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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

ODE TO CARIOL HORNE

by Julie L. Moore




November 2006, Buffalo—

Cariol channeled

Fannie Lou, meeting white rage

dressed in blue that throttled

Black breath with bear hug 

headlock,

 

& yanked the uniform’s

manly collar, traded blow

for blow, throwing

her fists in rhyme

to the mantra keeping

time: by any means 

necessary.

   

When IA cleared

Kwiatkowski,

not Officer Horne,

when he sued her

& won, when her

car became her home,

she sang I will 

overcome.

  And 15 years,

180 months,

65,700 days,

1,576,800 hours

later—

             after he

pled guilty in 2011

to civil rights

violations against

4 Black teens

whose heads

& torsos he shel-

lacked & shoved
into a cruiser, 

after he spent 4

months in jail—

 

after 12 year-olds

DeAunta Terrel

Farrow & Tamir

Rice bled out

with toys

    in hand,  

after Charleena

Chavon Lyles

& the baby

in her womb

were christened

with an ungodly

spray (she

thought police

devils & KKK),

 

after Terence Crutcher,

Philando Castile,

& Alton Sterling,

after matriarch

& Missionary Baptist

“Betty Boo” Jones

received

   an offering

of lead the day

after Christmas,

never to raise her voice

in the choir again—

 

after Sandra Bland,

after beloved Juniors,

Freddie Carlos Gray

& Michael Brown,

after John Crawford III,

after Eric Garner

could no longer savor

the flavor of American

air, after Miriam

Irish Carey’s wrong

turn

drew 26 bullets

from Capitol Police
(who didn’t hesitate

then), after Alesia Thomas

got kicked in her legs,

her abdomen, her groin—

barbarian at her L.A.

gate!—

 

after Aiyana Mo'Nay 

Stanley-Jones

caught a slug

in her seven year-old

skull, after Tarika Wilson

embraced her son

while a cop rendered 

a grotesque

       of Madonna & child,

 

after Botham Jean
& Breonna Taylor

learned a house

can become a noose,

after George Floyd

cried for his mother

with his last, agonizing

gasp,

after

Daunte Demetrius Wright—

 

finally, 

finally, 

finally,

this fierce

& beautiful Black

woman, with a law

now in her name,

heard the judge proclaim,

the time is always right

to do right.


A Best of the Net and six-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Julie L. Moore is the author of four poetry collections, including, most recently, Full Worm Moon which won a 2018 Woodrow Hall Top Shelf Award and received honorable mention for the Conference on Christianity and Literature's 2018 Book of the Year Award. Her poetry has appeared in African American Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Image, New Ohio Review, Poetry Daily, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, and Verse Daily. She is the Writing Center Director at Taylor University, where she is also the poetry editor for Relief Journal.

Monday, April 19, 2021

WHEN I DIE IN THE NEXT MASS SHOOTING, HERE'S WHAT I LOOK FORWARD TO

by William McCarthy


"American Exceptionalism" by Nick Anderson.


“We never thought it would happen here,” my neighbor Sheila says.
Flags fly at half-staff; the governor holds me in his thoughts and prayers.
Another surge in the sale of assault weapons.
My senator reiterates that guns don’t kill people, people kill people.
 
My senator holds me in his thoughts and prayers.
More dollars promised to help the mentally ill.
Flags fly at half-staff; my governor reiterates that guns don’t kill people, people kill people.
Congress proposes another bill, weakens it, lets it die in committee.
 
Even more dollars promised to help the mentally ill.
On the six o’clock news, my children leave the church with my coffin.
Congress proposes another bill, weakens it, lets it die in committee.
The surgeons release my wife from the ICU.
 
On the six o’clock news, my children leave the church with my coffin.
Newspapers savor the irony: I survived a mass shooting a month ago, only to die in this one.
The surgeons release my wife from the ICU.
My thirteen-year-old daughter tells Anderson Cooper how much she will miss me.
 
Newspapers savor the irony: I survived a mass shooting a month ago, only to die in this one.
Another surge in the sale of assault weapons.
My governor’s wife holds my two-month-old son in her arms.
“We never thought it would happen here.”


Thirty years ago William McCarthy joined the Connecticut Writing Project and hasn’t recovered yet. “Since then," he writes, "I've tendered my drafts almost monthly in a writing group of other recovering CWP teachers. There’s a closeness among us we get nowhere else, as we share bits and pieces of our lives—our trials with truculent pianos, unpredictable children, and failing parents. Part is honing our craft, part is shaping our experiences, part is understanding who we are.”

