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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

NO RACIST BONE IN MY BODY

by Tricia Knoll


Image source: PoliticalForum


My, my, you old fool.
Of course, bones aren’t racist.
We’ve seen the pictures.
Kennewick man, skull sort of yellow,
sort of green, sort of gray.
All the bones at the end
come to some sort of pale.
You know, Alas, poor Yorick.

It’s the brain, you fool.
The synapse connections
met out of bounds, sparks
you must have learned
as a child. Who is good,
who is not so good, who
should vote, not vote,
breathe, not breathe,
share the earth, molder
in cages. The concept
of division rest in a brain.

I’d give you credit
for not having a racist
big toe. Although... I fear
the boots you might put on.

No racist bone
in your body. Get real.
Look at your heart.


Tricia Knoll is a poet as tired as so many Americans of lies, cruelty, and idiocy.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

WRITTEN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY

by Richard Garcia



Image source: The Navage Patch


On this day I say Happy birthday Mom. She died a long time ago. But she was always dying. You'd say Good morning Mom, how are you? I'm dying. she would say. What's for dinner? You'd ask. I'm dying, she would answer. She died so much that when she did die we hardly noticed. Of course, she had a long life since she was born a long time ago. She was the cleaning lady at The Continental Congress in Philly in 1776. She did such a good job cleaning up, all the dirt and dust and ashes and spittoons and bathrooms, that the founding fathers gave all their slaves that were working the concessions and greeting the carriages and grooming the horses and cleaning up, their freedom. My mother was from Mexico and much cheaper than the slaves, and all they had to do was feed her pancakes, which she thought were Yankee tortillas. The founding fathers were so happy with my mother's work that they named Independence Day for her birthday, the Fourth of July. The slaves that had been freed that day were really spies for the English. They were happy too and went back to England and became butlers and grooms and were paid for their work, not a lot but the English had good pancakes and lodging and the workers had insurance and a retirement plan.


Richard Garcia is the author of The Other Odyssey from Dream Horse Press, The Chair from BOA, and Porridge from Press 53. His poems appear in many journals, including The Georgia Review, Poetry and Ploughshares

Monday, July 15, 2019

BOXCUTTER BLUES

by Damian Balassone


They put me in these overalls
They put me in these shoes
Yeah, they put me in these overalls
They put me in these shoes
They handed me a Stanley knife
Said, ‘son it’s time to pay yer dues’

Well, the stock is rolling in
And the stock is rolling out
Yeah, the stock is rolling in
And the stock is rolling out
I’m walking like a branded slave
When all I wanna do is twist and shout

Well, mama get me outta here
This ain’t the life I choose
I said mama get me outta here
This ain’t the life I choose
I’m shackled to this factory
Lord, I got the boxcutter blues


Damian Balassone is an Australian poet whose work has appeared in over 100 publications, most notably in The New York Times.  He is the author of three volumes of poetry, including the forthcoming Strange Game in a Strange Land.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

