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Thursday, February 28, 2019


by Fran Davis

"Meet Ed Calabrese, Who Says a Little Pollution Can Be Good For You" —Mother Jones, February 19, 2019

EPA—call home—you’ve gone too far
axing toxic standards
            no exposure level safe
in favor of

Pollutants in low doses
induce adaptive responses
the hormetic scientist blares
bullhorn provided by big agro,
big chemical.

No exposure level safe
is such an onerous bar
when toxins can be taken in doses
to booster adaptability.

Monsanto, Syngenta and Dow are singing hallelujah.

Insecticides, fungicides, herbicides
those deadly bug killing, weed killing,
fungi killing - cides
may be good for us,

might not cause cancer, distrupt hormones,
frazzle neurons, mess with reproduction
if taken
in little whiffs, quick licks, tiny sips.

Proper dosage is the thing,
a smidgeon of Imidacloprid,
spurned by Europeans, but what do they know?
Still the most popular insecticide on earth.

Please thank Bayer Cropscience for their efforts on your behalf.

Bring on the neonics
5,000 times more toxic to bees than DDT,
no worries. Robot bees are coming soon,
haven’t you heard?

The sweet air hovering over strawberry rows,
active ingredient in tear gas
may help us adapt to
tear gas.

Sell-out to agrochemical chimeras?
Ignore those faint cries, EPA.
The big guys have landed a scientist shill.
In the era of T***p
rules can be ditched like Roundup snuffs weeds.

Passionate about food safety, Fran Davis was so furious to learn the EPA might lower standards for toxics she had to launch a word protest. She lives and writes in coastal California. Her work has appeared in TheNewVerse.News, newspapers, magazines, travel books and print and online journals.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019


by Donna Katzin

The House on Tuesday passed a resolution to overturn President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the southern border, as majority Democrats painted an apocalyptic portrait of a lawless chief executive out to gut the Constitution. —The Washington Post, February 26, 2019

An emergency                                                              
sleeping in our subways, Sal
knows no other home.                                                              

Her belly a beast,
Alma picks through the trash when
no one is looking.

Pedro camps between
boards that used to be his house
in Puerto Rico.

Santa Rosa Ruth
sifts through rubble where wildfires
devoured her mother.
With bare feet we map
our way through the wilderness,
build bridges—not walls.

Donna Katzin is the founding executive director of Shared Interest, a fund that mobilizes the human and financial resources of low-income communities of color in South and Southern Africa. A board member of Community Change in the U.S., and co-coordinator of Tipitapa Partners working in Nicaragua, she has written extensively about South Africa, community development and impact investing. Published in journals and sites including TheNewVerse.News and The Mom Egg, she is the author of With the Hands, a book of poems and photographs about post-apartheid South Africa’s process of giving birth to itself. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2019


by Mickey J. Corrigan

The fields full of grazers
heavy hooved, fat with milk
stomp through the dirt
cudding the last of the green
green grass, bovine calm.

The world barnyard shakes
with squawking, honks
four-footed agents of history
remnants of a civil society.

Clucky hens scatter wildly
combed heads still intact
no wiser
than small goats in pasture
black horns rubbed smooth.

The last members
of the club
of nonclubs,
in the dark heart
of a mafia state.

Beyond the waste of farmland
the future
the darkness
a tunnel
that ends
at brass-knuckled  doors

from the other side.

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) and Days' End (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2017). Project XX, a novel about a school shooting, was published in 2017 by Salt Publishing in the UK. 

Monday, February 25, 2019


by T R Poulson

I wish all emergencies could take place like this:
a theater in the city, stage guns made of rubber
and metal to withstand so many drops and hits
in rehearsals, forgotten lines and flubbers.

