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Thursday, October 31, 2019


by Susan Gubernat

                                                            This is the Hour of Lead –
                                                            Remembered, if outlived… Emily Dickinson

Lead that grazes the mouth of a child, bloodies her.
Lead she drinks down from her little cup of water.

Lead spewed at one another instead of spit
(though the spit too finds its target).

Lead they load, reload, load, reload
Lead soaring like an earthbound bird emboldened

by flight. Lead sinking to the bottom of a pan
boiling away on a kitchen fire. But can

a mother ever make the bath safe again?
As lead rains hard, can she throw her body in 

the path of the boy being eyed by lead,
stalked by lead, prey to the beast of lead?

The lead in the man’s pockets weighs him 
down like coins he thinks he must spend

to grow lighter. He pans the river for lead,
curses crowds with his shower of lead.

Underground, the dark pipes groan with lead.
Above, the air clamps shut with a seam of lead.

O lead, where is thy sting? There
and there and there.            Here. 

Susan Gubernat’s latest book The Zoo at Night won the Prairie Schooner Book Award from the University of Nebraska Press. Her work has appeared in many publications. She lives and works in the SF Bay Area.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019


by Andrena Zawinski

The smell of ash wakes me in my bed, burning
my nostrils and throat, midnight, as I dream
of water webbed lashes and a cool, damp face.

Diablo winds sling fiery plumes all night across
grapevines, redwoods, schoolhouses, ranches,
livestock and wildlife left behind, everything
trying to catch its breath.

In the gloom of gray hours before down, I write
these words without paper or pen a half wake state,
while winds whistle and howl across the dock,
through trees, into my open window and this poem

                                    stumbling ahead
                                    as this dawn struggles for breath
                                    tears blurring the eyes.

Andrena Zawinski’s poetry has received accolades for lyricism, form, spirituality, and social concern. Her latest book is Landings; others are Something About (a PEN Oakland Award) and Traveling in Reflected Light (a Kenneth Patchen Prize). She founded and runs the San Francisco Bay Area Women’s Poetry Salon and is Features Editor at Her poem, “Twilit Sonnet” appeared previously in TheNewVerse.News.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019


by Pepper Trail

“One hundred percent girls,” whispered the biologist, crawling next to the pregnant reptile. “This nest will be 100 percent girls.” As the earth gets hotter, turtle hatchlings worldwide are expected to skew dangerously female, scientists predict, making the animals an unwitting gauge for the warming climate. —The Washington Post, October 22, 2019. Photo: A marine biologist helps a newborn sea turtle reach the sea on Cape Verde’s Boa Vista island. Credit: Danielle Paquette via The Washington Post.

In the dark sea, a greater darkness
An absence of starlight, moving
Then on the wet sand, a stone

Stone into turtle, with gathering of breath
And the climb begins, pull and drag
Against all the weight of earth

Far up the beach, with pause for gasp
The turtle curves wings
Into mittened hands, and digs

For this warmth of nest, the ocean shed
This gush of eggs into the place prepared
Hidden among the grains of sand

Then the lurch, the thrash
The torn-up ground, last concealment
Before the run toward home

At the first break of wave
She lifts head, trailing earthly tears
Rests, breathes full, and flies free

So it has been, the mothers forever
Returning to their mothers’ beach
The fathers waiting in the fathers’ surf

But now, the warmth too warm
The nests send only girls into the sea
Until fathers can be found no more

For long barren years, turtles will swim
Far from the beckoning useless land
Bearing eggs for no generation, the last

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.


by Alan Catlin

A dead dolphin was found washed ashore in Westerly RI, Oct. 27, 2019. Photo: Zac Perrin, Channel 10 Providence.

Kill things
                 Endangered species
                 Separated from parents children

Then we send troops into the country
we betrayed to defend the oil fields

Author’s note: Written after finding a full grown dolphin washed ashore on an offshore island

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.

