Guidelines



Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at]gmail.com. No simultaneous submissions. Use "Verse News Submission" as the subject line. Send a brief bio. No payment. Authors retain all rights after 1st-time appearance here. Scroll down the right sidebar for the fine print.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

SHIP OF FOOLS ON A CRUEL SEA

by George Salamon




It was later than I thought when I first believed you, / Now I cannot share your laughter, Ship of Fools, —"Ship of Fools," The Grateful Dead, Lyrics by Robert Hunter

April Fool's Eve, 2018


Self-made darkness
Drawing us down
In a vortex of
Psychic disturbances,
Confusion of values,
Flight from consciousness,
Devaluation of knowledge, and
Abandonment of reason.

Led by a rising economic elite
With disdain for morality,
Egocentrism at the core of character.
Its heart chained to management wisdom,
Lacking passion and compassion
To grasp the human condition,
Ill-suited to struggle with our crisis
Of equality, fraternity, and hope.


George Salamon, who lives in St. Louis, MO, arrived in the United States in 1948 when, as the song says, America's bottles were still "filled."

FOR PITY'S SAKE

by Robert West





Unharden, Lord, this heart and teach it, tear
          by tear, till it contrives
to pardon those who sneer
          at all these children begging for their lives.


Robert West lives in Starkville, Mississippi. His poems have appeared in Light, Poetry, Still: The Journal, Alabama Literary Review,  American Life in Poetry, and other venues. Co-editor with Jonathan Greene of Succinct: The Broadstone Anthology of Short Poems (Broadstone Books, 2013), he's also the editor of The Complete Poems of A. R. Ammons, published in two volumes in late 2017 by W. W. Norton.

Friday, March 30, 2018

PORN AND POLITICS

by Alejandro Escudé


Judith Bernstein, “President” (2017), acrylic and oil on canvas, 90 x 89 1/2 inches at the Paul Kasmin Gallery via Hyperallergic.


You mustn’t mean what you say, in the sex biz.
If you say, “ooh,” then it isn’t really an “ooh.”
If you say, “We have to keep our schools safe.”
You don’t mean, “We have to keep our schools safe.”
There’s no safety in numbers; just one svelte set
Of impregnable laugh lines—and the strength
To sweat out the entire scene, bulbous and sharp.
So the masters meet the masters in Las Vegas,
And, secretly, who could possibly avoid to watch?
The search tallies her hits to a million a month.
The money rolls in for being sexy in a certain way.
Oh to be Evita Peron’s corpse, whom the general
Was hired to guard! One might hear the squelch
Of the dictator’s hands being sawn off, the splash
As Hart Crane’s body in the steely Caribbean.
She made it her own; she says her name is Stormy
For a reason. There are many reasons I suppose.


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.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

RULING CLASS

by George Held


Left: Cameron Kasky, Photograph by Rhona Wise / AFP / Getty via The New Yorker, Feb. 23, 2018.
Right: Bethany Garrison, Photograph by Sharif Hamza, The New Yorker, Mar, 26, 2018.


The Parkland Kids have made
the cover of TIME: new
icons of a teen-mad age,
out to change the world,
or at least U.S. gun laws.

There’s barefoot Jaclyn,
buzzcut Emma, and the boys:
Alex Wind, Cameron Kasky,
and David Hogg, chairs of the board
of The Stoneman Douglas Survivors

and so far Kevlar impervious
to competitive envy,
so far without endorsements
(will they appear in ads
as a group or individuals?).

Even their motto, “Never
Again,” has brought no protest
from those who use it to resist
the Shoah: Whose slogan is it?
Which will happen again first?

But the Survivors’ suburban faces
ricochet off the teens with guns
in the pages of The New Yorker:
rural, poised, resolute, responsible
owners of shotguns, handguns, AR 16’s,

practicing where “shooting
felt as common as skateboarding.”
Whichever side you choose,
Americans, how will you accommodate
both law-abiding groups?


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

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

THE TARIFF

by Philip C. Kolin


Image by Mark Sumner, Daily Kos.


