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Friday, August 31, 2018


by Linda Lerner

what the politicians & others don’t who
haven’t heard them scratching at their doors,
                         screamed when they looked out and
kept screaming after the bears, who’ve
come to warn them, are gone. 
And  isn’t it pretty to think so?

The bears don’t mean us harm when they come
into our backyards, dig in trash cans,
peer into open car windows looking for food,
the bears aren’t thinking about us at all;

If they 🐻 could create emojis we’d see
the sun filtered through dust particles,
small fires 🔥 starting up, 😰 teary eyed
bewilderment at the browning grass, lack of berries,
and bugs, a hotter, dryer climate

We’d see a human face through a bear’s,
now one, then the other

Source: EarthJustice

Linda Lerner's A Dance Around the Cauldron, Lummox Press, 2017 is her most recent collection. She is the author of Yes, the Ducks Were Real and Takes Guts and Years Sometimes (NYQ Books) and a chapbook of poems inspired by nursery rhymes, Ding Dong the Bell Pussy in the Well. She previously published thirteen collections of poetry and twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her next collection, tentatively called, Taking the F Train, will be published by NYQ books in late 2018 or early 2019.

Thursday, August 30, 2018


by David Chorlton

Andrus Nichols in The Saintliness of Margery Kempe directed by Austin Pendleton at The Duke on 42nd Street. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

A hawk against the dawning clouds
moves high and dark
as the city underneath him
awakens. On this day the news
breaks with a louder
crack than usual, and even
the quail who spill out
from the neighbor’s bougainvillea
walk a nervous line.
The television screen lights up
with happiness and Earthly delights
before names
start to be named
and analysts dissect the crimes
they are suspected of. But it’s early
and the shadows of the palm trees
lie wet across the ground. It’s hard to believe
in such joy as advertisements show
while subterfuge and scheming are the order
of the day: also a day
in which lizards flash
across the back yard wall, hummingbirds
fly constantly
from bush to bush, and a Funereal Duskywing
trembles at  the Coral Bells
that silently ring the hours
rolling along the wash and up
the mountain to the ridge
where they rub their cheeks against
the timeless moon.

Another day: another cog
clicks in the universe. The sun rolls
into place. It’s hard to tell so early
whether that’s a Cabbage White or Southern
Dogface, but the nascent flowers on the milkweed
are a marker on the winged way
to truth.

The jasmine draws its power from the rain
recently fallen
and the air feels as though
it were smiling as we breathe it,
even in this tainted world
where sin remains popular
centuries past the age when heretics
were burned, although
defining it depends on which
side you’re on, and being accused
just generates more mystics
like Margery Kempe, who the more she was mocked
the more she believed she was right.
Some people believe
the sulfur floating on the scents just now
is someone’s soul; a proposition
kind enough to merit acceptance.
When in doubt
take beauty’s side, even
when the hawk marks its path
with a talon drawn across the midday sky.

David Chorlton is a transplanted European, who has lived in Phoenix since 1978. His poems have appeared in many publications online and in print, and often reflect his affection for the natural world, as well as occasional bewilderment at aspects of human behavior. A recent collection of poems is Bird on a Wire from Presa Press. The Bitter Oleander Press published Shatter the Bell in my Ear, his translations of poems by Austrian poet Christine Lavant. A new book Reading T. S. Eliot to a Bird is due from Hoot ‘n Waddle, based in Phoenix.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018


by Mary K O'Melveny

“Nabisco announced this week that it had redesigned  its Animal Crackers box. Responding to demands by PETA and other activists, the company’s new design features an uncaged, unbarred zebra, elephant, lion, giraffe and gorilla. PETA’s 2016 letter to the company stated, in part, ‘Circuses tear baby animals away from their mothers, lock animals in cages and chains and cart them from city to city.’ Nabisco’s CEO announced the design change as part of the company’s effort ‘to make the brand relevant for years to come.’”  The New York Times, August 22, 2018.

More than 2,000 children were separated from their parents at the border. After a judge ordered the U.S. government to promptly reunite the families, the government claimed it would be nearly impossible to do so. —“The Chaos of Reunification,” a podcast from “The Daily” at The New York Times, August 24, 2018. A month after a court-mandated deadline, 528 families are still separated. —Boston Mail, August 24, 2018.