IRON RULE OF DAS DRUMPF TRUMPF FUHRER

by Matthew Scott Harris


Image source: YouTube


Tell me this haint no nightmare, or refashioned twenty first
century episode of the twilight zone from the outer limits
of believability! Reiteration of oft told hankering before
these forty eight contiguous established whirled wide webbed
surveyed enclaves (plus Alaska and Hawaii) wove a tapestry
withal as one benightedly August democratic continent got
trampled, sear suckered, and punched thru with utter jingoism,
narcissism, and racism, activating ramifications radicalizing
homegrown terrorism (where hot pockets of anarchy a minor
threat during last Democratic dénouement), now finds nearly
every citizen righteously bear arms to the teeth, so please do
feel at ease to question me if ye will be so brave of heart to risk
your life and limb to hear mine kempf redolent recitation, when
(by George) bushwhacking days of yore, this generic garden
variety guy revisits (ha, then how populace did quail!) at scant
qualification of post Clinton dynasty, now appears quaint in
retrospect, and my parlaying such opprobrious opinions
condemning, damning, and emasculating current Baby loving
T***p (as aired in this communiqué), could find me punished
for note treason at all in attempt at expression per usurpation of
dereliction against the rubric of our forefathers furtherance for life,
liberty and pursuit of happiness, free trade and TruMark brand
(ye oh man lumpenproletariat feigning deprecation loathing)
pacification since day one, there rumbled a seismic shock, a
throwback to King Kong, chest pounding oppression, now illegal
immigration stopped dead in the tracks viz secret service agents
privileged with narco-trafficking leeway in collusion with forced
emigration, such public events commander in chief warrants,
whereby notification amongst G-men stationed at every and any
strategic borderline for maximization, the White House a coven
and denizen grooming henchmen toward lionization catering,
favoring, inculcating, levying taxation without representation
privately parlaying billions of dollars per proscribed philanthropy
(pivotally predicated upon particular political partisan programs—
there’s no app for that), where said action committees passively pander
(provided penthouse suites as an incentive) to cozy up and keep in
Czech insubordinate slow vox sing traitors, who v lad lee host pewter
tinned (miniature Taj Mahal) shaped coffee cakes (tea total ling
participants) possibly celebrating a birth err day, and/or crowning
of baron ness (exhausting government coffers) behold Kenya bully
eve klatch cha feted victory, pillaring (with figurative little rocks).


Hi (Matthew Scott Harris—berthed January xiii, mcmlix). Hi yam juiced a penniless dime a dozen bitcoin (a chip off the ole nick culled blockchain) bending, bloviating, branching... off the rushing limb bough tree (shawn of ha nitty conformity) with men dos city skeined webbing courtesy humanity.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

CONTINUOUS MIGRATION

by Joanne DeSimone Reynolds 


“[At McAllen TX detention center on July 12, 2019] VP saw 384 men sleeping inside fences, on concrete w/no pillows or mats. They said they hadn’t showered in weeks, wanted toothbrushes, food. Stench was overwhelming. CBP said they were fed regularly, could brush daily & recently got access to shower (many hadn’t for 10-20 days.) Facility we saw earlier in the day with children was new & relatively clean and empty. There were cots & medical supplies & snacks. Children watched TV and told Pence through translator they were being taken care of. But at least two said they’d walked for months to get here.” —Josh Dawsey @jdawsey1 White House @WashingtonPost

The species depends on the freedom of movement
It's in the DNA
Wings of the fathers and fathers and of the mothers and mothers too
All come for one milk
Metabolizing a weed's poison to foil enemies
Five generations to complete the journey
Butterflies like bees tell the harvest

The species depends on the freedom of movement
It's in the DNA
Baja or ports of call or the Bering Strait
All come for one milk
Who knows the many generations to complete the journey
Fear a poison to a nation's people
Children like blossoms tell the harvest


Joanne DeSimone Reynolds is the author of a chapbook, Comes A Blossom published by Main Street Rag in 2014.

Friday, July 12, 2019

HAS ANYBODY SEEN THE RESISTANCE?

by George Salamon





"For their heroism was that they had to conquer themselves first."
—Albert Camus, "Letters to a German Friend: First Letter"


The word is everywhere,
Action remains nowhere.
Consciousness is raised,
Resistance demands deed,
Not just correct creed.
Occupy Wall Street troubled
No one on the actual street.
Call it protest, call it outrage,
Only oneself does it assuage.


George Salamon supports many of the protests and marches, but thinks "resistance" requires what the protestors and marchers are not (yet?) willing to risk. Can't blame them. He lives and writes, often politically incorrect stuff, from St. Louis, MO.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

MAYBE IT STARTED WITH A HAMSTER

by Judith Terzi


and maybe the two albino rats
came next. And the rock collection.
Smooth oblong rocks he'd paint
faces on. And maybe shells came
next, and then stamps, though
he hardly knew where the countries
were on his globe. He liked
the biggest stamps the best, ones
with faces on them, faces of men
he could become. And maybe
the aquarium came next––red-tailed
sharks lurking behind rocks in his
bedroom with Jack Dempsey
cichlids and sucker fish. And maybe
the model building came next:
ocean liners with tiny people he'd
wave at, fighter planes with grounded
toy pilots. And tanks with soldiers
he would salute, but who never
saluted back. The tanks––stuck
between his childhood bed, with its
beige striped bedspread, and a shiny
maple highboy where he shoved
all of his desires, all of his heartache.
For later.