We live in a land of limits;
expanses have been deleted


from the perforated pages of our history.
People way back could breathe more.


Fresh air was not a negotiable item then.
Flags were cleaner, too.


And when the country was crafted,
we rejoiced in different names


to be filled with syllables
from around the world.


Our borders were elastic—
and broad-hearted America stretched beyond


a continent. And into the horizon.
We offered settlers so much


distance. We're shriveling
now into a walled street armory

of tight fists, deficits, and elected misfits
who want to put a tariff


on spacious skies.


Philip C. Kolin is the University Distinguished Professor at the University of Southern Mississippi where he also edits the Southern Quarterly. He has published more than 40 books on Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, African American playwrights as well as  seven collections of poems. His most recent book  is Emmett Till in Different States: Poems from Third World Press.

Monday, March 26, 2018

ME TOO WHO

by Rebecca Street





How can it be a little lass of nine
Should feel such guilt and fear the threat of hell?
Too young to name his cruelty a crime
Too damaged and coerced to ever tell.

Me too
Time’s up
So what
Shut up

Rosy cheeked girl who works to find a way
For her sweet child to have a better life
Could not afford to lose her job that day
Besides her mother’s cousin is his wife.

Me too
Time’s up
So what
Shut up

The bashful boy with pimples on his face
Could run like lightening so his coach did say
This dear one’s "yes sir" followed every race
With sleepless nights and silent tears by day.

Me too
Time’s up
So what
Shut up

Will justice for the few forever reign
While numerous nameless suffer such pain?


Rebecca Street is the author of You Can Help: A Guide for Family & Friends of Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Assault and the online program for survivors You Are Not Alone. She is also an actor and a poet. She has addressed both lay people and professionals at a wide variety of venues including the NY Office of Mental Health, the Fordham Graduate School of Social Work, and the University of CA., Santa Barbara. On April 4, she will be the keynote speaker for "Take Back The Night" at The Juilliard School.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

#ENOUGH HAIKU



Sari Grandstaff is a high school librarian. Her work has appeared in TheNewVerse.News and other print and online journals. In March 2018 she has one of her haiku displayed just a few short blocks from the White House. She lives in the Catskill Mountains/Mid-Hudson Valley of New York State.

FOR EMMA GONZALEZ

by Anna M. Evans





This girl looks like a younger Joan of Arc,
whose mission, burning in her, was the spark
that helped to light her nation in the dark.
This girl looks like a younger Joan of Arc.

Her mission, burning in her, is the spark
that kindles the crowd to chant, Never again!
The NRA can’t stop this hurricane.
Her mission, burning in her, is the spark.

The crowd is solid, chanting, Never again!
They’re marching with their families for our lives,
and for the dead, whose spirit still survives.
The crowd is solid, chanting, Never again!

We’re marching with our families for our lives,
led by this girl, a younger Joan of Arc,
showing us all the way to leave our mark:
by marching with our families for our lives.

This girl, though young, is like her: Joan of Arc.
Her mission, burning in her, is the spark
to light and lead our nation out the dark.
This girl’s a heroine, our Joan of Arc.


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.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

I FLAUNT MY "F" GRADE

by Tricia Knoll






Fumed.
Fussed at folly.
Feeling firebrand-ish.
Flabbergasted and furious.
Formidable at finger-pointing.
Fixed, firm and fretted.
Fault-finder.
Fireproof and flinty.
Family-oriented.
Friendly to school kids.
Unflinching
Finally,
NRA: keep my F rating
in your book. I know it’s in
the big book at end of days,
the one that counts.
Finis.


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. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

SHURBAJI'S SHIRT: CARRYING NAMES FROM A SYRIAN PRISON

by Bonnie Naradzay



Mansour Omari smuggled the strips of cloth bearing his fellow-detainees’ names by sewing them into the collar and cuffs of a shirt. Photograph by Miriam Lomaskin / US Holocaust Memorial Museum via The New Yorker.


