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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

“STRANGE FRUIT” SINGS ON


by Renea McKenzie


Nia Wilson Had Big Plans. Then She Was Killed in a BART Station. —The New York Times, July 25, 2018




When I get up in the morning and see the news. When I get up in the morning and see the same, not-new news. The same horror. Again. Again. Again. Again. Again. God. WHERE IS JUSTICE? WHERE IS PEACE? How do we carry on. Make sense of the world. Speak light into darkness. When there are no words or strength left for already-been-said, tired-of-being-on-repeat disquisition

we need the steel, stone, wood, and fiber forms of those who create. Bridge to what ought to be. With gates made of mirrors. Help us to see. Look directly at reality we’d rather romanticize, rationalize, make up: blackface or whitewash.

We white-wash to hide. Same old shame-pride. We don’t know our own story. We don’t know. We don’t know we don’t know. We question the wrong things. Why do they still sing that same old song? Billie, Nina, Diana, Dee Dee, Jill. Sing on.

Will we learn to listen? Learn still. Like a seed that lies in blood-soaked ground. Dies to grow.

I hope. I hope.

I hope so.



Renea McKenzie holds an MLA in Literature from Dallas Baptist University and an MA in Humanities from the University of Texas at Dallas. A Texas native, Renea’s work often reflects the intersection of faith and protest and, somewhat similarly, the way north-Texas wildlife stubbornly adapts to the sprawling city.

Monday, July 30, 2018

SHE IS SIX

by Anuja Ghimire

“Separated from her mother by T***p’s zero-tolerance policy, the child was forced to sign a statement confirming thatshe understood it was her responsibility to stay away from her abuser.” The Nation, July 27, 2018


I hold my daughter
as she leaves 
me to become mine
Before she crawls on my skin
After colostrum
Before she knows white of moon
After she touches red of sari
Before she sleeps to fields of gold
After her hair comes down
Before one dent of dimple above her mouth
After wet umbrella of her eyelashes 
Before she loses first diamond in her jaw
After her raw gum
After babies leave Sandy Hook 
After children leave Marjorie Stoneman Douglas
After mothers leave borders but infants stay
Before I am her home
After she walks with my heart
to the door, backyard, seat beltless yellow bus
I hold my daughter 
after she always returns mine


A published author of two poetry books in Nepali as a young girl in Kathmandu, Anuja Ghimire moved to Dallas, Texas after finishing college and continued writing poetry. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, she lives with her husband and two little girls near Dallas and works as an editor in the e-learning industry.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

ON FACEBOOK

by Anton Yakovlev





On Facebook, cats have been deemphasized.
We only see them from our closest friends.
You think they swarm you, but you’d be surprised:
on Facebook, cats have been deemphasized.
The bots climb trends. Cambridge has analyzed
our timelines dry. Here come the flaming hands.
Where are the cats? They’ve been deemphasized.
O, let me see them. Let them be my friends.


Anton Yakovlev is from New Jersey. His latest poetry collection is Ordinary Impalers (Kelsay Books, 2017). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Hopkins Review, Amarillo Bay, Prelude, Measure, and elsewhere. The Last Poet of the Village, a book of translations of poetry by Sergei Esenin, is forthcoming from Sensitive Skin Books.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

AFTER HELSINKI

by Robert West


President Trump chaired a meeting Friday of his most senior national security advisers to discuss the administration’s effort to safeguard November’s elections from Russian interference, the first such meeting he’s led on the matter, but issued no new directives to counter or deter the threat. —The Washington Post, July 27, 2018. Cartoon source: Dayton Daily News.


Lower and fold the flag, my friends, assign it a sacred drawer:
to fly it now would only mock the good we’d flown it for.

And don’t repeat that noble pledge we said each day at school,
till we’ve regained our self-respect and fired that fascist fool.


Robert West's poems have appeared in TheNewVerse.News, Poetry, Light, and other venues. His latest chapbook is Convalescent (Finishing Line Press in 2011). The editor of The Complete Poems of A. R. Ammons, published by W. W. Norton in 2017, he lives in Starkville, Mississippi.

Friday, July 27, 2018

AFTER THE FIRE IN WASCO COUNTY, OREGON

by Penelope Scambly Schott


The Wasco County, Oregon Substation fire, which burned up thousands of acres southeast of The Dalles, is 92 percent contained.  —The Oregonian, July 24, 2018. Photo by Beth Nakamura.