Sunday, April 18, 2021

SPIN CYCLE

by Julie Steiner




Gallup’s annual survey of American attitudes about global warming, published last week, shows that Democrats are increasingly in agreement with the scientific consensus. A whopping 82 percent of Democrats said they believe that the effects of global warming have already begun. Meanwhile, only 29 percent of Republicans did, a record low. That’s a gap of 53 points; for comparison, in 2001, the gap was a mere 13 points. —Grist, April 13, 2021


The climate is extreme
these days: wet/dry, hot/cold.
But we are not to blame.

“An act of God,” we deem
each drought or flood. Behold,
the climate is extreme,

but man can’t cause, or tame,
such swings. They’re manifold,
but we are not to blame.

Fossil fuels may seem
at fault—to schoolgirls told
the climate is extreme

because of our regime
(and how we love black gold).
But we are not to blame:

before the Age of Steam,
catastrophes still rolled.
The climate is extreme.

Just is. Let experts scheme—
they’ve threatened, wept, cajoled—
but “We are not to blame”

remains our constant theme:
“Earth’s massive. Man can’t mold
the climate. Is extreme

misfortune—freeze or flame—
new-fangled? No, age-old,
bud! We are not to blame.”

As more disasters came,
we, too, came forth, to scold,
“The climate is extreme

in politics. For shame!
Poor sheeple, you’ve been trolled,
but we are not Tube-lame.”

The more we play this game,
the more R’s say (when polled)
the climate is extreme,
but we are not to blame.


Julie Steiner is a pseudonym in San Diego. Besides TheNewVerse.News, the venues in which her poetry has appeared include the Able Muse Review, Rattle, Light, and the Asses of Parnassus.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

2021: WHEN CICADAS COME BACK AGAIN

by Susan Terris


Turn of the 21st century, and 17 year cicadas had surfaced again in New Haven as I visited my girlhood friend Callie, daughter of another Callie—she: heavy, sedentary, called Big Callie but long gone by 2000. There, with the spring crocus pushing up, we crunched along the sidewalks strewn with empty shells shining in morning sun like gems of silver and gold, unable to escape still-live cicadas that sounded like water in a mad cascade. Years ago, cicadas had come just before Big Callie died of breast cancer. Then my friend—who had married a widower with two children—made him one again not very long after my visit. Yes,  my Callie died of breast cancer, too.

 

Now I worry for Callie’s daughter, her daughter’s two daughters. And then remembering her and the fragility of cicadas reminds me how my own cells had multiplied to breast cancer and 17 years later my sister’s, until I began counting off years and wondering what lay waiting for my daughter and my sister’s daughters, our clutch of granddaughters. Thousand upon thousand of empty shells and countless dangeous cells and the cascade of fears waiting out their own cycles, buried and dormant, until live and invasive



Susan Terris’ recent books are Familiar Tense (Marsh Hawk) 2019; Take Two: Film Studies (Omnidawn) 2017, Memos (Omnidawn) 2015; and Ghost of Yesterday: New & Selected Poems (Marsh Hawk) 2012. She's the author of 7 books of poetry, 17 chapbooks, 3 artist's books, and one play.  Journals include The Southern Review, Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, and Ploughshares. A poem of hers appeared in Pushcart Prize XXXI. A poem from Memos was in Best American Poetry 2015. Her newest chapbook is Dream Fragments, which won the 2019 Swan Scythe Press Award. Ms. Terris is editor emerita of Spillway Magazine and a poetry editor at Pedestal.

Friday, April 16, 2021

THIRTEEN

by Mark Danowsky




                    for Adam Toledo 


I tell you the worse version 

So you'll tell me 

It wasn't as bad as I say 


He wears the same 

underwear I wear 

Inside-out 

For reasons that 

Embarass me 


He wears a fake luxury belt

Like one I bought as a half joke 

Except I know better 

Or tell myself so 


The blood is in his mouth 

But that's not where we can look

So we look below the neck 

Above the waist 

Fearing every in-between


I see the branding in my dreams 

because like Charli says 

I want it all 

Even if it's fake 


This is not fake—

The child run down 

Shot bloody 

Shot through

Shot dead 


I have avoided watching

More than I feel I am allowed to admit 


Design tricks me down this rabbit hole 

& so I see & do not understand 

& have to see again & again 

& from other perspectives

& it is written  


None provide a verdict 


A child of thirteen dead 

& I know no more only more 

That this dream we claim is a mirror 

Shattered by lost souls 



Mark Danowsky is Editor-in-Chief of ONE ART: a journal of poetry and Senior Editor for Schuylkill Valley Journal. He is author of the poetry collection As Falls Trees (NightBallet Press). His work has appeared in Bird Watcher’s Digest, Cleaver Magazine, Gargoyle, The Healing Muse, and elsewhere.


