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Sunday, May 19, 2019

THERE IS GRANDEUR IN THIS VIEW OF LIFE

by Pepper Trail


A tangled bank, near Sandwalk, Charles Darwin’s walking path near his home at Downe House. —Image by GrrlScientist via Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.


“Around 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history.” —The Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, May 6, 2019


It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank,
clothed with many plants of many kinds,
with birds singing in the bushes,
with various insects flitting about,
and with worms crawling through the damp earth,                                                      
and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms
have all been produced by laws acting around us,
and that from so simple a beginning endless forms,
most beautiful and most wonderful,
have been, and are being evolved.
          —Charles Darwin, the final paragraph of The Origin of Species, 1859
                                                                 

It is interesting to contempl te  t ngled b nk,                              
clothed with m ny pl nts of m ny kinds,                                      
w th b rds s ng ng  n the bushes,                                                  
w th v r us  nscts fl tt ng bout,                                                                              
nd w th w rms cr wl ng thr ugh the d mp e rth,                        
nd t  reflect th t these elb rtely c nstructed fr ms,                                
h ve  ll been pr d ced by l ws  cting  r nd  s,                                            
nd th t fr m s  s mplbeg nn ng endless f rms                          
m st  b   t fl  nd m st w nd rf l                                                      
h v   b   n,nd   r   bng   v lv d.          


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.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

MAXIMUM SECURITY, DENIED

by T R Poulson



Gary West is offering a $20 million reward to the owners of Country House, War of Will, Long Range Toddy, and Bodexpress if any of those horses finish ahead of Maximum Security the next time any of them race against the colt through Dec. 31, 2019. West will give the owners of Country House (the elevated winner of the Kentucky Derby), War of Will (placed seventh after finishing eighth), Bodexpress (placed 13th after finishing 14th), and Long Range Toddy (placed 16th after finishing 17th) $5 million each if they finish ahead of Maximum Security the next time they meet in a race. Kentucky stewards determined each of the latter three horses were fouled by Maximum Security in the Derby. West announced the reward May 17, one day before the Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course. His horse crossed the wire first in the May 4 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) but was disqualified to 17th for interference. Maximum Security is not running in the second jewel of the Triple Crown. —BloodHorse, May 17, 2019


The Derby runs, complete with roses,
and the list of things all banned.  Poles,
selfie sticks, confetti, balloons, frisbees,
banners, and umbrellas.  It rains again,
and those in the grandstands roar, wet
as horses on the track, unfrightened.

A bay horse with a question mark
blaze breaks clean, runs fast, leads, kicks
mud on the rest, until the final turn.

One hundred fifty thousand fans, drenched
with drink and rain, scare the bay with the blaze
(He’s a baby, his jockey will say after). He drifts
from his lane, unraveled, and then hooves,
shod with steel and nails, tangle, the next horse
somersaults, mane into the mud, legs bent
the wrong way, and more horses hurdle, tumble,
jockeys’ bodies flop into the slop.  Rain drops
drizzle silks and broken goggles.  Backs,
withers, and empty saddles leave impressions
turned to puddles, bright as mirrors. Would this
be better than a rose blanket, stolen?


T R Poulson is a University of Nevada alum and life-long racing fan.  Her work has appeared previously in TheNewVerse.Newsas well as Rattle: Poets Respond, Verdad, Trajectory, Raintown Review, The Meadow, Alehouse, and J Journal.

Friday, May 17, 2019

REPRIEVE

by Emily Jo Scalzo




months will bleed by
when gunshots don’t echo
down school hallways
in classrooms or lecture halls
a reprieve from hero-teenagers
called to sacrifice themselves
jump on the grenade
clot the flow of bullets
to buy seconds
for their classmates

red rivulets dammed
not due to prevention
or common sense
but because summer
darkens these venues
empty of fear for now
the halls lie waiting
for fall and more
blood shed


Emily Jo Scalzo holds an MFA in fiction from California State University-Fresno and is currently an assistant teaching professor teaching research and creative writing at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Her work has appeared in various magazines including Midwestern Gothic, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Blue Collar Review, and others. Her first chapbook, The Politics of Division, was published in 2017 and awarded honorable mention in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards in 2018.

SACRED

by George Held



The governor’s statement places
the key word, “God,” in the place

of emphasis, at the end, where
it makes the most of her pious case

but most offends those who question
when a fetus has become a “life”

or even doubt there is a god,
at least one who can give sacred gifts,

and those who believe that a woman’s life
is her own to join in sex with whomever

she wants and once pregnant whether
or not to delete that tiny comma without

the intervention of the almighty state.
What sort of Handmaid’s Tale

is ‘Bama spinning here now that its Senate
and the Court are packed with Medieval

men of the Right who consign women
to the stove and the marital bed,

where all conception is authorized
by a Fundamentalist Godhead.