In the midst of his 3,000 acres of ruined wheat
he stands with a pad and pencil.
The red-tailed hawks who swooped for rodents
have all departed the county.
The dog who has followed him out to the fields
frantically licks at her paws.
He has just 72 hours to file his claim for crop loss
while the black dirt still smolders.
This was promising to be a great year for wheat.
Now he tallies defeat by the bushel.


Penelope Scambly Schott, author of a novel and several books of poetry, was awarded four New Jersey arts fellowships before moving to Oregon, where her verse biography A is for Anne: Mistress Hutchinson Disturbs the Commonwealth received an Oregon Book Award for Poetry. Several of Penelope’s books and individual poems have won other prizes. Her individual poems have appeared in APR, Georgia Review, Nimrod, and elsewhere.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

THE INTERPRETER’S TESTIMONY

by Rebecca Starks



“I shall be there when the wave has gone by.”
–Marianne Moore


How to put it . . . I don’t remember,
I doodle, I’ve done it since grade school—
pencil lines meaning one mood                     
or another, today vague,
yesterday wave; once friend,
now drug. Go ahead,

subpoena the narrow-ruled pages,
make what you can of the illuminated margins.
An eagle gutting a goose, a savage
spiral, a millipede uncurling,
a mushroom in the rain . . .
who’s to say it’s not shorthand for boredom?         
Besides, I’ve burned them.

In the moment it’s like psychosis,
you forget to notice
the voices never surprise you
unless you’re corrected—then it sticks
for a day or two. With them, the introductions,
Mr Man-of-the-Road—sorry, Mr Street-Smart—
shaking hands with Mr Exemplary—
sorry, Mr Winner—and I
the magician’s saw pulled one way
then the other, like the tide, Truth
the lady with the flexible spine.

What couldn’t I tell you
in confidence, which enjoys such nuance
in both tongues, including itself
and its opposite, which is how they sat,
as one must to feel attraction, or not,
Mr Winner offering to remove my jacket
and Mr Street-Smart asking,
was my necklace made of rawhide.
Otherwise I was invisible.

I was the vodka neither touched,
the puck sliding past bodyguards,
the shadow behind the lattice,
the fish hiding under stones,
the poet’s living and buried speech,             
the old man’s marlin stripped by the sea.
I was manly and hangdog, flattery and threat,
throat-clearing and chuckle and gleam,
collar and cufflink, the shakedown
comparing watches . . . I was there.

Do you think it matters what was said?
What was agreed upon?
You can hear it in the question.

When my son was two,
someone asked, watching him play,
Don’t you wish you knew what he’s thinking?
I laughed. He looked at shoes
and said Shoes, he looked at me
and said Up, he looked at nothing
and said More. A cup turned upside down
has no bottom. In truth

I was superfluous—
the two men spoke the same language,
every exchange translating roughly:
You could be useful to me. And also to me.

Though at one point Mr Winner spun a coin
saying In God We Trust, and when I was at a loss
Mr Street-Smart suggested ne doveryat' nikomu,
which means, more or less, go in peace,
as nevedenie means deniability.

Which reminds me that near the end
when I translated freedom, Mr S-S corrected, “freedom”—
as one parent might answer a child, forever
and the other, indefinitely.

What would I say? What wouldn’t I?
What is paranoia but whistling in the dark?
Or, if you prefer the Russian, ostentatious optimism?


Rebecca Starks lives in Vermont. She has poems and short fiction appearing or forthcoming in Baltimore Review, The Hopper, Crab Orchard Review, Ocean State Review, Tahoma Literary Review, Slice, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of Rattle’s 2018 Neil Postman Award for Metaphor, and her manuscript is a finalist for the 2018 Richard Snyder Memorial Publication Prize. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

BE CAUTIOUS

by Ron Riekki


“Thumbs-Up,” by Barry Blitt / The New Yorker cover July 30, 2018


                    My French girlfriend says,
                    “Your President loves all caps,
                    especially dunce caps,”
                    loves to yell,
                    to scream in fifth-grade language

               as if everything is a storm,
               as if he’ll make porn-$ize money
               if all hell breaks loose,
               as if we can’t lose,
               as if hell

          has no empty space,
          as if we all won’t suffer
          if suffering
          becomes the ring
          we must wear,

       where his words are slapped together
       like
       WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY
       and
       the threat

               of
   NEVER, EVER THREATEN
   and
   in the mall
   my girlfriend points

and says,
“Look, it’s Trump”
and I ask what she means,
And she says,
“An escalator,

that’s what he does.”
Except this escalator
is broken
and she doesn’t even have to say
how much more fitting this is.