The line: I am not throwing away my shot,
as the killer creeps in—Lord show me how
to say no to this—that flutter, why not
here among the songs? The heartbeat now

slows, the patron falls, as Aaron Burr’s pistol
pops. Dying is easy, young man, living
is harder. It plays out as in a crystal
ball. Gun! No prayers, thoughts, forgiving

this time. If only hearts could always feast
on rhymes, as the attack of living lurks, looms,
the gunman a mere actor, a ghost deceased
long ago. I want to be in the room 

where it happens, where everything is just
musical, where lights give me an eyeful,
where words spoken, though fiction, I trust,
and paper walls surround non-shooting rifles.

T R Poulson lives in San Carlos, California.  Her work has appeared previously in TheNewVerse.News, as well as in Rattle’s Poets Respond, Verdad, J Journal, and others.  She enjoys basketball, windsurfing, and going to plays, including a recent performance of Hamilton in San Francisco, which took place the day before the performance in which there was a false shooter alarm.

Sunday, February 24, 2019


by Mikki Aronoff

Illustration by Nate Beeler for the Washington Examiner

rolls in, rumbles like children                                  
wobbling cookie sheets to and fro:
tinny tremblings of puppet show storms.                                        
After hail that sizzles, rain falling up
and moon shine scorching, thunder
smells of mica, tastes of worms, cracks
like inattention to detail, like sugar cookies
burnt around the edges. It thunders
like a blunder and jobs on the line,
your furloughed father bellowing
commands and punishments meted out
from the crimson of his fury, all four walls
closing in, biting the hairs on your arms.
Nowhere to brace your back but up
against the squeeze of the room.
Your hands fly up. Thunder howls —
a wolf pack searching for shelter,
the wall in the way. It screeches
like fault lines rubbing, sweats like caves
belching sulfur and blind fish, roars
like a love letter uncrumpling in the basket,
mocking your isolation. Thunder claps
a wave from someone you hate.

Mikki Aronoff’s work has appeared in The Lake, EastLit, Virga, Love Like Salt, Weaving the Terrain, Rise Up Review, Trumped!, bosque7, Love’s Executive Order, Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine, Ekphrastic Review, SurVision, and elsewhere. A New Mexico poet, she is also involved in animal advocacy.

Saturday, February 23, 2019


by Jonel Abellanosa

After "Guernica" (1937) by Pablo Picasso

Skulduggery of shades put me in.

Grays for taste buds, ground grainy

as doves. I smell blood.
expel hollow air, and I hear.

Palms like blue cornflowers,

luring to be pulled. Charcoal

bodiless arm and leg, but not

deep as indifference, the world

still a bullring. I can’t help but
see the orange president, his hair
spearing the horse, its painful
neigh my neigh, your neigh.

The sun is a slug, a bullet

lodged in the complacent spine.

Light lingers for lies, how we
still believe no one else dies.

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

Friday, February 22, 2019


by Ben Prostine

Laura Contreras protests in Cincinnati, Ohio against President Trump's declaration of national emergency. ALBERT CESARE, The Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY Network

A state of emergency is not the same thing as a
catastrophe, or a disaster. The key is in the first word.
It is the state in emergency. And it means certain things

emerge: off shore drills and coast guard ships,
the strip mine and the strip search and digital fingerprints –
an administrative task force on ad hoc prisons

and job destruction in the public sphere: more
security guards, more border patrols, customs and police
forces in-vested in military garb while a new design

for a portable bullet proof wall is engineered
and investments rise in razor wire stock. The day ends
with the Dow Jones and the Nasdaq looking up.

But disaster – that’s something different, older, astral.
It’s written in the stars, in fate, in sense: burning up
the bowels of the earth means bringing in a rising tide.

And catastrophe just takes us downward. The drama
of the state comes to its off-script denouement as
the choir desires to enter the theater once more.

The propped walls come down. Speech turns from
the ten thousand screens and returns to the streets, the fields,
something common: a world to be turned upside down

and rooted: this one round burning earth to be made green
again. A solidarity in the ruins, a power in the light –
out of disaster and catastrophe, emerging sprouts.