Monday, October 28, 2019


by Mark Ward

This week Ugandan police arrested 16 LGBTQ activists on charges of gay sex—which is punishable by life imprisonment. Police arrested them at the sexual health organization where they worked and lived and cited condoms, lubricants and anti-HIV medicines found there as evidence of a crime. Police then subjected them to forced anal exams, which can amount to torture under international law, before releasing them on bail, according to a statement by activists. —The Washington Post, October 26, 2019. Photo: A Ugandan man with a sticker on his face takes part in gay pride in Entebbe, Uganda in 2014. (ISAAC KASAMANI/AFP/Getty Images via The Washington Post)

I feel his fingers pull me apart. 
I am on all fours on a steel trolley
somewhere underground in town. 
All I can see is feet passing. 
                       I clench. He smacks my arse
and for a moment, I am at home
with you—this easy intimacy 
before bed. 
                        Fingers always hurt. 
The nails. Even through gloves. 
That illusion of hygiene. 
                                               He opens me
to peer inside. 
                                He rummages, 
searching for sedition, 
or semen. Something to prove
I walk around with sinful innards.  
                I make no sound. 
                                                  And when he is done, 
despite telling me I can dress, I remain, 
                  trousers round my ankles, 
without shame, fully aware of my 
unprovable proficiencies
                                                  until he leaves in disgust.

Mark Ward is the author of the chapbooks Circumference (Finishing Line Press, 2018) and Carcass (Seven Kitchens Press, 2020), and the full-length collection Nightlight (Salmon Poetry, 2022). His work has been widely published at home and abroad. He is the founding editor of Impossible Archetype, an international journal of LGBTQ+ poetry. 

Sunday, October 27, 2019


Original photo by Lynn Ketchum for Oregon State University: Flowering rabbit brush brightens Oregon’s rangelands and provides sustenance to a great golden digger wasp.

Penelope Scambly Schott is a past recipient of the Oregon Book Award for Poetry. Recent books are House of the Cardamon Seed and November Quilt. Dufur is a small (pop: 623) wheat-growing town in north-central Oregon.

Saturday, October 26, 2019


by Shelly Blankman

How do you say goodbye? Always a brew
of duty and love, a fusion of friendship and
family. Stir in politics and the recipe can
kill the comfort of mourners united in grief.

This country said goodbye to a statesman
and grieved in prayer and song, in speeches
and memories by colleagues, family, friends,
religious and political leaders. Those who knew

him and those who did not. Thousands filled
the church and lined the streets to honor a
man loved by the people he served, reviled
by a government he angered with his staunch

defense of human rights and lifetime lessons
of common sense. Absence of a president
unnoticed in the presence of a humble hero.
Elijah Cummings, a Baltimore native, would

certainly have sunk into the annals of history, if
not for raising the spirits of those mired in chaos
and despair. A sharecropper’s son who lived what
he’d learned and left the legacy of a legend.

Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Shelly Blankman now lives in Columbia, Maryland with her husband, three cat rescues and a foster dog. Her poetry has appeared in First Literary Review-East, The Ekphrastic Review, Halfway Down the Stairs, and other publications

Friday, October 25, 2019


by Sally Zakariya

“Today we published the results of this quantum supremacy experiment in the Nature article, ‘Quantum Supremacy Using a Programmable Superconducting Processor.’ We developed a new 54-qubit processor, named ‘Sycamore,’ that is comprised of fast, high-fidelity quantum logic gates, in order to perform the benchmark testing. Our machine performed the target computation in 200 seconds, and from measurements in our experiment we determined that it would take the world’s fastest supercomputer 10,000 years to produce a similar output.” —Posted on October 23, 2019 to the Google AI Blog by John Martinis, Chief Scientist Quantum Hardware and Sergio Boixo, Chief Scientist Quantum Computing Theory, Google AI Quantum. Photograph of the Sycamore processor by Erik Lucero, Research Scientist and Lead Production Quantum Hardware.

Hello world, things are changing.
What I knew only as a shag-bark tree—
Sycamore—now names computing
power beyond imagining, now quantum,
supreme, superlative, incomparable.

A dance of particles, tangling, entangled.
To Einstein, “spooky action at a distance.”
To me, complex mystery of mysteries,
wonder of intelligent wonders.

How can I comprehend such power
and speed, such limitless possibilities?
Like us prone to error, but unlike us
capable of brilliance beyond measure.

