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Sunday, September 15, 2019

RENT FOR OUR ROOM ON EARTH

by Barbara Simmons  

after Muhammed Ali





Not sure where that is, sometimes, my room, my home,
but this west coast city has too many zip codes,
and too many faces that turn away
don’t look at you, sometimes beyond, afraid connecting might mean
you want something and here there are too many
whose wants aren’t being met
whose needs go unwatched whose backs we don’t have.
Sounds on this hot Sunday rise like hot air sending gospel notes
beyond the outdoors stage, lifting words that catch up with my feet
so I am walking keeping time
walking and watching and walking and listening and walking and hearing
“Give me your arms for the broken hearted    and San Jose cried with Dayton and El Paso and Gilroy.
Give me your heart for the ones forgotten   and San Jose cries for all who don’t have refuge.
Give me your eyes so I can see”   and I cry until my tears clear my eyes, and I hear
the words on your t-shirt sing to me of  Ali, you walking towards me, me looking at you with you.
Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth
My room here on earth—so many rooms where I’ve slept and risen
loved, been lost, saved, often still looking for redemption, my many lives
spent trying to understand  words we wear, words we feel, words I say.
I stop to mouth the words to you, to all of you, that yes I’ll have your back
I’ll read and listen and watch and hear and see and see and see.


Barbara Simmons grew up in Boston and lives in California; her dual environment—shapes, skylines, even color wheels—informs her poetry, as do her families of origin and extended. She graduated from Wellesley College, received an MA in The Writing Seminars from Johns Hopkins University, and an MA in Educational Administration from Santa Clara University. As a secondary school English teacher, she was able to revisit texts she loved with students who inspired her to think more about how we communicate with each other on pages/screens as well as face-to-face. Retired, Simmins savors the smaller parts of life and language, exploring the communion of words as ways to remember and to envision and to heal. Publications have included Santa Clara Review, Hartskill Review, Boston Accent, Soul Lit, Hamline Review, Oasis Anthology, Writing it Real and Common Ground, among others, as well as short Perspectives on NPR affiliate. 

Saturday, September 14, 2019

AT THE TEXAS BORDER CROSSING

by Wendy Hoffman





Justice is a pebble under the rug you trip over,
a slipped stitch on embroidery,
mail that fails to be delivered.

I want to give my kids life
so the gangs won’t rape
or kill them,
so we can buy food, not steal.

Does that make me a criminal?
It makes me unwanted.
I didn’t think we’d make it to the border
but we did, thirsty, filthy.

I thought the children would faint,
I carried the youngest.
Asylum: that was for the old days.

The stiff legged officers pace like dictators.
Some enjoy, some hate, their job.
All my children severed from my spine,

its sound like a building demolished.
Our pleading cries carry no weight,
our filled lungs don’t matter.

Will I hug empty air for the rest of my life?
I don’t know where they took my children,
I may never feel or smell them again.
The space between us is deeper than a grave.

How can people in uniforms rip out my soul?
This theft will be engraved in my children’s minds forever.
First starvation, then murder of our bond.
They send me home alone.

What will they do with my children,
who cares about them?
Asylum: a dream from the past,
democracy doesn’t exist.

The gangs are restless,
they know I am here,
they prowl.


Wendy Hoffman is a retired social worker. Karnac Books, London, published her memoirs in 2014 and 2015, and a co-authored book of essays, in 2017. Her books are now with Aeon Publishers in England and Routlege in New York. Her first book of poetry was published in 2016. A new memoir is forthcoming. She has a MFA in creative writing and lives on the Olympic Peninsula with her dog.

Friday, September 13, 2019

A HUNTING WE WILL GO

by Stewart Shaw


“It’s been two years since a 26-year-old Black gay male died in the West Hollywood home of a 63-year-old white man and 243 days since the second one died. That’s not a typo. Yes, I said the second one. Despite the many young Black men who stepped forward in the wake of the deaths of Gemmel Moore, and later Timothy Dean, with text messages, plane tickets, voicemails, screenshots and videos recounting similar stories about Ed Buck, a Democratic activist and major donor who they say has a Tuskegee Experiment-like fetish which includes shooting meth into young Black men that he picks up off the street or via dating hookup websites, no charges have been filed against Buck in either death.” —Jasmyne Cannick, The Advocate, September 11, 2019. “The first pre-trial court hearing will take place on Monday [September 16, 2019] in the wrongful death civil rights lawsuit filed against Ed Buck, L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey and Assistant Head Deputy D.A. Craig Hum in the 2017 meth overdose death of 26-year-old Gemmel Moore in Buck’s West Hollywood apartment.” —WEHOville, September 10, 2019. WEHOville photo above: Jerome Kitchen, a friend of Gemmel Moore’s, speaking at the rally on Laurel Avenue in West Hollywood in July with Moore’s mother, LaTisha Nixon, at left, and organizer Jasmyne Cannick at right.

for Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean


Pt.1


No one can hear the crying. The white man who plays daddy or god, who wants my awe, my bended knee tribute, his ears that do not pick up the frequencies of such lonely cries, are on backwards, are not attune to blk boy misery.

I can hear the echoes of past supplicants; they walk over my grave. I ask him if he feels the heavy, vibrating air circulating through the room.  His soft-spaced body pitted with an excess of hubris, self-loathing, only detects its own insatiable appetites for worship and dick and ass; a blk body more synecdoche than spirit. He

Does not believe in blk pain, just white pleasures. So, I give this god his want, give him my blk body to fill with poison, give him my neediness, my hopes in exchange for his lust and pieces of silver. I will indulge his fantasy, bow down at the altar of his self-righteousness; swing from his lustful ego. When I die

Bury me in the blue of divinity, let no white sheet adorn my skin. Drop me into the ocean, let the salt cleanse my veins, carry my body away from the hunt.