Omari “said to them, ‘What do you think if we write the names of all the people, since we can’t memorize all of them?’” he told me. “Of course, they said yes.” —“Written in Blood and Rust from a Syrian Prison: ‘Don’t Forget Us’ by Robin Wright, The New Yorker, December 19, 2017


When they called my name, I grabbed Shurbaji’s shirt.
It was blue and white striped. He was saving it
for his wedding as soon as he could get out
but he gave us his shirt to smuggle our names.
The tailor honed a chicken bone for a quill.
Shurbaji, the other journalist, was skilled
at handwriting, so he etched the names on strips
of cloth. We made ink from rust scratched off cell bars,
mixed with blood that Omar slowly collected.
Making the quill a needle now, the tailor
pulled the threads in Shurbaji’s shirt to embed
the strips of names inside the cuffs and collar,
replaced the threads. Omar the tailor is dead.
The first one called out takes the shirt. When I heard
my name I grabbed his blue and white wedding shirt.
They transferred me to another underground
prison and still another. I saved the shirt.
Sweat blurred some names by the time I was released.
My love, we are coming back. Don’t forget us.
Our group of five shared a space of three floor tiles.
Still unfolding in the news, the dead, the names
of all eighty-five of us, sharing space in there.
She learned that Shurbaji died after three years
In prison and terrible beatings. My love,
My love, we are coming back. Shurbaji sang.
He’d kept the shirt in prison for the wedding.
Don’t forget us. My love, see the names. His shirt.


An all-too-truthful mash-up of two photos from Eastern Ghouta, Syria.



Bonnie Naradzay’s poems have appeared in New Letters, Tampa Review, Tar River Poetry, Poet Lore, JAMA, Pinch, Passager, Innisfree, The Guardian, Seminary Ridge Review, Anglican Theological Review, Split This Rock, TheNewVerse.News, and others.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

AMERICA

by Gil Hoy


Image from Acropolis Restoration Service
The stones
of the Acropolis

Are mighty stones,
Weighty stones

Some cracked,
Others stained

Stones of time, tribute
Majesty and merit

Set upon higher ground. 

Blue-gray stones set
Above the sea,


Above the hill
And then the world


They are like
what we imagine
Democracy might be


Majority rule,
Minority rights

Free, fair elections
Cooperation,
Compromise.

Blue-gray stones
set above the world
to remind us

That
 democracies
have flown, 
are fleeting.

The stones 
of the Acropolis 

Are mighty stones, 
Weighty stones


Set upon higher ground. 


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.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

MESSAGE FROM FRIDA KAHLO

upon learning Mattel is producing a Barbie Doll in her image

by Tracey Gratch


Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair by Frida Kahlo. Barbie® Inspiring Women™ Frida Kahlo Doll.


Banal attempts at re-creation fail.
What minds would mold me, plastic, sweet and frail?
I’ve eclipsed your constructs, circumvented your ideal;
My likeness etched in psyches, read like braille.
Though capitalistic plots may garner some appeal—
I muse at this pale folly; truth lies in detail.


Tracey Gratch lives just south of Boston with her husband and their four children. Her poems have appeared or are scheduled to appear in publications including Post Road, Mezzo Cammin, The Literary Bohemian, Annals of Internal Medicine, Boston Literary Magazine, TheNewVerse.News, and The Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine. Her poem "Strong Woman" is included in On Being A Doctor, Volume 4, from the American College of Physicians.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

THE BLOOD HAS STAINED OUR STREETS SOMETHING BAD

by DeWitt Clinton





Something is out there, and we’re all just a bit
Terrified of what’s going to happen next, but
What in the heck can we do about something
That we can’t even see when it’s coming about
To slash and twist us about so turning us into
Just about everything we’ve never ever wanted
To be, or even not be, and it’s just awful the way
Some of us know that it’s pretty hard to stop
What we don’t want, or grab at what we do
By crying out loud, or even whispering, but
Some suggest we find all our sleeping masks
And look around in the kitchen for kitchen knives
And run outside in the dark which is darker
Than we’ve ever known, but now we’re slashing
And stabbing and hoping one of those we
Think we’re gutting will be what’s started us
All into the panic we’re in, even on such a
Cold night in the smack dab middle of March
And we don’t want to make too much of it
But we do go out in the morning to see if any
Can find any blood splatters, anything that
Might let us know we’ve once again shaken
The cry baby who keeps us all up late at night,
Twittering and tweeting scaring the whatever
Out of us, but now we can rest a bit until the
Next blowhard makes a mess of something
Out there, which is really here, where we are.