Thursday, April 15, 2021

HE CALLED FOR HIS MAMA

by Laurie Rosen




When I gave birth to my son without the aid 
of narcotics or an epidural, pain searing, I called 
for my Mama. A grown woman, already a Mama 
and I called for mine. 

It wasn’t something I planned, the cry shot out 
my grimaced mouth, my husband sitting by my side, 
a nurse coaching me on. I shouted for my Mama 
because somewhere in my subconscious I believed 
no one else but my Mama could relieve me of my pain.  
Not even the man who loves me could do that. 

When I heard George Floyd called for his Mama,
(not his girlfriend or brother) I thought, Of course he did. 
Who else but a Mama might rescue a son from the grip
of a cop determined to strangle the life out of him?  

And when I learned Duante Wright called his Mama,
just before a cop shot him dead, I imagined him reaching
for his Mama. Who else but a Mama would lay their body 
across a son to shield him from the bullet 
they both knew was coming. 


Laurie Rosen is a lifelong New Englander. Her poems have appeared in The London Reader, Muddy River Poetry Review, Beach Reads (an anthology from Third Street Writers), Peregrine, Oddball Magazine, and other journals. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

FOR DAUNTE WRIGHT

by Rebecca Surmont


Video still from KARE 11 TV·via The New York Times, April 13, 2021.


Again. Again a gun.
When can we end what has begun?
Another day, another gun
goes off by “accident” but a gun
needs a hand ready on its silver gun-
metal finish to pour all its gun
fear into. so much fear we grab a gun
and run or hide, flip upside-down in gun-
smoke circling all those bodies. gun-
ned down bodies, dark as gun
powder and turned to ash. our gun
grey eyes stunned by gun
slinging guardians, a shogun
in blue who will protect me but not you. gun
dogs sniffing the streets and gun-
less dreamers snuffed to sleep at gun-
points undeterred in finding live targets. a gun-
fight never has a winner. i do not understand the gun-
ned down making hard history or gun
stock rising, the real people at the end of the gun-
play left to bow under a white curtain. Gun
again. Gone again. 
 

Rebecca Surmont is a poet from Minneapolis, MN, whose work has been in Silver Birch Press, The Southwest Journal, and the book Seasons by Trolley Car Press. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

NOT MERELY A GENTLE PROD

by Sharon Olson


“Ecstasy of St. Teresa” by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.


As Bernini would have it, Teresa entered a quasi-orgasmic
state, calling out to her would-be husband Jesus! and explaining
later how the prick of the arrow exulted and burned at the same
time

and I think of my Mr. Moderna, the jolt he gives me, the fever,
the chills, the battle royale he is willing to undergo on my behalf, 
even though he is not entirely faithful, as I hear others claiming 
him

think of the lily and its deep chamber penetrated by the sharp
bill of its hummingbird swordsman, we do not hear her cry out 
or think he has forsaken her by darting into the orifices
of all the neighbor lilies

and yet in this year of multiple piercings, the throngs of the would-
be vaccinated circling in the vestibules, the ante-chambers
of their chosen clinics, the buzzing and murmuring will be
echoed even

by the hosanna of the seventeen-year emerging cicada swarm,
Brood X they are called, like the crucifix but here only a reference
to the number 10, the power of their song jacked up to the nth
degree, what has got into them, what probe, what stick?


Sharon Olson is a retired librarian who has recently moved to Annapolis, Maryland. Her book The Long Night of Flying was published by Sixteen Rivers Press in 2006. Her second book Will There Be Music? was published by Cherry Grove Collections in 2019. She will be getting her second dose of Moderna today.

Monday, April 12, 2021

TO THE REPUBLICAN LEGISLATORS OF ARKANSAS

by Pepper Trail





Trying to appeal to your humanity after the actions you have taken, the words you have said, seems as futile an exercise as can be imagined, but still I would like to gather you in a room, let us say the sanctuary of a church, as I am sure you all consider yourselves Good Christians, and introduce you to my son and make you listen as he tells you how going through transition as a teenager saved his life, and have me tell you, no, it was not easy as a parent to understand and to know how best to help and how many talks we had and the tears that we shed and the love that was always in the room and the help and compassion that the doctors gave and what a delicate delicate thing is the soul of a young person going through such an experience and to say

How Dare You

impose your complete ignorance, your unknowing fear, your pathetic insecurity, your contemptible political calculations on these young people, the most vulnerable among us, and to tell you so that you cannot pretend not to know, that your law which makes compassion illegal, which outlaws informed medical care, will without doubt condemn transgender kids to death, will without doubt inflame hate and abuse of these gentle souls who harm no one, who are only seeking to heal themselves, to become whole, which is something that you, as long as you are disfigured by fear, ignorance, and merciless cruelty, can never be.