What country is this where theocracy
struts its stuff in public and democracy

hides under the bed to avoid
a vengeful thrashing? My count-

try, ’tis of me, I sing, sweet place
of Liberty, of thee I sing . . .


George Held, a frequent contributor to TheNewVerse.News and other periodicals, has received ten Pushcart Prize nominations and published or edited twenty-two poetry books.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

THE POWER OF WHITE MEN

by Ashley Green


Hours after the Alabama Senate voted late Tuesday to ban abortions in almost all circumstances — including in cases of rape and incest — women’s rights activists and abortion advocates said the decision to approve the nation’s strictest abortion measure has energized them. Knowing that the bill was designed to challenge Roe v. Wade, they are gearing up for the fight. The Senate’s approval of the legislation in a party-line 25-to-6 vote Tuesday sent it to Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk. . . . Ivey signed the law Wednesday.” —The Washington Post, May 15, 2019. Photo by Chris Aluka Berry/Reuters via Aljazeera, May 15, 2019.


Twenty-five fingers slide between
Alabama’s legs as the white, male
gaze of the white, male monster
searches Her face for panic.
Women can’t be trusted
drips from its twenty-five mouths
and its fifty corners upturn as its
red tape tongues wraps themselves
around Her body.
They pull Her toward the stench
of the past that blossoms
at the back of its throats.
Her sisters' cries
echo from the darkness
of the monster’s shared gut.
She can hear the dying
of Georgia, Kentucky and Ohio,
of Mississippi and Arkansas,
as each plummets backward
in time behind the teeth of
the white, male mouths
sitting on the white, male faces
of the white, male monsters
destroying the country.


Ashley Green is a Southern California writer, poet, and feminist.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

I WOKE UP IN TECHNICOLOR

by Laura Lee Washburn




Couches, aquamarine, gold, avocado,
raspberry bubble gum, blue
stacked to the ceiling.

Behind my blonde, so blonde head
and coiffed, curled bob,
the air was marigold.

I had a standard poodle
with a rhinestone, no, diamond
collar.  My gay best friend

wore tight pants, and, I’m sure,
was in love with me
all day and night long.  We talked

with ivory phone cords circling
our wrists.  We were bound
to the colors of saturated pink sky

and the crushed red velvet lounge.
Come what may, let it.
Be what it is, be

until we rest in peace,
gingham polka dot plaid
and the green green grass under
our white patent leather feet.


Laura Lee Washburn is a University Professor at Pittstate.  She’s the author of This Good Warm Place and Watching the Contortionists and has a couple of manuscripts up for grabs.  The Co-President of the Southeast Kansas fund, Women Helping Women, she is often involved in raising money to combat poverty, but this month has turned her efforts to supporting a small press through the Tupelo 30/30 project.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

LAST FAIR DEAL GONE DOWN

by Paul Smith


In the latest chapter in the on-going saga following Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, the US president has asked the Islamic Republic to call him in order to “make a fair deal”. Speaking at a news conference at the White House yesterday, Donald Trump told reporters that he “would like to see them [Iran] call me”. What they should be doing is calling me up, sitting down. We can make a deal, a fair deal, we just don’t want them to have nuclear weapons – not too much to ask. And we would help put them back to great shape,” Trump said. Trump’s conciliatory tone comes three days his administration dispatched American aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln to the region in a move that was widely seen as an attempt to escalate tensions with Iran. —MEMO, May 10, 2019. Photo: Trump speaks at Washington rally against the Iran deal back in September 2015. Credit: Olivier Douliery/Sipa USA/Newscom via The American Conservative, May 9, 2019


Wait a minute
so we supported the Shah
so we overthrew Libya and
got Khadafi killed
so we ousted Saddam
and he wound up getting done in
but not by us directly
and so we pulled out of the phony
nuclear weapons pact instigated
by a former stooge president of ours
we asked you to call us
‘for a fair deal’
our phone hasn’t rung
WTF!
Don’t you trust us?


Paul Smith lives near Chicago. He writes fiction and poetry. He likes Hemingway, really likes Bukowski, the Rolling Stones, Beatles, Kinks and Slim Harpo. He can play James Jamerson's bass solo for 'Home Cookin' by Junior Walker & the Allstars.

Monday, May 13, 2019

A GHAZAL FOR VENEZUELA: PRESIDENT MADURO DENIES HUMANITARIAN CRISIS

by Elane Gutterman


CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Red Cross volunteers distributed the first shipment of badly needed emergency supplies in Venezuela on Tuesday after months of feuding between the government, which has denied the existence of a humanitarian crisis, and opponents who have been seeking to use the delivery of aid to force President Nicolás Maduro from power. —AP, April 16, 2019


A father hugs his child good night, his nightmare, her dwindling insulin doses.
For love of his country, Maduro turns down aid, insists “We aren’t beggars.”

A mother sells her thick, braided hair to buy rice, beans and chicken for her children.
With chants of venceremos, Maduro raises his fist “We aren’t beggars.”