Ben Prostine lives near Soldiers Grove in southwest Wisconsin where he works as a herdsman, farm hand, and writer. He is the host of Poems Aloud!, a forthcoming radio program airing on WDRT (Viroqua, WI).

Thursday, February 21, 2019


by Julie Steiner

“With the Vatican resisting change, it will have to come from outside the Catholic world.”—“Catholic Church ‘nowhere close’ to confronting global ‘epidemic’ of child sex abuse by priests,” The Telegraph, 19 February 2019

1. A Concise Translation of the Vatican’s 1962 Crimen Sollicitationis Instruction 

some priests behave badly.
Give all who know it—even children—hell
if they tell.

2. The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37)

The priest and Levite couldn’t pause.
They scuttled past the victim.
To keep their cold religious laws,
the priest and Levite couldn’t pause.
The heretic could help, because
such rules did not restrict him.
The priest and Levite couldn’t. [Pause.]
They scuttled. Passed the victim.

3. The Lost Sheep (Luke 15:3-7)

The Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine
to save the one who’s in perdition.
The flock stay put, convinced they’re fine;
the Shepherd leaves. The ninety-nine
lose sight of him when they decline
to join him on his rescue mission.
The Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine
to save the oneWho’s in perdition?

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

Wednesday, February 20, 2019


by Devon Balwit

Cartoon by SIGNE WILKINSON, The Inquirer, February 13, 2019

Abrasive, ambitious, unlikable—
(truth is, you remind me of my mother,
or of those women who have “other
things to do” when I call) in short, unelectable,
no matter your platform. You remind me
of that girl in class who always scored
a point or two higher, who looked bored
when I spoke. You seem angry—
Why are you so angry all the time?
And who, if I may ask, is watching your kids
while you get uppity? Besides, bids
for President, for a place in the lime-
light should go to those with a prettier face—
(and who’d choose “pretty” for a Presidential race?)

Devon Balwit's most recent collection is titled A Brief Way to Identify a Body (Ursus Americanus Press). Her individual poems can be found here as well as in The Cincinnati Review, Tampa Review, Fifth Wednesday (on-line), Apt, Grist, and Oxidant Engine among others.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019


by James Penha

“The people of West Sumatra have a culture that can’t be separated from Islam. This has been the case since a long time ago. If the people and government here create a regulation that bans LGBT behavior because it’s not in line with tradition, then it’s not wrong nor is it a violation of human rights.” —Indonesia National Commission on Human Rights Chairman Ahmad Taufan Damanik, February 14, 2019

When human rights
ain’t right in its Head
of Human Rights who
writes off marginal runes

and the humans so cast

to religious rites of hate
and intolerance, a state
wrights a ship with tar
and feathers that sinks

of its own disaccord.

James Penha edits TheNewVerse.News.

Monday, February 18, 2019


by Mickey J. Corrigan

"Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said Thursday that he would be willing to abandon his presidential ambitions midstream if Democrats nominate a centrist who makes it too difficult for him to win as an independent candidate." Washington Post, February 14, 2019

To work in a coffee shop
and brush off strangers'
busy hands
that reach for us
while we're on our cells.

We need a moderate
to walk the tray line
in hospital cafeterias
where people on crutches
await unpayable bills
for ambulance rides
to out-of-network ERs.

We need a centrist
to reinvigorate the liberal
fading as ire mounts
against every slight,
as offense,
as unacceptable
while the worlds' greatest living
dictators and their apprentices
take advantage of our distraction
our infighting
our hash tagging
our whining and sad-sacking,
the opportunists
trolling debates
creating troll debates
taking and taking away.

It all looks so REAL
the show is addictive
in daily doses
Oxy and medical marijuana
we couch-sit and close-watch
the streaming BS
from the White House
the ideal agents of CHAOS
rivet our eyes
to the screen

their hands on our asses 
their hands in our wallets.

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) and Days' End (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2017). Project XX, a novel about a school shooting, was published in 2017 by Salt Publishing in the UK. 