Poems of DeWitt Clinton have appeared recently in Santa Fe Literary Review, Ekphrastic Review, Diaphanous Press, Meta/Phor(e)Play, and The Arabesques Review.  A new book collection of poems On a Lake by a Moon: Fishing with the Chinese Masters will be published in 2018 by Is A Rose Press, (Jerusalem) and a second book collection At the End of the War will be published by Kelsay Books (Hemet, Calif.) in the fall of 2018. He lives in Shorewood, Wisconsin.

Monday, March 19, 2018

MADNESS

by T R Poulson


Nevada looked like its NCAA tournament was going to come to end Sunday in the second round. But after trailing by 22 points in the second half, the Wolf Pack rallied to beat the Cincinnati 75-73 and advance to the Sweet 16. Nevada’s stirring comeback – the second-largest in tournament history – came just two days after the No. 7 seed rallied from 14 points down in the second half to beat Texas for its first NCAA victory since 2007. “Nothing feels better than this,” Nevada coach Eric Musselman said. “Nothing. Sweet 16!” —USA Today, March 18, 2018


A snow hiker finds fifty-four hands: frozen hands, unfettered hands,
gnarled hands, grisly hands, bloodstained hands, dissevered hands.

So many cats:  cougars, bearcats, panthers, tigers, wildcats
pounce on blue jays, bulls, highlanders with their weathered hands.

A thundering herd evades the cowboys’ ropes, pursued by shockers,
those pesky prods pressed to haunches by men’s leathered hands.

The quakers fight, their weapon, inner light, as those jayhawks
swoop and fly, yellow beaks like iron, wings like feathered hands.

Even friars shake in fright, as lawless aggies bare their whips
and guns, no honor to men bound to God with forevered hands.

From myths, the titans from old kingdoms rise to snuff out fires
of boilermakers, crush the torches, hammers of endeavored hands.

Will the gods send hurricanes to spin and drench and swirl,
to tame all claws, talons, hooves, with wind’s untethered hands?

But wait.  Imagine the wagging retriever, prancing, dancing.
He takes the bone from cavaliers’ unwilling, levered hands.

We’re in the madness.  We back our pack of wolves who dodge
the long, curved horns.  The bearcats loom.  We lift together-hands.



T R Poulson, a Nevada Alum (yep, I proudly sign my ghazal with support for my Wolf Pack. Her work has appeared in Rattle, Alehouse, Trajectory, Wildcat Review, The Meadow, Verdad, The Raintown Review, J Journal, and Tuck Magazine), currently lives in San Carlos, California.  

Sunday, March 18, 2018

LIANG XIANGI AND I

by Devon Balwit



She rolled her eyes, and then she was gone. Liang Xiangyi, who raised her eyebrows and turned away from a fellow journalist who was asking a servile question during China’s choreographed National People’s Congress on Tuesday, has not been seen or heard from since. —The Sunday Times, March 17, 2018


Don’t you roll your eyes at me, young lady!
my grandmother would thunder, underscoring
her message with a smack of a firm palm
against my cheek. Fake-meek, I lowered lids
against hot embers and dumped my dirty dishes
in the sink. I’ve still not learned, giving in
to the eye roll just the other day when confiscating
the exam of a young man who swore
he wasn’t cheating even though his phone screen
glowed with the very words being tested.
Or when Rubio faulted Obama’s relaxing
of discipline for our most recent spate
of school shootings. I wasn’t alone
in registering disbelief at the bad faith,
eyes looping like memes. It’s hard to give
nothing away, disgust ripe in one’s nostrils.


