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Saturday, June 30, 2018

CROSSING THE LINE

by Donna Katzin




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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Friday, June 29, 2018

DONALD HALL (1928-2018), CURMUDGEON OF CURMUDGEONS

 by Earl J Wilcox



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


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

Thursday, June 28, 2018

DISASTER TENTS

by Tricia Knoll


Getty Images via Daily Kos, June 26, 2018


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


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

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

by Roxanne Lynn Doty


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


Dear Migrants and Asylum Seekers,

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


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

WOW! HE TWEETS

by Ron Riekki




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


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

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

SENT HOME TO DIE: US IMMIGRATION POLICY IN 2018

by Barbara J. Clark


As a growing number of families are separated as part of the Trump administration’s attempt to control illegal immigration, some parents are being deported before recovering their children.. —Miriam Jordan, The New York Times, June 17, 2018. Photo credit Marian Carrasquero/The New York Times.


Someone has killed my husband and is trying to kill me and my children.
I run away from the killer and towards your home for many days and nights,
Because
I want to live and I want my children to live.
I know your home is a safe haven for us.
Exhausted and hungry we finally make it to your doorstep.
And knock on your door,
But you don’t answer.
We camp out on your front porch for many days and nights.
We knock on your door,
Every day.
But you don’t answer.
We are out of food and water and my baby is running a fever.
In desperation,
I enter your home through an open window.
I find you and tell you I have entered,
Whereupon
You tell me I am a criminal
Because
I entered your home through a window and not the door.
I try to tell you why,
But you won’t listen or don't understand my language.
Instead,
You put me in jail,
You kidnap my children,
You tell me I am a bad mother,
And that I should never have come,
That I should never have run from this killer.
The next day,
You stop kidnapping the children of those coming through the window.
Excitedly,
I ask you, "where are my children and when can I see them?"
You tell me you don’t know or care where they are.
That I should never have run from this killer.
And that I should never have come.
You tell me I am a bad mother,
And have lost my children.
You send me home
TO DIE.


Barbara J. Clark is a registered patent attorney with 24 years of experience drafting and prosecuting patent applications before the USPTO. She currently runs her own patent law firm in Ames, Iowa. She also enjoys writing picture books, social commentary and humorous memoirs. Last week, Ms. Clark, together with over 5000 other attorneys nationwide, signed up to volunteer through Lawyers For Good Government to help provide pro bono legal services to those seeking asylum. She will be training and working remotely on various activities, including immigration parole bond hearings and legal research and writing. She also signed up with the Dilley Project and will be going to Dilley, Texas in August, with an interpreter, to help prepare mothers (whose children are with them) for their “credible fear” interviews.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

KOKO AND THE BEAST

by Neil Creighton




This week, two stories.
One beautiful, sad, heart-rending.
The other?
Make up your own mind.

In one story an inflated emptiness
struts and preens in hollow vanity,
boasting of wealth and power
as his mirror audience
claps and cheers and chants

whilst the world fills with tears
from children of the poor,
hiding under space blankets,
their crying for their mothers

rising high above the clamour,
the lies and self-justifications,
the heartless mis-use of law and Bible,
the faux “I’m a mother and a catholic” outrage.

In the other story Koko,
the western lowland gorilla,
dies peacefully,
aged forty six.

Intelligent Koko,
who could sign 1000 words
and understand 2000.

Gentle Koko,
who, tired and near the end,
signed to her friend
“I’m getting old”.

Loving Koko,
who, though childless,
raised two kittens
and thought of them as hers.

Mourned Koko,
missed by Ndume,
who, arranging blankets around her body,
signed  “I know” and “Cry”.

Koko,
let me also mourn for you.
Let me praise you too.
Strange consolation
to know of life such as yours,
intelligent, simple and pure,
utterly without vanity,
a light in the darkness
of all the coiffed, self-serving horror
now strutting the stage of the world
and beating at the hollow chest
of its own vast emptiness.


Neil Creighton is an Australian poet whose work as a teacher of English and Drama has 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 and the tragedies involved in colonisation. His poetry has appeared in various places, both online and in hard-copy. He is a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual.

CIVILITY AT THE RED HEN

found poetry by Diane Elayne Dees


Photo found by shauna @goldengateblond


Tell me what you want me to do.
Lock her up! ‘Cause—f*ck you—
that’s why! Journalist-Rope-Tree
T***p That Bitch. Jew-S-A!
I can ask her to leave. They said ‘yes.’
String her up! F*ck Your Feelings
Hang the bitch. F*ck those dirty beaners!
F*ck Islam! Kill her!

I’d like you to come out to the patio with me for a word.
F*ck that n**ger! Hillary is a whore
Light the Motherf*cker on fire!
Hillary is the Devil
Execute her!
I’d like to ask you to leave.


Diane Elayne Dees' poems have been published in many journals and anthologies. Diane, a semi-retired psychotherapist in Covington, Louisiana, also publishes Women Who Serve, a blog that covers women's professional tennis throughout the world.