Sunday, February 17, 2019


by Earl J Wilcox

From Frigid St. Louis to mild Florida; From Cold Chicago to Temperate Arizona. Spring Training Migrants: What the Trucks Carry on the Open Road.

O Sing us a early spring time song of the Open Road to the warm sun, the green grass, the soft breezes, the lure of a dream for a game and a team and great American pastime.

O take me to the Open Road, send my Truck on the Day, fill it  with my stuff, my life, my load.

O, Mighty Truck of the Open Road, bring my gear,  carry the stuff to transform us mortal men from hot stove junkie to spring time wizards.

O Red Truck, Blue Truck, Green Truck, every color truck bring my stuff, my special bats and helmets, gloves, my candy bars, cheese and crackers, my jock straps, a few hundred baseballs, uniforms, t-shirts, laundry detergent, my own bicycle, my shoes, socks, deodorant ,bubble gum, sun screen, sun flower seeds, tar, baby cribs, birth control, medical equipment, one load of Pennsylvania dirt, our money ball stats guy, string cheese, and Tylenol.

O Mighty Maker of the Open Road, give us a season filled with the hope of spring training, the vision and energy of the summer, and wisdom of autumn.

Earl Wilcox waits for baseball season while watching spring open in his back yard with daffodils, azaleas, and dogwoods in South Carolina.

Saturday, February 16, 2019


by David Feela

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe

in my head
where each brick
contains an insecurity.

I say they are drugs
and rape
and murder

but they also contain
my weight
my thinning hair

and my feeble resolve
which might be remembered
on the border there

between poverty and privilege
as nothing
but grievance and rage.

I want a monument
because gold
doesn’t please me anymore

and if enough debt
gets mixed into the mortar
the wall will divide generations

and then they’ll remember me
as the one
that got this thing done.

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

Friday, February 15, 2019


by Phyllis Wax

Cartoon by R.J. Matson

are already being built.                  

It’s up to us
to chip at mortar,
remove bricks,
pull out pickets,
snip wire.

It’s up to us
to speak to people,                  
look them in the eye,
extend a hand,

We can undo
than he can build.

Social issues are a major focus of Milwaukee poet Phyllis Wax.  Her work appears in numerous anthologies and journals, among them The Widows’ Handbook, Birdsong, Spillway, Peacock Journal, Surreal Poetics, Naugatuck River Review, TheNewVerse.News, Portside, Star 82 Review.  When she’s not writing you might find her escorting at a local abortion clinic.  She can be reached at: poetwax38[at]

Thursday, February 14, 2019


by Paul Smith

We didn’t know what to call it
it was not exactly a deal
a deal being something you picture
with a couple guys shaking hands
and congratulating themselves
on their good luck
so that was not it
neither was it a pact
because that suggests
something like a treaty being signed
by two hostile nations
maybe grudgingly
but at least with terms and conditions
to guarantee its sanctity and compliance
there was no sanctity anywhere
nor was it an understanding
there was none of that
each side calling the other side names
we didn’t know what to
make of it all
except selling it as something
that made us bigger
and made them small
on the surface we won
but when we looked deep
we lost
or maybe it was
the other way around
and it made them look cheap
where was the word
to make it sound like
we won
and the other side
Not knowing what name this thing went by
we just called it
Kentucky Windage

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.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019


by Alan Catlin

“Mountains are hard to climb
thus walls are your friends.
Learn your walls.”

“We laugh at your walls.”
Drug cartel tunnel rats.
Digging from one safe house
to another safe house.
Under border fences, razor wire
enclaves, ICE patrol car roads.

“We laugh at your walls.”
Tunnels for shrink wrapped
pure. White death by the pound.
Powdered snow by the kilo.

“We laugh at your walls.”
Tunnels under prison walls.
Two and half miles of digging.
No problema.  Cell to freedom
service. “Viva El Chapo!”
Viva Empire of the Opiates,
Reign of terror Take Two.

