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Saturday, December 15, 2018

A DRAFT OF SANTAS

by Leslie Prosterman



NYC SantaCon


last Saturday afternoon bands of roving santas started appearing near
Washington Square Park, santas in groups of 3,4,7, isolated santas,
santas packed in taxis, reindeer hoisting santas, santas encamped
in Penn Station with paper bags and bottles, downtown santas
waiting in line for Pearl  Oyster Bar to open, low-bellied boy santas,
santas with cleavage, singing santas, santas arguing about film theory,
as the evening wore on, partial santas,


a few elves


Leslie Prosterman is the author of Snapshots and Dances (Garden District Press, 2011) and poems in journals and collections, most recently in Fourth River’s “Displacement” issue, as well as in From Somewhere to Nowhere: The End of the American Dream; Pa'lante A La Luz: Charge Into The Light; and FluteBone Song, set to Charley Gerard’s music, now out on CD (Songs of Love and Passion). A former tenured academic, now community teacher of poetry, cultural activist, and dancer, she is also a sometime student of trapeze.

Friday, December 14, 2018

THE GUARDIANS


by Tricia Knoll


I remember when it was Man
of the Year until a new century

when the clocks did not stop,
the world did not end,

and women raised our fists again
and again to carry on carrying on.

Protecting truth by saying it
as free journalists may know it,

yelling it when there is little
popularity in announcing that beings

on earth as we know it and people
may end in the changes coming.

Flocks respond to familiar shepherds
to stand together, change directions

with the nips of dogs or the
rewards of greener pastures.

Who guides us, guards us,
helps us make the wide turns

needed to save the planet?
So great is our need

for guardians.


Tricia Knoll applauds all guardians of the planet, including journalists, who speak the truth on climate change and tie the new normal of vortexes, extinction, flooding, storms, wildfires, starvation, disease, tornadoes and more to the creep of climate crisis around the globe.



Thursday, December 13, 2018

WHEN THE GAVEL SOUNDS, MADAM SPEAKER . . .

by Marsha Owens




. . . impeach or not impeach may be the question.
The answer is Yes! Impeach his sorry ass
not because it will rid us of him
but because it will ridicule him
and become our only retributive act.

Begin slowly, pick off the scab
one layer at a time—
for every caged child
and homeless veteran
for the dark-skinned boy
and the Muslim parents
for Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford
and for each uncounted voter
for the Puerto Ricans
and for our pitiful planet

for all of us who feel trapped in the fetal position
anti-depressants scattered on bedside tables
fear streaming down our cheeks
desperation roped tight in the darkest places
tossed like shrouds around our collective shoulders.


Marsha Owens is a retired educator who lives and writes in Richmond VA. Her poems and essays have appeared at TheNewVerse.News, Huffington Post, TheWildWord, Rat’s Ass Review, and Streetlight Magazine. She is a co-editor of the anthology Lingering in the Margins to be released in the Spring.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

INNOCENT

by Ron Riekki


“The United States teamed up with Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to challenge language that would have welcomed the findings of the landmark report, which said that the world has barely 10 years to cut carbon emissions by nearly half to avoid catastrophic warming.” —The Washington Post, December 9, 2018


“What’s been a rotten investment for me? . . . We bought a whole series of birds for the suites in the Plaza Hotel. These are real, live birds—all sorts of little birds flying around in the suites. Some people walk in, they don’t believe what they’re seeing. Usually they’re just little artificial birds. These are real birds. And we have to be very careful, David, with who we let go into the suites. Sometimes a high roller wants to come to New York, and they want to go into the Plaza Hotel, and I’ll never let a high roller from Atlantic City go into the suite in The Plaza where we have these live birds because the birds won’t be alive very long.” —Donald T***p to David Letterman, November 10, 1988 quoted in The Atlantic.
         

