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Sunday, January 19, 2020

TASHONNA

by Nadia Farjami




black. healthcare. matters.

she died from
their silence, from

sealed lips and silicone gloves that
pushed

her aside—her
pulse would have kept pushing,

but they put her
on pause.


Nadia Farjami is a poet from California. Her work has been recognized by The New York Times, Cathexis Northwest Press, High Shelf Press, The Esthetic Apostle,  Prometheus Dreaming, Polyphony LIT, Youth Poet Laureate, Body Without Organs Literary Journal, Marmalade Magazine, Cagibi Literary Journal, The Athena Review, & more.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

SMALL TALK

by Gil Hoy





What breed of turmoil
and woe are we seeing, when

casual conversation
about favorite movies
can seem uncaring,

tacit silence
in the face of
so many lies.





Gil Hoy is a Boston poet, semi-retired trial lawyer, and progressive, political activist who is 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 Tipton Poetry Journal, Chiron Review, TheNewVerse.News, Ariel Chart, The Potomac, The Penmen Review and elsewhere.

Friday, January 17, 2020

AS THE WORLD SLEEPS

by Jen Schneider





A man has been left seriously injured after the tent he was sleeping in was removed by an industrial vehicle in Dublin. The man, who is believed to be homeless, was taken to St Vincent's Hospital, where he is reportedly being treated for "life-changing" injuries and remains in a serious condition. The incident, which took place at Wilton Terrace near the city centre of the Irish capital, happened on Tuesday afternoon. —ITV News, January 15, 2020

The Toronto Homeless Memorial now includes the names of more than 1,000 people who died while homeless; a grim milestone that some advocates say underscores the extent of Toronto’s poverty crisis. —CP24, January 14, 2020


In my dreams, the Butterflies dance – 
Monarchs, Swallowtails, and Brush-Footed Beauties.  
Flittering specks of crimson, pale pinks, warm yellows – 
like the cotton patchwork quilt I use to warm myself
as Night falls.

In my dreams, the Radio sings – 
Ellington, Bach, Armstrong
Sweet, sometimes off-beat tunes of jazz, hip-hop, classical notes – 
like the lyrics of childhood verse I sing to calm myself
as Night falls.

Sleep is a Noun, much like any other
until it’s Not:
Regenerative blocks of eight hours, cycles
of REM, light, and deep slumber.
Wakefulness, too.

Sleep is a Verb, much like any other
Until it’s Not:
Engagement in a nightly ritual
of rejuvenation. Eyes close. Muscles relax.
Consciousness suspends, too.

Sleep is a Basic Necessity, much like any other
Until it’s Not:
The lowest, most fundamental tier
of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs turned Off.
Out of reach - a victim of city regulations, zoning boards,
and inked signs informing us of our camps’ demise.

What happens when the steps—Maslow’s, City Halls, 
Bus Terminals—turn off. The music stops playing. 
The dreams turn sour. Strips of yellow and black
ribbon turn bedtime into a nightly scavenger hunt. 
With no treasure or prize.

I’m told we’ve made the News.
Sometimes dreams do come true. Childhood fantasies 
of my name on Billboard Lights.
Arms sway as I belt out verse of the Masters, 
dance with the Monarchs, and look Up to the Heavens.

My focus, now – Down – to the Concrete - for a place to rest.
Down by the Rec Center. 
Down near the Church. 
Down under the Bridge.
A folksong gone wrong, with lyrics all my own.

Sleep is Talk Show Filler, much like any other
Until it’s Not.
Tips, Tricks, and Strategies in the form 
of downloads, software applications and endless talk
of background noise and strict schedules.

What happens when the background noise –
Roaring Interstates, Tree Lined Highways, Dark Tunnels 
is the Bedroom?

What happens when the schedules – 
City Collection Trucks, Patrolling Officers, Slow Moving Vans 
are the Nightmares?

Sleep is…
Shivers turned to blankets of fuzzy warmth.
Arms wrapped around tired bones.
Lights off on social experiments gone wrong.

Until it’s Not. When the lights stay on and the arms arrest.
Sleep simply Ceases to Exist.