“We laugh at your walls.”
Steel stanchion impediments
where concrete is called for.
Easily breeched by purchased
at Wal-Mart, Home Depot,
Lowe’s, metal cutting tool department.

“We laugh at your walls.”
Tunnels for coyote caravans,
pay the tolls, travel the underground
railway. “Refugees show us the green,
hombre and we deliver the goods.”

“We laugh at your walls.”
US Army supplied terror cells
of the night.  Drug enforcers,
Zeta killers, Sinaloa lackeys,
CIA trained Torquemada’s.
Slipping under barriers, walls.
Mescal high, take-no-prisoners
instructed, rape and pillage experts,
mercenaries for moola, hostile
and loathsome, heartless as
the street criminals they once were,
laughing at walls.

Find a tunnel and fill it, ten more
are dug. Once you are in The Life,
The Life is in you, there is no looking
back, no escape possible: one foot in
Sodom, the other in Gomorrah.
Not point in last wills and testaments:
no one will bury you when you are killed
unless the tunnel you are in collapses.

Alan Catlin has published dozens of chapbooks and full length books, most recently the chapbook Three Farmers on the Way to a Dance (Presa Press), a series of ekphrastic poems responding to the work of German photographer August Sander who did portraits of Germans before, during, and after both World Wars.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019


by Mara Adamtz Scrupe

                       out beyond the blest kingdom
amongst the trackless traders & slavers & affluent technocrats 
            lands amassing & bomb shelters & clandestine

            airstrips & marble-tombed 
bathrooms & gated havens to get off on        on the other side
of the wall lizards dart in & out or lie in heat benumbed       
            amongst the Burdock catch-spring 
spurred ovate bolls/ reckless rule-less ghost moths skim

&lek/ scroll & whitecap        billow& spray exploding 
in quiver-pleasured olfactory raves & gullies            out beyond

                        the blest kingdom
insect/ amphibian/ mammalian females choose their mates
whilst the males of the species           
entice them uncontested/ none abstain in a homeland       

convinced of its quiddities
            I mark & mind an ancient détente as the eighty richest 
chock-full ride it out from a distance            

it’s a bad bad 
business the way the wall says                       

            inhale/ exhale            expect              nothing

as the dam diggers stem the flood over the faceless fence 

            & the wounded unwing-ed collapse & orange peacock-
eyed butterflies remind me 

            of rope & strand of knot & sign & climb 
& hold on tight           for dear    dear             
at the bottom of this breach 

holed & don’t they know it        up here  though
             on top between squab & hassock 
common six-line racerunner skinks queue a line 
            from my chaise across the porch floor not stiffs

            buried under a dune on the other side of a wall      
but languid/ marking a border
                        they simply                 slip over

Mara Adamitz Scrupe is the author of five poetry collections: BEAST (NFSPS Press, 2014), Sky Pilot (Chapbook, Finishing Line Press, 2012), Magnalia (Chapbook, Eyewear Publications, 2018) and a daughter’s aubade/ sailing out from Sognefjord (winner, Fledge Poetry Competition, Middle Creek Press, 2019). She is the winner of the 2018 Grindstone Literary International Poetry Competition, and the Brighthorse Press Poetry Book Prize for her manuscript in the bare bones house of was which will be published in 2019. Her poems have appeared in international literary journals and magazines and she has won or been shortlisted for the Kay Murphy Poetry Prize, Ron Pretty Poetry Prize, BigCi Environmental Fellowship, Erbacce Prize, Fish Poetry Prize, Aesthetica Creative Writing Award, University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s Prize, Bristol Prize, and the National Poetry Society Competition, among others. She divides her time between her farm in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains piedmont and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she is Professor of Fine Arts and Creative Writing at The University of the Arts.

Monday, February 11, 2019


by Marsha Owens

When did he have an epiphany? she asked
unclear about how one is racist and then is not.

I know how life meanders, doesn’t march
in straight lines like VMI cadets stepping
around Stonewall Jackson’s horse, its body
stained with white and black blood before it
was stuffed and saluted, forever revered.