A human attempt to emulate creation?
Perhaps. Or is it proof how far our
mortal minds can reach?

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 Muslim Wife (Blue Lyra Press, 2019). She is also the author of The Unknowable Mystery of Other People, Personal Astronomy, When You Escape, Insectomania, and Arithmetic and other verses, as well as the editor of a poetry anthology, Joys of the Table.

Thursday, October 24, 2019


by David Stone

Pelosi stands
eclipsing Washington’s bust.
Pelosi stands
across from the men’s folded hands.
Her arm in point to T***p is thrust.
Her calm above his scowl is just.
Pelosi stands.

David Stone teaches English in Loma Linda, CA.  His poetry has appeared in Identity Theory, Shuf, and Inlandia: A Literary Journey as well as in Orangelandia: The Literature of Inland Citrus.  He contributes literary columns for the Southern California News Group.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019


by George Salamon

"I have always been struck, in America, by an emotional poverty so bottomless, and a fear of human life, of human touch, so deep, that virtually no American appears able to achieve any viable organic connection between his public stance and his private life." 
—James Baldwin in I Am Not Your Negro (2017)

It is not a lesson
Easily learned.
After absorbing it,
One comes to
Rely on smaller
Emotions, just to
Be on the safe side.

George Salamon, retired from college teaching, journalism and public affairs, has contributed most recently to The Asses of Parnassus, Dissident Voice, One Sentence Poems and TheNewVerse.News from St. Louis, MO.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019


by Janice D. Soderling

Dozens of Commonwealth graves have been daubed with swastikas and other symbols at a cemetery dedicated to those fought in the first and second world wars. The headstones were vandalised with red spray paint overnight at the Haifa war cemetery in northern Israel, according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). It comes just days after several other Commonwealth graves were knocked over at Belfast City Cemetery in Northern Ireland. —The London Economic, October 11, 2019

Indifferent to the clangor at their tent,
the dusty lads sleep on.
Allied in unilateral descent,
indifferent to the clangor at their tent,
and to the tiffs of kings or president.
Unmindful of thick darkness and bright dawn,
indifferent to the clangor at their tent
the dusty lads sleep on.

Janice D. Soderling, poet, writer and translator, is a previous contributor to TheNewVerse.News. Her work in Spanish translation was recent at La libélula vaga and her own translations from Swedish to English are forthcoming at Better than Starbucks.


by Kit Loney

You say a terrorist stole your name? I hear you, sister. Back in the day I was easy in my skin, passed among the creatures of the earth like a fine breeze. I was whirling dervish. Pelican diving. Windmill. Showed travelers the way to Buddhist temples. Would appear on kimono sleeves in sky-blue silk brocade to gather good fortune. Faced left in Sanskrit to juggle dots and dance on pointed toes. Man, those were the days. The Navajo would invite me to kneel on woven carpets for sacred healing chants. I was earth, air, fire, and water. north, west, south, and east. Then one day I’m grabbed from behind, knocked out cold. In fog of fever dreams I’m something small and lethal, like a pistol, dread burning up red from the tail of my spine. Wake up decades later. Splitting headache. Hands covered in blood. These days the Japanese kids call me Mangi, some hashtag to hip as if that Hitler nightmare never happened. But sister, I‘m still covered in scars, still shaking. Oh God! What have I done? And this new tide of angry men with their hands clenching my every arm. No ocean on earth is deep enough. Sister, help me, please!

Kit Loney comes to poetry from a career in visual arts. Her poems have appeared in Prime Number Magazine, The Ekphrastic Review, Fall Lines, Emrys Journal, Kakalak, Yemassee, Qarrtsiluni, Waccamaw, One, and Poetry East. In 2012 she received the Carrie McCray Nickens Poetry Fellowship from the SC Academy of Authors.