At last, the bars are gone.
We can step out, the world
waiting to greet us.  Long
frowns turned to smiles, tears hurled
back to where they belong –
some other’s countenance swirled
with sadness.  We go headlong,
no longer imperiled,

toward open spaces,
no longer on display,
shoved into cramped spaces
waiting for someone to say
we have rights too!  Our faces
fill with joy, no longer prey
for bigots who disgrace us,
who would keep us away

from happier lives, freed
of anguish, hatreds, pain
of separations, filled with need
for kindness.  A campaign
of outraged voices agreed,
pursuit of justice was plain
(though not all would concede).
We are no more detained!

So, congratulations all
who fought for us so long.
Victories can come, large or small,
to those who remain strong,
fists raised, knees down.  Recall
each one who fought along
with us for enlightened protocols.
At last, the bars are gone!

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.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018


by Pepper Trail

"The T***p administration has hailed its overhaul of federal pollution restrictions on coal-burning power plants as creating new jobs, eliminating burdensome government regulations and ending what President T***p has long described as a 'war on coal.' The administration’s own analysis, however, revealed on Tuesday that the new rules could also lead to as many as 1,400 premature deaths annually by 2030 from an increase in the extremely fine particulate matter that is linked to heart and lung disease, up to 15,000 new cases of upper respiratory problems, a rise in bronchitis, and tens of thousands of missed school days. "—The New York Times, August 21, 2018

Edenton, North Carolina

Mother, your breath shallow and slow, almost gone
Barely moving the sheet on your hospice bed

You are reluctant, now, to inhale
To bring in the world, its noise and its pain

So much easier to breathe out, to gentle
And at the end of that emptying, to stop

But the stubborn body kicks, the heart turns over
Begins again, will not yet let you go

Mother, it’s all right.  You are strong
Nothing, in the end, will stop your dying

Ashland, Oregon

The world, the west, is on fire
Vancouver to Yosemite, all tinder, alight

Halfway between, we must breathe
What air there is, what we are given

When we speak, smoke is what we say
And so we have stopped speaking

The mountains are gone, the valley
Through the windows, everything

The smoke is where we live now
What we breathe in, and then out

Washington, DC

He does not mind the world, the President
Thoughtless, he inhales its floods and its flames

Exhales this atmosphere in which we live
Gives us, this week, the “Affordable Clean Energy Plan”

Not Affordable, or Clean, or Energy, or a Plan
Simply another act in a lifelong history of harm

Power plants, cars, planes, you all and me
Together, we contribute: 408 parts per million

We are told there is nothing to be done
We are told there is no choice.  Just breathe

Pepper Trail is a poet and naturalist based in Ashland, Oregon. His poetry has appeared in Rattle, Atlanta Review, Spillway, Kyoto Journal, Cascadia Review, and other publications, and has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards. His collection Cascade-Siskiyou was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award in Poetry. In his spare time, he leads natural history tours around the world.

Monday, August 27, 2018


by T R Poulson

Once upon a time, two early humans of different ancestry met at a cave in Russia. Some 50,000 years later, scientists have confirmed that they had a daughter together. DNA extracted from bone fragments found in the cave show the girl was the offspring of a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father. The discovery, reported in Nature, gives a rare insight into the lives of our closest ancient human relatives.Neanderthals and Denisovans were humans like us, but belonged to different species. —BBC, August 22, 2018

This at last is bone of my bones
—Genesis 2:23

The wind blows, brittle as a bird bone needle
in this cave where skeletons dance in layers,
time folds in eons, and we seek the seed, dull
as the Beginning, a stone bracelet our prayer
to grandfathers unknown. It must have begun
with fire, the flames that made flesh tender,
laid bare the bones of beasts, broken, undone,
crying. The flames that twisted up like slender
ribbons, teasing, heating. Here, a strange man
enters, here a woman’s bones turn away a suitor
like her, here bone meets bone. Here, the clan—

Genes spiral, twist, through bones, as computers
tell of fire, of seed. We see an orphan long bone
splinter. We see ourselves, unmixed, alone.