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.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

EQUAL WORK / EQUAL PAY

by Tricia Knoll





They won the applause. And the little trophy.
And the Nike swooshes on their uniforms.
They took it hot and humid, running.
Heart and soul. Heads and heels.
We waved our flags.
We painted our faces.
They won the games:
one after another won.
New York throws a ticker tape
down the Canyon of Heroes
and confetti rains down
on their ponytails and bobs.
(Who’d want to go
to the White House?)

Now the big question
is not skill, commitment,
drive, energy, or strength:
will they get equal pay?
The golden question.





Tricia Knoll has held feminist ideals aloft for many decades, rejoices in the strength and athletic prowess of all the womens' teams who competed in the World Cup, and celebrates the success of the U. S. Women's Team and their friendships.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

THINKING OF MIGRANT DETENTION CENTERS WHILE ON LINE FOR THE SIMPSONS RIDE AT UNIVERSAL STUDIO

by Alejandro Escudé




A Wednesday, early July, and the line is over an hour long
for the ride at the kitschy, Hollywood theme park
based on Bart, the lovable, ironic, cigarette-shaped prig
whose story lines challenge the very economy that swindled
the crowd to pay hundreds of dollars to sit in a shaky vehicle
while images of a roller coaster create a roller coaster.
On a wall, a sign reads: max capacity 1023, and right behind me
a Mexican family speaks Spanish while they’re seven-year-old
stares up at me with big, luminous, and questioning eyes.
He could be one of those confined to cages at the border, his mother too,
and his aged father with the cracked, bemused smile. Hundreds
are gathered here. It could be the detention center itself; the heat,
standing-room only, the fussed-with chains meant to hold us in place.
There’s a strained happiness, but as the line meanders that happiness
fades into boredom and even to the hint of dicey mob anxiety;
we wind around one room then wind in another. I comprehend
the Mexican family, yet the lilting accent begins to grind in my ears.
I don’t like what they sound like. I don’t want them behind me,
and the father has thrice bumped into my backpack in which I carry
a water bottle and my daughter’s cap, a gaudy thing displaying
a bling-ed-out American flag. It’s a mass of snaking families, many
are foreigners actually, come to see and taste and touch
the America America sells abroad. But it’s now late in the day,
and I’ve grown tired of the French, with their self-assured le français,
the Chinese groups who jolt into you moving to and fro in the line,
the out-of-state whites, fathers with blurry, meaningless tattoos,
the stone-faced, beefy mothers with sunburned, thick, freckled arms
and their giant sons, who are always trying too hard to be funny,
the triads of pretty teenaged girls, maybe local, wearing
denim shorts so small they barely veil their immaculate vaginas,
firm buttocks bulging out from below the frayed threads.
I think back to the mothers, fathers, and kids in detention centers,
the lawyers and senators gawking at them, inhaling the human stench
of days on end without proper hygiene care: piss, shit, and sweat.
Here, in the line, it smells of sweat too, sweat and ratty impatience.
Homer helps himself to a frothy beer mug, Bart whips out a snarky comeback,
and Marge floats into the scene, deeply flawed yet motherly,
a cartoon version of Mother Mary—the three of them holy in their hilarity.
Krusty the Clown—the greedy villain, the threat that threatens us all.
We board a claustrophobic vehicle, lower the snug safety bar,
and below appears a field of fluorescent, Springfield palette hellscapes
we fall breathlessly toward then rise (we believe) abruptly from.


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.

Monday, July 08, 2019

WITH EARTH OUR FLESH, WATER OUR BLOOD

by Darrell Petska



Extinction Rebellion is an international movement that uses non-violent civil disobedience in an attempt to halt mass extinction and mimimise the risk of social collapse.