Monday, October 21, 2019


by Katherine West

Holly turning red
all along the winding trail,
little flames of fall
amongst the wildflowers—
silver hair of the forest

She is dying, dry
before rain, dry after rain
her children all dead
before they are born, before
the holly can burn, it burns

Eighty years to die—
eighty years for the river
eighty years for me
amongst the wildflowers—
silver hair of the river

She is dying, dry
before rain, dry after rain
her children all dead
before they are born, before
the trout can spawn, they are gone

Fall is beautiful
leaves now turning red as blood
all my long, long life
I was a leaf on your tree
but now we fall together

Katherine West is the author of three poetry collections—The Bone Train, Scimitar Dreams, and Riddle–and has had poetry published in such journals as Bombay Gin, Lalitamba, TheNewVerse.News, La Petite Zine among others.  She lives and teaches poetry workshops about wilderness writing near Silver City, New Mexico.  

Sunday, October 20, 2019


by Julie Steiner

“I wish, with all my heart, to be buried in Father Ambrose St John's grave—and I give this as my last, my imperative will.” —Saint John Henry Newman, 1801-1890, canonized on 13 October 2019; the quotation is from “Written in Prospect of Death,”  Meditations and Devotions, Part 3, 1876). See also "“The Empty Tomb: Cardinal Newman's last laugh?” in Commonweal, October 8, 2008.  Photo: Ambrose St John (left) and Saint John Henry Newman.

A miracle, of sorts: an empty tomb—
a skeleton-less grave, though shared by two.
One hundred eighteen years should be too few
for bones and teeth to seep away like rheum.

The undertakers managed to exhume
two coffin handles; damp had rotted through
all else except a gold-thread tassel. Who
could tell which soggy humus went with whom?

Could Church officials separate the clay
of John from that of Ambrose? In a way,
the two became one flesh while six feet under.

Saint John’s been moved; St John stayed put, they say.
And yet the pair defiantly obey
“What God has joined, let no man put asunder.”

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.

Saturday, October 19, 2019


by Mark Danowsky

Harold Bloom 1930-2019

No one is left now
who will swing his arms wide-----
claim knowledge of the entirety
of The Western Canon

The man who wrote the book
on who the wise among us
ought to remember
has left the stage

Who now can swoop in
to tell us how it is?

Gone are the Great Claim-Makers

More than ever now
we need help knowing
where to look
for what is true & valuable

None of us can claim
to have read everything

Some of us can raise a hand
& solemnly swear
we are up to no good

Many of us can remember
a time when we used to feel
we knew more

Knowledge begets holes
in our theories about this world

The Critic has left us
his anxiety of influence

The Critic has left us
a list of what once signified
our greatest gifts

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, October 18, 2019


by Ariana D. Den Bleyker

“But the American people are begging us for more than thoughts and prayers, they want an answer, and guess what? They want it now, because they know that this is a critical moment in our history.” — Elijah Cummings

The world is vacant for a moment,
grief a womb of air—
but how it lives through love,
the hunger for an abundant & eternal life—

even when it seems impossible to hope.

Today the fallen leaves sleep on a lake
from a wind waking the trees.
A voice shivers under the calm water & firm ground
to shake the faltering stars.

He offered his heart to our hands.

His words stay awake in the remaining raindrops
of an endless night; forbidden morning.
There’ll be no harvest here to reap.
There’s no one left to till the land.

Beneath the soil a farmer sleeps.

Close your eyes to the color
of the world & live your life
in black & gray. Love transcends
the empty room wishing you were here.

Real heroes are men of peace.

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. She is the author of three collections, including Wayward Lines (RawArt Press, 2015) and many chapbooks including, most recently, 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.

Thursday, October 17, 2019


by Mickey J. Corrigan

To be the scribe and whitewasher
changing slurs into diamonds
To edit out the coal dust, replace
with gold nuggets for all who believe
in the fraudulent intents
retro-disrupted and revised
so the world sees only the glitter
To lead the ruby-throated herd
to the edge of the flatland
let them jump, fall, moo
from burnt fields we insist
are green, lush, ready for bloom
To punch first, punch hard
blacken eyes that see the clarity
through the oil slicks
the choking smog
the hurricane winds
the historic floods that sweep away
rolls of paper towels, single serve
plastic soup in a hot bath
bubbling up
to engulf the debtors
the disenfranchised
the multitaskers
and hungry fat kids
listless on empty playgrounds
in the unyielding sun
To not speak of this
we use the magic cups
bait and switch-hunt
To lead with foaming mouths
red-faced faux outrage
at the shadows that must lurk
under the surface of greatness
To promise to those crushed
by the enormity of lies
if they continue to believe
if they continue to not see
the sleek black limo
nudging them
off the very edge

