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Monday, February 24, 2020

THE LADDER

by Howie Good





There are days when I look up from some small task,
answering a text or fixing coffee or leashing the dog,
and see miles more of the skyline burning and crowds
chanting encouragement to the flames, and on those days,
I feel broken and hollow and lost, too old and slow to be
able to make any sort of difference, but then I remember
I don’t have to be one of the ones who climb a rescue ladder;

I can stand on the ground and help hold the ladder steady.


Howie Good is the author most recently of Stick Figure Opera: 99 100-word Prose Poems from Cajun Mutt Press. He co-edits the online journals Unbroken and UnLost.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

T***P HEARS ABOUT INTELLIGENCE OFFICIALS TELLING CONGRESS THE TRUTH ABOUT RUSSIAN MEDDLING IN THE 2020 ELECTION

by Michael L. Ruffin




1969 or so.
Wednesday night prayer meeting.
Small rural Baptist church.
Guest preacher.
My deacon father
on the front row,
as always.

Guest preacher.
Not very good.
Losing us.
Tries to get us back
with attempt at humor.
Points at my father:
“Somebody wake up
that sleeping deacon.”

After the service,
my father lets
the preacher have it:
“Don’t you ever embarrass me
in front of these people again!”

In the car on the way
home, my mother says,
“Champ, what got into you?”

He replies,
“I was asleep.”


Michael L. Ruffin is a writer, editor, preacher, and teacher living and working in Georgia. He posts poems on Instagram (@michaell.ruffin) and prose opinions at On the Jericho Road. He is author of Fifty-Seven: A Memoir of Death and Life and of the forthcoming Praying with Matthew. He has poems forthcoming in 3 Moon Magazine and Rat's Ass Review.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

PRIMARY RANT

by Harold Oberman


Graphic via Nikki McWatters


At this exact moment
It is time to put your sonnets
      On hold.
No lyric musings
Until the Republic is secure,
Until the Senate gains sanity,
Until Justice does justice,
Until November.

“There is a criminal in the White House
Who bullies foreign powers to frame his political rivals”
Does not fucking rhyme with anything
So don’t even try,
At least for now.
“There is a criminal in the White House
Who pardons his cronies who fixed the last election”
Is not a simile, not even a metaphor,
So don’t get clever with it
At least for now.
“There is a criminal in the White House
Who foments hate for political gain”
Is not in iambic, nor even trochaic, so just say it,
At least for now.

Pick up your pen
And jab it in the back of someone’s hand
Goddammit
If they say, “I’m not going to vote on that day,
November Third.”
Pick up your pen
And jab it in the back of someone’s hand
Goddammit
If they say “It just doesn’t matter.”

Scream before you write the lyric.
Howl before you write the sonnet.
And whisper truth to your neighbor.


Harold Oberman is a lawyer and writer living in the midst of the South Carolina Primary. His work has appeared in the TheNewVerse.News  and in the Free State Review.

NOVEMBER 2020

by Gil Hoy
Graphic: MoveOn.org


When the poet's
arrow hits the mark,

a wishful paragraph
can become

a single word:

Blue


Gil Hoy is a Boston poet and served four terms as a Brookline, Massachusetts Selectman. He is a member of the Brookline Democratic Town Committee. 

Thursday, February 20, 2020

FEBRUARY 2020

by Jennifer Franklin





Our long coats are all that separate us from the cold. Half-way around the world, the sky opens to put out wildfires over the carcasses of burned marsupials. We wait for the subway, for the train. My daughter waits for her short yellow bus that arrives each morning with one sobbing boy. He would be a perfect metaphor of Orwell’s belief that we’re all alone if he didn’t look so sad, his shirt buttoned askew. Politicians preen and posture; the air is damp with acquittal. We bend our heads but not in prayer. Our palms hold small backlit tablets that promise information and escape. Miles north, a student paints a swastika in my old dorm. Another student covers it with a star. Only the dog is calm, sleeping in a circle in her clean fleece bed. Orwell wrote, “There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.” I try to put my daughter to sleep on time in her new room. As I read the familiar incantations, flowers climb up the lamp to the ceiling. All the animals have escaped the zoo. I want the story to end there. All of them tucked into the corners of the zookeeper’s room—breathing their heavy eucalyptus breath across the night. Their fur shining in the moonlight through the blinds.