Monday, June 25, 2018

BECAUSE WE ARE HUMAN

by Kim M. Baker





Written on the Occasion of Pride 2018


I had hoped to compose a new melodic poetic sonata to all my sisters and brothers
Ls and Gs and Bs and Ts
theys and hes and Qs and shes
something glistening and soulful and proud

When what I really want to do is to tell the world this:
Don't tell me, world, that you understand what it must be like to be gay
if you haven't been spat on flipped off had bottles thrown at you
when all you wanted to do was go have a beer and a dance and a hullaballoo

I knew a woman once who documented the stories of Holocaust survivors
And during the training, she was told to never say I understand
Because, of course, she can’t
No matter the depth of her empathy
No matter how many survivors she knew

I want to tell the world:
please don't say you understand because you know someone gay
or watched a show or read a book or took skating lessons with a gay
I don’t need your understanding
What I need is your love

What I need you to know is that gays are spectacular and should be celebrated
not because we are different
but because we are human

We bleed we cry we eat we die of cancer of AIDS of broken hearts
of casting out from families and jobs and housing and other necessary parts of simply living

I mean what I'm trying to say is that gay is amazing and painful
gay is rainbow and see through and black and blue
gay is grace and good embrace and mixed race just like you

Andrew Garfield was correct in his Tony award acceptance:
“Let’s just bake a cake for everyone who wants a cake to be baked”
Not because we are different
but because we are human

Here, let me show you how human we are:

Who here has ever gotten up in the middle of the night to tend to a crying baby?

Who here has ever lost a loved one to cancer or had cancer yourself?

Who here was the class clown in school, ever felt like a fool, ever swam in a pool?

Who here has wished to be different to be normal to be accepted to be loved?

We ARE the world
cake bakers and techno babes
tattooed beauties and bookworms
rabbis and fly girls
families and rebel artists
one-breasted word whisperers and transgender tender hearts
chefs and gardeners
sun-screen wearing beach combers and nifty nude bathers
dog owners and horse riders
fire spinners and bicycle back packers
humble poets and foster parents

Michael Jackson was right
WE. ARE. THE. WORLD.
each gorgeous tortured struggling being

And if I want to be treated more humanely
I must practice the pride of authenticity
I must gift every person I meet with this greeting:

I see you
I see you
I see you

I am you
I am you
I am you

I’ll carry your burden
I’ll speak up for you
I’ll act on your behalf

My Muslim brothers
My prostitute sisters
My immigrant children
My world family of differently abled
struggling to be stable
unfairly labeled
with N words and C words and hate

Michael Jackson was right
WE. ARE. THE. WORLD.
And I will take my place in it
All that I am
All that I am
Just as I am


Kim M. Baker’s poems have been published online and in print and essays broadcast on NPR. Under the Influence: Musings on Poems and Paintings is her first book of poetry. Kim also edits the online poetry journal Word Soup End Hunger that donates 100% of submission fees to food banks nationwide.  A retired writing professor, Kim currently works in Administration at Cotuit Center for the Arts. Kim's play Gin and Ashes will be produced at Driftwood Players in Edmonds, Washington in July 2018. 

Sunday, June 24, 2018

IMMIGRATION HAIKU

by Patricia Carragon



@JanzforCongress


sunshine
becomes rain
tears flood borders

shame
works overtime
kids in cages

chain-links
can’t restrain
cries from within


Patricia Carragon’s latest books are The Cupcake Chronicles (Poets Wear Prada, 2017) and Innocence (Finishing Line Press, 2017). Patricia hosts the Brooklyn-based Brownstone Poets and is the editor-in-chief of its annual anthology. She is an executive editor for Home Planet News Online.

USA?

child


























                                                mother


Harold Oberman lives in Charleston, S.C.

BEHIND THE MASKS

by David M. Katz


AP photo via El Paso Times, June 17, 2018


Behind the masks each Halloween, there are
The kids who quiver for the candy corn.
They come out of the dark to the lights above
The lintels of doors both safe and terrifying.
There are some who are too small to knock
Even at a parent’s urging. They fear
The giant more than they want the sweets.
But most are brave enough to carry on.
For others, at the border, there are no
Such masks. For them, the shock comes suddenly
Out of the darkness, and the giants who
Lift them from their parents’ arms are too
Vast, too high, too formless to be seen.
This is a different kind of Halloween.



David M. Katz’s books of poems include Stanzas on Oz and Claims of Home, both published by Dos Madres Press. He’s also the author of The Warrior in the Forest, published by House of Keys Press. Poems of his have appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, The New Criterion, The Hopkins Review, and The Cortland Review.  He is currently working on a new poetry collection, tentatively entitled Money. He lives in New York City and recently retired after a 40-year career as a business journalist and editor.

PASCUA EN SONORA

by Vincent Hiscock


No Más Muertes photo


for No Más Muertes
who provide direct aid to migrants crossing the Southern Arizona border-region


i: water camp lunar eclipse

On the level. I couldn’t really
guess, a few random bits,
ground elements,
foreign parts arranged in a matrix.
Firepit, high wind, saguaro, basin,
petroglyph heatwave & a ring of mountains.
It’s a designated wilderness.

José rode into our camp last night—
lying flat in the pickup of a long time activist—
twenty years old & his third time crossing.
He’s from North Vegas & spoke my same
California slang, halfway along
a couple hundred mile walk to Tucson
that he’d already hobbled once with a broken leg.

