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Tuesday, August 31, 2021


by Clyde Always

At last the rates of jabs are up
in states where were the leasest
which are, coincidentally,
the ones that rank obesest.
Miraculous. Perplexing though…
what reason for could this be?
It seems they upped the bribe a bit:
two kremes and both are krispy.

Clyde Always is an accomplished cartoonist, poet, painter, novelist and Vaudevillian entertainer. His writings and/or illustrations have been printed in the Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Light, Slackjaw, Scarfff Comics, etc. etc. You can see his storytelling act, live and in-person, any Friday evening, at the Scott Street Labyrinth in San Francisco, CA.

Monday, August 30, 2021


by Julian O. Long

“August Painting” by Ivan Kolisnyk

First day of my eighty fourth
year to heaven, I got up
turned off the O2 machine, hung
its canula over the arm of the walker
beside my bed, intimate with
these acts as I am with my hand
on my thigh the last thing before
throwing off the covers,
                                       intimate too
with comorbidities (only recently
learned that word) my troubled heart
remembered from recent echoes, aftermaths
of strokes that stopped parts of my brain
and legs (maybe other things
as well—hard to tell with all
the medicines.
                        Still, one more stick
and I’m boosted, at least in a qualified
sense; I’ll continue intimacy
with covid fully vaccinated, as I
was those childhood summers with series
of asthma shots, but this birthday
I am choosing as well to quarantine
myself—better that than bronchial
spasms, since this virus kills.

Writ large does the covid pandemic shed
light on die ups such as the great
reptilian? Chances are it will run
its course and become endemic among us
like the flu. But what if it doesn’t?
And what if unlike plagues of past ages
this is the one big one? Will it
usher in new times of dearth,
strife, and loss driven by vicious
death-demanding ideologies?
Will we humans learn care for one
another in such new times, or will we
follow the worst among us and in
ourselves? Chances are we’ll do
the latter.
                        Cogito ergo sum,
unassailable formulation, works
both ways, Latin doesn’t care
it’s the perfect sum of being, balking
at prospect of its own quitclaim
consciousness cannot fail to name
itself, but no heuristic can
afford me knowledge of my death;
I am intimate with that absence.
Conversely, no perception affords
me knowledge of another’s. In these
times it’s a forced option to choose
intimacy as well
                           —with that absence.

Julian O. Long’s poems and essays have appeared in The Sewanee Review, Pembroke Magazine, New Texas, New Mexico Magazine, and Horizon among others. His chapbook High Wire Man is number twenty-two in the Trilobite Poetry series published by the University of North Texas Libraries. A collection of his poems, Reading Evening Prayer in an Empty Church, appeared from Backroom Window Press in 2018. Other online publications have appeared or are forthcoming at The Piker Press, Better Than Starbucks, The Raw Art Review, and Litbreak Magazine.  Long has taught school at the University of North Texas, North Carolina State University, and Saint Louis University. He is now retired and lives in Saint Louis, Missouri.

Sunday, August 29, 2021


by Gail White

Mon., Aug. 30: Children watch reporters at a building collapse scene in New Orleans. Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Someday only the divers
will visit New Orleans.
The church bells will ring under water.

Kelp will encircle the rusting wrought iron
like Mardi Gras beads.
The round-eyed fish will roam free
with no one to cook them with almonds.

Drinks are not on the house now, but under the sea.
Politics cause no fights. Who wins doesn’t matter.

The artists are gone. The rich and the homeless are gone.
The old jazz musicians have shut up their instrument cases

I will be one of the few to remember the days
of white-powdered beignets and coffee at Jackson Square,
and Jackson himself on a rearing horse tipping his hat.

And the bells of St. Louis Cathedral
will ring for mass under the sea.

Gail White is a formalist poet and a contributing editor to Light. Her most recent collections are Asperity Street and Catechism. She lives in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, with her husband and cats. 


by Rose M. Smith

Sun., Aug. 29: Hurricane Ida is seen in this image taken aboard the International Space Station. The image was shared on European Space Agency astronaut and Expedition 65 crew member Thomas Pesquet's Twitter account, as the storm churned in the Gulf of Mexico ahead of its landfall. ESA/NASA

Mother, they say you are the hurricane

bearing down on our Gulf Coast this weekend

whirling      mad      anomaly full of rain and wind

scream a long assault against any who list

attendant fury tearing down light post    tree    wall

drowning masses who fail to heed your warning

I became a cistern full of tears    wretched 

war torn      homeless      arms outstretched

when I heard them call you Ida

as though    so quiet in your living

you found in death freedom to be whirlwind

demand your choices known

Rose M. Smith lives in Central Ohio near a short stretch of woods.  Her work has appeared in Blood and Thunder, Origins Journal, Passager, The Examined Life, Snapdragon, and other journals and anthologies. She is author of Unearthing Ida (Glass Lyre Press, 2019) which won the 2018 Lyrebird Prize. She is an Editor with Pudding Magazine, a Pushcart Prize nominee, and a Cave Canem fellow.