Jennifer Franklin (AB Brown University, MFA Columbia University School of the Arts) is the author of two full collections, most recently No Small Gift (Four Way Books, 2018). Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Blackbird, Boston Review, New England Review, Gettysburg Review, Guernica, JAMA, Love’s Executive Order, The Nation, Paris Review, Plume, “poem-a-day” on poets.org, and Prairie Schooner. She is currently teaching poetry in Manhattanville’s MFA program. She also teaches manuscript revision at the Hudson Valley Writers Center, where she runs the reading series and serves as Program Director. She lives in New York City. The poem appearing here is from Jennifer’s forthcoming collection Momento Mori: Antigone.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

HOW TO SETTLE A PERSONAL INJURY CASE

by Gil Hoy





Find out what they lost.
Maybe it's lost wages. Maybe
the monetary equivalent of
a permanent scar. Get
the medical bills paid. Past,
present and future. Robert
was just 18 years-old when
he stepped on a land mine
in Vietnam. Fresh
out of high school. Had always
dated the same girl.
You'll need to establish who
caused your client's misfortune.
And how they're responsible.
Maybe they ran a red light. Maybe
they forgot to turn off the stove
when heating up olive oil. What
you're looking for is money. The more
the better. How much is the loss
of a loved one worth? And an
amputated arm? Robert's
girlfriend is now married. His parents
have had to move on. They keep
his gold star pin beside their bed.


These images provided by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command show (left) Sgt. 1st Class Antonio R. Rodriguez, 28, of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Sgt. 1st Class Javier J. Gutierrez, 28, of San Antonio, Texas, who died Feb. 8, 2020 from wounds sustained during combat operations in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. (US Army Special Operations Command via AP)


Gil Hoy is a semi-retired trial lawyer. Most of his cases were in the field of personal injury law.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

SPILLED WATERCOLORS

by Diane Elayne Dees



Tweeted by NASA astronaut Jessica Meir from the International Space Station.


From space, the aqua, cream, azure, and cerulean
appear as if blended by a master painter
with an eye for serenity and expansion. I imagine
a second painting, this one bright, yet soft,
with puffs of spoonbill pink and splashes
of sea turtle green streaked across a peaceful
background of bunting indigo. From space,
the Louisiana delta is an impressionist’s dream
of water and feathers and the reflections
of a stippled sky. Up close, the picture tears
at the edges as the coastline rapidly recedes.
The Rusty Blackbird, black bear and Great Blue
fade behind a foreground of erosion and loss.
From space, the watercolors spill a dream-like
beauty onto a canvas teeming with life,
while the landscape shifts precariously,
altering the perspective forever.


Diane Elayne Dees has two chapbooks forthcoming. Her microchap Beach Days is available for download and folding from Origami Poems Project. Diane also publishes Women Who Serve, a blog that delivers news and commentary on women’s professional tennis throughout the world.

THE ANTARCTICA BEAUTY PAGEANT

by Christopher Woods






Temperature in Antarctica soars to near 70 degrees, appearing to topple continental record set days earlier. —Headline in The Washington Post, February 14, 2020


Has fewer contestants this year.
Girls from every continent once competed
Before the heat became too intense.
No more bikini strut, wet tee shirt parade.
Now just a few stagger about in a white furnace
Where the fevered winds that killed the penguins
Blow incessantly across the bones of elephant seals.


Christopher Woods is a writer and photographer who lives in Chappell Hill, Texas. He has published the novel The Dream Patch, the prose collection Under A Riverbed Sky, and a book of stage monologues for actors, Heart Speak. His photographs can be seen in his gallery. His photography prompt book for writers From Vision To Text is forthcoming from Propertius Press.