A different orbit of a white-ringed sun
burns a round moon red
as it sets across the center
of the night side of the earth,
glaring against the eastern horizon,
setting a second sundown
that passes over us.
It’s a midnight mass
to paint the lintel of the world red.

ii: late morning to afternoon

Walking flood-lines & mule deer paths,
we scramble a creek when we find it,
looking for migrants; instead,
we find a niche in the escarpment
filled with votive candles, a faded
picture of a young man, Golgotha
Santa Maria, coyote-scattered-bones,
waterfall’s unlit halo in the air,
death’s-head invocation, Malverde icons,
a message from a mother to a dead son, Romo
with a sign of peace. I light a candle,
try to say a prayer. We decide we’ve gone
far enough & hike back toward the camp.

Coming out of ravine shadow, a blinding land
empties eyesight out & stuns,
white pain burns
to a plain of glimmering light & shade,
& settles down to a few residual rings
floating across my eyes.
Ghosted eyesight of a shaky-sweating skull,
desert dehydration, & dust frecked
across a scarred land. Holy circles
of my overheated head & a ridge of peaks
flicker transparent against the east,
& beyond my vision on all sides
this silt basin is hooped in
by hundred million year old granite masses,
diamondback sierra coiled into an aeon.


Editor’s Note: No Más Muertes (No More Deaths) is a humanitarian organization based in southern Arizona. It began in 2004 in the form of a coalition of community and faith groups, dedicated to stepping up efforts to stop the deaths of migrants in the desert and to achieving the enactment of a set of Faith-Based Principles for Immigration Reform. It later developed into an autonomous project. Since 2008 No Más Muertes has been an official ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson.


Vincent Hiscock grew up in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and the northern reaches of the San Joaquin in northern California. He recently received a MFA from Cornell University. His poetry is published in recent issues of The Cincinnati Review, Poetry Northwest, and Poet Lore and has been featured in A Poem a Day, an art book, in performances at the Institut für Raumexperimente, the Neue Nationalgalerie and in an installation at the Belgian art museum Mu.ZEE. He’s thankful for the counsel & comradeship of his mentor Alice Fulton.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

AMERICAN GULAG

by Robert Knox


 



Weep not for the family of Márcio Goulart do Nascimiento
who crossed the river for fear of being murdered by the neighborhood drug house
     in Brazil, 

where police told him, 'if you complain
you will be killed.'
For now they are safely jailed in Texas, Marcio and his wife in one place,
his two children somewhere else in the American gulag,
convicted of infringing on the peace and security
of the great Land of Liberty
because, as he himself confessed, "I did not wish us to be killed."

Weep not for Juan Francisco Fuentes Castro, fleeing the violent streets
     of El Salvador,
who sought only, he plead ("may it please the Court")  to bring his children to safety,
for surely they are safe now behind bars.
Some day, perhaps, he will see them again.

Nor weep for poor José de Jesús Días of Mexico,
who fails to understand why the court cannot tell him
where his daughter is.
And so he alone will not accommodate the Court with the obligatory guilty plea
until someone can tell him where in this land of freedom
they have placed her, safe behind bars.

For it is a simple thing, is it not, to declare one's guilt
for wetting one's feet in the sacred waters of Destiny's Dividing Line
in order to preserve the lives of one's own family members?
The Madonna would understand. The Savior would understand.
The judge too sympathizes, but his hands are tied by the bonds of Liberty.
Weep not for José de Jesús Días, for he is patently 'illegal.'
His daughter too is illegal,
but now no doubt safe in a place made of bars and uniforms,
among the tribes of lost children.

Nor let us shed our tears for the sufferings of Elizabeth González Juárez,
who alone among so many, knows where her daughter is.
She crossed the River of Tears from Guanajuato, Mexico,
to protect from harm a three-year-old child, abused by her
drug-dealing father,
and sought the healing Balm of Gilead in the home
of her own mother who dwells among the kind and peace-loving souls
of Fort Worth, Texas.
Alas, the Land of Liberty could spare no refuge for one single infant more
upon a camel's back of three hundred million souls,
and so delivered the child straight into the hands
of her rightful, family-abusing, drug-dealing father.
It is the American Way.

Weep not, I say, for the 17 defendants dispatched by the Court in
an hour-plus session, finishing in time for lunch.
All are guilty.

But in the quiet watches of the night,
lend a thought for a thousand children, and yet a thousand more
(by unofficial count) young minds and hearts below the age of legal consent
ripped from the arms of their parents in a few weeks' time
on the strength of a Liberty-abusing Demonic Decree.
How many more victims, both old and young,
lie in separate hells
among the thousands denied refuge in the Home of the (no longer) Free?

Now is the time for your tears.


Author’s Note: Names and other facts taken from The Guardian.


Boston area writer Robert Knox is a contributing editor for the online poetry journal, Verse-Virtual, in which his poems are regularly published. They have also appeared in journals such as Every Day Poet, Off The Coast, Houseboat, and Yellow Chair Review. His poetry chapbook Gardeners Do It With Their Hands Dirty was published in May 2017. The chapbook Cocktails in the Wild followed this spring.

ELEGY FOR MY AMERICA

by Lucille Gang Shulklapper




In this day of callous indifference,
in this day of sudden summer storms,
a little girl desires heart-showers,
seeks pillowed teardrops and yearns for

her beloved mother, in
this America we once valued,
now resting on balconies
built from stone,
once built from trees
with sheltered awnings.

She seeks the endurance of thought,
now ripped and torn
from their moorings.