Stewart Shaw is a poetry and fiction writer and the author of the chapbook The House of Men from Glass Lyre Press. His poems have been published in African American Review, Temenos Literary Journal, Serendipity and others, as well as short stories in Mighty Real: An Anthology of African American Same Gender Loving Writing and African Voices. He is a Cave Canem Poetry Fellow.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

CLEANING THE WHITE HOUSE

by Cathleen Calbert




Chaos presidency, sighed MSNBC.
I thought of bombs blasting, black holes, and tornadoes,
how no kid wants a home that’s unsafe and crazy
with a mom screaming and a dad who ups and goes.
My husband and I don’t have children, just trauma
from fucked up childhoods, I suppose, along with doubt
about those who thrive on narcissistic drama
as does the USA’s own proud tangerine lout,
so we rail along with our small screens, piss and moan
our way to a messy sleep, and don’t even kiss
on the lips as often as lovers ought but drone
on and on about this political abyss.
It’s hard to believe we’re the adults in the room.
But we are, dear. Time’s up, timed out, time for a broom.


Cathleen Calbert’s writing has appeared The Nation, The New York Times, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. She is the author of four books of poems: Lessons in Space, Bad Judgment, Sleeping with a Famous Poet, and The Afflicted Girls. Her awards include the 92nd Street Y Discovery Poetry Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and the Sheila Motton Book Prize.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

TEXT 911 FOR RESERVATIONS

by David Feela





Summer camp, scrapped
for the Taliban at Camp David,
the outing such a secret
not even the Taliban knew

if there’d be time for swimming
before their bombs blew.
The commander and chief
counselor promised

hot dogs and marshmallows,
airplane rides, and maybe
if they were good a story
around the campfire

about thousands of ghosts
who still haunt the woods.


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

PENTAGON MEMORIAL

by Jacqueline Jules


Photo of the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial by Mike Myers


Across the river in D.C., tourists
come from all over the country
to touch walls honoring
soldiers who died
in Vietnam, Korea,
Europe, and other places
far from American soil.

But here in this sacred place
built beside a structure
still standing in spite of attack,
I read the name of a three-year-old
seated on a plane with her parents
and older sister.

Here, water flows in shallow pools
as I walk with silent steps
between 184 benches
made of stainless steel and granite,
each one positioned to preserve
the last moments of someone
who died in a ball of fire
on a clear September morning.

Here, I stand beside
young trees planted in the hope
visitors will value their shade
as they come from all over
to remember the lives lost here,
not somewhere else, far away.
                                           

Jacqueline Jules is the author of the poetry chapbooks Field Trip to the Museum, Stronger Than Cleopatra, and Itzhak Perlman’s Broken String, winner of the 2016 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize from Evening Street Press. Her work has appeared in over 100 publications including TheNewVerse.News, The Rising Phoenix Review, What Rough Beast, Public Pool, Rise Up Review and Gargoyle.  She lives in Arlington, Virginia.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

FIDDLER WITH THE PROOF

by Edmund Conti



The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s acting chief scientist said in an email to colleagues Sunday that he is investigating whether the agency’s response to President Trump’s Hurricane Dorian tweets constituted a violation of NOAA policies and ethics. Also on Monday, the director of the National Weather Service broke with NOAA leadership over its handling of Trump’s Dorian tweets and statements. —The Washington Post, September 9, 2019


to the tune of "Matchmaker" from Fiddler on the Roof


Mapmaker, Mapmaker
Make me some maps
And put in some storms there
A Cat 5 perhaps.
Then you will have to
Send me relief.
Just a few billions
Will allay my grief.
Mapmaker, Mapmaker
Take out your Sharpie
Use all your witchcraft
Be your best Harpy.
Matchmaker, Matchmaker
Add a small line
And soon we’ll see FEMA
And life here in Alabama (or Georgia or Mississippi) will be fine.


Edmund Conti will alter your poem for a small fee and make it his.

Monday, September 09, 2019

I'M TIRED OF CONFUSING WHAT I WANT WITH WHAT I DESIRE

by Michael Brockley





Bibles with cherrypicked scriptures highlighted in red lay scattered along the culvert on my way to Casa del Sol. Border songs play on my radio. In a decade all the rock-and-rollers will turn out the lights after their final encores. No more rockin’ in the free world. No more trouble in the heartland. No more Ruthie in her Memphis honky-tonk lagoon. The waitress who serves a whiskey sour with my aroz con camarones is beautiful with her black widow tattoo inked down to her wrist and in the way she outsmiles Halle Berry. She wears a diamond stud in her pierced nose. Rides King’s Island’s Invertigo and Banshee without a safety net. When music award shows play on the television behind the bar, she roots for Drake or Cardi B. Says her mother bought records by Marvin Gaye and Otis Redding. Remembers wearing out a 45 of I Heard It Through the Grapevine one summer. I listen to sharecropper songs on the drive home. To songs by a singer named for a woman who rings like a bell in the night. A woman of constant sorrow who walks the freedom highway. I toss my dashboard Jesus out the window. The white Messiah. No one sings we won’t get fooled again. No one is running on empty tonight.


Michael Brockley is a retired school psychologist who lives in Muncie, Indiana. His poems have appeared in Third Wednesday, Jokes Review and TheNewVerse.News.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

WRECK AGE

by Alejandro Escudé





“The public needs to prepare for unimaginable information about the death toll and the human suffering.” —Bahamas Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands.


You shall prepare for the unimaginable.
The unimaginable tree that you will use
To construct a boat. The lighting that will strike
You as you’re falling into the pit. What pit?
You imagine that too, though it’s unimaginable.
Food can’t be imagined, unless one is a child.
And neither can healthcare, again,
Unless one remembers playing doctor.
You can’t imagine another planet, can you?
Another President with larger, more capable hands?
A car is a figment of the imagination, a flying car
To rescue you from your home, as it floats
Upon the sea. Wreckage is medieval marginalia—
You can use wreckage to make a poster,
As you might use macaroni to make art.
Can you imagine a stronger heart
To support the death you can’t imagine?
The death that begins on the unimaginable horizon,
Where dark clouds meet the rising sea,
Whispering, then shouting, then screaming
For help from the unimaginable authorities
Flying in on their helicopters, which are nothing
More than dragonflies, hovering above
A shallow pond, and the inundated world below.