Monday, February 17, 2020

WHEN WORDS BECOME WEAPONS

by Jen Schneider


Kevin Euceda, now 19 years old, an asylum-seeker from Honduras, has an emotional moment in December 2019, after some 900 days in detention at three detention centers. After hearing statements he made to counselors—that he thought were confidential—read back to him at hearings, the traumatized teenager chooses his words more carefully now. (Michael S. Williamson photo for "Trust and Consequences" by Hannah Dreier, The Washington Post, February 15, 2020)


In the darkness of the night and the safety of artificial lights, I shared my story. 
The hundreds of miles walked and waters crossed. Go ahead. Swim
I spoke of piles of memories, papers, lost lives, broken bodies, missing books, 
and torn clothing—including the cloth worn by my deceased cousin and sewn 
by the handiwork of my deceased mother’s pale, scarred hands—left behind. 
My calloused foot kissed the stone, and I fell. Hard.

Go ahead. Rise. Trusting the hands that caught, then bolstered, me, I complied. 
My words poured, pooled, and puddled around my person. Your head bobbed, 
a decoy, and encouraged me to swim to safety. Go ahead. Jump. A life vest, 
withs arm outstretched and encouraging, like the V that marks my forehead and maps 
my past - my own flesh and blood—I failed to realize I was in the deep end. 
Always have been. You, too. My lifelong fear of water consumed me, but I swam 
at your urging. Go ahead. Speak. Your superiors soaked my blood—yours, too—
and my language in a tissue of legal loopholes. Strangers twisted the rag, heavy 
with tales of my younger self, a person I neither know nor remember—Go ahead. Try.
—and dropped it in my lap. It stank. Still does.

The weight of my words lives on like bait and lure in deceptively choppy waters 
with a strong undercurrent. Go ahead. Float. Seeking a home base, safe land, in a sea 
that never calms. My words now a weapon, sharper than any before used, 
with finely seared edges and teeth that bite. Piranhas tear my younger flesh and chew 
my words at every meal, meeting, and moment. Go ahead. Pierce.
I lie before you. Empty. Broken. Alone.


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.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

AT THE SANTA ANITA RACETRACK

by Linda Stryker


Santa Anita Park in Arcadia said a horse died “suddenly” over the weekend on its training track, making it the sixth fatality this year. The 6-year-old named Double Touch died on Saturday, according to the racetrack. The exact cause of the horse’s death was unknown and results from a necropsy were pending, officials said. —KTLA, February 11, 2020. File photo, above, of Double Touch provided by Zoe Metz Photography to Horse Racing Nation.


Amazing     euphoria
all over my face

I am fifteen
driving a car

My Dad teaches me
the brake     the gears

how to stop     how to turn
how to make hand signals

at the Track parking lot
now empty of cars

My Mom had taken me there
to watch the whirlwind races

charging horses     jockeys
whipping       hounding

Weeks later       near home
I drove toward a paper bag

Don’t run over it     Dad said
it might have kittens inside

Advice     admonishment
image forever implanted

Of course     all that was
an ancient moon’s age ago

I did not know back then
about the numerous deaths

at the Santa Anita track
where      on average

fifty horses die     shot
each year of my life

Should I mention     so many
other world racetracks

I used to recall      driving
at the Santa Anita Racetrack

But now     all I can think about
are              dead horses


Linda Stryker writes from Phoenix, AZ. She volunteered for many years as a radio reader for disabled people. She taught for twenty-four years at Arizona State University. She founded the poetry groups Poetry Exchange and COW: Community of Writers. Stryker has been published in numerous journals and her chapbook Starcrossed was published in 2018. She is currently working on a collection.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

APOCALYPSE

by Charles Harvey


Police escort the last of about 150 masked members of the Patriot Front from a parking garage, after they peacefully ended a march near Capitol Hill, in Washington, U.S., February 8, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Theiler