of the democratic abyss

Originally from Boston, Mickey J. Corrigan writes Florida noir with a dark humor. Project XX, a satirical novel about a school shooting, was released in 2017 by Salt Publishing in the UK. Newest release is What I Did for Love, a twisted psychological thriller (Bloodhound Books, October, 2019).


Original cartoon by  Steve Breen, The San Diego Union-Tribune, October 15, 2019

James Hamby is the Associate Director of the Writing Center at Middle Tennessee State University. He has been a finalist for the XJ Kennedy Parody Award and a nominee for the Pushcart Prize.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019


by George Held

Trump Provides Cover For the Kurds by Pia Guerra at The Nib
Full story by Jennifer Griffin and Melissa Leon at Fox News.

The last vestige of shame
our Special Forces feel
for abandoning the Kurds,
our ablest warrior allies,

is pure attar in the rose
of battle grown in the garden
of the temporary victory
over ISIS and their allies.

That rose has faded and died
on orders from our supreme leader
to betray and abandon
our loyal Kurdish brothers.

In future where can shame
bloom? Who now will share
the arid earth where Kurd
and Special Forces bled

Out their lives in hard-earned
mutual trust? The old words
—trust and shame and loyalty—
have wilted and died.

George Held, a longtime contributor to TheNewVerse.News, has a new poetry chapbook out, Second Sight (Poets Wear Prada, 2019).

Tuesday, October 15, 2019


by Judy Juanita

“Last Saturday, a neighbor in Fort Worth called the city’s non-emergency line because he was concerned about his neighbors, 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson and her 8-year-old nephew. It was the middle of the night, but her front door was open. The dispatcher sent police officers, who appear to have treated the call as a reported burglary. While searching the perimeter of the house, Officer Aaron Dean saw a figure in the window. Without announcing himself, he yelled ‘Put your hands up! Show me your hands!’ Two seconds later, he fired his gun, killing Jefferson in her own home.” —Radley Balko, The Washington Post, October 15, 2019. Photo: A makeshift memorial outside the home of Atatiana Jefferson on Monday. Jefferson was fatally shot by a Fort Worth police officer early Saturday morning. (Jake Bleiberg/AP via The Washington Post, October 15, 2019

We wear a masque called freedom
But Atatiana was shot like a fugitive slave.
We masquerade as upright citizens
Brave this deadly force every goddam day
Masquerade as independent thinkers
While our thoughts get shot down in the streets.

We believe, like true believers, in the rule of law
The gangs in blue shoot through that too.
Our red, white and blue masques say VOTER
But our ballots keep disappearing.
When the ancestors greet Atatiana
They shake her alive. The masquerade is over.

Faith leaders wear the masque of concern
But their brand-new bibles are warped and cracking.
Atatiana’s neighbor, in masque, cries out
They had no reason to come with guns drawn.
The ancestors ask: Are all the players numb?
Some, not all, though in costume, torn and dirtied, know.

The great pantomime and our long drawn out performance
Cracks and peels with every gun drawn and each bullet fired.

Judy Juanita's poetry has appeared in Obsidian II, 13th Moon, Painted Bride Quarterly, Croton Review, The Passaic Review, Lips, TheNewVerse.News, Poetry Monthly and Drumrevue 2000.  Her short stories and essays appear widely. Juanita's semi-autobiographical novel Virgin Soul chronicled a black female coming of age in the 60s who joins the Black Panther Party. Her collection of essays, DeFacto Feminism: Essays Straight Outta Oakland was a distinguished finalist in OSU's 2016 Non/Fiction Collection Prize.


by Rachel Mallalieu

I don’t want this to be 
about me, but of course it’s
always about me

With a face like mine,
a thousand ships were launched,
so needful were men of my rescue