Jen Schneider is an educator, attorney, and writer. She lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Philadelphia. Her work appears in The Popular Culture Studies Journal, unstamatic, Zingara Poetry Review, Streetlight Magazine, Chaleur Magazine, LSE Review of Books, and other literary and scholarly journals.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

MARE NOSTRUM

by Janice D. Soderling


Eight children were among the 11 migrants who drowned when their boat sank off Turkey's western coast, state media report. Eight other people were rescued from the waters off Cesme, a tourist resort on the Aegean coast opposite the Greek island of Chios. —BBC, January 12, 2020.


It is the ghost ship Hope-No-More
that sails a bitter sea.
Stiff on her misty deck there stands
a doleful company.

Her sails are spun of baby breath.
Her masts are made of bones.
Her draft is deep, but deeper still,
the halls of Davy Jones.

Her keel is carved of hard goodbyes.
Her rigging wrought of grief.
Her rotting hull is empty as
the honor of a thief.

She sailed from war and hunger.
War and hunger are no more.
She sails like fog forever.
The good ship Hope-No-More.


Janice D. Soderling is a previous contributor to TheNewVerse.News. Her work was recently at Better Than Starbucks and Light. She has published one chapbook in Swedish and two in English, another soon forthcoming titled War: Make That City Desolate.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

CREDIBILITY GAP



Robert West is the author of three chapbooks of poems, including Convalescent (Finishing Line Press, 2011); the co-editor of Succinct: The Broadstone Anthology of Short Poems (Broadstone Books, 2013); and the editor of both volumes of The Complete Poems of A. R. Ammons (W. W. Norton, 2017).

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

ECLIPSE

by Gail Goepfert


Thick plumes of smoke rise from bush fires on the coast of East Gippsland in Victoria, Australia, on Saturday. (Australian Maritime Safety Authority/Reuters via The Washington Post, January 5, 2020)


Fog out the window. Low-
slung and grayed,
eddying
near the ground.
Veiling what will come of this day.

Waken, light summons.

©

I read snippets—
weigh want and need
to know
against my belly’s grit.

Bulletins. Updates.

Winter. Closed in.
No sound of the wire-buzz,
outside—safety and beauty de-
flowered by a string of high-
voltage lines, transmits
news that’s breaking.

©

Nothing gray about cancer.

I shouldn’t be recycling
store receipts—paper
with Bisphenol A, a cancer-
causing chemical that contaminates
what China recycles
of “foreign trash”—
yang laji.

How to recycle the unrecyclable.

©

Australian bushfires
beyond beyond.
A smoke cloud
discernible by satellite vaster
than our continent.

The ache of witness—
beneath plumes and plumes
of orange haze, droves
of charred carcasses, kangaroo
and koala, slumped
on the roadsides.

People wobble
on their heels in the sand,
imprint the beaches
of retreat and escape—
lungs’ bronchi robbed
of oxygen.

Who cannot succumb
to the fire-slaughter?
The news of it?

Some still blind-eyed
though they see.

©

At home, in the land
of the free, I skim word
of the playground bravado
vis-à-vis the erasure of Iran’s
Soleimani as if erasure
will cure anything.

Tarzan-­ian inflated chests
playing Red Rover
with weapons
forgetting others left to spin
on the merry-go-round.

He should have been killed years ago.

Promises of hard revenge,
the boasts of bullies.

You started it. We will end it.

©

Will anyone be left to weep
where the gravediggers bury?

©

Forecast: ashen.


Gail Goepfert, an associate editor at RHINO Poetry, is a Midwest poet and photographer. She has two published books—A Mind on Pain in 2015 and Tapping Roots 2018. Get Up Said the World will appear in 2020 from Červená Barva Press. Recent publications include Kudzu House, Stone Boat, Postcard Poems and Prose Magazine, Bluestem, Open: Journal of Arts and Letters, SWWIM, and Beloit Poetry Journal.

Monday, January 13, 2020

AUSTRALIA'S BURNING

by Laura Rodley





This is for the kangas,
the koala bears,
the duck billed platypus,
the lizards in the soil,
this is for the tree trunks
left standing, for the people,
for the sky full of smoke
above them, I wish you
great clouds of rain,
nimbus clouds bottom heavy
to quench your thirst,
no more fire-induced thunderheads,
to avoid more lightning strikes.
I wish you moist cooling breezes
sent from far out in the ocean,
a place to rest.