What America wants and wanted,
sleeps the fitful sleep of near death.
Newborn birds call in her night.
Full-blown flowers die in her sun,
and America’s child is nobody’s child
when another’s child is buried
in hardened soil,
in cages and mylar
blankets of the unnamed.

Cry my beloved America,
as you struggle to shovel the dirt
to cover yourself. Silence falls
sharply. The greed of your shovel
buries you. Rest in peace.
Thoughts and prayers
are with you.



Lucille Gang Shulklapper's poetry and fiction have been anthologized and appear in numerous literary journals as well as in five collections of poetry and a picture book Stuck in Bed Fred.  Having written since she was six, but never published until she turned sixty, more than two decades ago, she urges her six grandchildren and many of her students to read and remember Langston Hughes' poem “Dreams”.

Friday, June 22, 2018

KINDERNACHT

by j.lewis


Rob Jacobs Artist


there are no shards
no shattering glass this time
only the shattered lives
the small voices begging
"donde está mi mama?"

breaking windows would be
clichéd, a dull repetition,
a cheap imitation of an old trick
but this, this breaking of families
the splintering that leaves
sharp, heartless, cutting edges
shredding those tiny hearts

"we take them to the showers"
the lies roll easily off tongues
devoid of human conscience
devoid of basic decency
why not just tell the truth
"vamos a matarlos"

boxcars are replaced with
abandoned big box stores
warehouses converted to hold
not goods, but alleged "evils"
as if a year old toddler
could be evil before he can speak
evil before he can walk

this is the path we condemned
this is the hate we fought against
the tyranny our fathers bled to halt
the destruction that we so arrogantly
swore would never come again

and here it is
in the land of the free
the night air thickened
by children's cries of terror
as AMERICA THE GREAT
pulls a blanket of darkness
over this unholy night
this carefully calculated
cruel and cowardly

kindernacht


j.lewis is a father, a grandfather, a healthcare provider who is sickened by the treatment of immigrants at our southern border, especially the children, and who sees too many parallels not to be frightened for what may yet come. His first collection, a clear day in october, pairs his poetry with his own photography.

ZOMBIE

by Howard Winn


‘Donald Trump may have signed an executive order to end the separation of families at the southern border, but his administration is not making any special efforts to immediately reunite the 2,300 children who have already been separated from their parents under his “zero tolerance” policy.’ —The Guardian, June 21, 2018. Photo: A tent encampment in Tornillo, Texas, to house immigrant children. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images via The Guardian.


The ghost of Goebbels creeps
through the edges of our current
landscape as he whispers lies
again and again until the innocent
believers think they know it is
the truth and although the ghost
swallowed the cyanide with his
wife after murdering his children
with poison in the temporary
defeat of his deceptions and lies
which seemed to have a life of
their own because it is too easy
to believe what the weak want to
believe to give them faked strength
as the powerful gain even more
power and cash as they delude
the defenseless and have no empathy
for the fragile and vulnerable
since winning the unequal struggle
is all that matters to the bigoted
no matter the wounded and their pain


Howard Winn's novel Acropolis is published by Propertius Press. He has poems in the Pennsylvania Literary Journal and in Evening Street Magazine.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

KINDNESS

by Mary K O'Melveny


José, 5, carries with him a drawing of his father, whom he has not seen since they were separated upon arriving in the United States from Honduras. —“The Daily,” The New York Times, June 20, 2018. "And the president’s order does nothing to address the plight of the more than 2,300 children who have already been separated from their parents under the president’s 'zero tolerance' policy. Federal officials said those children will not be immediately reunited with their families while the adults remain in federal custody during their immigration proceedings. "—The New York Times, June 20, 2018


Some of us are always trying to be kind.
Even in smallest ways.  Even as the known
world self-destructs around us, shards of
optimism falling from the sky before we even
have a chance to look up to see what has
shifted us off our comfortable axis.

I’ve got a chipmunk problem in my yard.
The tiny furred creatures have popped up
everywhere, sending showers of dirt
into the air like it was Yellowstone.
I cannot kill them even though I want to.
They will not leave even though I have raged

at them, insulted them and their ancestors.
My neighbor brings a have a heart trap
so I can remove them kindly.  He baits it with
peanut butter.  Soon the trap has a frightened
occupant.  I cannot bear to look out for fear
of crying.  The prisoner is soon relocated.

The trap is replaced.  A new chipmunk takes
the bait.  He too is repatriated to a new territory.
Capture and repeat.   The metal trap looms larger
each day as an unending array of innocents are
tempted by creamy nut paste.  Soon enough,
I begin to worry about babes left behind in tunnels,

about mothers and fathers  grieving for lost children.
One day a chipmunk plants itself on my deck
and looks in through the window.  My kind self
huddles behind the blind.  I will not make eye contact.
This is the humane way, I say to myself, even as I begin
to imagine each trapped rodent wearing an orange

jumpsuit as interrogators gather nearby with pen
and paper waiting for the inevitable confessions.
One night, the trap is sprung, its detainee freed from
house arrest.  I am thrilled.  Then I learn that a bear
has likely done it.  Probably thanked me for the easy meal.
Now I am lost in my worst fears.  There is no kindness in my yard.

How could I have thought otherwise?  This is how
it always begins.  Good intentions vanishing
like some dying star,  rationalizations
reverberating across celestial centuries.
Turns out it is our unwavering belief
in our self-righteousness that is the trap.


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.