With a face like mine,
a few words were said and
a fourteen-year-old boy was
beaten, shot and tossed
into the Tallahatchie River

With a face like mine, feel free
to burst into a black man’s home
while he’s eating ice cream
and demand that he shows you
his hands, and when he does not,
you can shoot him
when his blood stains the floor and
you realize your mistake,
stand in the hallway
and text instead of performing CPR

With a face like mine, the jury will
cry because you clearly didn’t mean
to do it, and (despite the racist texts)
you seem guileless, even
penitent (especially when you say
you wish you had died instead)
yes they find you guilty, but the bailiff
will smooth your hair and the
judge will give you her Bible
you will receive a light sentence
and still be young enough to bear children
once you’ve served your time

With a face like mine,
when the anguished brother
of the man you murdered embraces you
and offers forgiveness,
many will see your blonde hair next to
his black skin and consider
the sordid case closed

With a face like mine,
tears are weapons
so really, you should be careful
with a face like mine

Rachel Mallalieu is an Emergency Physician and mother of five. She writes poetry in her spare time. Her work has been featured in Blood and Thunder and is upcoming in Haunted Waters Press.

Monday, October 14, 2019


by Tricia Knoll

QAMISHLI, Syria – "Eight-year-old Sara Yousif has become a symbol of the Turkish war on northeast Syria, which has caused the death of around 40 civilians, according to a war monitor." —The Independent (UK), October 13, 2019. "Sara lost her leg when Turkish shells rained down on her neighborhood of Qudurbag, eastern Qamishli on Thursday, killing her brother 11-year-old Mohammed and wounding her mother and brother Ahmad." —Rudaw (Kurdish media network), October 13, 2019.  Below, Sara's father Yousif Gharib speaks to reporters at the funeral for his son. Credit Rudaw for photos.

to the glory light on sober gold
of Vermont’s falling leaves

or for the places we’ve seen
Ansel Adam’s Yosemite

now smothered in wildfire smoke.
Those people we remember –

the Afghani girl’s blue eyes
the minister on the hotel balcony

the monk in flames or the man
with a flower facing a rolling tank

the father’s arm holding daughter
Valeria on the banks of the Rio Grande

and now Sara, age eight,  a Kurd, who lost
her leg to a fast-moving Turkish bomb

and her father sobbing over the body
of his dead son, not yet pointing his finger

to the betrayal of a man in Washington
whose soldiers she may have once trusted.

The photos do not do justice, let them
remind us justice could be done.

Tricia Knoll’s most recent poetry collection How I Learned To Be White (Antrim House) received the Gold Prize in the Poetry Book Category for Motivational Poetry in the Human Relations Indie Book Prize for 2018.

Sunday, October 13, 2019


by Alejandro Escudé

by Brian McFadden at The Nib

If we dance
The haven of our riches

We dance right
The arms of contradictions

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, October 12, 2019


by Jan D. Hodge

He's rather hard pressed to explain,
however stupendous his brain,
      giving Kurds to the Turks
      and to Putin (with smirks)
Crimea and Eastern Ukraine.

Jan D. Hodge's poems have appeared in many print and online journals, several being awarded prizes in open national competitions. Two of his books, Taking Shape (a collection of carmina figurata) and The Bard & Scheherazade Keep Company (double-dactyl renderings of Shakespeare, tales from the Arabian Nights, and Reynard the Fox) have been published by Able Muse Press.

Friday, October 11, 2019


by Emily Jo Scalzo

"The Swamp" by John Cuneo.

the scar tissue of America’s soul
at its core the betrayal and genocide
upon which we were founded
surrounded by others through history
a throbbing fibrous mess
pockets of infection
waiting to surface

kids in cages
parents packed in cells
seeking to escape the scars
America’s created elsewhere
children returning from school
to homes raided and empty
ghosts of innocence

alternative facts and distrust
journalists labelled enemies of the people
scientists defunded and censored
the second a man enamored of theocracy

neo-Nazis galvanized in the streets
attack protesters with impunity
veterans’ efforts in Europe negated

children strike for climate awareness
specters of their futures dimmed
churches celebrate Armageddon
expecting rapture for failed stewardship