 "It's the least I can do." Into my ears,
starving bees hived. Deep in my lungs
nested gun-shy doves.

In droves came reeling beetles and butterflies,
evicted toads and frogs—these to my heart's
several chambers, while in the burrowed
turnings of my gut, bait-sick
gophers and ground hogs found refuge.

"It's the least I can do." Lodgeless muskrats
and beavers sheltered in the round
huts of my armpits, harried owls and hawks
took to my shoulders, even swooning
flowers and trees I drew to my nostrils.

I took all in, as many as I could, and still
others pressed near, threatened and sore,
until at last I cried "I've done all I can!"

Oh, but then my grandchildren came running:
"Grandpapa, Grandpapa, save us!"
Into my arms my loved ones curled,
soft and vulnerable, and I realized
much more I yet could do.

My feet stepped forth, driven by the lives
within and about me, all earth becoming
my flesh and its waters my blood.
No fears of failure could enter my mind
when life, lived large or small, is all we have.



At the core of Extinction Rebellion’s philosophy is nonviolent civil disobedience. "We promote civil disobedience and rebellion because we think it is necessary—we are asking people to find their courage and to collectively do what is necessary to bring about change."


Darrell Petska, a Wisconsin poet, sees hope in concerted action for a livable planet. His five grandchildren make that effort ever-more urgent.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

COLLECTOR

by Jonel Abellanosa





I own three mountains of garbage
between pavements that have
memorized our footsteps. Five angels
follow me, sleep where I sleep,
bark, wag like the president.

People are generous, my mountains
tall whether moon or sun. My tin cup
runneth over, furbabies and I drinking
laughter. Leftovers full and fill.
Bones for them, sometimes toys.

I’m a discoverer. I know shards
of glass draw sunlight. I’m an explorer.
For each dig, I find brass or bronze.
I breathe new life to batteries.
Books remind me of Alexandria.

When it rains their yelps make me
cry, and I’m richer. They love sackcloth
for the freeze. They tell me secrets.
Debating politicians need us, so they
can speak in tongues and be bold.


A regular contributor to TheNewVerse.News, Jonel Abellanosa lives in Cebu City, the Philippines. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals including That Literary Review, Poetry Kanto, The Lyric, The McNeese Review and Star*Line and been nominated for Pushcart, Best of the Net and Dwarf Stars awards. His poetry collections include Meditations (Alien Buddha Press), Songs from My Mind’s Tree and Multiverse (Clare Songbirds Publishing House), 50 Acrostic Poems (Cyberwit, India), and his politically-progressive collection In the Donald’s Time (Poetic Justice Books and Art). His first speculative poetry collection Pan’s Saxophone is forthcoming from Weasel Press.

HUNGRY, SCARED, AND SICK

an erasure poem by James Penha
from "Inside the Migrant Detention Center in Clint, Texas," 
The New York Times, July 6, 2019


Clint is known for holding what agents call U.A.C.’s, or unaccompanied alien children—children who cross the border alone or with relatives who are not their parents. Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York Times


the stuff of nightmares
scabies
shingles
chickenpox
stench
orders to take beds away
from children to make more space
"unaccompanied alien children"
as young as 3
as young as 5 months old
lacking diapers
toothbrushes
toothpaste
soap
children crammed into
a prison environment
My God, these are babies
They are keeping babies here


James Penha edits TheNewVerse.News.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

THEY CAME

by Robert Knox




First they came for the immigrant children
And we looked away
Because the Leader's toady told us, "Those are not
our children"
And we looked at our own children,
and were reassured

Then they came for the people who cover their heads
or pray too much
And again we looked away
Because we were not Iranians, or Iraqis, or Gazans,
or children of the West Bank detained indefinitely without charges
And, as the man said,
those are not our children

Then they came for the abused, and those who accused their abusers,
and for the accusers' advocates,
and for those who fought against their abusers,
breaking into their hidden armories to take away their guns
            But we looked away, and jested at the comedie humaine,
because we were not ourselves the victims of abuse
or the advocates for the abused,
and, after all, we are "not his type"