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 for Center for New Americans. Latest books Turn Left at Normal by Big Table Publishing and Counter Point by Prolific Press.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

HUNTING SEASON, JANUARY 2020




Katherine West lives in Southwest New Mexico, near the Gila Wilderness, where she writes poetry about the soul-importance of wilderness, performs it with her musician husband, Yaakov, and teaches seasonal poetry workshops that revolve around "wilderness writing."  She has written three collections of poetry: The Bone Train, Scimitar Dreams, and Riddle, as well as one novel, Lion Tamer.  Her poetry has appeared in journals such as Lalitamba, Bombay Gin, and TheNewVerse.News  which recently nominated her poem "And Then the Sky" for a Pushcart Prize.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

SOWERS

by Alejandro Escudé




We’re on a passenger plane
On its way to Ukraine.

All of us on board—the ones
Who economically strain

To carry our beloved,
Unaware of the warlord

Below, strafing shrapnel,
Sower of discord,

Or planning assassination
As though it were a tea.

Who cares? It’s only people
Who have ceased to be.


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.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

IRAN CRISIS

Background art: Two Devils ...:  a lithograph by B. Williams, c. 1833


Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco lives in California's Central Valley and co-edits One Sentence Poems. Her chapbooks, Various LiesLion Hunt, and Water Weight are available from Finishing Line Press, Plan B Press, and Right Hand Pointing, respectively.

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

PRO PATRIA REDUX

by Janice D. Soderling




You won't find the old men going.
Death and rotting bodies are too much on their minds.
You won't find their scions going either.
Too much capital invested in those victorious sperm.

You won't find the old women going.
They are too canny.
They have dealt with blood
and shit and pain and broken promises
all their lives.

A few young women will go,
The gullible ones trying to prove their equality.
The rest, the smarter ones,
are too busy with their hair and high heels.

Uncle Samuel isn't going.
Uncle Samuel would like the glory, but he hedges;
he deals in futures and private equity.
And he figures, “Why do we have all these young men
if we aren't going to use them?”

So that leaves you, m'boy,
inner city dropout, son of immigrants.
Step up and make your country proud.
Yes, you from the backwoods, the back roads,
the back of the class, the back of the line,
the backbone of Exceptionalism.
And anyway there are no jobs,
and as everybody knows,
nobody (except in action movies),
nobody dies in war.


Janice D. Soderling is a previous contributor to TheNewVerse.News. Her fourth chapbook, forthcoming in February, is titled War: Make that City Desolate.

NOW THAT HE'S HAD A TASTE OF WAR

by Joan Mazza


Trump's reelection campaign is fundraising off Soleimani's killing. —Yahoo! News, January 8, 2020


He pats himself on the back for the drone
strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani.
We got him! he brags at another rally,
smirks while his supporters cheer, eager
for the blood of brown-skinned people.
He calls them scum, terrorists, animals,
as he called Mexicans rapists and murderers.

The old playbook is wide open, rage
fueling rage, war and more war. Poor boys
fed into the machine return in body bags
with flags. He promises to bomb cultural
heritage sites like the Golestan Palace,
or Persepolis first looted by Alexander
the Great, or Pasargadae from 600 BCE—

meaningless places for an egomaniac sans
empathy, ethics, or education. The only
sites he cares about are those he owns,
those that make money, with his name
in giant gold letters across the façade.
Would the beauty of mosques with tile
mosaics or gardens move a man who lacks

feelings for the children he separated
from parents? Nothing will pierce the heart
of a man who always gets what he wants,
who suffers no consequences for fraud
and cheating. The laws of war and human
decency do not apply to him. He’ll take
a bit of purple rubble as a memento.


Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, seminar leader, and she is the author of six self-help psychology books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam). Her poetry has appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Rattle, Valparaiso Poetry Review, The MacGuffin, Prairie Schooner (forthcoming), and The Nation. She lives in rural central Virginia, where she writes a poem every day and is working on a memoir.