Her name was LaVinia, her body stout,
her words few, her work for my Mama—
clean toilets and stiffly pressed sheets,
her days long, two bus rides from Richmond
to the freshly coifed suburbs, all-white.

I didn’t know why LaVinia fixed sandwiches
for my brother and me but none for herself.

His name was Pete, lanky and dark, head bowed
to say, Mornin’ Ma’am to my Mama, Mornin’ Missy
to me, a five-year-old. His work for my Daddy—
boards nailed, shingles hauled up the ladder, laid
out just so—a few dollars at day’s end.

I didn’t know why Pete sat outside on the stoop
at lunchtime, eating his hot dog on a paper plate.

I swam in the culture into which I was born,
1950s, somewhere between slavery’s end
and the Act called Civil Rights.

I stumbled with other white people away
from horrible injustices and strode towards
desegregated neighborhoods, integrated schools,
JFK, MLK, Trayvon Martin, President Obama.

I listened and learned, read and reflected,
laughed and cried with new friends whose
memories were not mine, nor mine theirs.
No epiphany, just life. And I voted

“for the person who cares about all people,”
Daddy said in his old age, simplistic political
advice that had evolved over a lifetime
and became the politics I chose to follow.

Marsha Owens is a retired educator who still lives and writes in Richmond, VA. She voted for Ralph Northam and Mark Herring, not because they are perfect, but because their policies support "all people."

Sunday, February 10, 2019


by Kathy Conway

You could look for colors—black shirts for Mussolini, brown
ones for Hitler, red t-shirts and baseball caps for Chavez,
yellow stars on Polish children separated from mothers at railroad stations.

Listen for righteous us/them propaganda, use of simple words,
untruths to incite aggrieved followers, as Hitler did, repeating lies
until they were accepted as truth.

Listen for insults, bullying, ultimatums, rants—"huge, very dangerous"
to silence those who disagree—the press, media, cohorts, partners -
a la Mussolini.

Be suspicious of unbridled nationalism, separating families at borders.
False charges of being "Red" helped McCarthy to intimidate, create fear in
innocent people and muzzle Congress.

Be alert for a huge ego demanding loyalty, not to country
or constitution, but to him personally, who, with warped reality,
listens only to his own gut, ignoring experts and advisors.

Watch for leaders who declare a state of emergency
like Erdogan, try to build a border wall like Orban or promise to
"drenare la palude"—drain the swamp—like Mussolini.

Heed if they goad violence against perceived enemies with
pumped-up machismo, incite prejudice or seek to destroy faith
in an independent press, electoral process, courts, military.

Notice how he gets away with it. The public doubts he'd
do more—until he does, incrementally. His followers believe
he's working for them, against "others".

Be leery of copy cats who, like Peron, aspire to be Hitler.
Do they admire and cozy up to Kim Jong-un,
Mohammed bin Salman or Putin?

Kathy Conway splits her time between a cottage on the coast of Maine and her home outside Boston.  She has taught memoir poetry in Maine and Florida. Her chapbook Bacon Street is about growing up in a large family.

Saturday, February 09, 2019


by Lisa Vihos

In the land of fake plenty
there’s a road paved with money.
If you’re something enough,
you can get on this road
but mostly you cannot.
Unless you can pull yourself up
on the straps of those boots
they stole from you.

Listen when the robot drones speak
from two sides of their mouth.
Do what you can to learn that language.

          Try our six-week, no money back
          guaranteed language
          immersion experience
          Time is running out. Send
          your first-born child.
          Or give us your planet.
          We can work with you on this.
          Payment plans are available,
          but you must act now.

Each day is an equivocation
of that which they said
they did not say the day before.
Who can imagine?
Look here, look there, look away, they say,
And do not do what I would not do.
          Or do it, at your own risk.

Advice is cheap. Money
is expensive. Walls are being built
as we speak.