T R Poulson, a University of Nevada, Reno alum, lives in San Carlos, California. Her work has appeared previously in TheNewVerse.News, as well as Rattle’s Poets Respond, Verdad, The Meadow, Trajectory, J Journal, and others.

Sunday, August 26, 2018


by Joan Colby

Pope Francis with Cardinal McCarrick. File photo by Jonathan Newton-Pool/Getty Images.

“I cannot fail to acknowledge the grave scandal caused in Ireland by the abuse of young people by members of the church charged with responsibility for their protection and education,” [Pope] Francis said. “The failure of ecclesiastical authorities – bishops, religious superiors, priests and others – adequately to address these repellent crimes has rightly given rise to outrage and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community. I myself share those sentiments.” —The Guardian, August 25, 2018

The host in the ciborium is transfigured
By words into Christ’s body,
The wine to blood.
He drinks ceremonially,
Offers the communicants
The chalice of redemption.

He believes in vocation,
In the holy calling
Of the spirit. He reads
His breviary, recites the
Apostles' Creed.

The sacristy where he dons
The vestments. The boys in lace
Surplices, their voices
Not yet deep as echoing wells.
Christ forgives all sins, even these.

He thinks of the thieves on the crosses.
The promise of paradise.
Of John the beloved disciple
And Leonardo who knew so well
How to paint that yearning.
“Suffer the little children,” Jesus said.
All who repent will be absolved

The priest thinks of Augustine
Who grappled with midnight angels
And prayed “Lord make me chaste,
But not yet.”

Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, New York Quarterly, the new renaissance, Grand Street, Epoch, and Prairie Schooner. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards, Rhino Poetry Award, the new renaissance Award for Poetry, and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She is the editor of Illinois Racing News, and lives on a small horse farm in Northern Illinois. She has published 11 books including The Lonely Hearts Killers and How the Sky Begins to Fall (Spoon River Press), The Atrocity Book (Lynx House Press), Dead Horses and Selected Poems (FutureCycle Press), and Properties of Matter (Aldrich Press). Colby is also an associate editor of Kentucky Review and FutureCycle Press.


by Catherine Chandler

how I would shake
confessing venial sin

in that dark space
behind that sliding door

to Father
Father Son and Holy Ghost—

an apple pilfered
from the cellar bin

a cuss word slip-up
a neglected chore

a schoolyard scuffle or a lie 
a boast—

while he who consecrated
water   wine

who baptized babies
visited the sick

was fucking me           though they
would reassign

him      allegations never seemed
to stick

because whose word was sacred
his or mine

my lexicon too simple             tongue
and dick

the bishop kicked the reverend

before he died            but sent
his thoughts and prayers

Catherine Chandler is the author of four collections of poetry, including Lines of Flight, shortlisted for the Poets' Prize, and The Frangible Hour, winner of the Richard Wilbur Award. Currently living in Saint-Lazare-de-Vaudreuil, Quebec, she was reared in Wilkes-Barre, PA, in the Diocese of Scranton.

Saturday, August 25, 2018


by Pam Davenport

Celeste Ayala: “Police officer who breastfed ‘smelly and dirty’ malnourished baby is PROMOTED for incredible gesture” —The Mirror (UK) 23 August 2018

Headline says dirty
though I don’t see dirty,
I see baby,
I see lines in Celeste’s brow
between her dark eyes above shadows––
for she is a mother.
Baby is dark and pure,
latched fast onto a policewoman’s
creamy bursting breast.
Hungry and malnourished,
we grasp this picture.
We lie in filth,
cockroaches burrow into our ears,
rats gnaw our limp arms,
none of our mothers want this.
A TV station displays the wrong
soul singer, may think all babies
are the same if unclean.
All babies are the same.
All babies are exactly different.
It is hard to latch onto anything,
so much we cannot grasp,
yet this baby knows what to do.
Celeste knows what to do.

Pam Davenport dreams of being a cowboy. Or cowgirl. Luckily, she lives in Arizona. Sadly, she is too old. Her poems have been published in Nimrod, Tinderbox, Poetry of the American Southwest, Chiron, Snapdragon, Rougarou, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Four Chambers and Bared: An Anthology of Bras and Breasts.