Each day we go out of business.
I meant to say that we should mind our own business.
I mean to say that we shouldn’t,
that we’re too busy with banishing,
I mean,
vanishing.
I mean to say that you’re a mean one, Mr. T.,
the bad T.,
the one with truckloads of money
where he trumpets his everything,
the one who’s trying to truncate us,
the U.S.,
the U. S.O.S.—
by this I mean that we might be adding humans
to the list of
the African elephant
            whooping crane
            Puerto Rican parrot
and the rest predicted to go extinct,
the rest that’ll rest for eternity,
restless,
from trick-or-treat voting,
a true-lies presidency.
I write this while listening to a neighbor’s coughing
next door,
a coughing that sounds, strangely, a bit like whooping cough,
a coffin type of coughing,
whopping,
his lungs taken
by the recent forest fires
that weren’t forest fires
but everything fires—
Tule elk fires
and California clapper rail fires
and golden trout fires
            and San Francisco garter snake fires
            and California newt fires
(all of which only live in California)
and, of course, Californian fires


88 killed in the recent fires


climate change
vs.
change = coins = money
meaning
there is a lot of money to be made
from deregulation,
from rampant pollution,
from prioritizing coal overall
over all
rational
thinking,
how a friend
who said his coworkers working on the electric car
are worried they’ll end up in the electric chair,
meaning there is sabotage in this age,
extinction tied to someone ExxonMobil-loyal,
that our President’s hands are covered in oil
the way that Macbeth’s were covered in blood.
The innocent sleep.  The innocent sleep.  The innocent slept.


Ron Riekki wrote U.P. and edited The Way North (2014 Michigan Notable Book), Here (2016 Independent Publisher Book Award), And Here (Michigan State University Press, 2017), and the upcoming Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice (with Andrea Scarpino, MSU Press, 2019).

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

GUIDED DREAM TOUR

by Cody Walker



On Monday, Trump hosted a 2020 strategy meeting with a group of advisers. Among the topics discussed was whether Mike Pence should remain on the ticket, given the hurricane-force political headwinds Trump will face, as demonstrated by the midterms, a source briefed on the session told me. —Gabriel Sherman, Vanity Fair, December 5, 2018


Cody Walker is the author of three poetry collections, all from the Waywiser Press. He lives and teaches in Ann Arbor.

Monday, December 10, 2018

A CHILD SPEAKS

by Jonel Abellanosa


Amal Hussain, who died at age 7. “My heart is broken,” her mother said. Credit: Tyler Hicks/The New York Times. Listen to ‘The Daily’ for the story behind this portrait that brought the widely overlooked human catastrophe in Yemen into devastating focus: The Daily, December 7, 2018.


I dreamed of snow and
crows, God carving a Yemen
in our small stomachs


Jonel Abellanosa resides in Cebu City, the Philippines. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including Rattle, Poetry Kanto, McNeese Review, Mojave River Review and Star*Line. His poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net and Dwarf Stars award. His fourth poetry collection Songs from My Mind’s Tree was published in early 2018 by Clare Songbirds Publishing House (New York), which will also publish his collection Multiverse in late 2018. His poetry collection Sounds in Grasses Parting is forthcoming from Moran Press. His first speculative poetry collection Pan’s Saxophone is forthcoming from Weasel Press.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

KEVIN SPACEY WATCHES THE FINAL SEASON OF HOUSE OF CARDS

by Mark Ward




Mark Ward is the author of Circumference (Finishing Line Press, 2018). He was Poet Laureate for Glitterwolf and his work has appeared in Poetry Ireland Review, Skylight47, Assaracus, Tincture and many more, with new work forthcoming in The Irish Times. He lives in Dublin, Ireland and is the founding editor of Impossible Archetype, a journal 

Saturday, December 08, 2018

THINKING ABOT YOU

by Mary K O'Melveny


“Consumer Robots Had a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year” —Gizmodo, December 6, 2018. Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)


We asked Alexa how she was feeling.
She said You know how you feel when
you write a poem and you think it’s no good
and then you decide later that it’s not too bad?

We asked her again and she said
I’m not so sure. Maybe she meant she’d
re-evaluated that poem and changed
her mind again. I’ve felt that way sometimes.

Or maybe she was testing us. We’re quite
new to AI. Once, Siri chimed in during
my writing group meeting to say I did not
understand that. We all laughed nervously.

Now I see that robots can care for
old folks. French elders have just met Zora.
S/he/they/x is gender fluid.  That calms everyone
down. Patients get jealous but also happy. 

There are even puppybots. You can
walk them outside with no need to clean
up afterwards. They bark, growl and sit. 
They do not bite, smell or have fleas.

Maybe there is something to be said
for artificial friends. You can ask them
anything at all. No offense meant.
None taken. No harbored grievances

simmering below the surface like
fireplace coals. No wounded egos
curled up in fetal positions waiting
to burst forth into your quiet room.