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.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

I WON'T BACK DOWN

by Scott Bade


via Good


          Well, I won't back down
          No, I won't back down
          You can stand me up at the gates of hell
          But I won't back down
                 —Tom Petty


I’m dead because I’m not giving in
not backing down like the song says
so plainly we almost wonder if he’s
being ironic behind his laid-back
persona which hides a driven artist
whose Americanism hangs directly
upon the red white, blue and green
ethics of a capitalist republic blown
up beyond anything a dream could
dream up if it had the time to wonder
what might happen if we let wealth
unbuckle its belt and hang loose
on humanity’s sofa, a phone in
hand to scan the endlessness
of desire: video after video after
video of nubile young bodies
performing their roles for those
who have put them there and who
hope to keep them there, tied
inside a loop of patriarchy and
testosterone, a world man made
for man to man world to hold
himself above everyone even
himself, who knows his past,
knows the wrongs he’s lived
and knows the wrongs he covered
          and so I’m hanging here above
all of us, even me, so that no
one can touch me, except
myself, which is, after all
really all I’ve ever needed.


Scott Bade earned his Ph.D. in creative writing at Western Michigan University (WMU). In addition to teaching at Kalamazoo College and the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Scott is also the coordinator of the WMU Center for the Humanities. He is a former poetry editor for Third Coast Magazine and editorial assistant at New Issues Press. His chapbook My Favorite Thing About Desire was a co-winner of the 2018 Celery City Chapboook contest. His poems have appeared in Fugue, Shadowgraph, H_NGM_N, Foothill and elsewhere.

Friday, September 06, 2019

PESSIMIST'S ODE

by Carolyn Wells


Researchers with the Danish Meteorological Institute making their way over meltwater topping sea ice in northwest Greenland STEFFEN OLSEN via Forbes, August 16, 2019


If Greenland is melting,
I'm going to drink expensive Sancerre.
The reefs are bleached, the white rhinos extinct , the pangolins over hunted,
the forests of Siberia burning, the 2 degree Celsius rising.
I'm going to read the entire works of Dickens. I'm going to quit my job and make soap, sleep with young men, plant carrots and onions and store them all winter, sell my apartment and finally go live in France, where I will stand in silence in front of each WW1 monument, and reflect.
You who died for no reason.


Carolyn Wells is a member of Brevitas poetry group in NYC and a contributor to Alimentum. Her book Your Kiss is a River was published by Nirala Press.

Thursday, September 05, 2019

THE WOMAN WHO SWALLOWED THINGS

by Lois Marie Harrod


Image source: Getty Images via Vice.


In high school, the usual which pleased the boys, and in college
the predictable, goldfish and frogs with beer,
and, on a whim or a dare and after a little practice,
swords. Before graduating she became the star of her sorority
when she ate 69 hot dogs in ten minutes. Later,
she swallowed the diamond ring her fiancé put in a Softee—
seems he thought it would be an unusual way to ask for her hand and her throat,
and once she had that kid in diapers, safety pins open and shut.
The day she turned forty-five, she downed the restaurant spoons and forks,
and most recently she feasted on the more than ten thousand lies
told by the President which wasn’t as bad as it sounds
because by then lots of other people were swallowing oddities too—
concrete walls and steel barriers, the Golan Heights, Bears Ears,
Greenland with all its ICE and those nice White Supremacists—

which brought on a national epidemic of distressed intestines
and shut down nearly every hospital and nursing home in the country—
there no longer being medical insurance to cover belly aches,
or for that matter, any poorly paid immigrants to fill the health-care jobs—
unless, of course, you were very rich and had had practice in swallowing it all whole.


Lois Marie Harrod’s 17th collection Woman is forthcoming from Blue Lyra in December 2019. Her Nightmares of the Minor Poet appeared in June 2016 from Five Oaks; her chapbook And She Took the Heart appeared in January 2016; Fragments from the Biography of Nemesis (Cherry Grove Press) and the chapbook How Marlene Mae Longs for Truth (Dancing Girl Press) appeared in 2013. A Dodge poet, she is published in literary journals and online ezines from American Poetry Review to Zone 3. She teaches at the Evergreen Forum in Princeton and at The College of New Jersey.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP

by Alejandro Escudé


The face of the oldest species that unambiguously sits on the human evolutionary tree has been revealed for the first time by the discovery of a 3.8 million-year-old skull in Ethiopia. Above: A partial facial reconstruction using the fossil. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images via The Guardian, August 28, 2019.


“President Donald Trump said Wednesday he was looking ‘very seriously’ at ending the right to citizenship for babies born to non-U.S. citizens on American soil. Trump spoke to reporters as he departed the White House for a speech in Louisville, Kentucky. He said birthright citizenship was ‘frankly ridiculous.’ —Time, August 21, 2019

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” —The 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States


He died beside a river
and now, four million years later,
his cranium—his face, eyes looking through us
as if we were the moon in fog
four million years ago, a Wednesday,
though there were no Wednesdays and no
citizenship, only toddlers climbing trees,
only the chewing of grist,
the rock, the rock, the rock, the tree, the tree, the tree.
For what is birthright? Who belongs to what nation?
Can a nation really exit? Exit what?
Ask Australopithecus anamensis. He will tell you,
that loopy grin, earthy beard. Skin of our skin.
Heart of our heart. What do we feel
for him? Love? Ignorance is intolerance.
Historical, the complete skull.
No Lucy counterpart, a separate being.
What of the son born in a common territory
across the sea? Will he climb trees
with his brothers and sisters? Will he murder
other species of human? Or mate?
We may never know the ancient map-way
of genes that led here— the trail
of skulls shattered by time,
but we have that face, his face,
and we have the love that dissolves time,
and understanding, yes,
our birthright going back to Ethiopia,
our citizenship papers rolled
within the hollow bones of the birds.