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

Friday, March 16, 2018

PRESIDENTIAL BOWLING




David Feela writes a monthly column for The Four Corners Free Press and for The Durango Telegraph. A poetry chapbook, Thought Experiments, won the Southwest Poet Series. His first full length poetry book The Home Atlas appeared in 2009. His new book of essays How Delicate These Arches released through Raven's Eye Press, has been chosen as a finalist for the Colorado Book Award.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

7000 PAIRS OF SHOES

by David Spicer





You rest on the Capitol lawn

silent as the senators and congressmen

who ignore you and your former owners
you’re there protesting inaction and corruption

your owners’ names on placards near you
stay on that ground as long as you can

call for your owners to resurrect from the dead
to inhabit you to haunt the bought and paid for politicians

who blame mental illness local cops
unarmed teachers anything but the weapons

yes let their invisible feet wear you again
fly into the sky an invisible insurrection of gentle avengers

every time you see one of the lawmakers strolling down
Pennsylvania Avenue or the steps of the granite

gun church tell the ghosts to slap one of them
on his head knock some compassion into his apathy

perform aerial demonstrations guided by the ghosts
of the 7000 children and of teachers concertgoers,

dancers housewives grandmothers bus drivers
7000 pairs of you all colors and kinds red sneakers brown

slippers blue high heels yellow loafers white crocs
remain together escape from the hired sanitation workers

paid to collect you gather by the Potomac don’t let them
find you and diminish your power no transform your cloth

skin your rubber soles your canvas faces your leather toes
into new life defy science defy reality band together perform miracles

speak for the dead speak for their ghosts speak for future ghosts
oh shoes what will become of you don’t let them take you away

don’t let anybody dump you in the latest landfill and forget about you
whisper shout mutter sing yell into enough ears of enough saviors

who will pick you up and save you for another demonstration
on another lawn at the capitol of a state until you convince

the crooked men with their crooked souls and their crooked suits
to do something to do anything to stop stop stop their crooked silence

until you find more and more shoes thousands of more shoes hundreds
of thousands of more shoes who will join you and join an army

that cannot be stopped an army of 7000000 ghosts of 70000000
ghosts of victims who cannot speak anymore cannot laugh anymore

cannot run anymore cannot enjoy a day with cousins at a picnic on a lawn
much like the capitol lawn cannot return the smile of an infant

because two of the shoes are hers cannot think of a time
when guns didn’t exist cannot live in a land of guns any longer


David Spicer has poems in Chiron Review, Alcatraz, Gargoyle, Reed Magazine, Raw, The Ginger Collect, Yellow Mama, PloughsharesThe New Verse News, The American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. He is the author of Everybody Has a Story and five chapbooks; his latest chapbook is From the Limbs of a Pear Tree, available from Flutter Press.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A SINGLE SPECK OF STARDUST

by David James Olsen





inspired by the film The Theory of Everything and dedicated to Stephen Hawking ... "who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space through images juxtaposed." (Allen Ginsberg, "Howl")


what twists and turns create the burn that makes the heart’s intones?
what organizing force infuses courage in our bones?
what questions help us quest to truths of how we do exist?
what answers satisfy the dark allowing light, sun-kissed?

a single speck of stardust that comprised him from the start
gave Hawking humble genius-sparks endorsing his own chart
of new galactic concepts none before had dared to breach,
of how the seasons stretch in space defying standard speech.

and facing such a fatal future from an early age,
he forced himself to move his mind to think outside the cage
impounding human theories bound by knowledge found on Earth.
he broke the mold of sanctioned mass, thus causing a rebirth

inside the field of physics where professors marveled more
at how his bright endurance conquered paralyzing odds
than at his hot hypotheses that came at last to bore
through scientific lenses lacking stabilized tripods.

deteriorating muscle strength could hardly stop his flow
of fiery radiation-thoughts and populated spheres
outside our milky, wayward mindsets curbed by what we know,
of places past the brink of time, beyond our pointless fears.

determined, clear persistence reigned till, sev’nty-six, he passed,
his focus never quitting quantum gravity at all,
his wit most sharp, intact until his heartbeat played its last.
study his work for ages so his star shall never fall.