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.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

ECHOES OF MERCY, WHISPERS OF LOVE

by Earl J. Wilcox




In a back room of the home nestled

among pines and dogwoods—bam bam

 

bam—shots over and over, bullets 

felling grandfather, grandmother, 

 

two grandchildren. The fescue lawn 

shaded but ready for a Carolina summer 

 

held in its red clay care two others hit 

by the bam bam bam bullets. Echoes

 

from silenced beautiful lives fill 

the patient pines. The ER will not 

 

receive nor save these lives or

the shooter’s. Nothing in this world

 

can soothe the pain in the hearts

of those of us left behind, our faces

 

racked with tears and fears for 

a world where—over and over and

 

over—guns break the silence among

hollow pine trees, our consolation

 

in each other, hopeful that one day

a brave new world answers our prayers.


 

Earl Wilcox is a friend both of the family of those killed in Rock Hill, SC on April 7 and of the family of the alleged shooter.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

HOW SUBTLY IT HAPPENED

by William Doreski




Secretly, I slip the daylight
moon into my pocket. A crowd
has formed. As I approach,
stainless things clatter. A cop
 
kneels on a neck. A sigh kites
into the trees and deflates.
The cop looks too dispassionate
for this lifetime. The man
 
on the ground no longer speaks.
The stainless things rain down
with naked blades twittering.
I ease the moon from my pocket
 
and compare it to the face
of the cop and of the man
he’s stifling. None of these three
expressions can tell me the time.


William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has taught at several colleges and universities. His most recent book of poetry is Mist in Their Eyes (2021). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in various journals.

Friday, April 09, 2021

FLORIDA MAN AT THE CAPITOL

by Mickey J. Corrigan


Cartoon by Andy Marlette.


On the same marble floor
where legislation is passed
and the invaders broke in
on January 6th
Florida Man held contests
for scoring with aides.

In this historic building
where laws fail to pass
for equal rights 
for all 
Florida Man lit up
donned a gas mask
during session.

From this legendary building
where flags became weapons
the mob broke down doors
looted rooms, beat cops
Florida Man made dates
online, young girls
hired and seduced
by his political clout.

Outside this same building
in the early spring sunlight
yet another cop killed
the violence continuing
while Florida Man 
FOX-faces us all
proclaiming his innocence
in all things unseemly.


Originally from Boston, Mickey J. Corrigan writes tropical noir with a dark humor. Novels include Project XX about a school shooting (Salt Publishing, UK, 2017) and What I Did for Love, a spoof of Lolita (Bloodhound Books, UK, 2019). In 2020, Grandma Moses Press released the poetry micro-chapbook Florida ManThe Physics of Grief puts the fun back in funerals while taking a serious look at the process of mourning (QuoScript, UK, April 2021). 

Thursday, April 08, 2021

HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY, 2021

by Howie Good




The SS officer rolled the corpse over, and the girl saw the face of her music teacher, with blood here and there. He had gone to fetch a ration of bread, and a loaf was sticking out of his coat. The girl drew closer. It looked like a serious piece of bread, and Jews had little to eat, soup that was mostly water with grass. Her instinct was to grab the bread and run. But she left it. She left it because she saw his face, with blood here and there.

&

When someone complains to me about trivial stuff, I’ll say, “Oh yeah, try going through life as a Howard.” In Judaism, at least as practiced by my parents, one is named in honor of a person who has died. I was named in honor of my mother’s father’s brother. I never met him. I’ve never even seen a picture of him. He died long before I was born and without leaving a trace—except for the 100-year-old man, a former guard at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, arrested in Germany on 3,518 counts of being an accessory to murder.

&

It’s spring in name but not in substance. The land, to my amazement, seems to constantly rearrange itself in wild new patterns of rage and decay. On the border, small brown children languish in lockups. On city streets, young black men in police chokeholds beg for breath. There is something I have to do. I don’t know how I will do it. I just know from the pressure of tears behind my eyes that it has to be done.


Howie Good is the author of more than a dozen poetry collections, including most recently The Death Row Shuffle (Finishing Line Press), The Trouble with Being Born (Ethel Micro Press), and Gunmetal Sky (Thirty West Publishing).

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

THE CONDITIONAL CASE FOR CONVICTION

by Diana Cole


A patron of a laundromat near Cup Foods watching the Derek Chauvin trial on Monday. Credit: Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times, April 6, 2021


for George Floyd
 
 
Nothing can be true, so the dog barks all night
          missing the man who feeds him.
 