I don’t give a fuck
About Donald Duck
Cluck! Cluck! Cluck!
He a chicken shit
He a mouth too small to
Blow smoke up my ass
But he sure blowing jazz
Up some white folk’s corn holes.
He blowing smoke, and they
Inhaling the shit he shit.
He gonna paint the White House red
From the blood of busted skulls,
‘Cause the cops are coming
The Neo-Nazis are coming
The skinheads are coming
The KKKs are coming
The Jew-haters are coming
The nigger-haters are coming
The stars and bars are coming
The Uncle Toms are bowing,
“Yas suh! !Yas suh!” thirty pieces of silver
to seal they thick lips.
They raising Bull Connor from the dead
The fools have been fooled
The turkeys are coming home to defecate,
But the wise will rise
From the ashes of democracy.


Charles Harvey lives in Houston Texas. He is a novelist and poet. He is currently working on a volume of poetry, Rough Cut Until I Bleed, due to be out on March 24. He has numerous volumes of poetry and short stories all over the web. He is in the middle of revising several novels to be re-released soon.

Friday, February 14, 2020

VALENTINE'S DAY REMIX

by Howie Good





I like distortion and dirt, I like reverb and delay,
I like spirals and turning objects and how forms look
when they move in three dimensions.

What interests me isn’t success,
but love, with its nimble and sinister tricks.

Drag it outside the window.
The next person adds onto it without knowing,
something that happens all the time,
a white pinnacle pricking just above the horizon.


Howie Good is the author most recently of Stick Figure Opera: 99 100-word Prose Poems from Cajun Mutt Press. He co-edits the online journals Unbroken and UnLost.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

THOUGHTS OF THE FORMER PRESIDENT

as He Languishes with Dementia 
at Age 83 in the Year 2030




by Albert Haley

                            
Disgusting. Corrupt. Liars!
Who is Melania?
Really, Junior, again?
Tower, tower, tower.
Haters. Where’s Vlad?

Make America grate?
Gold plated and Colonel KFC.
How to spell anything.
Perfect. Ivanka. If she weren’t
my daughter.

Was a time I could have shot someone.
Right in the middle of Fifth!

Wall, we were going to have.
What happened Tim Apple?
Gold plated wall. Good!

Have I said “pussy” yet?
Where’s my phone? Sad.

Me, me, me, my country tis of me. 
Do you like this hair?
In the middle of Fifth.
Put a tariff on it.
Put a businessman in 
the White House and acquit him.
They rip babies out of mothers
and smother them. Bullshit!
Sharpies predict the weather
better.

But who is this Mitch? Why do I miss
him. Lyin’ Ted sure knew how to lie
down with the lion. Good crew,
kept their heads off the pikes.
  
Greatest hits. Rallies                                                  
and media is enemy of the state.
Some people say. Snow falling. 
Told you it was a hoax. 
The earth’s cooling—me too?

If they’d only respected
the Second. Right in the middle of Fifth. 
Might have spared me 
(A-l-z… how you spell?) this.

The focused hot blowtorch
of hatred so carefully cultivated. 
Main act in the middle of their circus.
Cancel the failing show
with a ratings bang.

Obama? Birth certificate?
Never saw it. Get him out of here!

Highest form of love
a man like me can ever know.


Albert Haley's poems have appeared previously in New Verse News, Poets Reading the News, and Rattle. He lives and teaches in dry, dusty Abilene, Texas, which at present seems far away from any refreshing blue waves. Haley's poems have appeared previously in TheNewVerse.News, Poets Reading the News, and Rattle. He lives and teaches in dry, dusty Abilene, Texas, which at present seems far away from any refreshing blue waves.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

ROOSTER

by Richard Garcia
Hand carved & hand painted rooster by Avelino Perez from Oaxaca, Mexico


Ricardo the rooster
only crows at dawn
or at 3 a.m. or noon.
So you never know.
Tonight he might crow
especially loud at the full moon.
Really loud.