A mother grieves for her older child stabbed when they grabbed his cell phone.
With hatred toward his enemies, Maduro resists “We aren’t beggars.”

A pregnant teen reveals there were no contraceptives or money to buy them.
In his embrace of the dead Chavez, Maduro can’t desist “We aren’t beggars.”

Now a father lines up by a Red Cross van for water purification tablets.
As a maid pours his fine wine, Maduro shifts yet persists “We aren’t beggars.”


In the latest issue of Journal of Global Oncology, Elane Gutterman, a health researcher, read how cancer care in Venezuela has been transformed from an advanced level of diagnosis and treatment to rudimentary services through government policies and indifference. In addition, she credits her friend and former Spanish teacher, Ana M., with making the needless suffering of the population personal through sharing stories of her Venezuelan family. Elane has published poems in Patterson Literary Review, U.S. 1 Summer Fiction Issue, Kelsey Review and TheNewVerse.News.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

ABORTION SONNET

by Allison Blevins


In 1973, Ms. magazine published a haunting photo of a woman named Gerri Santoro, who'd died of a back-alley abortion. At the time, no one could have predicted what an impact it would have on the pro-choice movement. —Vice, October 26, 2016

After “Police Photo, Norwich Connecticut, 1964”


I want us all to imagine her dead body rising, jerking
and mechanical, the lurch and halt and sputter of a carnival ride,
how The Whip and Wipeout and Scrambler
move, attempt to start over—put themselves back together
only to be taken, pulled to pieces once again.  I want us to feel
her suffering.  Not how it felt in her
body.  That is unimaginable.  That should remain unspoken.  Let us live
in the suffering of the body clambering back
to feet, body heaving up—empty now.  Let the body be ready to fight.
I want that body like Judith—searching for heads
of men who’d bring all of us
naked to our knees, who’d photograph us
prone and paling from the slow drain.  Let us imagine
all the bodies wandering forward—swords in hand.


Allison Blevins received her MFA at Queens University of Charlotte and is a Lecturer for the Women's Studies Program at Pittsburg State University and the Department of English and Philosophy at Missouri Southern State University. Her work has appeared in such journals as Mid-American Review, the minnesota review, Nimrod International Journal, Sinister Wisdom, and Josephine Quarterly. She is the author of the chapbooks Letters to Joan (Lithic Press, 2019) and A Season for Speaking (Seven Kitchens Press, 2019), part of the Robin Becker Series. Her chapbook Susurration (Blue Lyra Press) is forthcoming.  She lives in Missouri with her wife and three children where she co-organizes the Downtown Poetry reading series and is Editor-in-Chief of Harbor Review.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

A MOTHER READS OF YET ANOTHER HERO

by Devon Balwit


Kendrick Castillo was killed while trying to stop one of the assailants during a shooting at his school in Highlands Ranch, Colo., on Tuesday. Photo credit: Rachel Short, via Associated Press via The New York Times, May 9, 2019


To run towards the man with the gun is not
what we mothers want our sons to want,

dead hero sons harder to bear than living ones,
and there being so many shooters, so many guns,

and though it makes us cry to read of the goodness
embodied in such sacrifice, we imagine the badness

of every day thereafter—the silent, strangely clean
house, and all the milestones unseen—

graduation, grandbabies, holidays—the eulogy
in the Times a poor substitute for the ordinary prodigy

of our boys. Our hearts burst at these still children
laying down their lives—we’d rather all stood up again.


Devon Balwit's most recent collection is titled A Brief Way to Identify a Body (Ursus Americanus Press). Her individual poems can be found in here as well as in Jet Fuel, The Worcester Review, The Cincinnati Review, Tampa Review, Apt (long-form issue), Tule Review, Grist, and Rattle among others.

Friday, May 10, 2019

CAPITAL SPRING HAIKU



Sari Grandstaff is a high school librarian and writer in the Mid-Hudson Valley/Catskill Mountains of New York State. Her work has appeared in many print and online journals including TheNewVerse.News and Eastern Structures.  She and her husband are the proud parents of three adult children.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

SO YOU WANT TO BE A POLITICIAN?

The Attention-Deficit Version   
by George Salamon
“Where Rudy Giuliani’s Money Comes From” by Stephanie Baker, Bloomberg Businessweek, April 5, 2019. "Really Rich Rudy" image by Drew Friedman, New York Observer (2005) via https://id.pinterest.com/pin/242912973635536160/?lp=true.


You'll arrive ignorant of the national scene.
Leave it in greater amorality than it's been,
Set up a golden retirement in between.


Okay, George Salamon recalls, Truman, Ike and Carter didn't do it, but who in between, and who after? George is struggling to see the funny side ofour politics in some of the verse he publishes in Dissident Verse, Poetry24 and TheNewVerse.News. He lives in St. Louis, MO.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

BOTH CAROLINAS WEEP: HOMAGE TO UNC CHARLOTTE

by Earl J Wilcox


Riley Howell, 21, took three bullets while tackling a gunman last week at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He was one of two killed. In interviews with relatives and friends of Mr. Howell, not one person was surprised that he had acted decisively and with little regard for himself. —The New York Times, May 6, 2019. Above: Photographs of Riley Howell at his viewing ceremony on Saturday in Waynesville, N.C. Credit Swikar Patel for The New York Times.