CRUELTY HAS A HUMAN HEART

by George Salamon 


Border Disorder by Jen Sorensen, TheNib, June 20, 2018


William Blake illuminated poem.




God has vanished and
Man still corrupts,
Building monuments to greed.
As he prospers, things
Die without a sigh.
Children cry, their tears
Bear witness that something
Has died without a cry.
What Phoenix can rise
Out of cold ashes
From soil planted with hate?







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

MAGICIANS

by John Kaprielian




Illusionists use tricks
and deception
lies and distraction
to delight
us with their
feats of impossibility
but we know they
are not sorcerers
or wizards
but subtle and artistic
con men whom
we allow to
twist our perception
to bewilder and amuse.

The magicians have
taken over
and conjurors run amok
making children
disappear and
bending the laws of
nature and man
to perform their
sickening sleight of hand
turning babies into pawns
women into whores
and men into criminals
with a wave
and a word.

But illusionists must
guard their secrets
hide their tricks
or the curtain falls away
and we are embarrassed
and ashamed
by just how easily
we allowed ourselves to
be led
to preposterous
conclusions.

Expose their secrets
and their lies
the tricks of their foul trade
the woman sawed in half
is quickly mended
the family torn
apart
will never
ever
be the same.


John Kaprielian is a Russian linguist by training and has been employed as a photo editor for three decades. He has been writing poetry for over thirty-five years; in 2012 he challenged himself to write a poem a day for a year and in 2013 published the 366 poems in a single volume, 366 Poems: My Year in Verse. He has also had poems published on The Five-Two Poetry Blog and in the anthology Live at the Freight House Cafe. His poetry ranges in subject matter from the natural world to current events and politics to introspective and philosophical themes. He lives in Putnam County, New York with his wife and son and assorted pets.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

THE LULLABIES FALL SILENT

by Janet Leahy


'Trump administration officials have been sending babies and other young children forcibly separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border to at least three “tender age” shelters in South Texas, The Associated Press has learned. Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the Rio Grande Valley shelters described play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis.' —The Guardian, June 20, 2018


In the detention center
there are no lullabies for the eight-month-old infant,
for the two-year-old  girl, for the young boy
calling out for his Papa, his Mama,
for the child who has memorized
his auntie’s phone number, and pleads
to call her, so she can come and take him home.
No one sings behind the chain-link fence,   
no one reads “Good Night Moon,”
or hugs a child as darkness settles,
but in detention, darkness never settles,
lights stay on all night . . .
No one cradles a crying infant.
No one recites “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”
still they wonder where . . . the lost parents are.
There are no groups singing rounds
of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,”
children remember crossing the Rio Grande
in a boat too crowded, too cold, too wet.
No one intones “Are You Sleeping, Are You Sleeping”
because all one can hear is children weeping.
No one sings “Hush Little Baby,” yet little babies
do not hush, without a mother or father near.
All the while the king is in his counting house
counting out his money, the queen is in the parlour
eating bread and honey.
And the lullabies
fall silent.


Janet Leahy is a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. Her ekphrastic poems have appeared in several art exhibits throughout the state. Her work has been published in the Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar, Midwest Prairie Review, in many anthologies, literary journals and online at My Daily Poem, TheNewVerse.News, and Blue Heron. She has published two collections of poetry. She enjoys working with a host of poets in the  Milwaukee-Waukesha area.

IN FIFTH GRADE HOME EC

by Megan Merchant
"The Art of the Hostage Negotiation" by Pia Guerra, TheNib


“Look what you made me do has emerged as the dominant ethos of the current White House.” —Jessica Winter, “The Language of the Trump Administration is the Language of Domestic Violence,” The New Yorker, June 11, 2018


I was taught how to microwave an egg, to transform
fabric into a skirt that fell well below my knees, but also

how to mend a tear, a fractured wing, a black eye. I pricked
my finger with scissors when it came time to cut out ads from

glossy magazines & construct the female body as nest. They
said to fill it with prayer, which hums the same as obedience.

Mine held a mixing bowl, silk scarf, pearls. I learned that
the joke about broken bones ends with—next time that bitch

better listen. I learned that some laughter requires permission,
but also how to pad & hide the red they kept calling fault,

while the boys next door sawed wood into loud splits just
so they could pound them back together, and when the nail

bent from too much force, they took turns saying look what

you made me do.


Megan Merchant is an Editor at Comstock Review. Her most recent book Grief Flowers (Glass Lyre Press) will be coming into the world this summer.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

NOT MY SON

by Anna M. Evans




McAllen, Texas, June 2018


Last night a woman crossed the Southern border—
heat haze and scrub, to armed men with blank faces
and rumors of a presidential order.

She had a baby with her who adored her
and sang him lullabies of safer spaces
last night. This woman crossed the Southern border

leaving her town of ruin and disorder
because she trusted others knew what grace is,
and hadn't heard the presidential order.

She didn't fear the men who came toward her,
explaining she would be one of their cases
last night. This woman crossed the Southern border

and begged asylum. First, the men ignored her,
then warned the women to stay in their places
while they enforced the presidential order.

No mi hijo! the refugee implored, her
stricken mind confused by legal phrases.
Last night a mother crossed our Southern border.
We took her son by presidential order.


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.