             Ricardo
              the rooster  lives on the border.
so his papers, passports, birth certificate
                         like his crowing skills
are quite in order.
 For first he climbs
                         the fence of Colossal
& from thence
                         greets El Sol in Spanish,
Then he bows & greets
                         the sun in English:
 Coo-coo-rico!
                         Cock-a-doddle-do!
Coo-coo-rico!
                         Cock-a-doddle-do!
 Ola, Señor Sol,
                                    How are you?


Richard Garcia is the author of The Other Odyssey from Dream Horse Press, The Chair from BOA, and Porridge from Press 53. His poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies. He has won a Pushcart prize and has been in Best American Poetry. He lives in Charleston, S.C.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

AT LI WENLIANG'S DEATH

by Yuan Changming


The death of a Chinese doctor who was silenced by the police for being one of the first to warn about the coronavirus set off an outpouring of grief and anger on social media. The New York Times interviewed him last week. Photo: Mourners at a vigil for Dr. Li Wenliang on Friday. Credit: Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times, February 7, 2020


Your humanistic lungs have no more air to pump out
But your whistle-blowing is echoing afar
Like a whale’s call, far beyond a whole continent
Louder than all the songs ever sung in modern China


Yuan Changming published monographs on translation before leaving China. With a Canadian PhD in English, Yuan currently edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan in Vancouver. Credits include ten Pushcart nominations, eight chapbooks & publications in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17) & BestNewPoemsOnline, among 1639 others worldwide.

O EGGS, DON'T FIGHT WITH ROCKS

by Aaron Hicks


A protester at a rally in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, in support of ethnic Uighur Muslims in China. Uighurs in China are being forced into “re-education” camps for indoctrination. Credit: European Pressphoto Agency via Shutterstock via The New York Times, January 2, 2019


Even the tiniest pebble has
Many brothers in the valleys of liberation
Despite the distance between them but,
An egg in great numbers whether far or near
is still fragile, still spineless
Still an
egg

Do not fight against the good
People
Whose patience is that of
Stone and passions are ignited
By a garish will comparable to
The sun

What is hidden today, will be
Uncovered tomorrow
and the fragile flesh of censorship
will be gashed in coming time as
the truth bleeds out
bountifully gifting death to
the brawny body of injustice

Your tanks have made you shielded
And your clubs have extended your arms,
And your weapons have armed you
but oh eggs
You will always be just that

As the virus contaminates the news
Let us look closer under the scope
As we keep our eyes on the oppressed and
Give a voice to the silent

Keep your eyes on the mighty
Rocks as they wage war against
The many villainous eggs


Aaron Hicks is a writer from Wilmington, North Carolina. He enjoys well crafted movies, creamy coffee, and standing on the side of those who are oppressed. #FreeChina

Monday, February 10, 2020

THE SENATE IS DEAD

by Jeremy Nathan Marks




When you wake up tomorrow morning,
the Senate will still be dead.

It will not attend your daughter’s graduation.
It will not say “Next year in Jerusalem!”
at your Seder.

It will not offer advice on which lawn service to use
or what types of shingles last longest.

The Senate will not tell you bedtime stories
or remember the year the Washington Redskins last
won a Super Bowl (or even won at all).

When you wake tomorrow
next month
next year
the Senate of the United States
will still be dead.

So, it is best for you to come to terms
and do whatever you must to mourn
appropriately
cathartically
before going on with your life
living your loss

Because it is a loss and let no one say otherwise.

But bear in mind,
the Senate has been dying for a long time
and you were aware that you could not count on it
to come over for Thanksgiving
or Christmas
or not get you into debt
or send your daughter off to war
after all, how many times did the Senate
forget who you were

You kept showing it photographs
reminders of better days
of people it knew who have also passed
you tried to remind it of its forgotten ideas
and values
and how it looked when it was in fighting trim.

So, remember the Senate
maybe even say Kaddish for it
but don’t expect it to fast with you
during Ramadan
or hunt Easter eggs with your son
or bring roasted corn to your tailgate
at the next football game

Because the Senate is dead.