Friday, August 24, 2018


by Tricia Knoll

Cartoon source: Cagle

Some brandish torches to burn
rotting cabins in their narrow path.
Some stir pots out of curiosity
rather than rancor.
Some fly the wood winds
and hear songs in cloud bustle.
Some pray over their dinners.
Others feed on unicorn mushrooms.
Some wear fairytale pink
and giggle like droughted streams
over mossy rocks.
Some live in the mouths
of the foxglove or of liars.
Whatever witch you chase,
know that not all are evil.
Some tell the truth.

Tricia Knoll thinks witches are getting a bad rap in all this yelling about witch hunts. At least one is known to guard the gold at the end of the rainbow. Knoll's most recent collection of poetry is How I Learned To Be White (Antrim House, 2018).


by David Spicer 

"Truth isn't truth." —Rudy Giuliani

If Truth isn’t Truth, what is it in this Twilight Zone of Lies?
A woman in a red dress who carries a tote bag of secret tapes?
Or a ghoul defending the King Kong of Truth’s desperate enemy?

Truth is Beauty, Keats said two hundred years ago.
Truth is in the mouth of the speaker mouthed to a mime of memes.
Truth is your mother, your mother said, offering you her Judas-goat

Twenty women whirling in a field of tulips you lie in every morning
     is Truth.
The Grand Canyon at sunset echoing your prayers you recite on your
Heartbeats between the breaths you breathe before you take a 
     morning jog.

I met Truth once in the guise of a beautiful femme fatale on the bed in
     my trailer.
She said, I just pity-loved you, clod, and you think we were lovers?
Truth is, that was her truth, truth is, it wasn’t pleasant, truth is, I’m 
     not over it.

Truth will knock your block off and demolish your stone-cold cities.
Truth will break your soul of week knees and tell you it did you a 
Truth is, tell me a truth that doesn’t hurt and I’ll buy you a shot of 
     Truth vodka.

You’ll swig it like a liquid potato and savor it, you’ll swivel your head 
     and squint
your eyes in twisting pain that guts your gullet. Then you’ll make a 
like air escaping from a tire that’s tired from too much road. You’ll 
     feel good.

Now that’s Truth. Truth isn’t what you want it to be. Truth is what it 
     wants to be.
Truth is your grandmother standing naked in the kitchen in front of 
     you and you’ve
never seen a naked woman before and you don’t know what you’re
     seeing. It’s Truth, baby.

Truth is ugly, a bomb victim said that to me the other day when I
     visited him in the ICU.
Truth is callous. Your brother stealing your $600 while you’re
     sleeping, dreaming of beauty.
Dreaming of the time he outraced some knucklehead on the freeway 
     driving a Charger.

Truth was, your brother’s Chevy packed truth in its carbs and pistons
     and exhaust pipes.
Truth was, it wasn’t a chick magnet like the salesman said it would be.
     That was his truth.
My truth? I don’t know. Truth is the last thing I hope to see or 
     listen to before I disappear.

No, if truth isn’t truth, beauty isn’t beauty, ugly isn’t ugly, nothing is
     nothing but empty words
spinning from a lie peddler, a ghoul defending the King Kong of Lies.
     Truth is, his day
is coming. Truth is, it’ll be welcomed. Truth is, truth is death and it’ll 
     kill you where you stand.

David Spicer has published poems in Alcatraz, Gargoyle, Third Wednesday, Reed Magazine, Oddball Magazine, The Literary Nest,The Tipton Poetry Journal, Synaeresis, Chiron Review, PloughsharesThe American Poetry Review, and elsewhereand 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 once, and is the author of one full-length collection of poems, Everybody Has a Story (St. Luke's Press), and five chapbooks, the latest of which is From the Limbs of a Pear Tree (Flutter Press), released in August of 2017. He is also the former editor of Raccoon, Outlaw, and Ion Books.