Monday, June 18, 2018

PLANET HELL’S VERY LAST SUPPER/DEATH MATCH

by David Spicer




Smiling, smoking a licorice cigarillo, the Devil commissions Picasso to paint the Very Last Supper’s megalomaniac orgy, a delegation of twelve lunatics vying for Daddy’s attention. Chairs fill, arguments continue, Hitler at one end of the table opposite Beelzebub, Mussolini to the left of the rectangle stash, Stalin scouting Siberian gulags in his head, Idi squealing like a butchered pig. There’s Mao at his side, chomping on a ribeye. They don’t impress Satan, he’s seen it all, he’s their God they love, the Ayatollah and Rasputin arm wrestling, betting a fruit pie against a lemon cake. And there’s Manson with Putin, followed by a pedophile pope. Just arriving, the two newest members, T***p and Kim, known as T***pkim, slap each other on the back, shake hands for two minutes before the Breezy Bully yanks his mitten from Kim’s vice-grip fist and says, Hey, bud, that hurt. Kim says, Don’t be a Dotard, turd. BB says, I don’t like you anymore, Kimmy. The dictator laughs louder than his pin-stripe suit, grabs Breezy Bully’s red tie, twirls him against the barbed wire cage, waits, drop kicking him, bounces on the bully’s big belly with his big belly, ole Lucifer slamming his huge hand on the flaming floor, One! Two! Three! And the winner is . . . Rocket Man! The vanquished President whines, That’s not fair. He cheated. The bad boys boo, Pussy! Pussy! Grab that Pussy, Kimbo! Mussolini barfs. Hitler screams, Death to the American Weasel! Helter Skelter! Manson shouts. I’ll hear his confession, the holy man whispers. Kim grabs a frat paddle, smacking his former fat bro on the ass, Hahahahahahaha. Mao and the others echo Kim. Hahahahahahaha. Suddenly Stalin jumps on the table, shouts Shuttttuppp!! and grabs the loud loser by his small ears, slams him on the table, scizzors his head with yellow boots: Stay down, do-dad, stay down. Do dad bawls. Everyone laughs. Putin says, You’re with the big boys now, Banana Breath, but we’ll toughen up your pink punk butt. The audience of liberals and me-tooers cheers so deafening the world explodes.


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

SERAFINA'S CHOICE

by Jennifer Lagier


Just released by border patrol @CBP showing the McAllen, Texas detention facility that we were allowed to tour today.  For now, we can only rely on what they give us. They will not allow us inside to film on our own. Why? “Privacy”; they don’t want faces shown. —@DavidBegnaud


"I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for His purposes." – Jeff Sessions


Vindictive politicians cloak cruelty
with misinterpreted bible quotes.
Modern-day storm troopers
rip children as young
as breast-feeding infants
away from their desperate mothers.

Private contractors reap the rewards
of warehousing innocent captives.
Predator-in-Chief and his craven enablers
use families as bargaining chips
in a cynical, racist game
of immigration bill chicken.


Jennifer Lagier has published fourteen books, co-edits the Homestead Review, helps coordinate Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium readings. Newest books: Scene of the Crime (Evening Street Press), Harbingers (Blue Light Press), Camille Abroad (FutureCycle Press), Like a B Movie (FutureCycle Press). Forthcoming: Camille Mobilizes (FutureCycle Press).

Sunday, June 17, 2018

LETTER BY LETTER

by Bill Meissner



That morning of my tenth birthday, I expected
a game, comic books. Instead,
my father lowered an American Heritage Dictionary
into my open palms,
told me he’d give me a small allowance
if I’d learn the definitions from A to Z.
I felt the weight of the book, its embossed leather cover
holding in those 225,000 words.

Caught in the middle of Iowa,
I knew nothing of aardvarks or zzyvas.
So each night, instead of watching TV,
I leaned close to the gold-leafed pages,
studying definitions that often eluded
me, meteors that glowed a few seconds
in the dome of sky before they faded.

     I can picture him now, after work at the used car lot,
     his beige dress shirt creased like the lines in a county map.
     He’d lean back on his La-Z-Boy in the den,
     paging through the latest National Geographic,
     marveling at the ancient mariners who navigated by the stars.
     As a young man, he dreamed of jumping on a freighter
     to ports in Anchorage, Buenos Aires, Caracas.
     Instead, he got a steady job. Instead,
     he wanted his son to learn the world,
     letter by letter, and then
     go there.

Months later, I gave up at F.
I even skimmed some of the blurred pages
just to get all the way to that failure,
then slid the dictionary into a mute dresser drawer.

Dad, I’m sorry. The universe was just too big for me
and I grew away from those words.
But I’m finding them now, years later, for this poem.
Here they are:  each one
like the light from a small, distant
star, finally reaching the earth.


Minnesota writer Bill Meissner is the author of five books of poems.  His forthcoming book of poetry The Mapmaker’s Dream will be published in early 2019. "Letter by Letter" will appear in that collection.  Meissner is also the author of two books of short stories and the novel Spirits in the Grass.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

THE NEW WORLD

by Barlow Adams





It’s not my birthday
but they bring me cake,
a rainbow bearing my name
with candles like lighthouses
on a multihued shore,
welcoming me to safe harbor.
What a beach,
what a holiday we have discovered,
a paradise prescribed through 
HR interventions, signs saying
love is love, we are all one,
Life Gets Better Together.
We get tomorrow off for the parade.