Into the fire go the stars. If the garbage is collected
          in the morning, the moon will go too.
 
Without evidence of insects, birds have nothing to eat.
          He’s talking so he’s fine.
 
Nothing but a man, a sizable guy who loves his Mama, 
          who lost his Mama.  
                                    
I kneel in case the sun will intervene in time.
          Inside the car, the back seat is a thick darkness. 
 
A black man could get lost if the air is handcuffed.
          Even if he pleads 20 times, he is under the influence,
 
under suspicion, under the knee, undertaken.
          All for 20 dollars, supposing that, even if, as long as… 


Diana Cole, a Pushcart Prize nominee, has had poems published in numerous journals including Poetry East, Spillway, the Tar River Review, the Cider Press Review, GBH Public Radio, Friends Journal, Verse Daily, and the Main Street Rag, and upcoming in Crab Creek Review. Her chapbook Songs By Heart was published in 2018 by Iris Press. She is an editor for The Crosswinds Poetry Journal and a member of Ocean State Poets whose mission is to encourage the reading, writing and sharing of poetry. 

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

IT'S THE QUICK PRICKS

by Tricia Knoll




You lament we’ve missed so much
theater, solstice estivals, state fair curly fries,
Aunt Moo’s 75th birthday at the river
 
but I’m thinking of what I don’t miss
    yellow fever       polio       lockjaw
          flu         hepatitis       diphtheria 
 
because I learned a thing or two
     from   mumps     measles    chicken pox
                whooping cough
 
see I’m old enough to have had those
      but not the firsts because I got the shot
 
and I’m old enough to have had
       my two COVID quick pricks
 
so I don’t miss holding my new grandson
       on the way, seeing our plays unfold
       on a stage with open curtains. 
       Amen and thank you.  


Tricia Knoll just got her second COVID shot. She took the "quick pricks" from Naomi Shihab Nye's poem "Dear Vaccine." Knoll's new chapbook Checkered Mates is available from Kelsay Books and Amazon.

Monday, April 05, 2021

THE DIRECTOR'S CUTS YOU DIDN'T SEE

by Joseph Hope




The United States Country Report on Human Rights Practice in Nigeria, published on March 31, 2021, tepidly states that “On October 20, members of the security forces enforced curfew by firing shots into the air to disperse protesters, who had gathered at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos to protest abusive practices by the Nigerian Police Force’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). Accurate information on fatalities resulting from the shooting was not available at year’s end. Amnesty International reported 10 persons died during the event, but the government disputed Amnesty’s report, and no other organization was able to verify the claim.” The US government report is seriously at odds with the CNN report reproduced above. 

A subsequent CNN report documents how the Nigerian government edited a key piece of video evidence. "The Lagos State government's security camera footage of the Lekki toll gate shooting did not capture everything."


We don't have evidence
but we have our truth.
We don't have evidence,
because it was ripped away from us 
with guns aimed at our heads.
People were shot and taken away to unmarked graves.
We have their faces crested on our hearts,
the nameless uncounted for.
Protesters waving their flags were shot in their heads
in their guts
in their backs
in all the places that could kill a man.
The numbers of the dead increases by enough.
A bullet goes through a youth's  
throat like hypens 
silencing the anthem in his mouth.
Mustapha is down. John too.
How many brothers do I have to bury 
to know how hard it is to dig a grave?
Peace and bullets ain't mixable, 
Don't you agree? 
Our blood is also red like the blood of Abel.
The dead are restless.
The dead  were shamed:
Their bodies were washed off the cameras, 
washed off the internet, 
washed down the filthy drains like shit
by the unremorseful ruling monsters?
But the dead have many tongues: so listen 
to me, you proprietor of death—
This is our Homeland!
It's our right to sing, 
think, and talk.
We will not yield
even if you level us like fields, 
and cut us away from our names and identity.
Turn us to organic manures 
and we will still grow trees 
whose adventurous roots will infiltrate your resorts (Aso Rock)
to strangle you 
and your ignoble generals.
We are too stubborn
to be wiped off clean.
We'll continue to speak underneath the earth 
until someone up there hears us.


Joseph Hope is writing from Nigeria, a student of Usman Danfodio University. His works are either forthcoming or already published in Reckoning Press, Evening Street Press, Praxis Magazine, Gemini Spice Magazine, Spillwords, SprinNG, Writers Space Africa, Nthanda Magazine, 5th Chinua Achebe Anthology, Ariel Chart, Best "New" African Poets 2019 Anthology, and many more. He's a young man running away from his name. How absurd!