The poems of Lisa Vihos have appeared in numerous journals, both print and online. Her fourth chapbook Fan Mail from Some Flounder was published by Main Street Rag Publishing in 2018. She is the poetry and arts editor of Stoneboat Literary Journal and the Sheboygan organizer for 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

Friday, February 08, 2019


by Matt Witt

The Oregon Senate’s Housing Committee advanced a bill that would enact a statewide rent control policy and restrict evictions, sending it to the full Senate for a vote. Lawmakers heard nearly four hours of testimony from renters and landlords as Senate Bill 608 had its first hearing in the Senate’s Housing Committee. It’s poised to cruise through the Legislature, with support from leaders of the Democratic majority in both the House and Senate. Renters and tenants’ rights activists largely argued the bill would help protect against eye-popping rent increases that have frequently grabbed headlines across the state. —The Oregonian, February 5, 2019. Among those presenting testimony was the group of tenants pictured above who met at the Rogue Action Center in Jackson County in late November to discuss how to get local and state officials to take action on housing affordability. Nearly half of households there are renters, and one in three of those pay more than half their monthly income for rent. Credit: Matt Witt Photography

As a child
I played tic tac toe.
Should I go here,
or should I go there?

Then I learned:
you never win
if the other person goes first
with an X in
the middle square.

Olivia tells the city council
she and her son
had to move three times
after rent increases
left nothing to spare.

She works at Walmart
but after the rent
the paycheck covers only
food and bus fare.

Frank, who builds expensive homes
and has fifty rental units,
tells the council he would love to
help people like her,
he really would,
but prices are
whatever the market will bear.

Profit first.

The X in the middle square.

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

Thursday, February 07, 2019


by Tricia Knoll

While magnetic north has always wandered, its routine plod has shifted into high gear, sending it galloping across the Northern Hemisphere—and no one can entirely explain why. —National Geographic, February 4, 2019. EARTH PHOTOGRAPH BY NASA/JSC

They say north shifted as if we didn’t know
something bigger than big moved sideways
while liars lied and the thieves of night
hung plastic LED stars from phone lines.

They say it is almost too late when we know
too late came and passed like the reverb
gong on the sacred brass bell in the woods
where they want to fence the Pando

as if a fence is any way to save anything
except an illusion of privacy. Some say
they will feed the hungry and a few
are fed. Some dressed in white to stand

out and up, to be counted among the mix
of red ties and blue suits and to cheer
their presence in the mix. We aren’t sure
why north shifted in a molten globe.

Tricia Knoll is a Vermont poet who has been writing snow poems for the past six weeks. Her work appears widely in journals and anthologies. Her recent collection How I Learned To Be White received the received the Gold Prize for Motivational Poetry in the 2018 Human Relations Indie Book Prize.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019


by Diana Poulos-Lutz

I want to build a wall 
that’s part of your home,
that blocks the cold
and rain while you rest.
I want to build a wall
with a window tall and wide
so you can gaze out as the
sun rises and sets and
see all the beauty in the ordinary—
a window that you can open
to hear songs of birds
and feel freedom and possibility
on your skin with each warm breeze
or cold gust of wind that visits you.
I want to build a wall
with a door that can lock out your
fears, or open wide when you’re ready
to face them.
I want to build a wall
sturdy and safe on the outside,
a blank canvas on the inside,
so you can paint the rainbow
of your spirit
or hang photographs of people
and places that make your heart dance.
I want to build a wall
that you can lean on if you need
to weep or hide in silence—
and then one day place a mirror
on that wall that shows you
what your smile looks like
when you’re in love with life or another,
or the success in your eyes
after a long day
or as you’re dressed
in courage and strength.
I want to build you that wall.

