The movie you fell in love with. So many Western reenactments. There’s the Civil War, the Vietnam War, then there’s Desert Storm, the war you grew up with. Now, there’s Fox News and Sean Hannity—sounds like a deadbeat Joyce character in Ulysses. The one who ignored Bloom and Daedalus and you wanted dead or pussy-whipped, same thing. I’m thinking of the dust storm in West Texas, was it really there? The doggy door I must shut to shut the doggy indoors. Will you feed him when I’m gone? No, you won’t? Then, what good are you? When I was twenty, my parents urged me to get my citizenship and I stood and put my hand over my heart. My heart? Doesn’t it make you laugh? It makes you want to scream “I am a dreamer!” And I am I guess, I have dreamed before. My son is blonde and he is ten-years-old. My wife is a “hell hath new fury” type of woman. A real feminist, if you know what I mean. But my father disapproves of my guns. He remembers grandfather back in in South America taking aim at the cats who murdered his pigeons, but he hates guns. I sit back and drink wine and wonder what happened to the man who would cut the moon in twain and then I recall there wasn’t such a man. I am that man! The sky is broken. The heat is coming. There is a street ready to take it all. There is a mind that has already moved beyond you. Somewhere, there is a liquor store open late. We walk into it and buy a six pack of beer. Something to drink before the dinosaurs burst into our room and we are too drunk to notice.


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.