Then they came for the ones who would never
play ball with Der Leader
The ones who would always be trouble
because they were cheated out of their land
or, perchance, had been enslaved
or who had once owned a country that the slave-owners wished
            to possess for themselves
or who, we feared, were willing to work
            for too little money
or who loved the wrong people
or who were unwilling to remain in their positions
            and to perform the tasks
for which they had been created by the distant Creator—
those varied and disobedient creations
of that stable genius
            somewhere in the sky

And then because no one else remained standing
            in our diminished patria,
neither advocates,
nor scribblers with their pencil over the ear,
nor Enemies of the People with their hand-held devices,
nor party of the workers
nor defenders of the beaten, humiliated and disappeared

able to kick the ball from his feet,
nothing was left for us to do
but to lay our own bodies before His feet
            As the painted, spiked, and horny-headed demons of extinction
cheered, and drank, and laughed, and danced upon the bodies
of their victims
and ran up history's score


Boston area writer Robert Knox is a contributing editor for the online poetry journal Verse-Virtual in which his poems are regularly published. His poetry chapbook Gardeners Do It With Their Hands Dirty has been nominated for a Massachusetts Book Award for poetry books published in 2017. Also a fiction writer, his novel Suosso's Lane, a story of the Sacco-Vanzetti case, was published in 2016. His novel Karpa Talesman recently won a competition for speculative fiction and will be published by Hidden River Arts.

Friday, July 05, 2019

SONG OF WATERS RUNNING RED

by Bill Sullivan




“Spirit, help me to see
their broken stories…”
                                                                   The Wound in the Water, libretto by Euan Tait.



And the oceans, seas and rivers bled, then and now.

                                  1

So many unshackled black bodies,
hauled topside, dragged to the rail like sacks
of trash, worthless cargo when breathless or ill.
Unshrouded, unblessed, tossed to the sharks.

Lost: your freedom, your fields, family, friends,
songs and dances, your chanted village score,
your matching parts. Separated and silenced
you descend to the unknown ocean floor.

                                    2
Now a coyote says, “This far and no further;
A raft is there by the Rio Bravo.” Death threats,
and poverty marched the family north to the churning
spring waters, hoping to elude the border’s net.

“We will not be separated, will stay a family,”
Mid river, the rapids sank the raft, the dream.
Four will never know the opposite shore. Lost—
father, daughter child, and infant, swept downstream.

                                  3
The Mediterranean Sea, the reddest of borders,
graveyard for countless non-Europeans fleeing torture
and war.  First an embrace from the host, then rejection.
For a time, heroic rescues at sea, then cessation.

Thank the Turkish soldier who kindly retrieves
the lifeless body from Bodrum’s shore, who cradles
Aylan, in his arms, a three-year-old Syrian Kurd. Mother,
sister lost at sea; only the broken father left to grieve.


                                           4
Who knows who first pressed the knife’s tip in, opened
the wound? But slave trader, captain and merchant pushed
it deeper.  And despots, dealers, war lords, smugglers twisted
it more than a turn or two—then, hope and story severed.

If you don’t turn your head, you will see children confined,
crying out for their parents, drowning in a sea of abuse,
but also gaze at the perp’s or the collaborator’s eyes,
black and blank, a passageway to the dying soul’s cries.

                                          5
The spirit, the sea—eternal and universal; every creature
a part of the tale.  The sea, the womb; life’s origins.
Joined, at birth, our ties soon severed by Mammon’s legions.
Exiles and lords, cast apart, songless in a wounded sea.

Who in that sea will sing the first note of the song
that sparks the afflicted, that turns the cruel and greedy,
that invites every voice to join, that note by note stops
the bleeding, purifies the water, rewrites the wrongs?