one party mired in racist xenophobia
the other craven in identity crisis

same shit
different president
and we still swirl the drain

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

Thursday, October 10, 2019


by Buff Whitman-Bradley

It is quiet now
In the corners
Where dust collects itself
And afternoon light
Relaxes its shoulders
As it prepares
For its daily departure.
All day it has been
Early October
Hot as August or July
And drier than dry—
But we are not fooled.
Look at the leaves
Teasing us
With the faintest hints
Of the russets and golds
And wild vermillions
That soon enough
Will inhabit the snug dwellings
Where their green sister chlorophyll
Has resided
Since the February arrival
Of spring.
Look at the long shadows
Falling across houses and streets
Lounging in parks and playgrounds,
Look at the honeyed light
Sprawling on manicured lawns
And fading gardens.
Feel the air,
Apologetically hot
And promising that this heat,
This spit-thickening dryness,
Will not last much longer,
That the familiar, reassuring chill
Of autumn
Will soon return to our evenings
To herald the arrival
Of the season of heavy rains.
But of course these days
With the climate being systematically mauled
By billionaire carbon-suckers
We can’t be sure
What the coming months
Will have in store for us.
And for that matter
We cannot even count on October
Remaining the October
We have always loved,
That paragon of months,
The crown jewel
In the year’s annular passage,
The golden door
Between summer and winter.
We must struggle and hope,
Defy and resist and disrupt
To defeat those who are ravaging
Our weather and our earth
And replace them
With our kind of folks,
The ones who believe in communities
Of mutual support and nourishment,
The ones who reject profit
As a way to measure human worth,
The ones whose furious spirits take flight
In October light.

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

Wednesday, October 09, 2019


by Elizabeth Kerlikowske

This is what it looks like when national parks are sacrificed for a #borderwall. Footage at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument via Kevin Dahl, NPCA Arizona Senior Program Manager
— National Parks Conservation Association (@NPCA) October 4, 2019

no need to migrate, so geese fly laps around the county
lake to lake at dawn, louder than garbage trucks.

A friend makes a demon cozy, so she doesn’t always have to face it.
She can know where it is even if she doesn’t know what it is

unlike mosquitos with valises full of Eastern equine encephalitis
come to visit. Swatting lunchmates, even on the face, becomes socially acceptable.

A friend draws stories with her own language of shapes not everyone can read.
That’s okay. Lilacs do not bloom this year; there is a mid-April blizzard.

Fawns come to the door wanting the cat to play.  Children holding hands
walk across a lake of grass. Yard lights never let the trees sleep, not deeply.

A friend grieves deeply and with laughter, at once. She raises monarchs
and tonight the government will poison them as well as mosquitos.

On her balcony flickers and doves fight squirrels and raccoons for seeds
and a little honey.  Tomorrow the butterfly rain.

Elizabeth Kerlikowske most recent book is Art Speaks with painter Mary Hatch. She tries to live outside as much as possible while owning a house.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019


by Pepper Trail

Amuse bouche: honey-soaked Smyrna fig with bitter Kurds

Soup:  bisque of watered-down regulations, topped with nutmeg and shredded tax

Appetizer: bruschetta of tariff-marinated soybeans and pork belly, dusted with
                     artisanal Kentucky coal

Salad:  wilted checks and balances, arugula, and raw ego, with a drizzle of raspberry—
            infused Saudi sweet light crude

Entrée:  tenderloin Republican reputation, flash-seared and bloody in the center,
                served with blanched asparagus wrapped in subpoena parchment

Sorbet:   whipped frozen tears of Guatemalan children, with savor of Miller lemon

Dessert:  half-baked crumble of sour grapes, drowned in a simple syrup of self-pity

Wine List:  Diet Coke

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, October 07, 2019


by Janice D. Soderling

We are each but a minuscule dust mote
adrift for better or worse.
This earth is our bobbing lifeboat
in an alien universe.

So if T***p builds a Southern Wall
is of no consequence at all,
except for those on history's pages
who have their babies locked in cages.

Janice D. Soderling is widely published in print and online journals. Her work is included in the anthologies Nasty Women Poets and The Great American Wise Ass Poetry.