Author’s Note: This elegy is specifically structured with seven rhythmic feet per line and six stanzas so as to represent the awe-inspiring age of 76 to which Hawking lived.


David James Olsen’s iconoclastic and encrypted poetry has been published in various sources including InstigatorzineThe South Townsville micro poetry journal, and three previous times here on TheNewVerse.News. A New Yorker juggling myriad passions, he is currently most focused on intensive poetic study and writing while gracefully diving into increasing vegan activism.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

SO SUE US

by Judith Terzi


People protest outside a speech by U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions on Wednesday in Sacramento, where he admonished state politicians for not cooperating with federal authorities on immigration enforcement issues. (Noah Berger / AFP/Getty Images via the Los Angeles Times, March 7, 2018)




Oddly, we (sort of) welcome the Trump administration's legal challenge in hopes that it will clarify not just for state officials, but for the federal government where the lines of responsibility and culpability might lie. We suspect the courts will side with California on most if not all of the legal issues Session's lawsuit raises, and in the process could underscore the reality that California's menu of state and local laws limiting involvement with federal immigration enforcement do not offer anyone anything remotely like sanctuary. —Los Angeles Times, March 7, 2018



Enjoy your Tuesday dinner at $35,000+
a head in Beverly Hills. If you have time,

Mr. Pres., explore SoCal culinarily. There's
an Indian place up the street from your shindig

called the Spice Affair. But beware. You don't
need more tsuris. Their chicken tikka masala

is excellent. Or try their saag aloo, potatoes
simmering in a spinach curry. Instead of

checking out prototypes of prejudice, try some
pork or beef enchiladas at El Portal. You can

have two, plus rice and beans for under $15.
Let's see, would you order black beans or frijoles?

That might be a tough choice. Or try camarones 
a la diabla. That's shrimp in a spicy red sauce.

Very close to the Mexican place is a Salvadorian
hole-in-the-wall delight. Do you know what

a pupusa is? It's not what you're thinking. If
you've got more time, stop by Saladang. It's close

to Beverly Hills. Have you ever tasted pad thai
or ginger chicken? And what about fried calamari?

That's our fave. BTW, you can have two scoops
of ice cream there. Yes, vanilla, if you don't like

ginger or mint tea. But if you want chocolate sauce,
you'll have to cross the street to Kabuki, where

all the sushi chefs are either Korean or Mexican.
So sue us!


Judith Terzi is the author of Casbah and If You Spot Your Brother Floating By (Kattywompus). Her poetry appears or is forthcoming in journals and anthologies such as Caesura, Columbia Journal, Good Works Review, Main Street Rag, Raintown Review, Unsplendid, and Wide Awake: The Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond. Her poetry has been nominated for Best of the Web and Net. Museum of Rearranged Objects will be published by Kelsay Books later this year. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

TEACHER MINERS OF WEST VIRGINIA

by Alejandro Escudé


The victorious strike by teachers in West Virginia did not only result in a long overdue pay raise. With the exuberance of a nine-day teach-in, the teachers and their supporters have taught the nation a compelling lesson on the historical role of a true resistance. Taking to the streets, picketing on the sidewalks, and charging into the Capitol itself, the strike turned the public commons into a counter space for “we the people.” One by one, the roughly 20,000 teachers in West Virginia essentially forced lawmakers – and the nation – to stop our daily routine and address the growing education crisis on the terms of those most devoted to ensuring the best outcomes for our children: our teachers. —The Guardian, March 10, 2018


The teachers are digging for coal;
They pour out of the mines, dark-drenched,
Unimpressed by the earth’s time tables,
The maps colored outside the lines.
They are heading home from the mines.

The teachers have received the cables
That mark their pay; their fists are clenched
Even grading papers, their precious ore
A losing industry. As the work clock chimes
Apocalypse, for health they pay the fines.