Bill Sullivan taught English and American Studies at Keene State College. He co-authored two studies of twentieth century poetry, co-directed two documentaries.  His poems have appeared in a number of print and online publications.  His Loon Lore: In Poetry and Prose was published by Grove Street Books in 2015. He retired to Westerly, RI and turns to the ocean and gardens when times turn bleak.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

FLAGS, BARBEQUES, AND FIREWORKS

by Gil Hoy



He strode
into America’s
Birthday Party

with an air
of power
and privilege

befitting
a nobleman
who had learned

a thing or two
about governing,

a thing or two
about the strengths

and weaknesses
of Republics.

He looked up—
approvingly—

at America’s
Stars and Stripes:

a more sophisticated,
but equally treasured
and defended

symbol for
a democratic state

as the vexillum
his armies
had used.

He smelled
the meat
grilling,

inhaled
the intoxicating
smoke—

and again saw
the happy
smiling faces

of a nation’s
citizenry.

Like victorious
feasts on great
battlefields,

in days of old
long since
vanished,

after glorious battles
had been waged,
fought and won.

He cringed a bit
when he heard
the strange sounds

of fireworks
exploding overhead,

fearing that his legions

might again
be under attack.

He had already
seen and knew
too much

about destruction
and death—

about the destruction
and death
of Republics.

Upon learning
it was America’s 243’rd,

He paused
for a moment,
in earnest,

and then declared:

"She will meet
the same fate
as my own,

if her leaders
are not wise
and not true.

Democracies,
like their leaders,
are fragile,

and do not
last forever.

They’ve flown
and are fleeting.”

….

And, with that,
He was gone.


Gil Hoy is a Boston poet and semi-retired trial lawyer studying 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, Ariel Chart, TheNewVerse.News, Social Justice Poetry, The Potomac, The Penmen Review and elsewhere.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

THE COMMISSIONER OF TRANQUILITY

by William Aarnes 


                       

from the 2019 Independence Day speech


What’s troubling shouldn’t trouble us.  Whatever the news,
only the seditious believe the caging of refugee children

will go on too long.  Maybe, in some subversives’ imaginations,
addicts will keep overdosing.  Maybe storms will devastate

the islands where we vacation.  Maybe dictators will stay
in power in some foreign countries, countries where the rich

can count on the police but the poor can’t.   Maybe
in the once murky past hard-working laborers couldn’t pay

their rent—but never in this land of promise, never
in the comfort of our time.  We’re blessed we can focus

on the inspiring resolve of those families rebuilding
their burned-out homes. We’re lucky we can relish

hearing a decorated veteran belt out our national anthem
as if she’s cured of her PTSD, the athletes singing along,

all of them with hands on their hearts.  And aren’t we charmed
by the fourth-grade teacher who’s earned a raise

by bringing a gun to school?  Why give a moment’s thought
to hardships suffered by people who deserve them?

Didn’t our parents say, “Look on the bright side”?
Only those who belong elsewhere would deny that life

in our beloved country is the epitome of the bright side.
Why should we put up with any doubt?   Everyone’s happy

that what’s happening can never happen to us.


William Aarnes lives in South Carolina.

ALL THOSE PATRIOTIC SONGS

by Alan Walowitz





. . . In a democracy, you can only ignore the will of the people for so long and get away with it.                                                
                                                                                                         --John Boehner


Grammar School we sung them 
till the vocal cords popped from our throats,
such scrawny things we were, 
Adam’s apples bobbing, toes tapping,
the girls lined up the other side of the room
their skirts gently swaying in the breeze the radiators made—
all to please those witches, either evil or kind,
who had us in their clutches all day, a year at a time,
these ladies out of Normal School—Miss Johnson and Cochran,
Mrs. Murtaugh and Golsner—with their black high-top lace-up shoes
and penciled brows and rouged cheeks
that always made them look like they’d come through a storm—
and in the wake of the war, maybe they had.

My Country is of Thee—what the hell did that mean?—
O, say does the Star Spangled Ba-a-nner yet wave?
Just look in the corner of the room
where the flag’s hanging limp as the janitor’s mop.
God Bless America, never mentioning the guy who wrote it
was born on the other side.
And shouting the refrain, This Is My Country,
giving it all we had, just like the Mitch Miller record
we’d learned it from. 

