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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.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

THE OLD COLOSSUS CLARIFIES HER SONNET

by Prince Bush





Oxidized, and stronger with patina, Libertas
Repeats herself, white supremacy is a storied

Pomp, dull-headedness, not welcome
In my country, but where I’m from—

The sea: Let prejudice sink beside that skin
Purported as porcelain, yet in any light, soft-paste—

A white clay and ground glass heart. I hope I am clear;
I hope this will end the fallacy, unnative white

Persons who trespassed & raped & carried cannons &
Smirkers & pigs & criminals & drugs & odious slavery.

Admittedly, older now and more of a sophist,
I want the door of gold to lead to anywhere:

I want to consolidate my lamp with the sun, console
Every soul, except those who publicly charge hate.


Prince Bush is a poet in Nashville TN with poetry in *82 Review, Cotton Xenomorph, Ghost City Press, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Pleides: Literature in Context, SOFTBLOW, and elsewhere. He was a 2019 Bucknell Seminar for Undergraduate Poets Fellow.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE

by Pepper Trail


Photo Illustration by Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast


"The new [Endangered Species Act] rules also give the government significant discretion in deciding what is meant by the term “foreseeable future." 
The New York Times, August 12, 2019


The Administration has announced that the following are no longer to be considered part of the “foreseeable future:”

Ice for polar bears to stand on
Safe and legal abortions
The concept of objective facts
Efforts to reduce the burning of fossil fuels
An act of political independence by any Republican member of Congress
Revulsion against separating immigrant children from their mothers and imprisoning them
Glaciers in Glacier National Park
Condemnation of white nationalism by the President of the United States
Any evidence of compassion or empathy from the President of the United States
Elephants
Nuclear arms control
The languid flight of monarch butterflies over a summer meadow
The survival of human civilization

However, the White House assures anxious Americans that the following can still be relied upon:

Inaction on gun control
Unrestricted influence of money on politics
Uncontrolled corporate power

Be sure to visit this site for regular updates


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.

Monday, August 12, 2019

JUST A NORMAL HIGH SCHOOL LOCKDOWN

by Ed Gold




In the fifties, in first grade,
I learned that crouching under my desk
would protect me from the blast
of an atomic bomb,
dropped on the playground.

In the sixties, in seventh grade,
I learned that when a knife is pulled
anywhere near me to run
and not look back.
But I never saw a gun.

Today, in twelfth grade,
my niece has learned the protocol
for when the shooter enters,
texting her parents every five minutes
so they know she is still alive.

She wears a bullet-blocking backpack
her mother ordered on the internet
pricier than the bullet-resistant model.
It won't protect her from an assault rifle,
but every little bit helps.


Ed Gold is originally from Baltimore, got an M.A. from the writing seminars at Hopkins, taught poetry at U of Md for years, and is now down in Charleston, SC, writing happily and madly. He has one chapbook, Owl, and about 80 poems published in TheNewVerse.News, Kakalak, Ekphrastic Review, Window Cat Press, Rat’s Ass Review, Cyclamens and Swords, and elsewhere. Active in the Poetry Society of South Carolina, he runs the Skylark Contest for high-school poets and co-chairs its two-week poetry series at the Dock Street Theater for Piccolo Spoleto in Charleston

Sunday, August 11, 2019

FOR THE OLD WHITE POETS

by Joan Colby


     “But I’m also torn between my pleasure at seeing part of American culture take significant strides toward equality and my sorrow due to the diminishment of interest in my work.” —Bob Hicok (above left), "The Promise of American Poetry,” Utne Reader, Summer 2019.

     “Why did a white poet see the success of writers of color as a signal of his own demise?” —Timothy Yu, “The Case of the ‘Disappearing’ Poet,” The New Republic, August 7, 2019


Dedicated to Bob Hicok


So now you know how those sonneteers
Must have felt, quietly posting along the
Bridle path with their rhyming dictionaries
And penchant for inversions, when you came along
Riding your free verse helter-skelter, breaking
Lines without regard like a mounted militia
In full rebellion. With your red wheelbarrow
And petals in the metro. White men of privilege,
You’re passe as the people of color race by on motorbikes
Down the crowded lanes where you used to
Summon a rickshaw. Plus ça change. And women
Shouting hands-off! Poems by non-binary
People who use the pronoun they
And where are you now with your forlorn
Confessions that cannot be absolved. This
Is penance contributor: the immigrants
Crossing the river on innertubes
Taking the risk you took once
Writing the word fuck flat out as a racehorse
Hitting the wire and snorting blood.