Up the interstate about forty minutes
from our campus, Charlotte 49ers
weep as do their Eagle friends—
both schools connected by Carolina
geography, by our students taking
classes there, friends come for classes
here, some adjunct faculty teach at both
schools. Carolina cousins, uncles, aunts,
friends, sports competitors, youthful
world citizens making their way.
Today we grieve our mutual losses—
a semester ending too soon for some.


Earl J Wilcox is a retired Emeritus English Professor at Winthrop University (whose mascot is the Eagle), located about 25 miles south of Charlotte, NC.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

POEM BURIED UNDER THE SHED

by Kelsey Bryan-Zwick 



Photo by Richard Baker, Concord Monitor, May 2, 2019


Buried under the rhododendron, left cold in a back
alley dumpster for the garbage person to deliver
to indiscriminate piles of city landfill, torn to
nothing by screaming seagulls, or tossed like so
many refugees seeking asylum, to the bottom of an
ocean more likely to be remembered as graveyard
did you think our stories would be pretty as we are?

Covered in lipstick, hair braided, words worn like
a dress, did you think our fight would be somehow
less violent than the all wars described to you in your
history books?  Well they don’t gag and bind you
with a patriarchy of rules meant to diminish your power
and your voice because they think you’ll have
nice things to say. As we shed the millions of slights
and insults meant to define us, we don’t even know
our own skin.

And when you hear us at first maybe it will just
sound like a siren, almost indiscernible from all
the white noise, but then unmistakable, an ill pitch
in the stomach, a long sickening wail, some
visceral animal, a tearing crawling shriek, clawing
our way through the silence.  After so many years in
exile, the truth is hideously real: the monster we made
our monster to love.


Kelsey Bryan-Zwick is a Spanish/English speaking SoCal poet and artist with a B.A. from UC Santa Cruz in Literature/Creative Writing.  She is the author of three chapbooks, the most recent being Watermarked (Sadie Girl Press) a hand-bound edition which intermixes both her poetry and art.  Disabled with scoliosis from a young age her poems often focus on trauma, giving heart to the antiseptic language of hospital intake forms.  A Pushcart Prize nominee, Kelsey’s poetry appears, or is forthcoming in Rise Up Review, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Incandescent Mind, petrichor, Like a Girl, Lummox, A Poet is a Poet No Matter How Tall, Eunoia Review, and Redshift.

Monday, May 06, 2019

THE MEETING OF LITTLE VALLEYS

(the meaning of Poway)

by Alejandro Escudé



Kumeyaay-Diegueño-Salinan-Chumash-Kashaya-Esselen-Kiliwa-Paipai. Tipai-Ipai (`T p -`E¯ p ) is the common name since the 1950s of two linguistically related groups formerly known as Kamia (Kumeyaay) and Diegueño. Both terms mean “People”. “Diegueño” comes from the Spanish mission San Diego. Photo via Pinterest.


Where the Diegueño people
roamed, before the state was state, stream
of stars, black-billed magpie,

Blue Sky

sycamore, willow, cottonwood, oh scent of sage scrub forever!

woodland roadrunners, coyotes, and bats
we take our welcomed people in our hands
for Passover
those Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, all indigenous
living between the fallen limbs

among the wild roses, quail, and amphibians,

we walk with you arm in arm, through paths of chaparral and poison oak
as the bobcats look up at the moon,

glassy-eyed, weighed down by worldly cares,

there we sing, Dayenu—to the eternal family running along the red highway,
brothers and sisters

we will not let you fall to the captors who shall perish in their ancient pursuit,
as we

hold firm to the aromatic shrub of our blessèd word

to our common little meeting of valleys,

our people,
our Poway,

our truth.


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

Sunday, May 05, 2019

BIDEN MY TIME

by John Kaprielian 




The old white man enters into the fray
appeals to those scared of women
minorities, socialists and gays.
Apologizes for actions in bygone days:
legislation, hugs, touches, and words,
Anita Hill not getting respect she deserved.
You say you are woke now, claim to understand 
the lives of everyday women and men but
I can't forgive you and vote in another
baggage-laden man unless there's no 
other choice to be made come election day 
to make damn sure Donald T***p goes away.