Sunday, October 06, 2019


by Diane Elayne Dees

After being taken from their mother, calves’ cries can be so intense that their throats become irritated. —farmsanctuary

You beat me and made me work
until I collapsed, dead or near-dead,
and they called you a criminal.
You did this to someone with hooves,
and they called you an entertainer.

You set a trap to disable my leg,
forced a prod through my body,
destroyed me with deadly volts of electricity,
and they called you a monster.
You did this to someone with fur,
and they called you the fashion industry.

You poured acid in my eyes
and poison down my throat;
you shackled me and shot me in the head,
and they called you a psychopath.
You did this to someone with a tail,
and they called you a scientist.

You confined me so that I could not
lie down or turn around, force-fed
me until my legs almost broke,
cut off parts of my body, beat me,
and stole my new-born children,
and they called you the very definition of evil.
You did this to someone with four legs,
and they called you a farmer.

We are all animals.
I speak for the billions who have no voice,
except for the constant moaning,
the final blood-curdling screams.

Diane Elayne Dees’s chapbook I Can’t Recall Exactly When I Died is forthcoming from Clare Songbirds Publishing House; also forthcoming from 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.

Saturday, October 05, 2019


by Edmund Conti

Cartoon by Rob Rogers

When you want to die in state
And you need a pyramid,
Don’t offer up a camel, mate.
That’s not the proper quid.

Let me help you with your Latin, kid.                                                                                                                                  
It’s not that all profound.
You need the quo to get the quid
And not the other way around.

Say, you do not like your ego
And  prefer another id.
As they’ll tell you in Oswego.
You must let them see your quid.

Or say you’d like a Javelin.
Just respect the White House bid.
Stop your country from unravelin’
For a small (wink, wink) (hint, hint) quid.

Edmund Conti will accept any offer for his poetry. Lucky for you, it's free verse.

Friday, October 04, 2019


by Mary Lux

The skies are emptying out. The number of birds in the United States and Canada has fallen by 29 percent since 1970, scientists reported on Thursday. There are 2.9 billion fewer birds taking wing now than there were 50 years ago. –The New York Times, September 22, 2019. Video of sanderlings by Washington State, Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Gone from the River of Foul Run-off
flowing with trash-plastic and sick fish–

Gone from the Prairie of Emptiness,
of bee and grasshopper, gopher and butterfly–

Gone from the Killing Fields of crops coated
with chemicals, deserted
by cricket, tatydid, firefly–

Gone from the Feral Cat Jungle of woods,
back alleys, fenced yards, waterfronts–

Gone from the City of Lethal Towers
of implacable, break-neck glass–

Gone from the Choking Skies of Smoke
covering the dearth of insects–

So has departed the Passenger pigeon:
now falls the Swift, the Oriole, the Jay,
Bobolink, Meadow lark, Wood thrush,
Barn swallow and Bluebird,
even the commonest, the House Sparrow.

Fled, all, into another
that of No Return:
the last eye frozen in death's ice,
the last wings lying still, bent off-angle,
on earth's sterile ground—

Gone into the Cosmos of Absence
of all but memory and imagination.

Mary Lux is a Milwaukee poet, longtime practicing member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets.  Has appeared in four anthologies including Masquerades and Misdemeanors, edited by Marilyn Taylor; in print and online publications.

Thursday, October 03, 2019


by Melissa Balmain

Image source: White Center Blog

It sounds so delicious—mmm, peach-mint
a dish of fruit, sugar and flour
that arrives piping hot, topped with cognac (a lot),
and takes minutes to make and devour.

But instead the thing's bitter and tricky
(the recipe's centuries old),
an impossible meal—a soufflé stuffed with eel—
that of course we'll be serving ice cold.

Will the one that it's for duly eat it?
Will he vomit it up on our shirts?
Who among us can say? All that's left is to pray
that in time there will be just desserts.

Melissa Balmain edits Light, a journal of comic verse. The author of Walking In on People (winner of the Able Muse Book Award), she has new and upcoming work in The American Bystander, The Hopkins Review, and Literary Matters.