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, September 03, 2019

BREATHING LESSONS

by Mary K O'Melveny


“Can’t breathe” by Hong Kong artist Benson Koo at society6.


I CAN’T BREATHE

said Eric Garner, his loosies scattered
like toothpicks on the street, his chest
and neck compressed, his body battered,
then prone, as Daniel Pantaleo pressed
down harder until nothing mattered,
leaving questions for some later inquest.

WE CAN’T BREATHE

said Hong Kong protesters whose lungs
filled with tear gas as police fired
more cannisters and aimed their guns
toward their hearts, hoping they would grow tired
of trying to imagine worlds of other suns
where democracy was still admired.

THEY CAN’T BREATHE

said medics in hospital rooms, as patients
arrived in great numbers, gasping for air
while tobacco CEOs made deals in spacious
office suites for vaping products, aware
that regulations are slim and use contagious,
betting as usual that not enough would care.

SHE CAN’T BREATHE

said the driver who found a woman walking
alone on the roadway as Paradise fires raged,
her car abandoned long before, tires melting.
From his pickup, too hot to touch, he gauged
the odds of rescue and the dangers of stalking
cinders, then leapt out—one catastrophe assuaged.

THEY CAN’T BREATHE

said migrants still floating on choppy seas
about fellow travelers catapulted overboard
flailing, then sinking, while they watched with unease.
They had prayed to gods when they climbed aboard
these flimsy rafts and trembling skiffs. Those pleas
have thinned to terror as they continue seaward.

HE CAN’T BREATHE

said the mother whose wheezing child
struggled for each breath in and out,
while methane gas levels went wild
and fossil fuel fumes expanded throughout
their Appalachian hills. Even with their air defiled.
some still said there’s nothing to worry about.

WE CAN’T BREATHE

said Southeast Asian villagers choking in heat
and smog. Their farmlands cleared for palm oil,
nothing remains to be burned except the peat
which smolders like angry words beneath soil
while carbon fills the air with coppery sleet
and once lush jungles are forever spoiled.

I CAN’T BREATHE

said Mother Earth as Amazonian flames
joined those in Africa and Alaska to devour
her greenest places. As thick forests turned to arid plains
and savannahs, what once were leafy bowers
degraded to dieback deserts. Scientists maintain
some hope but she’s fast losing respiratory powers


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. Mary’s poetry collection Merging Star Hypotheses will be published by Finishing Line Press in January, 2020.

Monday, September 02, 2019

HIT 'EM AGAIN

by Phyllis Wax





Frenzied spectators
shoulder to shoulder
in the stadium, the coliseum,                                            
Hit ‘em again,
harder, harder.
                        Blood sport—
gleaming helmets, shields,
spears, fists, muscled strong-men,
beasts—and the roar
harder, harder.

Pass flasks,
stomp, stomp
in togas
or in team jerseys.
Hit ‘em again.

Week after week
spectators demand            
extreme combat,
harder, harder,
aggression no armor
protects against.                              

Combatants exit arenas    
to cheers    or jeers,
sometimes bloodied, limping
   
to reap the whirlwind years ahead
      self-medicating
                        brawling
              stumbling
                        through     a        fog
                               crippled
                addled.

Monday nights, in front of the
flickering lights, I think about it.


Phyllis Wax writes in Milwaukee on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan.  Among the anthologies and journals in which her poetry has appeared are Rhino, The Widows’ Handbook,Birdsong, Spillway, Peacock Journal, Surreal Poetics, Naugatuck River Review, TheNewVerse.News, Portside, and Star 82 Review. She does not watch football or boxing. Reach her at poetwax38(at)gmail.com.

Sunday, September 01, 2019

THE COME-ALONG

by Richard Garcia

  



For you will be lifted up. For you will be thrown down.                                                                   Frank X. Gaspar, 'September Tropical'


The eye of the storm is turning towards us, the wheel of Biblical wind approaches, and my wife is watching a YouTube video, instructions on how to use the come-along, and she says, Come along with me, watch this, and don't place your forehead down on the table and roll your head back-and-forth, as if you were saying, What has she done now. And the tall man in the plaid shirt says, don't get your fingers caught in the gears of the come-along. And I get it: what if you have to drag the water-logged sofa across the floor of your living room and it's too heavy? You have the come-along. What if your generator, filled with gas and potentially explosive, is too heavy to lift over the flooded lawn and plug into the mysterious socket? You have the come-along. So this is how the Egyptians built the pyramids. They had Hebrew slaves and many come-alongs. This is how the Aztecs built those temples. They did not have wheels, they did not have gears, but they had tortillas and they were round, and the bite marks along a crusted edge of tortilla would suggest to them the gears of the come-along. The come-along—this is how we will ride out the storm, my love and I. This is how we will drag ourselves, drag our house, drag our dog Max—one chain attached to a tree, one chain attached to our house, both chains attached to the come-along—click by ratchety click, across the swirling, god-driven hurricane, to higher ground. 


Richard Garcia is the author of The Other Odyssey from Dream Horse Press, The Chair from BOA, and Porridge from Press 53. His poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies. He has won a Pushcart prize and has been in Best American Poetry. He lives in Charleston, S.C.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

TOP OF MIND

by Tricia Knoll




So you’re doing something about an annoyance,
is that what you’re trying to tell us?

What I’m really sick of is Presidents who lie,
vilify, condemn anyone who doesn’t agree

with his bigoted view of the world. The guy
who says another tax break will fix

the deficit we stagger under. This is the best
you can come up with? When caged children

cry for their mothers and fathers? The red flag
we need to raise is a ban on assault rifles

that have anyone stepping into a public square
looking over their shoulders, afraid.

I am so tired of the daily grind of your party
taking away the rights and liberties of people

you’ve marginalized. I am sick, sick, sick
of the chipping away, stone by stone,

of environmental protections. If I could
call you a million times, ring your line,

and repeat this over and over, I would.
Annoy the hell out of you.