Maybe there is still time to appreciate the last days
of that other ailing giant
the Republic.


Jeremy Nathan Marks lives in London, Ontario. Recent poetry, prose, and photography appear in Apricity, On the Seawall, Red Fez, Barren Magazine, Unlikely Stories, Bewildering Stories, 365 Tomorrows, and Literary Orphans.

FANTASY

by Wendy Hoffman



When I speak to women who rejoice

in their husbands not
battering them this month,

I say, "You’re doing a Susan Collins."


Wendy Hoffman had amnesia for most of her life. When she regained memory late in life, she wrote books about what she had forgotten. Karnac Books, London, published two of her memoirs in 2014 and 2015, as well as her first book of poetry in 2016. She co-authored a book of essays in 2018 for Routledge. Her third memoir is forthcoming from Aeon Books. Hoffman has a MFA and lives on the Olympic Peninsula with her little dog.

HERO

by Gil Hoy




The sun rises, just as splendidly
and majestically as she did
the day before. And the day
before that. He'll be fine,
he thinks, for telling the truth.
The Lieutenant Colonel, with a
Purple Heart, is honest and steadfast.
He loves his Country. She's oblivious
to the impending tempest--ignorant
and innocent. He's not worried, unaware
of his coming marching orders.
For this is America--not the Soviet Union.


Gil Hoy is a Boston poet and progressive political activist. He served four terms as a Brookline, Massachusetts Selectman.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

A PRAYER NOT SPOKEN

by Jill Crainshaw




Words.

Matter.

In us.

God’s love
made skin and bones
muscle and marrow
hands and hearts
God’s words.
Matter.
In us.

No more speeches or spin doctors,
debates or diatribes—no--
God’s nouns and adjectives and verbs
made alive
welcoming
respecting
forgiving
loving
incarnating belonging
in us.

Words made matter,
planted in salvaged soil
reclaimed
restored
valued
savored and saving
hope
in us.

So be it.


Author’s note: So many words. Too many. This is what came to mind for me as I listened to all the talk at and about the National Prayer Breakfast. As a Christian clergy person, I longed at the end of a week of chaotic and contentious words in Washington for prayerful moments of reflection, even for expressions of concern for all that divides us as a nation. John’s Gospel speaks of Jesus as God’s Word made flesh. This week, I longed for fewer spoken words and more words made flesh in embodied actions of communal care that cross boundaries and borders that separate us from each other. I realize that such longings are idealistic. They dwell in sacred geographies of hope. For now, these longings are, for me, the prayer that was not spoken at this week’s prayer breakfast. 

Jill Crainshaw is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and a liturgical theology professor at Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Saturday, February 08, 2020

AFTER PNEUMONIA, AFTER ACQUITTAL

by Kathleen McClung



Graphic for “Scare in the Crow” from the CD Heart of Wood by My Father's Son


I hear it first before I see: lone crow,
insistent, caws. A president who lies
and struts, here a loud bird.  The one surprise:
how long it grips that twig-ringed spot below
the Walgreens cursive script, the huge display window
of beauty creams, pills, potions, some device
for whitening our teeth—swell merchandise
or “perfect” in his lexicon. The crow
seems rooted to that perch, unyielding bird
commanding passersby to hear its call.
Sheer volume. Sheer relentlessness. No grace
or nuance here, no eloquence, no words.
Just shameless, crude intent: drown out, appall
all those outside its nest, its tilted base.


Kathleen McClung is the author of Temporary Kin, The Typists Play Monopoly, and Almost the Rowboat. She teaches at Skyline College and The Writing Salon and judges sonnets for the Soul-Making Keats literary competition. She lives in San Francisco.

Friday, February 07, 2020

THE SMEDLEY D. BUTLER BRIGADE

by Art Goodtimes


Smedley Darlington Butler by Robert Shetterly / Americans Who Tell the Truth


John Bolton
Mitt Romney

McRedeye has to say
that it’s unexpected truth-tellers
of a completely different
stripe

that make my day

in FDR’s day

America’s not perfect
by a long white shot
but it has its heroes


Art Goodtimes of the Talking Gourds Poetry Program in Telluride has a new book out from Lithic Press in Fruita, Colorado: Dancing on Edge: the McRedeye Poems (2019).