Thursday, August 23, 2018


by George Salamon

"'We Didn’t Really Want to Weigh In:' An author defends his decision to write a new book celebrating Henry Kissinger."
—Slate, August 15, 2018

“Oh yes I'm the great pretender / I seem to be what I'm not (you see)”
—“The Great Pretender” by Buck Ram, recorded by The Platters, 1955

Let's celebrate the new and
Forget the old Henry Kissinger.
Never mind the coup in Chile,
Too bad about the slaughter
In Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos,
Who remembers those
Tortured bodies in Indochina?
Henry was the great negotiator,
Negotiating the best deal for
Democracy, Mom and Cherry Pie.
So all you hothead moralists,
You professors of American flaws,
It's time rethink the role of
Henry Kissinger, to reevaluate,
And to revise, but not, I urge you,
To regurgitate.

George Salamon respects Henry Kissinger for never dropping that German accent. Would anybody have listened to him if he had?

Wednesday, August 22, 2018


by Bill Sullivan

"Cutting Barbed Wire" by Toyo Miyatake (circa 1944/1945).

Somehow Mr. Miyatake was able to smuggle in his lenses,
build a makeshift box camera out of what scraps were available
in the Manzanar Internment Camp. Confinement could not
constrain his ingenuity, his spirit, his need to document injustice.
So we have a black and white record of this shameful action
as well as photos of a resilient, proud people to absorb and remember.

               I am looking at his image of a raised arm, a hand
clutches a wire cutter, as if it were a lifeline, its blades open,
ready, eager, one senses, to sever a strand of razor sharp barbed wire.
In the top left-hand corner, we see the guard tower looming
over the scene. Yes, a given time and place. A dark piece
of our past, but it could have been taken at one of the Nazi
concentration camps, a Siberian gulag, any one of too many
political prisons. Clashing symbols; the desire to be free
and the drive to imprison.

               I am thinking of the suspicion, fear and greed
that led to the confinement of Japanese Americans decades ago
but also, the recent images of Central American children separated
from parents, crammed into cages, lying there on concrete
or thin pads, alone, sobbing, some silently, Brown children, vermin
to some, quarantined, held as hostages to convince their parents
to return to their countries and to deter other asylum seekers
from crossing the border. All that cruelty to assure the whiteness
of America prevails.

Has a photographer pressed his shutter, captured
the indifference and abuse in this house of horrors?
Has a filmmaker documented the bewilderment
and innocence of children, the anguish of parents?
So that after the wires are severed and they are free
and united, we and our children's children can see,
know shame and anger, reap love from the ashes
of our history.

Shoes and toys left at a port of entry to the U.S. in Tornillo, Texas. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images accompanying “Toddlers fend for themselves in immigration court thanks to Trump,” an op-ed by Sen. Richard Durbin, Chicago Sun-Times, August 17, 2018. "The policy began in secret. The Trump administration denied such a policy existed. And when it finally acknowledged that migrant children were being separated from their parents at the border, chaos ensued. Only now is the full picture of what happened and why becoming clear." —The Daily podcast presents "Divided."

Bill Sullivan taught English and American studies at Keene State College, co-authored books on Twentieth century American poetry, co-produced two documentary films, and most recently published Loon Lore: In Poetry and Prose.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018


Dixie J-Elder’s family moved forty-eight times before Dixie turned thirteen, due to her father’s job as a cartographer. Dixie spent her teen years protesting frequently in Washington, D.C. (for civil rights, against the Vietnam War). Dixie wanders often with her husband, investigating archaeological sites. They’ve trekked around Iceland, Austria, Skara Brae, and other fascinating locations. Dixie’s work has been published in anthologies such as the true crime collection Off the Cuffs. Dixie lives in Colorado with her husband and two formerly feral cats.


Kathleen A. Lawrence enjoys the abundance of grapes and apples in Central New York. A crisp sip in the shade of an orchard is very conducive to writing poetry.

Monday, August 20, 2018


by Larry Levy

‘There’s more to me than being a denier of the Holocaust,’ says GOP nominee (pictured above) for Congress.” —Chicago Tribune: Daily Southtown, July 27, 2018

When they came, herding parents
brothers, sisters, playmates,
elders, cousins, infants,
into a few narrow streets,

we obeyed. Choice was the first
privilege to disappear. Used to edicts,
Papa shared stale bread, an old cursed
image of ourselves. Then they sicced

the dogs on us, huddled in fears
of night trains, the work farms.
Papa reassured: Has anyone died from stars,
from numbers burned on arms?