After graduating Cornell with an esoteric and useless degree in Slavic Linguistics, John Kaprielian found work as a natural history photo editor, which he has been for over 30 years. He has been writing poetry for 35 years and in 2012 he challenged himself to write a poem a day for a year and published the poems in a book, 366 Poems: My Year in Verse (available on Amazon). He has had poems published in TheNewVerse.News, The Five-Two Poetry Blog, Down in the Dirt Magazine, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Naturewriting.com, and Minute Magazine. His poetry ranges in subject matter from the natural world to current events and politics to introspective and philosophical themes. He lives in Mahopac with his wife, teenage son, and assorted pets.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

A NOTE TO MS. WARREN, MS. HARRIS, AND MS. KLOBUCHAR

by Gil Hoy




When you see
a little girl

Particularly if she
does not smile
very much,

Or has a tiny tear
on her tender cheek,

You be sure
to tell her—

Please be sure
to tell—

Drawing deep from
within your own pain

That you, too,
can be a Senator,

Or perhaps
even President.


Gil Hoy is a Boston poet and semi-retired trial lawyer who studied poetry at Boston University through its Evergreen program. Hoy previously received a B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science from Boston University, an M.A. in Government from Georgetown University, and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. He served as a Brookline, Massachusetts Selectman for four terms. Hoy’s poetry has appeared most recently in Chiron Review, TheNewVerse.News, Ariel Chart, Social Justice Poetry, Poetry24, Right Hand Pointing/One Sentence Poems, I am not a silent poet, The Potomac, Clark Street Review, the penmen review, and elsewhere

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

A CORPORATE ANTHEM

by George Salamon





60 Profitable Fortune 500 Companies
Avoided All Federal Income Taxes in 2018


To our fellow Americans who are the
Backbone of the country, its working
Families, the average Joe and Jane.
We say: our aim is to share the
Wealth of this great nation.
Here's how we do it:
Please close your eyes.
They're closed, Good.
Now, what you see;
That's what is yours.


George Salamon contributes verse to Dissident Voice, Poetry24, TheNewVerse.News, Proletaria (upcoming) from St. Louis, MO. He once worked for eight years for a corporation.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

ATTEMPTED OVERTHROW

by Mickey J. Corrigan


Empty Vessel Stomping on the US Constitution
Trump Sculpture Series #4 by Judith Peck


Maybe you held the moon in your hands
and watched it morph
into a spiked border wall
in high-definition.

Maybe you saw your shaggy body
perfected
in a mirror of hashtags
believing the world wanted you.

Maybe you were soulless and filled
with explosives timed
to go off at just
the wrong time. Or not.

A king, you see, is a window
into the house. Into the heart. I meant
to say such a man is a door
into what we dream, what we think.
Not all doors open. Meanwhile
you let the rest of us
dissolve on your tongue like nitro.

Don't you know everything
you ever said or did
will be used against you
in the court of public opinion?

Maybe we can rearrange
your disorder to some kind
of warped metal sculpture
that reflects us, no longer
a bad reflection on us.

Moon or no moon
hands contain veins,
old blood. When you leave
the gilt throne you erected
in your own image
please take your fake weather
with you.


Originally from Boston, Mickey J. Corrigan lives in South Florida and writes noir with a dark humor. Books have been released by publishers in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. Poetry chapbooks include The Art of Bars (Finishing Line Press, 2016), Days' End (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2017), and Final Arrangements (Prolific Pres, 2019). Project XX, a novel about a school shooting, was published in 2017 by Salt Publishing in the UK.

Monday, April 29, 2019

OTHERS

by John Guzlowski


Today an anti-Semitic hate crime shot and killed my friend Lori Gilbert Kaye z”l while she was praying in synagogue. Lori you were a jewel of our community a true Eshet Chayil, a Woman of Valor. You were always running to do a mitzvah (good deed) and generously gave tzedaka (charity) to everyone. Your final good deed was jumping in front of Rabbi Mendel Goldstein to take the bullet and save his life. —Audrey Jacobs, Jewish Journal, April 27, 2019


They killed us on the banks of the Danube
and in the ovens of Auschwitz. 

They killed us in our homes
and they killed us in the woods.

They killed us in the heat of summer 
and the coldest cold of winter.  

They killed us pleading to God 
and they killed us 
as we lay in the mud.  

They killed us when we were children 
and they killed us when we were old 
and too exhausted to weep.  

They killed us 
and they continue to kill us.  

In America and everywhere.


John Guzlowski's writing appears in Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, Rattle, Ontario Review, North American Review, and other journals.  His poems and personal essays about his Polish parents’ experiences as slave laborers in Nazi Germany and refugees in Chicago appear in his memoir Echoes of Tattered TonguesEchoes received the 2017 Benjamin Franklin Poetry Award and the Eric Hoffer Foundation's Montaigne Award for most thought-provoking book of the year.  He is also the author of two Hank Purcell mysteries and the war novel Road of Bones.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

AMERICA IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE MUELLER REPORT AND THE ANGRY TWEETS THAT FOLLOWED

by Ariana D. Den Bleyker


Graphic: ALEX WONG/GETTY IMAGES NEWS/GETTY IMAGES, TWITTER via Elite Daily


I.

She swallows the news, a lump in the back of her throat,
watching all the armies who rally to save her gather,

seemingly defeated, their hopes hanging 
upon the delicate flesh of failed ghosts.