Diana Poulos-Lutz has a B.A. and an M.A. in Political Science from Long Island University and has studied Political Theory and American Politics at the New School for Social Research. She has taught Political Science and Political Theory courses for several years at Long Island University. She currently works at a public high school. Diana is also a photographer and writes about the natural world on Long Island. She is a contributing writer and photographer for the Long Island-based website Fire Island and Beyond. The Town of North Hempstead recently hosted a photographic and literary gallery of Diana's Long Island Nature photography at the historic Clark House at Clark Botanic Garden in Albertson. Diana's poetry is inspired by her deep connection to the natural world, along with her desire to promote equality and empowerment. 


by Gil Hoy

The viability of the Trump administration's border wall has come under fire as all eight prototype structures have failed at least one breach test. The eight border wall prototypes in Otay Mesa, California were assembled in early 2017 after an executive order directed the Department of Homeland Security to build the border wall. The news comes as the administration prepares to potentially declare a national emergency to jumpstart construction of the wall along the U.S.’s southern border. —ArchDaily, January 14, 2019

There is many
a living thing

That doesn’t love
a wall.

Like hunters, rabbits
and yelping dogs

Like the pine trees
and apple orchards

Like human beings—
Who are not cows—

And quirky elves don’t
like them much either.

The frozen-ground-
swells beneath can crack

Even the strongest stone.
And there are many gaps

Between the stones
nonetheless. You can

Rub your fingers rough
and raw by placing
and replacing

The fallen stones.
Mr. President:

I see you walking in the darkness.

An old, rough savage-stone

Firmly grasped in each
armed hand.

Like an aged hypothermic man
who is lost

and cannot find his way

Like your crotchety, stubborn
neighbor beyond the hill.

Mr. President:

Spring is coming.
Let’s walk the lines:

Remove the walls
separating pines
and trees bearing fruit.

Pull up the stakes,
fill in the ditch, until
not a trace remains.

Mr. President:        
Forget your father

He was so very wrong.

Good walls, like selfish men,
make bad neighbors.

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 and the penmen review.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019


by Laura Rodley

Officials in Hong Kong said on Friday that they had intercepted a shipment of nine tons of scales from pangolins, the largest seizure the city has ever made of products from one of the most frequently trafficked mammals in the world. A thousand elephant tusks were in the same shipment, officials said. The scales and tusks were seized on Jan. 16, said the customs authorities, who displayed the contraband for reporters. They were found hidden under slabs of frozen meat on a cargo ship that had stopped in Hong Kong on its way to Vietnam from Nigeria, said officials, who estimated the shipment’s value at nearly $8 million. —The New York Times, February 1, 2019

Minding their own business
pangolins slurp up termites
drawing squirming bugs into their stomach
with their tongues that begin in their stomach,
not the back of their mouths.

Minding their own business,
they do not smell the poachers or the poachers’ dogs,
poachers that cover their boots with pangolin musk
and the murky water they trudge through
to reach the pangolins emerged from their burrows at night.

Not even completely dead, poachers scrape away
pangolin scales, layered like pine cone fingernails on their backs
with sharp triangle blades that could but do not
cut the poachers’ hands, as they wear thick gloves,
poachers who consume the pulverized scales themselves

to combat pain of arthritis, asthma or rheumatism
that they have gained carrying baskets of scales out of the woods.
They have no awe of the stretched out beauty
of the pangolin’s body, peacock length with no feathers,
no awe of the babies that ride on their tails,

no fear of the way pangolins fight back—by rolling into a ball
around their young who just finished drinking their milk, easy to capture,
dismantle their scales, maybe carry some back alive to raise more.
They only think of their business, harvesting
the bounty, nine tons of scales seized mid January

in a Hong Kong port, amassed from nearly 14,000
rolled up balls expired, gasping, left behind,
so the razor edge of their scales can strengthen
someone’s bones, ease their pain. What about their conscience,
Does the eight million price tag cancel that?

Laura Rodley was a Pushcart Prize winner for her New Verse News poem "Resurrection." Finishing Line Press nominated her books Your Left Front Wheel Is Coming Loose and Rappelling Blue Light for the 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. Latest books: Turn Left at Normal by Big Table Publishing and Counter Point by Prolific Press