They even said we might get to build it.
Though one look now, soft and creaky most mornings,
lovers of the easy life—you’ll know we didn’t help much. 
But our grandparents and parents did—
after hunkered down in steerage, a long, bitter crossing.
Still, that’s not walking from Guatemala
one kid in hand and another tugging at her breast,
and climbing in the back of a rickety old school bus 
to cross pitted roads and streams
and sleeping in rotted VW vans 
along with the hosos and the other takers
who might as soon rape you as get you there.
That’s courage worthy of sparklers and Roman candles
and bottle-rockets whistling, and bombs bursting in air.  

All those patriotic songs--
This is my country! we sung, sometimes even shouted.
Loud and proud, our teachers told us.
Build that wall, my ass!
We say, what Woody Guthrie said,
This land is your land, this land is my land—
you can only hold us off so long. 


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 published by Truth Serum Press. 

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

BILLIE JEAN KING'S GLASSES

by Diane Elayne Dees




I want to wear them because I want
to see what she sees—not a yellow
ball dropping lightly over a net,
just out of reach of an opponent—
but a world in which there are
no opponents, only others
with whom I have yet to cooperate.
I want to see righteous anger
as constructive, not reactive.
I want to see my rage start a fire
that purifies and transmutes
violence and injustice instead
of burning down a village.
I want to see women and men
side by side, each honoring
the energy of the other, not lobbing
accusations and calculating faults.
This is the vision I desire, the vision
I do not yet possess. This is why,
if only for a little while, I want
to wear Billie Jean King’s glasses.


Diane Elayne Dees’s chapbook I Can’t Recall Exactly When I Died is forthcoming from Clare Songbirds Publishing House; also forthcoming (Kelsay Books) is her chapbook Coronary Truth. Diane also publishes Women Who Serve, a blog that delivers news and commentary on women’s professional tennis throughout the world.

Monday, July 01, 2019

¡BASTA!

by Kathleen Hellen


Cartoonist Michael de Adder was let go from his job drawing editorial cartoons for all the major New Brunswick newspapers, a job he held for 17 years, 24 hours after this Donald T***p cartoon went viral on social media. Twitter: @deAdder


The policies we say make this okay
cover crimes of custom, duty
to the miles of fence, the wells poisoned
with the snakes of extra-judicial killings

not the little mountain of a child
vomiting a fever,
not “I come to own a toy”
“a pair of shoes” or “I am fleeing
violence,”
not long-term investigation

they wash up on the news—a father, a daughter
—in the river near the bootheel
where the railroad came and went
border protection only protecting
this desert spiked with crucifixions


Kathleen Hellen is the author of The Only Country was the Color of My Skin, the award-winning collection Umberto’s Night, and two chapbooks, The Girl Who Loved Mothra and Pentimento. Featured on Poetry Daily, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in American Letters and Commentary, Barrow Street, Cimarron Review, The Massachusetts Review, New Letters, North American Review, Poetry East, and West Branch, among others. Hellen has won the Thomas Merton poetry prize and prizes from the H.O.W. Journal and Washington Square Review, as well as awards from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts.

SHAME

by Pepper Trail



Twitter @rodriguezmonos


A deadening     a twist
            in the mouth     the heart

When personal –
            for an act     a thought
            shame is an ember
                                        a burning a thing to attend to
            extinguish or
                                     fan to flame     the better to see
           our darkness

But this—political— 
                                for my country
            for children in cages
            for father and child
      embracing in the river     dead
            for a monster whose reason not to rape is            
    “not my type”        
               for men     hands on Bibles
                                                     claiming dominion over women’s bodies
            for the highest court endorsing the lowest deceits
            for the cultivation of fear
                                                  the exaltation of hate
            for the endless
                               endless
                                endless
                                                lies    until we are bludgeoned
                                    unconscious

In this     I find no     
                           ember no gleam of light
In this darkness        
                        I howl
                                    but hear no echo

Only silence


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