Thursday, February 06, 2020

WORDS, GRAMMAR, EVERYTHING

by Jen Schneider


CARTOON:  David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star, 2017


If for some reason you haven’t been clear about what President Trump thinks about traditional public schools, consider what he said about them in his State of the Union address Tuesday night. There was this: “For too long, countless American children have been trapped in failing government schools.” What’s a “government school” to Trump? A public school in a traditional public school district. —The Washington Post, February 5, 2020


Some speak of failing
government schools. The cement-block
halls and crowded rooms I call home.
Rooms lined with pet turtles, donated books,
and color-blocked rugs. Often too hot.
Sometimes too cold. Usually just right.
Some speak of failing
government schools. Staffed
by hard-working folks—with tenures
of ten, fifteen, and twenty years and passions
for literature, mathematics, Us—I call family.
Some speak of failing
government schools. The 7 AM through 4 PM
world where I find breakfast, lunch,
and meaning. And where I learned the power
of Words. Of Grammar. Of Punctuation.
Of love. Mrs. P. Ms. T. Mr. B.
I miss them—All.
Some speak of failing
government schools. I, rather, speak
of schools that have been failed.
Mr. B taught me well. We have not failed.
We have been failed. Where failing is a verb,
not an adjective. With funding
denied, teachers declared
no longer hired, and students
deemed unworthy
of care. Of Love. Some speak
of failing government schools.
All I see, from the windows
of the school I Love,
is a failing government.


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.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

PURELL DISPENSER

by Judith Terzi





The camera zooms in on Healthy Hands
in a Senate hallway. As they pile into
the chamber, do Senators sanitize? Not all.
Some don't wish to purify, break away
from the prize of dirty manos. The Chief
Justice walks briskly down this ornate
road. We don't know if his hands are
sterilized. We don't see him sanitize––
no Purell odor as he enters the chamber.
All we know is that he wants his hands
tied as he listens blankly to two sides,
perhaps counting backwards counter
clockwise. Try reading his face, his eyes.
Does he recognize the twists & turns
of truth, the spoof of lawyers? The Justice
never shows surprise when they
dramatize, aggrandize their battle cries.

Try & visualize justice biting into a burger
& freedom fries & à la mode apple pies,
as long black robes are shed for good
along with red, white & blue striped ties.


Author of Museum of Rearranged Objects (Kelsay Books, 2018) as well as of five chapbooks, Judith Terzi's poetry appears widely in literary journals and anthologies, has received nominations for a Pushcart and Best of the Net and Web, and has been read on Radio 3 of the BBC. A former educator, she taught high school French for many years as well as English at California State University, Los Angeles, and in Algiers, Algeria. 

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

THE DAY MY FALLOPIAN TUBES ASKED ME TO PLAY HOPSCOTCH

by Dianna MacKinnon Henning


Source: reddit


All lies are not the same.
That’s why I won’t watch the State of the Union.
A plague of misinformation.

Even my favorite merlot
fails to numb the pain of the times
and I wake with stains on my tongue.

Go tell it to the mountain
my ears admonish, or at the least tell it
to your closest friend.

But there’s no good in talking,
no one can do anything
with unabashed crooks playing guard.

I would walk my dog
to hush the horror off, but my dog
goes belly flop, won’t budge.

Because of this, my fallopian tubes ask me
to play hopscotch, with assurance that jumping
carries a fertilized egg into heaven

where the Catholic priest Gabriele
Falloppio, the anatomist, promises better days ahead,
that all oviducts aren’t created equal.