I face the flames, 
wax runs with my mascara
sizzling like sugar.
Caramelized callousness, 
calls back the heat in my shoulder
where a cluster of circles remembers where
my father used to snuff his Pall Malls.
A fag for a fag, here’s a flag
I claim this land, you scallywag.
And none of these brave explorers of equality,
in business casual and formal apology,
realize that they are not the first to arrive,
that I am not an undiscovered country.


Barlow Adams is the author of two novellas. His poetry has been featured by Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel and Dos Madres Press, and is set to appear later this year in formercactus and Finishing Line Press.

Friday, June 15, 2018

THE TROUBLE WITH YESTERDAY IS THAT IT'S NOT TODAY EVEN IF IT PLAGIARIZES YESTERDAY

by Dianna  Mackinnon Henning



Palestinian protesters near the Gaza-Israel border. YnetNews


it won’t be the same. The ironic bay window tires
revealing the picturesque—several fruit trees, aspen and
a roly-poly hillside marred with wildflowers. Shades are
more than pulled blinds. All those Palestinians shot
down. Windows break because they’re glass. Flesh is
not iron. It never will be nor does it aspire such. A young
boy’s boomerang is no weapon. They’ll kill him anyway.
Yesterday’s headlines announced hope. The trouble with
hope is that it shifts positions. Yoga doesn’t mean the body
bows like a field of wildflowers in a bilingual downpour.


Dianna Mackinnon Henning holds an MFA in Writing ’89 from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work has appeared in The Moth, Naugatuck River Review, Lullwater Review, The Red Rock Review, The Kentucky Review, The Good Works Review, The Main Street Rag, California Quarterly, Poetry International, Fugue, 22 Wagons, South Dakota Review, Trag, Hawai’i Pacific Review, and The Seattle Review. A three-time Pushcart nominee, Henning has taught poetry through California Poets in the Schools. The William James Association’s Prison Arts Program  gave her the opportunity to teach poetry at Folsom and other CA prisons. Henning’s third poetry chapbook Cathedral of the Hand was published in 2016 byFinishing Line Press.

ASYLUM

by Thomas R. Smith




   Why does my country so often stand
   On the side of the mean and the cruel?
           —Ed Sanders, "Nicaragua"


Sometimes I think these recurring dreams
of insecure wandering aren't personal
at all, but the world dreaming through me.

Again last night, I had no bed, searched
a strange town with darkness falling.
Our country has strayed so far from that

young and fearless prophet it professes
to worship.  Kidnapping children from their
parents at the border, making criminals

of asylum-seekers.  A Honduran man
separated from his wife and child by ICE
kills himself in a cell described as a "kennel."

Does the man who calls himself President
and the cowards and bullies who enable
him really believe they can have power

without responsibility?  The five
percent feeding on forty percent of
the planet arms itself to keep the starving

away from the table.  So we drift toward
our destruction, uncaring, cruel, refusing
to enter into a human future.

In dreams we are relentlessly pursued,
can find no place to lay our heads in this land
of the Ego, the Dollar, and the Holy Gun.

In time our bad faith will make our nation
a prison, in which we serve our sentence
not for having killed, but for having killed

not for survival but for luxury.



A Honduran girl cries as her mother is search and detained near the U.S. Mexico border on Tuesday in McAllen, Texas. Credit John Moore/Getty Images via Slate, June 14, 2018


Thomas R. Smith is a poet and teacher living in River Falls, Wisconsin. He teaches at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. His most recent poetry collection is The Glory (Red Dragonfly Press).

Thursday, June 14, 2018

A CHILD'S PASSPORT

by Rick Mullin
Illustration by Dan Carino for PRI.


Before the monster went away, I told her,
little boys and girls were fingerprinted,
photographed, required to pledge allegiance
to the flag and quizzed on history
at gunpoint in a room without their parents.
All to see how they would hold up under
torture and to gather data points
required to follow every move they made.
Of course I reassured her things have changed,
despite the uniforms and bullet-proof
enclosures for the customs officers
and soldiers and the yellow paperwork.
I told her not to worry when they called
her name. To just let Daddy do the talking.


Rick Mullin's newest poetry collection is Transom.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

LUNCH MONOLOGUE

by Harold Oberman




The A-1 China Super Buffet lacks knives
And we are no longer the leader of the free world.
I’m not sure what disturbs me more.
I imagine an incident at the buffet,
A butter knife attack long ago,
And the owners swearing off the utensil,
Or a loutish mule at the G-7 Summit
Bucking in invective, stamping his wingtips,
Flaring his nose, and bolting for Singapore.
Certainly, the butter knife attack I made up—
It’s probably a cultural thing, allowing forks
Instead of chopsticks is as far as they’ll bend—
But the leader of the former leader
Of the free world is somehow real
And we can’t take his knives away, not yet,
And he’ll be at the feed trough braying for his steak
Well-done, gums exposed, totally uninformed
That mules usually eat hay.


Harold Oberman is a lawyer and poet working and writing in Charleston, S.C.  Most Mondays he can be found at the A-1 China Super Buffet.