52 LIES

by Julia Marsiglio




On social media I see the thunderous applause
for crushing bones under buildings
for bullets that close the eyes of children
forever—whose last words are unspoken
replaced with a cacophony of heavy
artillery, and the screams of mothers who hold them
under the rain of hellfire, and instead of running
count their eyelashes, one by one, and join
the dust, brought in rolling out from under tanks
manned by twitter fingered horsemen
who expected seas of sand but instead
colored the mountains with bright red blood.

The domes are imploding under 52 lies
all written by 45.
The explosions started at home—
on Facebook. Tic Toc. They don’t stop.
They are ours, but we don’t own them.
We watch them, like fireworks and we clap.
As flesh parts from flesh
mother from child
child from life—
we yawn
and we laugh.


Julia Marsiglio is a writer currently located in Montréal, Québec, who has been writing poetry and fiction since she was a child. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish language and literature from the University of Alberta in 2011. Her work has previously appeared in Montréal Writes.

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

WHITTLED LIES

by Jan D. Hodge


Faith leaders pray with President Donald Trump during a rally for evangelical supporters at the King Jesus International Ministry church, Friday, Jan. 3, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)


When
Sir
Impresario rose for the vacuous ritual discharge of pomp
      In that dismal political swamp,
Insulting and faulting those who dared to oppose him
      (Sneering and jeering at them),
Meeting their protests with humbug and shrugs
Amid the capuchin clicking and whining
Of cameras, his answers were dreary as verses on Stalin,
Then echoed in turn by a toadying chorus of dim-
Witted grim apparatchiks routinely intoning:
O leader of peoples, our nation spearheading,
Great One, our Sun, applauded by millions of hearts
      (Chanting in classical metres).
Like Vergil recited from packets of cue cards, they
Hailed and regaled him.  Not one of the thugs
Had conscience or courage enough to consider resigning
               . . . Preferring fine dining!


Author’s note: The situation, alas, is all too recognizable.  For those not familiar with the model for this verse, I refer you to Edith Sitwell’s “Sir Beelzebub.”  (My title, incidentally, is an anagram of "Edith Sitwell.")
     To explain the allusion to verses on Stalin, consider these lines by A. O. Avdienko:
           When the woman I love presents me with a child
           the first word it shall utter will be: Stalin. . . .
           O great Stalin, O leader of the peoples,
           Thou who broughtest man to birth . . .
           Thou who makest bloom the spring,
           Thou who makest vibrate the musical chords . . .
           Thou, splendour of my spring, O thou,
           Sun reflected by millions of hearts.


Jan D. Hodge's poems have appeared in many print and online journals. 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.

Monday, January 06, 2020

WAYS OF THE WORLD

by James Schwartz 

Amish delegation visits White House on December 20, 2019.

No, the televisions, radios, cars, 
Are not for Our People.

No, the televisions, radios, cars, 
Are the Ways of the World.

No, Amish don't enlist: conscientious objectors,
Christ commands to turn our cheek.

Yes, they cheer at his rallies,
About building walls,

No, My People,
Are lost to the Ways of the World.

Yes, the World is a battlefield.
Not for me. 

#NoWarWithIran 


James Schwartz is a poet, writer,  slam performer & author of 5 poetry collections including The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America. Twitter @queeraspoetry

Sunday, January 05, 2020

SOUNDINGS

by Ann E. Wallace





In Australia, the magpie 
pipers have sounded the alarm. 
Strange singing sirens lure 
us to belated attention,
whistling their learned panic 
cry as we lean in and stare.
How clever they are, these 
crows turned mocking jays,
turned canaries in the fires.

We pull out our phones, press
record and listen in awe 
at beaked imitation of man
made warning calls. Months, 
years after the flares and shouts 
of scientists, of firefighters,
went unseen, unheard, 
the birds learned too 
late to speak our language. 

As the heat swells, billows
to flame, and sucks each breath 
dry, hot angry licks sneer 
and force us to the water’s edge. 
And the rescue boats come 
too late, too few to heed 
the magpies’ urgent call. 


Ann E. Wallace has a new poetry collection, Counting by Sevens, available from Main Street Rag, featuring work about the realities and joys of life in contemporary America, motherhood, and illness. Recently published pieces in journals such as Mom Egg Review, WordgatheringSnapdragonRiggwelter, and Rogue Agent, can be found on her website. Twitter @annwlace409.