The teachers breathe fumes of a Stygian shoal
As they sail on—confused, wrecked and bled,
Their career an entanglement of labels.
Of their day’s take nothing survives.
They’re servants to the ironies and declines.

Like prophets, they cluster countless Babels,
Their clothes contain the prints of our kindred.
Yet, where gratitude should be, there’s a hole.
A relentless grind, their minds like stripped mines,
For expenses overdue, for quarrying lives.


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, March 11, 2018

LOSING TIME: MY LAST JOG ON A CARIBBEAN BEACH 

by Bill Meissner




via GIPHY


The watch slipped from my wrist and dropped
to the sand, burying itself. Retracing
my footprints, I couldn’t find it, though I searched
and searched, my palm skimming the beach
like a metal detector.

Home from vacation, I wonder who might
find that watch, wonder
what lonely, homeless beachcomber—years from now—
might idly sift a handful of sand and

discover it. Would the watch be
silent, its cracked face filled with grains that seeped in,
little by little, smothering the two luminous hands?
Or would it still be ticking away in some other time zone,
each sweep of the second hand like a wave
smoothing a distant shore?
If he held it to his ear, like a spiral seashell,
could he hear the azure roar of the ocean inside it?

If I could replace something, it wouldn’t be
the watch I lost. Instead, I’d retrieve
a minute, an hour, a day or two, a month,
even a whole year. I’d retrieve
a few friendships, the blurred mistakes I’ve made,
the faces that faded from the family photo,
an afternoon of tender touching. I’d recover

those moments that passed
while the grains
in the hourglass fell
and fell
in a line so thin and steady I could hardly tell it was moving.


Bill Meissner is a teacher/writer and the author of four books of poems, two short story collections, and a novel Spirits in the Grass which won the Midwest Book Award.  He lives in Minnesota.  Visit his Facebook author page.

A PSALM FOR REQUIEM LIVING

by Jill Crainshaw



“Call for the wailing women to come.”

                Jeremiah 9

she wails
raw voice keening
fists pounding wild winds
chest-cracking sobs
sucking storm-weighted air
for breath

we thought we could live forever
under this steely sky-scraping canopy
if ideas and institutions

would just refuse
to become dinosaurs

did we forget—
our species
inhabits a house of
long-dead dinosaurs

(who mastered the tricky
art of survival
a hundred times
longer than we have)
—so far

she crashes against
a jagged shoreline
mad beauty
digging sandy shallow
graves for wordy lyrics
never enfleshed in song—

grandpa’s wet eyes
look skyward
as his beloved lies dying in
their wrinkled marriage bed

while he harvests her favorite
spring peas from a
fresh-furrowed garden
one more time

—if i could paint on the horizon
all the love i’ve known in my life
i would need a
bigger sky—


she falls silent
anger retreating
sun alighting silver-winged
on salt-saturated sands
an uncertain balm in
this gilead

when we buried her
he wept
as the church choir
encircled her burial plot and
music and mourning
linked arms to rise
up from the earth
and weave
a hopeful hem onto
the grief-worn
fabric of the firmament



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

Saturday, March 10, 2018

A FOLLOWING

by David Feela


Cartoon from HubSpot at Mashable.


If you like me
I promise
to like you.
If enough of you
follow me
a social platform
will emerge
constructed of
digital timbers
sturdy enough
to hold the weight
of a million
similar minds.
We don’t have to be
indistinguishable,
so long as
you approve of
what I say.
I don’t know
where you live
or even have
the time to find out
but truth conforms
to no geography.
Let’s just say
it’s sufficient
that our thoughts
are linked. 
Connect me
with others
and we’ll grow
a constituency.
Like me.
We’ll be a multitude.


David Feela writes a monthly column for The Four Corners Free Press and for The Durango Telegraph. A poetry chapbook, Thought Experiments, won the Southwest Poet Series. His first full length poetry book The Home Atlas appeared in 2009. His new book of essays How Delicate These Arches released through Raven's Eye Press, has been chosen as a finalist for the Colorado Book Award.