Somehow I outlasted cholera,
beatings, daily selections. I alone
came to Detroit, America,
removed the tattoo. Moved on.

One morning in a cafe
I heard neighbors: The ovens were a lie.
No Anne Frank or six million, they say.
Papa’s words return: You must survive.

People will not believe.
You must not give in, must try.
Tell them. Roll up your sleeve.

Oh Father, of what then did we die?

Larry Levy's poems have appeared in The Virginia Quarterly Review, The South Carolina Review, Driftwood Review, Third Wednesday, Tenemos, Postcard Poems, and other literary paper and on-line publications. His poetry collections include I Would Stay Forever (Mayapple Press), All the Dead are Holy (Atmosphere Press), and What Outlives Us (Atmosphere Press). For several years he judged Third Wednesday's annual poetry contest. He and his wife live in Midland, MI where they direct plays and conduct workshops on acting and writing for the Midland Center for the Arts.

Sunday, August 19, 2018


by Sister Lou Ella Hickman

Sister Norma Pimentel, a Missionary Sister of Jesus, and her team of volunteers work tirelessly to welcome thousands of immigrants each year, including many children, to the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas.

                they are prisoners of war they did not fight in
                                    escaping street and backyard battles
                they slip under the unwelcome sign
                  hoping against hope
                for the others
                                     the many nameless    the sun dries their bones
                who will mourn their slow death 
                who will mourn their shackled hope

Sister Lou Ella is a former teacher and librarian. She is a certified spiritual director as well as a poet and writer.  Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines such as America, First Things, Emmanuel, Third Wednesday, and TheNewVerse.News as well as in two anthologies: Down to the Dark River edited by Philip Kolin and After Shocks: The Poetry of Recover for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo. Last year she was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her first book of poetry entitled she: robed and wordless was published in 2015 (Press 53).

Saturday, August 18, 2018


by January Pearson

From the blue loom of rivers
to Florida’s shorelines
where locals sift
sand for Tulip shells,
wind and current disperse
a deadly invisibility,
microscopic cells of algae
bursting in bloom

bursting with growth,
tentacling through coral
and seagrass to spread
its poison.

Karenia Brevis magnified
one thousand times
looks like soft dusty lobes
pinwheeling like a poppy
like a poppy
dead and colorless

dead as the seacow
unlowing in the waves
and the double-breasted
cormorants knuckled
with disease.

The schools of fish
pale in the harbor,
and sideways, hundreds
of one-eyes open to blue,
hundreds of ashen one-eyes open

January Pearson lives in Southern California with her husband and two daughters. She teaches in the English department at Purdue Global University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Notre Dame Review, Atlanta Review, Third Wednesday, Gargoyle Magazine, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Journal of American Poetry, The Cape Rock Review, and Summerset Review.

Friday, August 17, 2018


by Kathleen Murphey

What Is QAnon: Explaining the Internet Conspiracy Theory That Showed Up at a Trump Rally. —The New York Times, August 1, 2018

Questionable, quagmire, quack, quackery, quandary, qualm, quail, quarrel, quash,
            quasi, quaver, queer, quell, quench, querulous, quibble, quid pro quo, quietus,
            quip, quirk, quisling.

Q,  a fictional, Star Trek, New Generation, character, who thought humanity was a waste of time.
Q, an anonymous, conspiracy-theory blogger, who is content to further lies on
            T***p’s behalf despite the hate and harm of T***p’s verbal slime.
Captain Picard, on Star Trek, was put on trial by Q over the fate of humanity.
T***p, backed by Q, is shaking the foundations of American democracy
            and its integrity.

Q Clearance or Q Access Authorization, the Department of Energy’s highest security
            clearance level—similar to Top Secret Clearance, hence Q’s claims to legitimacy
            by association.
Q, the 17th letter of the alphabet, when uttered by T***p, confirms the validity of Q’s
            crazy conspiracy claims.  “Follow the rabbit whole.” 
            Everything is fine, T***p has everything under control, and everyone who
                        stands in his way will soon be sent to prison.  “Trust the plan.”
            Leading Democrats are wearing ankle monitors because they are criminals.
                        “Bread crumbs”
            Kim Jong Un was placed in power by the CIA.  “The Storm.”
            JFK, Jr., isn’t dead.  “Activated, the beam of LIGHT.”