Balance of possibilities can go either way:
with just a whisper of wind, touching hand giving strength

to moments of truth swinging gently, leaning, anchored, swaying, 
rediscovering & restoring, though always permanently rooted. 

A new furnace burns brightly, metal ablaze, wrapped in red heat;
sweat pouring, glistening brighter than molten steel, boiling her people

until the day is done & lions roar by the hearth-fire. 
The sun briefly shines, allowing moments for thoughts

& strange songs of what will happen 
tomorrow that may never be real.

II.

She grits her teeth & makes a home far away—
deep within caves within caves, farther back until blue becomes blackness.

She returns to her mother, to nothing,
for inside Plato’s ultimate form illusions of illusions demystified & ugly

rely on her starkness—this & all that she saw
when he crawled in her bed unworthy of sitting by her side,

her form easy enough to reach, as if an object of his desire
left alone to bruise & soil while lying beneath the earth,

left with angry words unable to differentiate
the stomping with supposed compassionate feet, 

the head held down feeling no regrets. 

III.

She can see the revolution from her window,
the small orbits, when they turn away & return 

& sometimes a star falls, a blazing fire shot down,
a demigod dying & it comes down on her—

the thing that once was but is now lost inside her,
borrowing girder, salvaging safety for others, 

relieving the pressure amid weary shoulders grasping
for strength, taking refuge in sacrifice & pain

of her people giving what they’re willing to never receive,
as they walk breathlessly into the ether,

surveying the fact or fiction placed in their hands.


Ariana D. Den Bleyker is a Pittsburgh native currently residing in New York’s Hudson Valley where she is a wife and mother of two. When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with her family and every once in a while sleeps. She is the author of three collections, including Wayward Lines (RawArt Press, 2015), the chapbooks Forgetting Aesop (Bandini Books, 2011), Naked Animal (Flutter Press, 2012), My Father Had a Daughter (Alabaster Leaves Publishing, 2013), Hatched from Bone (Flutter Press, 2014), On Coming of Age and Stitches(Origami Poems Project, 2014), On This and That (Bitterzoet Press, 2015), Strangest Sea (Porkbelly Press, 2015), Beautiful Wreckage (Flutter Press, 2015), Unsent (Origami Poems Project, 2015), The Peace of Wild Things (Porkbelly Press, 2015), Knee Deep in Bone (Hermeneutic Chaos Press, 2015), Birds Never Sing in Caves (Dancing Girl Press, 2016), Cutting Eyes from Ghosts (Blood Pudding Press, 2017), Scars are Memories Bleeding Through (Yavanika Press, 2018), A Bridge of You (Origami Poems Project, 2019), Even the Statue Weeps (Dancing Girl Press, forthcoming 2019), and Confessions of a Mother Hovering in the Space Between Where Birds Collide with Windows (Ghost City Press, forthcoming 2019). She is also the author of three crime novellas, a novelette, and an experimental memoir. She hopes you'll fall in love with her words.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

FARM AID

by Denise Sedman


Above: Screenshot from the Farm Crisis Center webpage. See also PewTrusts Stateline.


Cows have been milked
and chickens fed.

Daddy’s awake since
before a light’s been
switched on Wall Street,

All this talk about commodities.
Finances flopping,
unmanageable stress.

I heard the neighbor tied a rope
on a beam in the barn.
Hanged himself.

He tried the suicide hotline,
but the phone rang off the hook.


Denise Sedman is an award-winning poet from the Detroit area. Recent work has been featured in San Pedro River Review, Nassau Review, Gravel Literary and Poets Reading the News. She has a poem in the 2017 Nasty Women anthology by Lost Horse Press. Her signature poem “Untitled” was the source for architect students at University of Detroit Mercy to build a temporary environment in Detroit. The original poem was featured in Abandon Automobile, Wayne State University Press, 2001.

Friday, April 26, 2019

WHEN I AM THE DAY

by Buff Whitman-Bradley




If I were ever to be a day
I would be pleased and proud
To be like this one
Modestly performing its tasks
With competence and confidence
And economy of effort
Quietly and carefully arranging above us
The great clouds bulging
With this afternoon’s rain
Spreading pale gray light
Among the hillsides, the woods
The neighborhoods and parks
And playing fields
Toting armloads of song birds
From tree to tree to tree
Mingling with flowers and bushes
With forgotten grasses in roadside ditches
And vacant lots
Conducting the cantankeous oratorio
Of a chaos of crows
Occupying the bare branches
Of the neighbor’s walnut tree.
And when I am the day
No mauling of the climate
No wars or drone strikes
Or collateral damage
No indecency in high places
No exploitation or economic collapse
No children starved or abused or neglected
No drama, no flash-and-dazzle
Or whoop-dee-doo
A plain, ordinary day of abundant courtesy
And generosity
And a night flooded with stars
To still the noise
And remind the crowd at the top of the food chain
Whence they have come
And where they are bound.