Tricia Knoll hates robocalls as much as anyone else, but there is so much more making us sick at heart and tired of this administration. Knoll's work appears widely in journals and anthologies.

Friday, August 30, 2019

YOU NEED TO CALM DOWN

by Frank De Canio



This video by Taylor Swift won the Video for Good and Video of the Year awards at Monday’s MTV Video Music Awards. In her acceptance speech, Swift commended VMA voters for supporting the video’s message of LGBTQ equality and once again brought attention to her petition for the Equality Act, noting that it now has over 500,000 signatures “which is five times the amount that it would need to warrant a response from the White House,” she said, checking her imaginary watch to indicate she’s still waiting.


Just as a quarry’s brash response
brings to the fore, one laid to waste,
a stance conveying nonchalance
implies its source has been outfaced.
They’re adversaries Taylor Swift
can handle with good-naturedly
aplomb. She doesn’t let them rift
her measured sensibility.
Nor does she blithely shake them off
with just a sisterly rebuke.
For less Patrón than Molotov
cocktail she just as well would duke
it out when trolls step on her gown,
were she not bent on calming down.


Frank De Canio was born & bred in New Jersey, works in New York. He love theater and music of all kinds, from Bach to Amy Winehouse. He hosts a Cafe Philo discussing philosophical issues in lower Manhattan.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

NOT ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING

by Marilyn Peretti


Click here for more information on how to save the Earth.
          Click here to purchase or stream this video.


How do I not love thee earth?
Let me count the ways:
Monarchs leaving
Bees leaving
Polar bears leaving
Fires in the Arctic
Fires in Amazon forests
Microfiber in ocean fish
Microfiber in Arctic snow
Fossil fuels spitting from cars
Fossil fuels pouring from planes
   that depart every minute from
      somewhere
Lead in the water
Polluted water in Flint
Polluted water in Newark
Asbestos hiding everywhere
No water in Cape Town
Low water in Cairo
Low water in Bangalore
Glaciers melting - drip  drip
Funeral for glacier in Iceland
So, sea level rising along South Carolina
Sea level rising in Miami
Sea level rising in Brazosport
Sea level rising in Little Ferry

Shall I love thee better after death?


Marilyn Peretti from near Chicago, is Pushcart nominated, her poems published in Kyoto Journal, Journal of Modern Poetry, TheNewVerse.News, Rockford Review, Fox Cry Review, Talking River, Li Poetry (Chinese), Grey Sparrow, and others. Her books Let Wings Take You, Lichen-Poems of Nature, Angel's Wings, and To Remember-To Hope, are sold at the Blurb Bookstore.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

GHAZAL

by Judith Terzi


Emmett Till (July 25, 1941 - August 28, 1955)
Heather Heyer (May 29, 1985 - August 12, 2017)


Simeon Wright died 2 years ago. A faithful cousin of Emmett Till.
Heather Heyer's also gone. A victim of hatred like Emmett Till.

Two men shot Emmett, 14, sank him with a fan from a cotton gin.
One man killed Heather with another machine. Like Emmett Till.

Simeon, 12, saw the men point the gun, grab the teen from his bed.
His life spent haunted by the abduction of his cousin, Emmett Till.

Heather followed her conscience. She marched to oppose the rage.
A street for her in Charlottesville. In Chicago, one named Emmett Till.

Heather was murdered while crossing her street not too long ago.
Sixty-four years have passed since the murder of Emmett Till.


Judith Terzi is the author of Museum of Rearranged Objects (Kelsay Books, 2018) as well as of five chapbooks including If You Spot Your Brother Floating By and Casbah (Kattywompus Press). Her poetry appears widely in literary journals and anthologies, has received nominations for Best of the Net and Web, and has been read on the BBC. She holds an M.A. in French Literature and is a former educator who taught high school French for many years as well as English at California State University, Los Angeles, and in Algiers, Algeria.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

THE FIRE THIS TIME

by George Salamon






We're breaking earth
Like a loaf of bread,
Chasing oceans from
Their bottoms, and
Huffing the frenzy of
Fire into a ball so strong
It will tumble boulders
Into our soft flesh.


Maybe, George Salamon who lives in St. Louis,  MO suggests, there will be some good news at 11.

AMAZON FIRE MONEY

by Kristin Yates






We’re consumed by the beef
we’re broiling
Earth’s lungs
to farm more cattle
we are burning every
minute the size of a football
field to breed, slit

over 40 million
throats

Lungs, logged

$Indigenous persons, the Mura tribe Jaguar Cashapona tree, the Barrigona tree
Pataxó tribe Giant Armadillo, the Parintintin tribe Harpy Eagle Strangler Fig tree

are the change
ranchers gain
but do not count

as if they own the forest

charred, already spent


Kristin Yates hopes more than space can see the price of our consumption. #ActForAmazonia

Monday, August 26, 2019

CALLING CAPTAIN AMERICA!

by Susannah Greenberg


Graphic by @PresVillain who takes real Trump quotes and Photoshops them into existing comics.


“In today’s all too real world, Captain America’s most nefarious villain, the Red Skull, is alive on screen and an Orange Skull haunts America.” 
—Art Spiegelman, The Guardian, August 17, 2019


They co-opt us and adopt us,
steal the words that we say.

They corrupt us, interrupt us,
default and delay.

Mr. Marvel, Mr. Lieber, rolls in his grave,
as Americans all are the Orange Skull's slave.

Lying and trying to borrow our song,
with tongues forked and twisted, it comes out all wrong.

With the Dictators Playbook on his nightstand,
he dreams of a people he can command.

One day we'll awake and when we are woke,
then once again we can call him a joke.

Oh Captain, my Captain, I fear you are dead,
they're taking away our roses and bread.

Captain America, won't you come home,
your people are calling, wherever you roam.