T***p just has to be right.
            The Clintons are crooked, child molesters.  “Lock her up!”
            The media is unfairly critical of T***p.  Just look at SNL.
            The media is spreading fake news:  “Enemy of the people” and “CNN sucks!”
            Illegal immigrants are taking our jobs, “infesting” our country, with 
                        “criminals” and “rapists.”
            Climate change isn’t real; it’s just a scam to make us weak and lower our
            T***p didn’t collude with Russia.  “The Mueller investigation is a
                        Witch Hunt!”
            The 2016 T***p election is a victory! “God bless fellow Patriots!”
                        “Great Awakening”
            It can’t be a scam!  “We are Q!”
            I can’t believe it is a scam, so I’ll believe Q and T***p.  I just have too!

The alternative is too terrible to contemplate:
            That we elected a traitor (a quisling),
            That the Russians have compromised our country,
            That we would be better off with crooked Hillary,
            That we, T***p followers, are helping to destroy the fabric of our country,
            That Fox News is Fake News and the major media outlets are right
                        and under assault,
            No that can’t be!  It just can’t!  “Where we go one, we go all!”

It must be true!
We are Q!
Q!  Q!  Q!
Anything, but rational thought.

Kathleen Murphey is an associate professor of English at Community College of Philadelphia. She has been writing fiction lately, both poetry and short stories.

Thursday, August 16, 2018


by Scott C. Kaestner

Image source: The New York Times in solidarity with more than 350 newspapers editorializing today on the value of America’s free press.

The real enemy of the people are people

who don’t see themselves in other
people; in people unlike them
an undeniable commonality

in people our fate lies
people need other people
to hold up a mirror so as to say

“Listen people, we are one.”

Scott C. Kaestner is a Los Angeles poet and dream weaver who eats cereal twice daily. Google 'scott kaestner poetry' to peruse his musings and doings.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018


by Alejandro Escudé

LeBron James, I make a teacher’s salary and can’t afford an apartment.
LeBron James, will you find the dirty and shirtless on the road a home?
LeBron James, are you ghostly? The nightmare trots over the hills, LeBron.
The makers are making sugar, LeBron. Have you been to Cuba, LeBron?
The ocean oceans, LeBron. Will you buy me a brand new couch, LeBron?
It matters there are too many fast food joints in my neighborhood, LeBron.
Once, I heard a young man say he was hungry in class and didn’t have lunch,
LeBron. Will someone call the police, or will someone call LeBron Jmes.
Does a basketball resemble a fish, LeBron? Will you feed the masses?
I call on LeBron James to slam dunk a basketball over Donald T***p.
Oh snap, did LeBron just dunk a basketball over Donald T***p? Oh snap!
Help me figure out my new Samsung Galaxy Nine, LeBron James. It’s a war
out there, LeBron, but I love you because you always give it your all at practice.
Practice! Yes! It doesn’t rain in Southern California, LeBron. Will you miss
Cleveland, LeBron? Or whatever gym you were forced to lay your head on
while the flood grew outside and the helicopters circled over your beard.
Oh LeBron, your beard is biblical, does that mean you are a messiah?
My children have never heard of you, LeBron James. Mexican mothers
searching for their children with flashlights in the under-caves of humanity
have never heard of you either, LeBron. My spellcheck keeps changing your
name from LeBron to Hebron. My spellcheck underlines your name in red;
is that a sign, LeBron? I hear cop sirens blaring outside my window, LeBron,
are you in one of those black and whites, LeBron? I bet if you were in one
of those cruisers, you’d be careful with your gun, LeBron, you’d never feel
unaware or scared or nervous. You’d know what do to because you’ve
been in tight positions before: two points down, thirty seconds to go
in the fourth quarter. Is it the fourth quarter, LeBron? My butt aches from
sitting on the hard, wooden bleachers, LeBron. I am a chubby angel with
red wings watching you dribble across a court of clouds, LeBron. We anoint
you King James. The people anoint you King. They want you to save them!
Save them LeBron. Can a basketball be rolled out like the Magna Carta?
LeBron, will you tie up all the Republicans with ropes made of batwings?
The news pundits, men and women, light up when they utter your name.
LeBron. I do too. I can’t get enough of your encompassing smile, your height.
My god you’re tall, LeBron! Yesterday, I overheard two women comparing
how tall their husbands were. It was important that they compare heights.
I heard the mouth of a river opening. It was not the mouth of the Mississippi.
It was no river with a poem written about it. It was River LeBron. It opened
it’s mouth and in sailed the ship of race, class, hunger, sickness, and war.