Buff Whitman-Bradley's poems have appeared in many print and online journals. His most recent books are To Get Our Bearings in this Wheeling World and Cancer Cantata. With his wife Cynthia, he produced the award-winning documentary film Outside In and, with the MIRC film collective, made the film Por Que Venimos. His interviews with soldiers refusing to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan were made into the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. He lives in northern California.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

REAGANOMITRUMPICS

by Rémy Dambron





what trickles down is not their tax breaks
is not charity or compassion

what dribbles rather their self importance
hunger for power dispassion

what trickles down is not investment is not
wealth or higher spending

what oozes rather is their gluttony vanity
and planned meddling

what trickles down are not more jobs are not
higher wages or social security

what flows rather are attacks on speech over
reach and obscurity

what trickles down is not healthcare is not
welfare or opportunity

what leaks rather are their lies transgressions
and impunity

what trickles down is not a future is not progress
or positive growth

what percolates rather their narcissism and
hypocritical oaths

what trickles down is not good faith are not
grand ideas or democracy

what slithers drips seeps and bleeds conspicuous
autocracy


Rémy Dambron is an English instructor and lyricist from San Diego, California. His work focuses on denouncing political corruption, advocating for the environment, and promoting social justice. He has been published by Poets Reading the News, The Veggie Wagon Journal, and What Rough Beast. This poem was written in response to recent reports that dozens of multi-million and multi-billion-dollar corporations (like Amazon) paid zero dollars in taxes last fiscal year.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

TOWARD A GENTLER GOOD NIGHT

by Elane Gutterman



N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy signs the Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act Friday, April 12, 2019 at the New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton, N.J. New Jersey joins seven other states and Washington, D.C. to enact a law permitting terminally ill patients to seek life ending medication. The law takes effect in August. (Credit: New Jersey Office of the Governor via WHYY)


The trigger for me was the research for a poem, my artful
turn on two decades of Oregon envy, wanting their Death
with Dignity to apply in New Jersey as a law abiding act.

I stumbled on the lobbying group and the way grew less abstract.
Supporters met up at the State House. Our message fine-tuned art,
we engaged lawmakers on the need for choice when near to death.

Those opposed called it suicide, minimized long-suffering death.
Finally, the bills came up for a vote, would they be enacted?
I stared at the display as votes in favor mounted like hanging art.

Work of art, my state enters the pact. Governor affirms choice in death.


In this tritina, Elane Gutterman celebrates a milestone in advocacy work with Compassion & Choices. Her poems have been published in U.S 1 Summer Fiction Issue, Kelsey Review, Patterson Literary Review, and TheNewVerse.News.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

IN THE THORN BUSHES

by Lois Rosen


One day last week, a call came in to the sheriff’s office shortly before 10 a.m. Border Patrol agents had found the body of a woman in the back corner of a ranch. Credit Brooks County Sheriff’s Office via The New York Times.


After the “Crossing the Border Newsletter” 
by Manny Fernandez and Nubia Reyna in The New York Times, April 18, 2019


Migrants have been dying in the South Texas brush.
“Many, many are dying. That was what surprised me.”
The president insists he’s shocked. But now that he
knows for sure, do you see him rushing from a private
dinner to order humanitarian convoys of water and food?
8 bodies were found this year, and it’s only mid-April.
Among the cactus, mesquite, sage, oak, thorn bushes,
the lost, frozen, dazed, sick men and women collapse
from heatstroke, hypothermia, dehydration. A sheriff
today found a female skeleton face down, in dirt,
U.S., Mexican, and Honduran cash around her, prayer
cards in the pockets of her jeans. A male body, face up,
a Honduran I.D. in his wallet, he’s discovered to be
the father of a three-year-old girl. There’s a selfie of
the two of them on his Facebook page. In Spanish, he
called her my princess. The sheriff runs out of body bags.
How does someone get used to bagging up the dead?


Lois Rosen’s poems have appeared twice before in TheNewVerse.News. She enjoys leading the Trillium Writers and the ICL Writing Group at Willamette University. Her published poetry books are Pigeons (Traprock Books, 2005) and Nice and Loud (Tebot Bach, 2015).

Monday, April 22, 2019

BLUE DIAMOND

by Martha Landman


Botswana has unveiled a blue diamond whose value could outstrip that of the storied Hope Diamond: the 20.46-carat, close-to-flawless Okavango Blue. The diamond was presented in Gaborone, Botswana by the state-owned Okavango Diamond Company. Found as a 41.11-carat rough stone in the Orapa mine operated by the producer Debswana, the jewel is the largest blue diamond ever found in Botswana. . . . While the Hope Diamond is larger at 45.52 carats, the Okavango Blue's immense value lies in its clarity. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) graded the diamond as "Very, Very Slightly Included," or VVS2, meaning inclusions—internal imperfections—“are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification." —CNN, April 18, 2019


Allotrope of carbon, unbreakable
stone of Gaborone, Okavango Blue
and glimpses of white arranged in oval shape
extracted from deep within Earth’s mantle
brings to this April month, a 20-carat sparkle


Martha Landman writes in Adelaide, South Australia, where she is a member of Friendly Street Poets. She has previously contributed to TheNewVerse.News.