Saturday, January 04, 2020

ACHE

by Ron Riekki


Artist Frederic Remington painted “The opening of the fight at Wounded Knee” in 1891. The massacre took place on December 29, 1890.


"There have been more mass shootings than days this year: As of December 25, the 359th day of the year, there have been 406 mass shootings in the U.S., according to data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive (GVA), which tracks every mass shooting in the country. Twenty-nine of those shootings were mass murders." —Jason Silverstein, CBS News, December 25, 2019

“The deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history took place in 1890, when representatives of the U.S. government executed as many as 300 Native men, women, and children at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, for practicing Ghost Dancing, a spiritual tradition within our culture.” —Allen Salway, Teen Vogue, June 14, 2018

“Arise from their graves” —William Blake, “Ah! Sun-flower”


Ugh! Gun-powder!  weary of EMT
shifts, how it may look like an entrance
wound in front and an exit wound in back,

but it was really two bullets, fired behind
and in front, and bullets, now, with shitty
NRA-backed legislation are made to

ricochet around in the chest once they
enter, going from organ to organ, intro-
ducing themselves with a bloodbath,

destroying colons and lungs and spleens,
the way that colonizers smallpoxed
and large-poxed and sent poxes upon

thee—the Pawnee, the Cherokee, the
Kansa?  Have you never heard of the
Kansa?  Because extinction is erasing—

worse than erasing, de-racing, destroy-
ing the -ing of a people: their breathing,
talking, writing, hearts beating, cultures

living.  And over an Xmas dinner,
we get on guns, and I say that I wish
I could take all the gun-owners and

put them on an ambulance with me,
allow them to see what bullets do,
see bullets in merry-go-rounds and

bullets in dollhouses and bullets in
Etch A Sketches where you shake
the world and nothing changes.


Ron Riekki's most recent book is Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice (Michigan State University Press, 2019).

LISTLESS

by Tricia Knoll




I’ve grown weary of best of
recipes with wine
or cookie doughs
which candidate raised the most
murder mysteries
and top discoveries
must-see
movies
raw hip-hop
and alternative songs
records for longest feather
boa
lies we stopped counting
we endured
the year of fire
flood
wind
tornadoes
and can’t we just move
on
knowing what needs
to be done
and do it.


Tricia Knoll has seen dozens of media lists of "best of" in the news. The flashes of what famous people died in 2019 (without including the names of all the victims of bombings and war) and is suspicious there are also lists of the year of the most people who died by gun violence, etc. 

Friday, January 03, 2020

SEASONS IMPEACHING

by Robert Knox




On the third day alone
I begin talking aloud to myself

Or, perhaps, I will eat myself to death
I wake at night
with the word necrosis
in my thoughts

What is it, oh what,
country of my soul
who will you eat yourself out of
given such rot?
Will you smell yourself
dying with putrefaction?

how can anyone be left alone
with their thoughts,
such thoughts,
when the rats nibble
at our toes

and bandits make
for our heart?


Robert Knox is a poet, fiction writer, Boston Globe correspondent, and the author of a novel based on the Sacco and Vanzetti case, titled Suosso's Lane. As a contributing editor for the online poetry journal Verse-Virtual his poems appear regularly on that site. They have also appeared in journals such as Off The Coast, The Journal of American Poetry, South Florida Poetry Journal, TheNewVerse.News, Califragile, and Unlikely Stories. His poetry chapbook Gardeners Do It With Their Hands Dirty, published in 2017, was nominated for a Massachusetts Best Book award. The chapbook Cocktails in the Wild followed in 2018. He was recently named the winner of the 2019 Anita McAndrews Poetry Award.

Thursday, January 02, 2020

NEW YEAR'S WISH

by George Salamon




Out of our broken mouths
The protests get wilder,
The occupation did not last.
The marches lost their rhythm,
Compelling poets to abandon
Shining harmonies and blow
Shrilly in chopped up phrases,
Raging against the malice
In the heart and at the helm
Of people blinded by false
Promises and propelled by
Dark urges, only nudging us
Not to close our eyes to
What humanity has done in
Good and evil, and not yet
Say goodbye to all that.