Joan Colby’s Selected  Poems received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize and Ribcage was awarded the 2015 Kithara Book Prize. Her recent books include Carnival  from FutureCycle Press, The Seven Heavenly Virtues from Kelsay Books and Her Heartsongs from Presa Press. Her latest book is Joyriding to Nightfall from FutureCycle Press.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

HIJACKED

by Karen Neuberg


Demonstrators assemble outside the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in Louisville. (Luke Sharrett/Getty Images via The Washington Post, August 7, 2019)


A breakdown, as in
corruption,

mind-feed, firearm soul.
We can’t get

the automatic
weapons

out of our hands.
The ability

to think
taken over

and with it
ourselves. What’s

it called
when democracy dies.

It’s called
my country.


Karen Neuberg is a Brooklyn-based poet. Her full length collection Pursuit is forthcoming from Kelsay Books. Her latest chapbook is the elephants are asking (Glass Lyre Press, 2018). Her poems have previously appeared in TheNewVerse.News. She is associate editor of the online poetry journal First Literary Review-East.

THIS IS NOT A GUN

by Mary K O'Melveny




                        …El Paso (this time)


This is a video game gone quite wrong.
This is a prayer turned to a theme song.
This is a mental health problem.  A strong
response will allow us to move along.

This is a city where migrants have long
been welcome, in serape or sarong,
where border crossers shop for daylong
Walmart bargains—our US torch song.

They sell weapons there too that stoke real fears—
bumpstocks and bullets and bandoliers.
But apparently all is not as it appears,
even as these are checked out by cashiers.

The enabler-in-chief and all his peers
report that we must cover up our ears.
The silencing of rifles would set back years
of cold cash from NRA financiers.

Republicans, whose loyalty is owed
to makers of shiny things that explode,
hide from the press as the mark is towed
while innocents reap what their greed has sowed.

Where bones have shattered and blood has flowed,
these folks blather past each grim episode.
Their words are camouflaged in secret code
while still more angry white men lock and load.


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.

RED FLAG

by Tricia Knoll








































You stepped in the doorway.
Come, you said, to comfort me.

A long way to come without
having gone anywhere new,

I thought, the nurse watched
over me to help me contain

my anger, but I could not.
The background: strangers

arrived to check out a victim.
Such a long way to come

without moving an inch.
My fingers searched

for a red flag to hold up
when I spit out

ban assault rifles,
don’t let white men

use them as banners
for hate.

The hate you wave
at every turn.


Tricia Knoll asks how she might feel if she were in a hospital bed after a shooting and the President arrived.

Friday, August 09, 2019

AFTER THE SHOOTING IN EL PASO

by Tina Barry


Image by Melissa Joskow / Media Matters


Invade with your            hot mouth   lie
uncovered among the fragrance      of the world!  
Look at what comes    Look at them    An invasion 
what marches toward us    marches with night-
eyes   An invasion   To be invaded       To be  
“simply defending my country” To deafen
To defend “from cultural and ethnic replace
ment”   The rest are in the light that bursts
into secret        Where what are?  
Things that begin  when fire-
blue waves open fire on 
                    the poor
                parched heart


Author’s Note: The poem’s lines are borrowed from Pablo Neruda’s Love Sonnet “I” in his 100 Love Sonnets and from “El Paso Shooting Suspect’s Manifesto Echoes Trump’s Language,” by Peter Baker and Michael D. Shear, The New York Times, August 4, 2019.