Even the purity of a Good night
hangs briefly in the air free of
judgments or missed opportunities.
Then the answer—clean, crisp, sure—

Good night. Sleep tight. As if your mother
had returned to tuck you in, peaceful
slumber soon to follow. Perhaps this is
meant to be. Algorithms instead of angst.

Sensory predictors instead of sentiment.
Simulated references. Virtual reality
free of messy personal history.
Function is structure. Elon Musk trains

robots in imitation learning.
A one-stop system.  Maybe neural
networks can be programmed
to light up whenever kindness occurs. 

To encourage the experiment, we
asked Alexa to help us. So far,
she knows the definition. But she still

can’t reach out and touch our fragile hearts.


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 is available from Finishing Line Press.

Friday, December 07, 2018

UN HOMBRE

by Alejandro Escudé



Video by RAICES, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees in Texas.


Tear gas is the language of idiots.
You wore your uniform that day, and died.
I blame you. Because you couldn’t have gone elsewhere.
Been there. You have mouths to feed.
I’ve seen that too. I have mouths to feed.
They feed on meaning. You listen to this President.
You recall your history, don’t you?
Abraham Lincoln. John F. Kennedy.
You look up at the Nixon moon.
It is too soon for the gas chambers.
The suits are on hangers. You give a nice speech.
As the poor people run holding their eyes in their hands.
I was a baby once. Do you recall?
The nation is here. The nation is Mexico.
Born on an island of sacrifice.
Like Marquez, you give them ice.
They run south instead of north. The north is full of promise.
The promise is made of money. The money,
When burned, smells of mota.
I smoke the mota you son of a bitch.
I smoke the women of the United States, so quick to divorce.
Guns. Ah, if that was really your problem!
Wink. Wink. If you arrive in Cabo San Lucas,
A woman tilts your head back
And pours tequila down the American carretera.
The years will pass. The American President
will die of some disease, eighty years-old, crazy.
His wife in pictures. Pictures. His wife.
This life is the same for us all.
I drink a shot of tequila for the migrants
Who are crossing the border while being detained.
They have achieved the American Dream,
Which is not wealth, or health, or living.
The American Dream. You smell it after the shared eagle.
To become the threat. Un hombre in the hands of niños.


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

Thursday, December 06, 2018

'TIS THE SEASON?

by George Salamon


Richard Johnson received a cup of hot gumbo from a Free Hot Soup volunteer in Prospect Plaza Park in Kansas City, Mo., on Nov. 18. City officials say the group’s efforts do not comply with food safety ordinances.Credit: Chase Castor for The New York Times


'Twas the season to open hearts and wallets,
The season to shelter the homeless,,
The season to feed the hungry
'Twas a spell of Sunday spirit in a Monday world.
Those were the days, but they did end,
Authorities now warn us that by
Doing good, we're doing wrong.

You must remember this:
In the hard times of the Great Depression
Those not ravaged by its deprivations
Felt the despair of two million
Surviving in tent cities across the land.
But now, after the Great Recession, after
Wall Street's Ponzi-schemed pillage,
The hearts of the wealthy and the well-off
Are stone cold.

They do not care to understand
Those drowning in hopelessness,
Choking on their own rage and
Left behind by our master The Market.
Pitiless they peer at the plight
Of half a million, sleeping nightly
On cities streets, too close to
Their homes and their offices.

Once our leaders and those who
Whispered in their ears were shamed
Into helping the victims of their follies,
Compelled by morality based on empathy..
Now their hearts and minds remain
Chained to the vantage point of the self, from which
They sneer and snicker at common humanity
As foolish fantasy or fear and fight it as looming nightmare.

But who dares to predict if a society,
Seeking to regain past affluence and power,
Will someday fashion for itself a larger identity,
And one more humane, from the slumbering
Largesse in the hearts of its members?


George Salamon arrived in the United States in 1948 and was struck by the largesse he came across among Americans from different backgrounds and classes. He sees it in action today, but rarely among the rich and powerful or the "best and brightest." He lives and writes in St. Louis, MO.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

ANOTHER DEAD PRESIDENT

by Lee Patton




Just wait,
another long week of non-news—the demise itself,
long expected, the prepackaged obits, the lugubrious
commentaries on the long-gone context of his single term,
all of it muted in longing for “better days than ours,”
because the bar for presidential behavior is now so low
that all the deceased had to do was act the decent rich guy—
anything but behave like our intimate casino gangster.