Susannah Greenberg is an independent book publicist at Susannah Greenberg Public Relations.  Since that terrible day in November 2016, she's turned to writing rhymed verse, which is better than drinking she supposes.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

ONE DAY

by Peg Quinn




I’ll let your adrenaline rest,
not itemize facts on
how we’ve destroyed Earth's
environmental balance—
though I’m confident
it will survive
without us

I only want to let you know,
in spite of this,
I waited in line at Trader Joe’s
while the clerk recited
a Mary Oliver poem
to a customer
standing,
enchanted.


Peg Quinn is a mural painter and poet who keeps afloat in Santa Barbara, California.

ON THE AMAZON FIRES

by Sister Lou Ella Hickman


As the Amazon burned and the world faced an ecological disaster, President Emmanuel Macron of France bluntly criticized Brazil’s leader this week and threatened to kill a major trade deal between Europe and Brazil. President Trump, on the other hand, posted a tweet only Friday evening, saying that the United States was ready to help contain the fires, but adding that “future trade prospects” between the United States and Brazil “are very exciting.” Photo: Under increasing international pressure to contain fires sweeping parts of the Amazon, President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil on Friday authorized use of the military to battle the massive blazes. Credit:Leo Correa/Associated Press via The New York Times, August 24, 2019


                                i

                        my arms  scorched
                        with solidarity’s fire
                        ask   is this the world’s misplaced rage  
                                             or
                                                        is there some unknown  unseen  monster
                                             that feeds on our anger, fear, and hate
                                             that spews back flames
                                             to consume the earth's primal green breathing

                                                     ii

                                            the media question blares
                                            what can you do to help
                                            let your skin also burn
                                            with solidarity’s fire


Author’s note: I had a severe psoriasis flareup that began approximately the same time the Amazon fires began.


Sister Lou Ella Hickman, I.W.B.S. 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 the anthologies The Night’s Magician: Poems about the Moon edited by Philip Kolin and Sue Brannnan Walker, Down to the Dark River edited by Philip Kolin, Secrets edited by Sue Brannan Walker, and After Shocks: The Poetry of Recover for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2017. Her first book of poetry entitled she: robed and wordless was published by Press 53 in 2015.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

WAYNE LAPIERRE

by Mark Danowsky


Illustration by Tony Calabro


The world is on fire
so fire back

Fire before fire can be declared

Fire before anyone can shout fire

whether the building is crowded
or otherwise

Shout fire, fire, fire
in the hole
Fore!

Man down
Woman down
Child down

down child down

Who else is left down?

You know who
is cowering in the bathtub
fearful of a stray
bullet in the brain
Wayne saw John
Wayne or The Baptist

Showed him The Way

Fear, Love

the world becomes
a scary place

Wayne at night

his family in harm’s way

he prays for them

prays for us

pray we understand why

why guns save
not shatter
lives of a feather


collapse us with shards

a million little pieces of shrapnel

 Wayne, god
can’t you see

the rest of us shot thru

bleeding out


Mark Danowsky is a poet / writer from Philadelphia and author of the poetry collection As Falls Trees (NightBallet Press, 2018). He’s Managing Editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.

Friday, August 23, 2019

YOU DON'T

by Laura Rodley


The roll call of deceased unit members, which included 10 men killed in action, was an emotional time for Vietnam veterans who reunited in Berea, Ohio on August 9, 2019. "Even though we have had some sleepless nights, some dreams we want to forget, the remembrance of PTSD, and Agent Orange that just won't let go, we continue to be grateful and to stand for our flag," said the Chaplain. Photo credit: Beth Mlady/Special to cleveland.com, August 17, 2019


You don’t know him, he doesn’t
ask to be known, he won
a bronze star for valor
in Vietnam, he shops
on senior discount Tuesdays
at Big Y, at least he used to.
He doesn’t go out anymore,
even outside. You wouldn’t
recognize him, he’s just an
average Joe in a linen shirt,
rhythm of helicopters whirring
in his head. The Fourth of July,
Friday night fireworks in Ocean Park?
He’s seen enough fireworks, mortar
shell explosions, lights exploding,
himself exploding, he doesn’t want
any reminders. But ask for recognition,
no, valor of Vietnam vets unspoken,
stationed in Da Nang, ground zero for Agent Orange,
his early heart attack just a fluke
the doctor said, hearing loss due to age.
He slept next to a mortar shell field.
They blew up all the time.
He’s not asking anything
from his country that he served,
just to be left alone.

He only has to be as tall
as the ceiling of his livingroom,
where he chomps Fritos, swallows Cokes,
he doesn’t have to see behind him,
beside him, below him as the chopper
brings him base to base to allocate
and release funds, he doesn’t
have to see through forests, they
were denuded by Agent Orange,
someone could drop down on him
from above, but not while
he’s in front of the T.V. The front
door is locked, a cheap remedy
against machine gun fire.
He only has to manage the space
of the couch, the clicker, even
the screened-in porch reveals
too much green, someone could
be hiding in those maples, oaks,
kudzu, and that’s not paranoia,
it was real for him for two tours,
someone hiding to do him harm,
annihilate him and nothing but
his dog tags to know his name.
He would not call this being afraid,
nor is he: he is aware, hyper-aware
of leave rustle, door closing, pop-top
of the can breaking open, the fizzle
of foam. Everything he does saves
his life and those of the men he
served with- not one of them taught
to act alone but as a unit, always
aware of his buddy, aware of combat
boots squishing in the mud of rice paddies
beside him. Hyper-aware of
everything outside of him to save
them all, but nothing but his finessed reaction
for shooting or readiness to bail out of the chopper
of his own internal life. He
lived outside himself, his body, and
having survived when so many
he knew did not, he brought
it all home with him, where
it breathes in the livingroom
with him, he can’t close his eyes,
it’s inside him now, it won’t get out,
won’t let him go.