Tina Barry is a freelance writer, poet, short fiction writer and curator. She is the author of Mall Flower (Big Table Publishing, 2016). Tina’s writing has been included in The Best Short Fictions 2016, Drunken Boat, Inch Magazine, Yes, Poetry, Connotation Press, and several anthologies including Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse, Feckless Cunt and A Constellation of Kisses. In 2018-2019, Tina conceived and curated “The Virginia Project,” a collaborative written word and visual art exhibition that celebrated Virginia Haggard, the partner of the artist Marc Chagall, and Haggard’s daughter Jean McNeil. Beautiful Raft, the writing that launched the exhibit, will be published this fall. Tina is a teaching artist at The Poetry Barn and Gemini Ink. 

HISTORY OF A BIGOT

by David Spicer


“*trigger warning* Rabid Trump supporter” by alex674 at Deviant Art.


I never learned to love
a butterfly’s wings, the ripple of wavy hair.
My old man numbed me with buckles of belts,
along with barbed-wire insults and blame
he loved to wrap around my sensitive head.
He watched with glee when I winced and cried,

a weak kid. As an adolescent I didn’t cry
but with those lack of tears I couldn’t love
myself anymore than a turtle that swallows its head.
I began my journey of odium by growing long hair:
I felt kinship with hippies who blamed
society for their alienated rage and dodged belts

from fathers, who thought nothing of belts
of Jimmy Beam and Johnny Black before they cried
and always found their sons to blame
for being losers in life and love.
Ten years later, I buzz cut my hair,
joined a gang of skinheads

who grunged guitars and cracked heads.
This didn’t happen in Frisco, but the Cotton Belt,
where haters despised long hair and short hair,
but I loathed rednecks— they never cried,
didn’t know the meaning of love
since they never accepted self-blame.

As children, their mothers told them, You’re to blame—
I ought to bash your stupid head
in. Fifteen years later, I still didn’t know love,
so I joined right-wing crackpots who swung belts
at smaller victims, young men we kicked until they cried,
slashing their faces with swastikas, hacking their hair.

Twenty years later, I wonder what happened to my hair.
If I could, I’d find some cretin to cut with blame.
I’d feel better if the whiner whimpered and cried.
Then I’d notch it up and grind his head,
tie up his arms with rusty chains, poison-laced belts,
and after I finished him, I’d call his death my act of love.

I’m not prejudiced. I hate everybody: long hair, bald head.
Who cares, as long as I can blame and whip with a belt?
I can’t cry. I hate myself. I think I’ll buy a gun to love. 



David Spicer has published poems in Alcatraz, Gargoyle, Third Wednesday, Reed Magazine, Oddball Magazine, The Literary Nest,The Tipton Poetry Journal, Synaeresis, Chiron Review, PloughsharesThe American Poetry Review, and elsewhereand in the anthologies Silent Voices: Recent American Poems on Nature (Ally Press), Perfect in Their Art: Poems on Boxing From Homer to Ali (Southern Illinois University Press), Homeworks: A Book of Tennessee Writers (The University of Tennessee Press), and A Galaxy of Starfish: An Anthology of Modern Surrealism (Salo Press). He has been nominated for a Best of the Net three times and a Pushcart once, and is the author of one full-length collection of poems, Everybody Has a Story (St. Luke's Press), and six chapbooks, the latest of which is Tribe of Two (Seven CirclePress). He is also the former editor of Raccoon, Outlaw, and Ion Books.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

AMERICAN GHAZAL

by Gail Thomas


Crosses for each of the victims of a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, sit before being taken to a memorial site. CALLAGHAN O’HARE / REUTERS via The Atlantic, August 5, 2019


Innocence dies in every season, bullets spray in America.
Red blossoms swirl and drip, night and day in America.

Prayers don’t erase the names waiting to be spoken.
How many voices stilled? Money betrays in America.

School, church, temple, mosque, theater, mall, club.
False gods, assault weapons stay in America.

Oh, he was a hater, loner, misfit, bully?
Rage hides in plain sight, decay in America.

Abraham, faith-blind father, God saved your son.
We know the enemy within, but we pray in America.


Gail Thomas has published four books: Odd Mercy, Waving Back, No Simple Wilderness, and Finding the Bear. Her poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies, and awards include the Charlotte Mew Prize from Headmistress Press for Odd Mercy, the Massachusetts Center for the Book’s Must Read for Waving Back, and Naugatuck River Review’s Narrative Poetry Prize.