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).

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

HE SAID, HE SAID

by Edmund Conti
Image source: Shapeways


Did I say would, well I meant wouldn’t.
Did I say could, well I meant couldn’t.
Did I say should, you know I shouldn’t.
You heard right, but I meant left.
You heard daft, but I meant deft.
Did I say NATO was a joke.
Of course you know that I misspoke.
Did I just praise the sickle and hammer.
No I didn’t.  Just bad grammar.
Did I just give away Alaska.
You heard wrong, it was Nebraska.
I’m sorry for the things I said.
Perhaps  I should have stood in bed.


Edmund Conti's poetry may be meaningless, but he means what he says.

Monday, July 23, 2018

THE CANDIDATE

by Aaron Poochigian




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

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

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

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


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

Sunday, July 22, 2018

DOLICHOVESPULA MACULATA, or THE BALD-FACED HORNET

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

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

Beware the bald-faced liar.


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

Saturday, July 21, 2018

A FIRE IN WINTER

by Mark Tarren




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

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

arch back through the shoulder
of time.

The cold is cloaked
in the warmth of fur coats

and the rivers are now
walked upon as roads

with mist from the words of

these men.

Pasternak. Pushkin. Tolstoy.

Gloved hands that quilled
the papers of

samizdat. The shared secret parchment.

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

the dying embers of truth.

Shall we burn down the dachas
in Peredelkino?

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

Across the ocean
the firewood of history burns

these men.

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

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

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

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

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


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

Friday, July 20, 2018

AMERICA BREAKS

a modified abecedarian by Susan Vespoli



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


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


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

Thursday, July 19, 2018

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

by Liz Ahl 





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

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

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

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

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


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

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

WHERE IS THE SERVER?

by Lisa Vihos


Image source: @axios


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

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

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

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


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


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

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

TWO NEW NEWS BROADCASTS

by Alice Twombly






                      I
The Evening News: July 4, 2018

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

                            II
The Midday News: July 16, 2018

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


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

LYRICS FOR TREASON DAY, JULY 16, 2018

by Michael Brockley


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


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


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

RUSSIAN FELLOWSHIP

by David Feela


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

so does the American public
occupy its bench
in perfect contemplation

of the moment.
Then Democracy quietly rises
without speaking,

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


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

Monday, July 16, 2018

REVERSALS

by Terese Coe





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

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

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


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

Sunday, July 15, 2018

SONG FOR PATTI

by John Azrak


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


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

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

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

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

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


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

Saturday, July 14, 2018

TIMEOUT FOR PROGRESSIVES

by George Salamon


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





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


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

Friday, July 13, 2018

TRADING FLESH FOR METAL

by Austin Davis



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


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


I.

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

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

II.

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

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

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

III.

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

IV.

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

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

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


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

Thursday, July 12, 2018

BY THE RIVER

by Jan Steckel




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


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

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

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

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

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


Jan Steckel'poetry book The Horizontal Poet (Zeitgeist Press, 2011) won a 2012 Lambda Literary Award. Her fiction chapbook Mixing Tracks (Gertrude Press, 2009) and poetry chapbook The Underwater Hospital (Zeitgeist Press, 2006) also won awards. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Scholastic Magazine, Yale Medicine, Bellevue Literary Review, Canary, Assaracus, and elsewhere. Her work was nominated three times each for the Pushcart and Sundress Best of the Net anthologies, won the Goodreads Poetry Contest three times, and earned various other awards.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

OPERATION SARAH

by Matt Witt


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


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

There were 139 words or phrases.

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

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

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

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

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

And “Sarah.”

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

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

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

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

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


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

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

RESCUE EFFORT

by Catherine D’Andrea 


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


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

Rushes of
familiar blood
move
with atrial
ventricular
compulsion.

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


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

Monday, July 09, 2018

THE PETITION TO END THE RUSSIAN DANCING BEAR ACT

by Tricia Knoll


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


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


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

THINKING ABOUT MANNERS

by Mary K O'Melveny


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Sunday, July 08, 2018

ON NOTICING HOW MANY PRO-LIFE MEN ARE SMOKERS

by Julie Steiner




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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