SAVE THE WALRUS

by George Salamon


The walrus deaths shown in “Our Planet” are becoming increasingly common as the sea ice they depend on melts away faster than we predicted. Over the past decade, climate change has caused summer sea ice to disappear from the walrus’s shallow foraging grounds in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea. That’s because the Pacific walrus needs sea ice year-round for giving birth, nursing their young and resting. Over the past decade, climate change has caused summer sea ice to disappear from the walrus’s shallow foraging grounds in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea. Without summer sea ice for resting, walrus mothers and calves have been forced ashore in huge numbers, where they have limited access to food and are vulnerable to being trampled to death, attacked by predators or crowded into dangerous places looking for space to rest—like the edge of a cliff. “Some of them find space away from the crowds. They struggle up the 80-meter cliffs, an extraordinary challenge for a 1-ton animal used to sea ice,” narrator David Attenborough says solemnly. “At least up here, there is space to rest. A walrus’ eyesight out of water is poor, but they can sense the other down below. As they get hungry, they need to return to the sea.” What follows is footage of walruses tumbling one by one down sharp cliffs, crashing into the rocky beach and other walruses below. “In their desperation to do so, hundreds fall from heights they should never have scaled,” Attenborough says. —Common Dreams, April 17, 2019


You can quickly become nauseous
Viewing the suicidal walrus,
Latest victim of man's avarice
Driven by an appetite so ravenous
To living things it's cancerous.
If you, like many of us, turn away
It will only embolden greed's sway.
Let us form an army of resistance
And fight for the walrus's existence.


George Salamon lives and writes in St. Louis, MO and hopes to see a walrus again.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

UNBURIED ALLELUIA

by Jill Crainshaw


The devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris led to an immediate outpouring of donations and an ambitious pledge by the French president to rebuild within five years. But a continent away, the blaze also spurred more than $1.8 million in donations to rebuild three historically black churches burned in suspected hate crimes in Louisiana. The fires at the three churches in St. Landry Parish occurred over 10 days beginning at the end of March. Authorities said they were deliberately set and have arrested a suspect. As of Sunday, a GoFundMe campaignseeking donations for the churches had raised only about $50,000. By Thursday morning, donations had soared to more than $1.8 million. The money is to be distributed equally among the three churches, which were all a century old. —NBC News, April 18, 2019. Photo: St. Mary's Church in Louisiana was the first to burn. Natalie Obregon / NBC News file. [Editor's Note: The GoFundMe campaign is no longer accepting donations. It has raised more than $2 million, exceeding its goal.] 


a weary sister walks among the ruins
sweeping up cold ashes into a dustbin
for next year’s lenten initiation, she says as she
scoops priceless residue into her cupped hand
some of it slipping away through shaky fingers
settling again onto the charred ground
        “remember that you are dust
         and to dust you shall return”
the preacher said just 40 days ago while pressing
ashy imprints of mortality on eager foreheads
nobody even saw it coming then—
unholy tongues of fire stripping altars bare
out of sync with high holy ritual processions
where hopeful worshipers catch sparks
from an easter vigil flame and carry them
into silent sacred good friday sanctuaries
she puts a hand on her tired back and
when she lifts her face toward the pinking sky
a wayward bit of wind stirs the ashes in her hand
she lets them go
and even with all other words
smothered by smoke and tears
she tastes alleluia on her cracked lips


Jill Crainshaw is a professor at Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, NC.

OLD WOOD

by Karen Greenbaum-Maya


April 16, 2019 Fallen debris from the cathedral’s burned-out roof lies near the altar. Christophe Morin/Bloomberg News via The Washington Post.


Halfway through my last dinner, I saw the blaze,
unfathomable as the Grand Canyon creaking shut.
The owner confirmed:  Everyone on staff is following

as firefighters poured the river onto the flames.
When the spire lifted as it toppled, people gasped,
wailed as though a suicide had jumped.

The day before I’d walked the quais,
browsed the bookinistes, shot mood pics of the towers,
total cornball, through the mist of new leaves.

Arrow of God, the spire had fallen before the sun was down,
The fire turned the sky red, turned the cross white-hot.

Not all the water in the world, not even the river could help.
People stood and watched, sang and wept.
Rains came only the next morning.

Ash sifted down catching, reflecting coral light
I’d brought my husband’s ashes in a carved wooden box.
No need, no need.

After dinner, the owner walked me to the door. We sniffed the air.
Vieux bois, she shrugged, wincing. Old wood.


Karen Greenbaum-Maya’s third and weirdest chapbook Kafka's Cat will soon be available at Kattywompus Press.