Dianna MacKinnon Henning is widely published. A three-time Pushcart nominee, she had work in 2019 in New American Writing and The Kerf. Henning taught through California Poets in the Schools, received several CAC grants, and taught poetry workshops through the William James Association’s Prison Arts Program. Henning’s third poetry book Cathedral of the Hand was published 2016 by Finishing Line Press.

Monday, February 03, 2020

SENATE ROAST

by Tricia Knoll




We roasted the anger peppers,
so hot, so very very hot
spit flew off our tongues.

We fed the anger flames
yelling with open throat
to wildfires for justice.

We felt the electricity
of lightning and static charge
surround the fear of outages.

We nibbled at that pepper,
slow bites of what became so burning—
when the tears began to fall.


Tricia Knoll shares the anger progressives have felt over the T administration for months on end. After the Senate vote, some tears began to fall.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE IDIOCRACY

by Mickey J. Corrigan


Sign at Women's March, January 21, 2017 via diggit


"God grant that men of principle be our principal men."
—Thomas Jefferson


Idiocracy is claiming you are the king
of reality, seeking only ratings
while the rest of us
let the show go on.

Idiocracy is becoming your own smoke-
filled room, your attraction
to wrong-doing unabated
as supporters compromise
integrity on demand.

Idiocracy is having thousands of points of entry
to you
through your businesses
and no one sticks a finger
in that holey dike.

Idiocracy is allowing a transactional businessman
to run the country like a mafia state
while the rest of us watch reruns
of The Sopranos.

Idiocracy is riding the rollercoaster
of presidential whims
ignoring the vast scope
of your childish unruliness.

Idiocracy is standing by
while you self-ignite
self-inflicted crises
daily, glorified
babysitters for the biggest
crybaby in the history
of our crumbling world.

We live in an idiocracy
our government run by loyalists
where narcissism and hegemony,
hateful groupthink,
one-size-fits-all cowardice,
dangerous stupidity
and the end of democracy
being neither
indictable crime nor
impeachable offense
are okay with us.


Originally from Boston, Mickey J. Corrigan writes Florida noir with a dark humor. Her books have been released by publishers in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.  Project XX, a satirical crime novel, was released in 2017 by Salt Publishing in the UK. What I Did for Love was released by Bloodhound Books in October. Kelsay Books is publishing the poetry chapbook the disappearing self in 2020. 

Saturday, February 01, 2020

SANCTUARY

by Mary K O'Melveny    

                       
A Mexican environmental activist who fought to protect the wintering grounds of the monarch butterfly has been found dead in the western state of Michoacán, two weeks after he disappeared. Homero Gómez González, a former logger who managed El Rosario butterfly reserve, vanished on 13 January. His body was found floating in a well on January 29, 2020, reportedly showing signs of torture. The motive for his murder remains unknown, but some activists speculated that it could have been related to disputes over illegal logging. —The Guardian, January 30, 2020. Photo from CNN, January 31, 2020.


I was not always a lover of butterflies.
Once I was once a logger, clear cutting these pine
forests like those who later turned against me.

One autumn morning I saw conifers tremble
like a young bride, heard sounds that danced like silk in wind.
I understood then that my job was to save them.

How can such tiny creatures travel three thousand miles?
I queried them as they shivered, shimmied there,
circled around each limb like jeweled bracelets.

For two months, sunshine is their compass as they fly.
They come to rest here in our pines. Skies thicken with orange,
yellow, white, laced with black. My silhouettes of autumn.

No one prayed as hard as me for their safe arrival.
They write their memoirs in these deep woods.
It is their great-grandchildren who will return next year.

Sometimes I stood at the edge of the tree line to listen
to their angel sounds.  Each synchronized wing beat calmed me.
It was like heaven, if one believes in such magical thinking.

I felt such sorrow when their arrival began to thin down,
turn translucent, like a memory that fades when we most need
it to be sharp.  I craved vivid images of sunlight at rest.

When the end was near, I pleaded for mercy.  Not for me.
My expendability was always understood.  For my floating
charges whose safety is all we have left as refuge from ourselves.


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 was published by Finishing Line Press in January, 2020.