Monday, June 11, 2018

ABECEDARIO

by German Dario


“Foster Care or Whatever” by Pia Guerra at The Nib


todos los nombres

child a
came from central american country x
wearing dust
from three countries
and the sweat of his ancestors

child b
came from central American country z

           we think

she was too young to speak
but the twig
she had in place
of the left arm
on her doll
is from a tree
that grows in country z

child c
was just a foot and chancla
wrapped in a serape

child d
was raped
          repeatedly
wants to die
but crossed a line
and got picked up

child e
is running
from
a new family
a gang that tattooed
their brand
on virgin skin
and killed the mom

child f
had a good
hardworking clan
but they were taken
in a van
and closed doors
don't explain
   anything

child g's clothes were on child h

I
           do nothing

child m and n
might be related
by blood
if not by blood
by abuse
from a coyote
with candy
gun
and putrid
acid tongue

o
p
q
r
s

todos los nombres
now
all are safe
behind
fence link
dreamcatchers


German Dario, recently published at The Friday Influence and The Blue Collar Review, resides in Arizona.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

CAN QUIET STILL CREATE SOUND?

by Mary K O'Melveny


Palestinian protesters take cover from tear gas, Kibbutz Nahal Oz, Israel-Gaza border, June 8, 2018. CREDIT: JACK GUEZ/AFP via Haaretz.


Hamas has a new array of tactics—violent protest, burning kites and the occasional rocket—to preserve the fire of resistance. While it's uncertain the situation will escalate into military conflict, Hamas alone doesn't decide —Haaretz, June 9, 2018.


Quiet will be met with quiet
said the Israeli officer
and violence with a response
that is appropriate.  Of course
one’s ideas of appropriate
vary widely depending where
one stands.  Rock throwers raise their arms
and lose a leg to rifle fire

based on orders given in private
to fearful soldiers, not philosophers,
who find themselves ensconced
on exploding hills.  Which side is worse,
they have no time to debate.
In moments of silence, they may stare
out at youngsters running toward harm’s
way, lobbing missiles even higher,

wonder what zeal makes them try it,
despite the odds, when a pause occurs
in mortar rounds.  Their nonchalance
is almost thrilling, their voices hoarse
with fury.  Decisions to expropriate
ancestral lands haunt them as they stare
across barbed wire, imaging farms
on hillsides that fuel their ire.

Is anyone willing to defy it,
to announce, when a pause occurs,
that forgiveness is what he wants,
that harm’s antidote might be remorse?
Instead of blood for blood opiate,
perhaps such visions might be shared,
words of peace to close down alarms
before sounds of silence expire.


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.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

LAST SUPPER

by Paul Smith





Richard Corey went out to eat
crossed the bridge over the canal
from the Old Quarter
followed a dark street
where suddenly appeared
a place brightly lit
where laughter, grub and cheer
were served
in a room full of shadowy silhouettes
‘What’s good in here?’ he asked
the waiter
‘Wait here’ he said
and brought the chef
a sober man
who told him
‘Not the White Gazpacho’
‘What then?’
‘Not the Osso Bucco’
‘What then?’
‘Not trying to make up for lost time’
‘You, then, chef of chefs’
Richard Corey took the chef’s hand
walked him down the dark street
crossed the dark bridge
over the dark canal
and had dessert


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.

Friday, June 08, 2018

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: GODDAMMIT

by George Salamon


Shafiqullah, 13, is one of seven children from an extended family wounded in the blast of a rocket left behind after a battle in Afghanistan. Credit: Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times


It was a cruel day, even by the standards of Afghanistan’s long war. By nightfall, four were dead, including Jalil, who had tried to save them all and died at a hospital that night. One 4-year-old girl, Marwa, lost both her twin sister, Safwa, and their mother, Brekhna, who had been nearby making dung cakes for fuel. One of Brekhna’s nieces, a 6-year-old, was also killed in the blast. Seven survivors—three brothers and four of their first cousins—were left to bear the weight of those losses, and more: Every one of them lost a leg, and two lost both. —The New York Times, June 3, 2018


Missiles fly over villages
Of houses and children.
One landed below, picked  up
By a child it exploded in a fireball of
Blood and screams,
Of corpses and severed limbs
And savaged lives.
It happened in a tiny spot
On the map, far away from
The centers of the global economy
And to people who have
No wealth to manage.
There was the usual silence before.
There will be the usual silence after.


George Salamon lives in St. Louis, MO,  where children are occasionally caught in the crossfire of gunfights.

SHIPWRECK OFF THE COAST OF AFRICA

by Eswer El Cubadi


At least 52 people died after a boat carrying around 180 refugees and migrants sank off the coast of Tunisia on Saturday. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is deeply saddened at this latest tragedy in the Mediterranean Sea and is concerned about the high number of people dying on the Central Mediterranean route with over 700 dead or missing so far in 2018. —UNHCR, June 5, 2018; Meanwhile, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini (in photo) says he will stop migrants trying to reach Europe via Sicily. – EPA pic, June 4, 2018.

            "Can I escape from fell Charybdis and ward Scylla off?"
                        —Homer, Odyssey, Book 12, Lines 115, Odysseus to Circe


At Sfax, the news was horrible—five dozen dead—and more,
near to Kerkennah Island off of north Tunisia's shore.
Increasingly the human traffickers launch people from
Tunisia, now that Libya is tighter than a drum.
The boat was packed with migrants fleeing Africa to be
free from the lives they do not like for hope in Italy.
But, o, alas, the relatives of those who learned the worst,
their souls, like Dido's when Aeneas left her, are accursed.
But further off, up north, Salvini said at Sicily,
"We will no longer be the camp for Europe's refugees."