Laura Rodley, Pushcart Prize winner is a quintuple Pushcart Prize nominee, and quintuple Best of Net nominee. Publisher Finishing Line Press nominated her Your Left Front Wheel Is Coming Loose for a PEN L.L.Winship Award and Mass Book Award. FLP also nominated her Rappelling Blue Light for a Mass Book Award. Former co-curator of the Collected Poets Series, Rodley teaches the As You Write It memoir class and has edited and published As You Write It, A Franklin County Anthology volumes I-VI, also nominated for a Mass Book Award. She was accepted at Martha’s Vineyard’s NOEPC and has been a participant in the 30 poems in November fundraiser for the Literacy Project of the Center for New Americans. Latest books: Turn Left at Normal by Big Table Publishing and Counter Point by Prolific Press.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

AN OKWARD SITUATION

by Julie Steiner



Video published on Aug 19, 2019



Since "jökull" means "ice sheet," not "rock,"
we're re-christening Okjökull "Ok."
By the time we re-brand
balmy Iceland as "Land,"
will we stop calling climate change "schlock"?


Julie Steiner is a pseudonym in San Diego. Besides the TheNewVerse.News, the venues in which her poetry has appeared include the Able Muse Review, Rattle, Light, and the Asses of Parnassus.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

BROKEN WINDOWS

by Alan Walowitz


The New York City police officer whose chokehold led to Eric Garner’s death in 2014 was fired from the Police Department and stripped of his pension benefits on Monday, ending a bitter battle that had cast a shadow over the nation’s largest police force. Commissioner James P. O’Neill’s decision to dismiss the officer, Daniel Pantaleo (pictured above in May), came five years after Mr. Garner’s dying words—“I can’t breathe”—helped to galvanize the Black Lives Matter protests that led to changes in policing practices in New York and around the country. Photo: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Associated Press via The New York Times, August 19, 2019.


Some more fake news from the great American fable:
a baseball shatters the neighbor’s window
into a bullseye of splinters
as the old guy emerges, face on fire,
newspaper rolled into a cudgel clutched in his paw.
But a pussy cat at heart,
he’ll remember when he was young and will smile.
Or a doughy lady gets launched like a pinball
after too much slow-baking,
and more than a little tippling,
her apron aflutter and rolling pin awag,
but she’ll offer cookies to the kids.

In our tale, the window always heals itself
or gets forgotten in the false fever
of our Mayberry dreams—
We’ll make America great again.
Turns out it never was about the window,
only a way to get our next episode rolling.

If you attend to a broken window
the whole neighborhood’ll get fixed
and America made great again.
Tompkinsville on Staten Island’ll
become Short Hills, Grosse Point, Scarsdale,
or even Lake Success, right near me,
where the cop who pulls you over
doesn’t know from loosies
what a lustrous word for a dark occupation,
a guy trying to make a buck on the street.

But just the same the cop might be thinking,
I’d like to strangle this guy,
as he writes you up for driving distracted
by that cracked windshield
you haven’t found the time or money to repair.
But he’s friendly enough
for all his formality
about rights and recourse.
See you in court, he says,
sneering in your rearview mirror
as he waves you on.
We’ll make America great again, alright,
Just be sure you’re white and bring plenty of cash.
We don’t take credit cards or checks.


Editor’s Note from Frontline: The 1980s-era theory known as “Broken Windows” . . . argues that maintaining order by policing low-level offenses can prevent more serious crimes. But in cities where Broken Windows has taken root, there’s little evidence that it’s worked as intended. The theory has instead resulted in what critics say is aggressive over-policing of minority communities, which often creates more problems than it solves. Such practices can strain criminal justice systems, burden impoverished people with fines for minor offenses, and fracture the relationship between police and minorities. It can also lead to tragedy: In New York in 2014, Eric Garner died from a police chokehold after officers approached him for selling loose cigarettes on a street corner.


Alan Walowitz has been published various places on the web and off.  His work was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2017 and 2018 and he is a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry.  His chapbook Exactly Like Love is available from Osedax Press, and his full-length book The Story of the Milkman and Other Poems is available from Truth Serum Press. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

THE BIRTH OF AMERICA

by Sally Zakariya


Above is the logo of The 1619 Project, a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. The Project aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.


Not 1492 when Columbus landed
not 1607 when settlers founded Jamestown
but 1619 when twenty-some Africans
arrived in chains

Port Comfort their landing place
proved no comfort for them

That’s when America began
land of freedom but not for them
land of plenty but not for them
land of everlasting shame
for us but not for them

Twelve million stolen from their homes
two million died on the Middle Passage
half a million sold into slavery here

They cleared the land and built
the plantation houses
they cleaned and cooked and toiled
to make white people rich

They picked cotton for my grandfather
a white-starched-collar lawyer
in Memphis who didn’t have to bend
his back or dirty his hands

They fought for this country
their country and ours
and now … and now …

Four hundred years is time
to admit our history
time to make things right


Sally Zakariya’s poetry has appeared in some 75 print and online journals and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Her most recent publication is The Unknowable Mystery of Other People (Poetry Box, 2019). She is also the author of Personal Astronomy, When You Escape, Insectomania, and Arithmetic and other verses, as well as the editor of the poetry anthology Joys of the Table.

Monday, August 19, 2019

GHOST LIGHT

by Kelley White




We settle into worship. Is it better to pray—
or to listen for the voice of God?

Is it better to wait on God
with eyes closed, cast down, or open to light?

I seek light in the meetinghouse’s tall
windows, the faces of gathered friends—

when Jondhi breaks Quaker silence to speak
of the Nicetown shootings we all know

it is too real—his, our, Healing and Transformation
Center, the Center for Returning Citizens

is a block from the crime scene.
He heard the sirens, he saw the masses

of police, the stunned neighbors, children
evacuated from day care centers.

He asks about community. About
the roots of drug crime. Fear. Economics.

Unemployment. I close my eyes. The ghost
light of the windows a negative beneath my lids. Then

D., who like Jondhi has done serious time, lifts his
walking stick to his lips: I see it

decorated with feathers and red paint, a line of holes
punched along its shaft—

and it is actually a flute, with a voice so pure and deep
it returns me to silence, to my lit darkness, truce.