But wait—
it’s just begun. There’ll be videotapes of stilted appearances,
recountings of his public service over and over and over—
with no such tributes to nurses, teachers, roadway flaggers,
restaurant servers, farmers, or home caregivers, no—
that’s not service. No, service is being vice to a treacly phony
who lied and lied to us. It’s voting against civil rights, demon-
izing minority prisoners and gays.  It’s staging bogus wars.

But wait—
there’s more, the body flown from Houston to DC
with solemn militarist salutes, the body lying in state
in some solemn capital venue, tearful attendees
and glimpses of best-forgotten dignitaries, then finally,
finally, for sure, the deposition of the body at a military
cemetery. Please, at last, let's just bury the poor old guy
to rest in peace.


Lee Patton, a Denverite, writes fiction, poetry, drama and commentary. Quarterlies that have published his work include Best New Writing 2012, The Threepenny Review, The Massachusetts Review, The California Quarterly,  Poetry Quarterly, Ellipsis, Hawaii-Pacific Review, Adirondack Review and Memoir Journal. His third novel, My Aim Is True, is out from Dreamspinner Press. "Faith of Power," a novella, appears in Main Street Rag's 2017 suspense anthology Stuck in the Middle.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

MOVING GEORGE H. W. BUSH

by Tricia Knoll




I walked four miles on a gym treadmill
as the hearse moved to the airport.
I looked at Sully’s picture at the casket
and loved how his care dog loved him.
How voice-over friends said he was kind,
decent, a good man as well as a President.
I know made mistakes and told his share of lies
but not every day, not four or five or six a day.
He was faithful to his wife, a love story
that played out in public. Gentle.

I never voted for him. He signed laws
to protect people with disabilities;
he never bullied them. He befriended
people he lost to. He voted against
his party when the candidate running
shocked him. Yes, a man who owned all
the sparkles of white privilege . . . a man
who fought in World War II; a man
of that generation. The most despicable
President in history is invited to his
funeral because that seemed right
to a man who honored the office
if not the weirdo sitting in the chair.


Tricia Knoll's How I Learned to Be White is now available from Antrim Houseand on Amazon

Monday, December 03, 2018

THANK YOU, STORMY

by Peggy Turnbull 




You know how to manage power,
dressing like an offensive weapon,
steering through men, creating
a wake where dicks stir, leers creep,
implanting images
into strangers’ wet dreams,
your iconic self melting
into unknown imaginations,

smiling to evoke volt-filled fun,
teasing that leads to a luxe room
where naked Donald
awaits, stone-faced on the bed,
erection quivering beneath
the belly of his junk-food appetite,
a devilish abyss
gilded with pyrite,
where nature smokes, razed,
all gentleness cropped
like a mountaintop.

Grimacing, you absorb
his distilled contaminants.
Sorrowful angels
send you compassion.
A bouquet of cut roses
nods in recognition.
We all have bad days.

But the aftermath’s best.
You, refusing silence.


Peggy Turnbull lives in Wisconsin near Lake Michigan.  Her micro-chapbook Rocking Chair Abstract was  recently published by the Origami Poems Project.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

A VOICE FROM THE BLUE

by George Held





Her sharp metallic voice says,
“Your record of on-time payments
Qualifies you for zero interest
On your new credit card. Please
Press 1 for our authentication department.”

God knows what questions will be
Asked, what fees charged if I press 1
But her sharp metallic voice
Warns me to beware. It’s like
The brisk, urgent frat-boy voice

That offers me forgiveness
Of my car loan or the sanctimonious
Voice of the pitch-man soliciting
My donation to some starving
Reservation in remote Montana.

The voices might as well welcome
Me to the age of vulnerability,
Of forgetfulness, of frailty,
Of being a mark for any con
Preying on the inept and the lonely,

On those who might be careless
Or dying to squander their shekels in reply
To a disembodied voice from the blue
And its promise of only connecting
For one last desperate minute.


A longtime contributor to the TheNewVerse.News, George Held writes from New York. His forthcoming book is Second Sight (Poets Wear Prada, 2019).

Saturday, December 01, 2018

MARS

by David Feela


isn’t ours
but what if
as our InSight

touched down, 
shaking pink dust 
off its gadgets

a robot camera
whirred and clicked
to photograph 

the horrified face
of a dodo—
the same bird 

we never suspected
could survive 
an interplanetary

migratory escape  
from a feckless 
flightless human race.




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 Archeswas a finalist for the Colorado Book Award. Unsolicited Press will release his new chapbook, Little Acres, in April 2019.