TRES Y VEINTIDOS AND NINE

Samuel Klug, left, and John Neff visit a memorial at the scene of a mass shooting in the city's historic Oregon District in Dayton, Ohio. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)


1

Tres personas fueron asesinadas en Gilroy, California
Trevor Irby—Stephen Romero—Keyla Salazar

2

Veintidós personas fueron asesinadas en El Paso, Texas
Jordan Anchondo—Andre Anchondo—Arturo Benavidez—Javier Rodriguez—Sara Esther Regalado Moriel—Adolfo Cerros Hernández—Gloria Irma Marquez—María Eugenia Legarreta Rothe—Ivan Manzano—Juan de Dios Velázquez Chairez—David Johnson—Leonardo Campos Jr.—Maribel Campos—Angelina Silva Englisbee—Maria Flores—Raul Flores—Jorge Calvillo Garcia—Alexander Gerhard Hoffman—Luis Alfonzo Juarez-Elsa Mendoza de la Mora—Margie Reckard—Teresa Sanchez

3

Nine people were killed in Dayton Ohio
Megan Betts—Monica Brickhouse—Nicholas Cumer—Derrick Fudge—Thomas J. McNichols—Lois Oglesby—Saeed Saleh—Logan Turner—Beatrice Warren-Curtis

NINE DEAD IN DAYTON

by Martin H. Levinson


Map of the 2,162 mass shootings since Sandy Hook. —Vox


twenty-two in El Paso, twenty-one
in San Ysidro, forty-nine in Orlando,
fourteen in San Bernardino,
fifty-eight by a Las Vegas casino,
a crowd of concertgoers,
bodies lying bleeding, a
nation that is reeling, the
core of who we are, posting
hate, loading up, firing fast
and down they go in Walmarts,
at festivals, inside of schools,
inside of bars, one hundred
rounds a minute, death is a
democracy, knows no color,
knows no sex, equality for
all, bullets pierce pliant flesh,
splinter bones, don’t tread on
me the gun nuts say, Columbine
and Parkland, Sandy Hook,
Aurora, thoughts and prayers,
fictitious care, death and
dying everywhere.


Martin H. Levinson is a member of the Authors Guild, National Book Critics Circle, PEN America, and the book review editor for ETC: A Review of General Semantics. He has published ten books and numerous articles and poems. He holds a PhD from NYU and lives in Forest Hills, New York.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

YES, THEY SOW GUNS INTO THE BELLY OF THIS WORLD

by Ariana D. Den Bleyker





You cannot sow leaves back to a tree,
unpluck the plume of an eagle.
When words begin to rot the tongue,
those words cannot be swallowed back.

There is a dish to hold the sea,
a brassiere to hold the sun,
a compass for the galaxy,
a voice to wake the dead.

But this is the silence between us.
And this is why there will be no nest.
Because this is a relationship
between a bird & a gun.

Shots burst out into a crowd;
and, we saw the red-hot glint,
watching & crying & asking
that question over again.

Talons fall from the sky,
settle, & turn to rust. I hate you,
I think, as you shoot me
to death with a rifle in my face:

Born to pull the trigger.
Born to light the match.
Born to see the blood.
Born to steal the hope.

You feel rage & there are bodies
on the floor, me, dying,
almost dead, knees stuck
together with feathers & blood.

One gun to hold the bullets;
one finger to pull the trigger.
Truth wears everyday clothes.
Tufts crimson as sunset pass us by.


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

FUCK YOUR GUN!

by Scott C. Kaestner






Fuck your gun, your right to carry it does not supersede a 6 year old child’s right to enjoy a festival with the family.

Fuck your gun, your right to carry it does not supersede a family’s right to go grocery shopping on a Saturday morning.

Fuck your gun, your right to carry it does not supersede an adult’s right to enjoy a night out with friends.

Fuck your gun, your right to carry it does not supersede a student’s right to get an education without having to attend classmates' funerals.

Fuck your gun, your right to carry it does not supersede a believer’s right to worship the God they choose.

Fuck your gun, fuck the NRA, fuck your thoughts and prayers, fuck the cowardly thieves who represent us.

Fuck your gun!