Author’s Note: J. Jondhi Harrell is the Founder and Executive Director of The Center for Returning Citizens (TCRC) in Philadelphia. Twitter: @JondhiTCRC . “D.” is a pseudonym.


Kelley White, a member of Germantown Friends Meeting is a pediatrician working about 2 miles from the ‘active shooter incident’ this past Wednesday, August 14, in Philadelphia’s Nicetown neighborhood.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

TARZAN HAS A TAN

by Alejandro Escudé 




During a faculty meeting icebreaker, when I raise my hand to volunteer the song I’ve had stuck in my head, one man yells out: “Ahh. Sing it!” in front of my colleagues. I hear his voice as brassy, sarcastic-toned. Simultaneously, I think of the photograph on the news site today
of the three people (a family?) witnessing the nuclear explosion in Russia—the fire cloud off in the distance, like a huge, rotten orange. 

There are moments when 
you realize you’re job is like that too, a rotten orange. Only you’re stuck inside of it, pushing up against the rind. Or, maybe your job is like Russia and its oligarchs. And sometimes, you and your colleagues are like that family watching the explosion of a missile pregnant with a nuclear reactor. A whale carcass. A room with bones for support beams. Hanging flesh. 

We were asked, at the faculty meeting, to recall a song we had stuck in our heads this summer. And I said I had the Tarzan camp song repeating in my head; that call and response song I had to lead my second graders with— when I was a twenty-year-old camp counselor. 

“Tar … zan,” it began, and they repeated. “Swinging on a rubber band … Tar … zan … fell into a frying pan.” 
I sang it again with my daughter, seven years old, now that she’s in summer camp. The words have changed, slightly. But I think once more of that colleague who sarcastically yelled out that I, sing the song, 
as if I were telling some untruth, or trying too hard impress the room. 

Maybe, later on, someone informed that man that I had kids. That I’d just gotten divorced after seventeen years of marriage. That my kids visit me on weekends and it feels as though half my soul were missing from my body and I only become whole again when I am with them. 

But I don’t think 
anyone told him. He probably thought I was just trying to be cute. I guess, I’ve always tried to be cute. I guess the Russians are trying to be cute as well, installing nuclear reactors inside of missiles that have the ability to reach Alaska, and beyond. 

“Fell into a frying pan,” my daughter repeats. 
“Now Tarzan has a tan. Now Tarzan has a tan.”


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.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

WHO OWNS THE EARTH?

by Martin Elster


From “The Untold Benefits of Climate Change” by Kendra Wells at TheNib.


Renowned Harvard entomologist E.O. Wilson has said that without insects the rest of life, including humanity, “would mostly disappear from the land. And within a few months.” 
National Geographic, August 6, 2019


We own the earth. We buzz or hug
you in your bed, at times will bug
you when you taste like toothsome prey.
We flit around your cold buffet.
We’re sweat bee, darner, skeeter, slug,

the flea that’s pestering your pug.
We’re everywhere. You might go, “Ugh!”
when centipedes cruise by. Yet, say
we left the earth.

Perhaps you’d shout with glee, or shrug.
But think: no cherry, apple, mug
of honeyed tea, nor silver tray
of leafy greens would come your way.
You see, Big Brain? Don’t be so smug!
We own the earth.


Martin Elster serves as percussionist with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. His poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. Honors include co-winner of Rhymezone’s 2016 poetry contest, winner of the Thomas Gray Anniversary Poetry Competition 2014, third place in the SFPA’s 2015 poetry contest, and three Pushcart nominations.

Friday, August 16, 2019

WATER MUSIC

by Judith Steele


“The Murray-Darling river system managed by NSW [New South Wales, Australia] . . . is ‘an ecosystem in crisis’ which is on a path to collapse and urgent reforms are needed to save it, a review has warned.” —The Guardian, July 23, 2019. Photo: Exposed water height markers on the Darling River reveal the depth of the crisis at Wilcannia. Credit: John Janson-Moore in The Conversation.


In my small flat
I hear daily rhythms
of neighbours’ water
as they hear mine.
Our toilets flush torrents,
our showers are waterfalls.
Washing machines gurgle
while kettles whistle.

Water washes things away
in the morning cleansings.
In swimming pools and seas
gives health and relaxation.

In floods and tsunamis
brings death and desolation.
Luckier countries
send neighbourly help.

But if there is no water?
If you live near a river that’s dried
because someone upstream
has diverted it to profit?
Even in a lucky country, it seems
nothing neighbourly remains
between up and down stream.

All over this nation
the pattern repeated
the up and the down,
their distance increasing.

Where are the neighbours?
What can be done
to wash this away?


Judith Steele lives in South Australia Her poetry or prose has most recently been published in the print journal Gobshite Quarterly (Portland OR); and on the website Nine Muses

Thursday, August 15, 2019

DEATH OF A CHILD

by George Salamon



Xavier Usanga was about 15 hours away from a new school year as a second grader at Clay Elementary when he was fatally shot Monday, August 12, 2019, while standing near an 18-year-old who was also shot but survived. The 7-year-old’s death makes him the 11th area child killed in a shooting since June. About half of them attended St. Louis Public Schools, said Kelvin Adams, superintendent of the St. Louis Public School District. In the above photo,  provided by Alderman Brandon Bosley to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Xavier Usanga is pictured during a LINKS St. Louis Neighborhood event in Hyde Park in July 2019.


A child smiling,
A child so new.
He came out to play,
Not ready for death.
Not "in the confines
Of his home, or "on
A street not known
For violence." How
Is it we don't choke
Speaking these words?
How is it a part of us
No longer dies at
The death of a child?
We dare not ask.


George Salamon lives in St. Louis and has most recently published in Dissident Voice, Proletaria, The Asses of Parnassus, and TheNewVerse.News.