George Salamon lives and writes in St. Louis, MO and most recently has contributed to One Sentence Poems, The Asses of Parnassus, Dissident Voice and TheNewVerse.News.

2020

by William Marr



during this year
you'd better not
think one thing
say another
do something else

we all can see right through you
with our perfect vision—
20/20


William Marr's poetry has been translated into more than ten languages and included in over one hundred anthologies.  Some of his poems are used in high school and college textbooks in Taiwan, China, England, and Germany. He is a former president of the Illinois State Poetry Society and lives in the Chicago area.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

BRING IT ON: A NEW YEAR'S POEM

by Aaron Poochigian




I.

For several decades I have been one cold,
one fall, one monthly bill, away from living
derelict under cardboard on the street.
Why is it, now that I am halfway old,
my mug a mug of damage and defeat,
that New Year’s has become its own Thanksgiving?
Why do I sit here typing words of praise
about the world’s largess? Why do I sing
heart-felt ballads about each silly fling
and psalms of hope about the coming days?

II.

From California I can see Times Square,
one of the chakras of America.
The ball has dropped. I’m sorry I’m not there
to add my whoop to the hysteria.

Tourists and buskers mob the streets, and you,
my friends, are wild among them. Pop the cork,
loose the confetti, sound the shrill kazoo.
I heart the mess of you, New York, New York.

Midnight has come to Minneapolis.
While, here and there, a raucous air-horn blares,
my friends from school, as wives and husbands, kiss
on couches, with their kids asleep upstairs.

Oh Uptown rife with music, theater
and Madeleine—the things I love the most.
In memory of a twenty-something blur
of poetry and wine, I raise a toast.

Cheers have gone up all over Salt Lake City.
Futurity has driven out December!
I wrote my first book there and kissed a pretty
red-haired girl (whose name I don’t remember).

I see her, hunched and fearless, on the slopes
of Alta, snowboard-footed, goggles on.
I hope that she has Rocky-Mountain hopes
for 2020 and is up till dawn.

Finally, in Pacific Standard Time,
I feel fireworks erupt at Disneyland,
and I can see my niece in Anaheim
agog in bed, stuffed elephant in hand.

Just so I journey westward, zone by zone,
while sipping whiskey at my laptop here
in Fresno, at my mother’s house, alone.
How should I resolve to spend the year?

III.

This year I will bottle
my animal candor
the way Aristotle
honed Alexander.

The redolence of
this martial spirit
will vanquish like love
all who come near it,

and a sip will lay
the taster out.
This year, I say,
will know no doubt.


Aaron Poochigian earned a PhD in Classics from the University of Minnesota and an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University. His first book of poetry, The Cosmic Purr (Able Muse Press), was published in 2012, and his second book Manhattanite, which won the Able Muse Poetry Prize, came out in 2017. His third book, American Divine, won the Richard Wilbur Award and will come out in 2020. His thriller in verse, Mr. Either/Or, was released by Etruscan Press in the fall of 2017. His work has appeared and is forthcoming in such publications as Best American Poetry, The Paris Review and POETRY.

NEW YEAR'S OWLS

by Buff Whitman-Bradley




In the first hours of the new year
After the midnight explosions have ceased
And no more revelers
In clutches of three and four
Go stumbling by the house
Happily jabbering away
I lie in bed with the window open
To the freezing night air
Listening to two owls
Speaking to each other
From nearby treetops.
Hu-hoo, hu-hoo says one
In a deep and quiet voice
Hoo-hu-hoo, hoo-hu-hoo
Responds the other
In a higher pitch.
I picture the baritone as an elder
Complimenting the young alto
On not panicking
During the booms and bangs and kapows
They had just endured,
On staying put in its tree
Until the onslaught of flash and bam had subsided.
It’s safe to go out now
The old one says
But be mindful of the humans,
They are loud and messy
And really have no idea
What they are doing.
And of course the old hoot is right.
We are a cacophonous, lurching,
Bumbling, bungling bunch
Making a fine shambles of things
And we’d be a whole lot better off
If we resolved in the coming year
To cultivate a little quiescence
And pay closer attention to owls.


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: thirdactpoems.podbean.com .