Scott C. Kaestner is a Los Angeles poet, dad, husband, and guy who never gets tired of sunshine or tacos. Google ‘scott kaestner poetry’ to peruse his musings and doings.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

TO LIE IN STATE, AS USUAL

by David Feela

Years down the political road
an ex-con will be carried to the rotunda
by military men at taxpayers’ expense

though he never served a day in uniform.
Mourners will respectfully file past his remains
though never in his life did he lawfully

file his taxes, wash his hands at humanity’s
fountain, or recognize a truth before
wringing out a lie. A closed casket affair,

nobody certain if he’s actually in there,
his supporters aghast, as a democrat is
accused of raising the flag to full staff.


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.

BLEEDING OUT

by Lisa J. Rocklin




Let's just leave it down:
the flag—
half-staff.
Raise it high
on days when
no one dies
            like that. 

Declare a holiday. 

Thoughts 
make ineffective gauze.
Prayers 
absorb no blood.
Flags were not meant
to serve 
as tourniquets
or crucibles of
            patriotism.

Let's just kneel 
together
every time
our banner waves
for these days 
we share—
collecting grief like debt.
Let's mourn 
the self-destruction
            of a nation. 

Let there be rage for 
the addict we can't save
who shoots up 
skin that isn't his
triggered by . . . 
            it doesn't matter why.

As long as he's fed
as long as we're willing
to yield more dead
as long as we keep 
loading the chamber
let's just leave it down—
as a shroud—
star-spangled 
and red.


Lisa J. Rocklin is a writer, facilitator, community builder, and associate director of Women Writing for (a) Change, a nonprofit organization in Cincinnati, OH, that offers supportive writing circles to nurture and celebrate the individual voice.

Monday, August 05, 2019

CHURCH OF THE HOLY GUNS

by John Kaprielian




Someday all poems will have to be
about shootings and killing sprees
It seems that's all that happens these
days and if we do not change our ways
there will be no time to write about things
like the first light of dawn that kisses the
treetops aflame against a carmine sky or
waves that wash dancing silver
fish across shell-flecked sand

No, there will be no time for that only
blood and fear and hate and tears
the sick sweet smell of gunpowder
that hangs in the air like incense
at some perverse Church of Holy Guns
while mothers kiss cold lips and
bleach washes crimson stains
from shell-shocked floors and walls

Who needs poems about nature
and love when there are elegies
and laments to be written thoughts
and prayers to be mouthed
and promises to be made
and forgotten until the next time
which will probably be the day
after tomorrow


A natural history photo editor by day, John Kaprielian has been writing poetry for over 35 years. In 2012 he challenged himself to write a poem a day for a year and self-published the poems in a book 366 Poems: My Year in Verse available on Amazon. His poems have been published in The Five-Two Poetry Blog, Down in the Dirt Magazine, TheNewVerse.News, Naturewriting.com, The Blue Nib, The Blue Mountain Review, and Minute Magazine. He lives in Putnam County, NY with his wife, teenage son, and assorted pets. He is thoroughly sick of writing poems like this.

GARDEN VEGETABLES

by Joan Mazza




The garden blooms again in profusion,
offers snow peas and sugar snaps,
lettuces green and crisp. The tomatoes
have never tasted so good. Maybe
the heavy spring rain kept the ground
moist during  a critical window, maybe

it’s the usual cycle of the earth. Hands
in the dirt provide distraction,
the sense of doing something useful,
healthy, with an outcome you can eat—
most basic feeling of security. Logs
on the wood pile cure for winter
while you can tomatoes, pickle cukes.

Without TV or radio, without knowledge
of the height of children, you’d never know
the year. Gardens’ bountiful vegetables
are an annual constant, a salve.
In Dayton and El Paso, the experts
are closing out crime scenes, taking

photos, mopping up blood, notifying
next of kin. When you hear the number
of injured victims along with the dead,
you won’t know how their lives have been
altered to live with chronic pain and fear.
How many young men are cleaning their
guns and counting their bullets today?


Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, and has taught workshops nationally with a focus on understanding dreams and nightmares. She is the author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam), and her work has appeared in Rattle, The MacGuffin, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and The Nation. She lives in rural central Virginia, where she writes a poem every day and is working on a memoir.