Alejandro Escudé published his first full-length collection of poems My Earthbound Eye in September 2013. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis and teaches high school English. Originally from Argentina, Alejandro lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018


by Shirley J. Brewer

This undated selfie picture available on social media on Saturday shows Richard Russell, a ground service agent at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. He is believed to have died when a plane  he stole and flew crashed into Ketron Island, about 30 miles south of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, setting off a large forest fire. Authorities say he was suicidal. (AFP/Getty Images via USA Today)

Burdened by heavy baggage, he soars
low over Puget Sound,
performs an aerial loop—a suicide note?—
on his first and final flight.
He crashes the stolen plane,
burns in a rush of tangerine flame.

The ride lasts an hour, yet
who dares set a timer on this brief
bird's-eye view of silver wings_
within grief such a fleeting joy.
How long was he falling before he fell?
Like Icarus, no one can tell.

He said he was just a broken guy,
and leaves his family to ponder why.

Shirley J. Brewer serves as poet-in-residence at Carver Center for the Arts in Baltimore, MD. She earned an MBA from the Maryland Bartending Academy. Her poems garnish Barrow Street, Comstock Review, TheNewVerse.News, Poetry East, Slant and other journals. Shirley's books include A Little Breast Music (2008), After Words (2013) and Bistro in Another Realm (2017).

Monday, August 13, 2018


by Charlotte Innes

Photo by Andrew Harnik / AP to accompany “Black pastors betrayed their community by standing with Trump": opinion by Solomon Jones in The Inquirer, August 8, 2018

Malcolm X what happened?
it’s a hundred degrees
and sweat’s already
streaming drowsily
I browse the web
and then I see
sitting beside the pres
Martin’s niece
smiling hard
a pastor’s telling D
that he has done
the best for blacks
of any president ever
no it’s not
a dream but heartbreak
something like the death
of Malcolm X
he routed “tokens”
now look they’re back perhaps
I’ve been a token
but not like that
oh Malcolm we need you get up

Charlotte Innes is the author of Descanso Drive (Kelsay Books, 2017), a first book of poems, and two chapbooks, Licking the Serpent (2011) and Reading Ruskin in Los Angeles (2009), both with Finishing Line Press. Her poems have appeared in The Hudson Review, The Sewanee Review and Rattle. They have also been anthologized in Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond (Beyond Baroque Books, 2015) and The Best American Spiritual Writing for 2006 (Houghton Mifflin, 2006), amongst others. She has written on literary topics for the Los Angeles Times, The Nation and other publications. 

Sunday, August 12, 2018


by Sally Zakariya

Messages are left on a chalkboard in Charlottesville on Aug. 10, 2018. (Jim Urquhart/Reuters via The Washington Post)

The light went out that week.

A violent march, a loathsome flag
a stunning show of moral blindness
and then the sun itself went out
hiding its light, ashamed to see
such darkness in the world.

Closing its fiery eye, the sun shut out
the hate, the taunts, the torches
the brutality and bigotry
the disregard of justice.

Earth turned, the moon moved on
along its cosmic path, and sunlight
shone once more. And now another
year, another march. But the light
of reason still has not returned.

Sally Zakariya’s Pushcart Prize-nominated poetry has appeared in 70 print and online journals. She is the author of When You Escape (Five Oaks Press, 2016), Insectomania (2013) and Arithmetic (2011), and the editor of Joys of the Table (2015). Her chapbook Personal Astronomy is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.