Saturday, August 28, 2021


by George Salamon

“The United States could have left Afghanistan in the hands of a new generation, not the Taliban. But they didn’t invest enough in strengthening institutions and empowering new generations in urban areas who really wanted to rebuild the country and take over the reins. In 20 years, you could have transformed Afghanistan and that generation.” Journalist Adriana Carranca to Isabela Dias, Mother Jones, August 20, 2021. Photo: Gozargah school in Kabul in 2008. Courtesy of Adriana Carranca via Mother Jones.

As the sun sets on
yet  another place 
sought for America's
empire, one thing we
did not sell successfully
was democracy, the other
thing we couldn't buy
triumphantly was peace.

George Salamon thinks America has not yet stsarted learning from history, its own and that of other countries and peoples. George lives and writes in St. Louis, MO.


by Indran Amirthanayagam

The captain of Afghanistan’s women's wheelchair basketball team Nilofar Bayat and her husband Ramish disembark from the second Spanish evacuation airplane, carrying Afghan collaborators and their families, that landed at the Torrejon de Ardoz air base, 30 kilometers away from Madrid, on August 20, 2021. (Mariscal / POOL / AFP via Getty Images) via The Nation.

We are Americans even after 9/11, or Afghanistan, Vietnam for
its generation, which makes me think that we tempt history too
much, are poor students, never learn. So here we go again,
in helicopters and planes with just a handbag, a couple of
documents, and lives of those we can evacuate before the deadline,
and the country shutters up, and we return to insidious inside
operations because we will never learn, war being diplomacy
by other means, revenge always percolating on the stove, politicians
gnashing teeth to spit out America will be great again, under
their blinkered tutelage, investing in heavy tanks, precision bombers
and strategic plans only to realize that none of these can defeat the rebel
with a cause, who knows the land's dips and rises, who can melt into
the crowd, before springing back in the finest and most colorful robes,
to say bye bye American pie, get back by midnight to your promised land.

Indran Amirthanayagam writes in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Haitian Creole. He has 19 poetry books, including Blue Window/ Ventana Azul translated by Jennifer Rathbun (Lavender Ink/Diálogos Books, 2021), The Migrant States (Hanging Loose Press, 2020), and Sur l'île nostalgique (L'Harmattan, 2020). In music, Indran recorded Rankont Dout. He edits The Beltway Poetry Quarterly, is a columnist for Haiti en Marchewon the Paterson Prize, and is a 2020 Foundation for the Contemporary Arts fellow.

Friday, August 27, 2021


by Jean Varda

“Green Dream Painting” by Mykola Ampilogov

Cold bottomless water
transparent fish,
birds awaken with hesitant
flute like songs.
Walking in the evening down
graceful tree-lined streets,
soft rain falling all night,
where I breathe cool moisture
through a screened window.
This is my dream in green,
fireflies silently rising
above thick wet grass.
Not the brown sky of my home
with a faded pink pock a dot
for a sun.
Not sirens, helicopters, low flying planes
and a fire that has no end.
Deep moss green water lapping
on a muddy shore,
full rivers, lakes, ponds
bird song, ocean breeze.
Not four hundred miles of
spreading flames
fire fighters sweating in their gear
smoke so thick it looks like
night in the morning
a dark cloud rising
seen from the other end
of the continent
a desperate smoke signal for help.

Jean Varda is a poet living in Chico, California, not far from the Dixie fire. She has self-published six chapbooks of poetry. Been published in numerous literary magazines. Leads poetry writing workshops and has started open mics.

Thursday, August 26, 2021


by John Valentine

The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to block a ruling from a federal judge in Texas requiring the Biden administration to reinstate a Trump-era immigration program that forces asylum seekers arriving at the southwestern border to await approval in Mexico…. The court’s three more liberal members—Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan—said they would have granted a stay of the trial judge’s ruling…. The challenged program, known commonly as Remain in Mexico and formally as the Migrant Protection Protocols, applies to people who left a third country and traveled through Mexico to reach the U.S. border. After the policy was put in place at the beginning of 2019, tens of thousands of people waited for immigration hearings in unsanitary tent encampments exposed to the elements. There have been widespread reports of sexual assault, kidnapping and torture. —The New York Times, August 24, 2021. Photo: Olga Galicia and her family at a makeshift camp for migrants in Tijuana, Mexico, near the border with the United States. Credit: Emilio Espejel/Associated Press via The New York Times.

The trail snakes north, coils
like a rattler.
Mindlessly moving in the glare  
of the sun, they go.
Diaspora bound. Weary,
everything left behind.
And here comes the hand
that says no. 
The one that refuses
The hand like a wall.
Thunder, rain up ahead. 
The trembling. The reckoning.
All that they feared. 
The night. Its stillness.
The hand.  
And now
here comes the storm.

John Valentine lives in Savannah, GA, where he teaches aesthetics at a local art college.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021


by Ralph La Rosa

after and with Thoreau

"Hawk Eye" by Tom Tomorrow at The Nib

The main lesson from Afghanistan is that 
the ‘war on terror’ does not work 
—Mary Kaldor, The Guardian, August 24, 2021

Ants battled on my Walden woodpile,
Small reds against much larger blacks.
The wood was strewn with dying and dead:
Imperialist blacks and republican reds.
A red clamped on a black ant’s chest
Was shaken till a back leg broke.
I watched another red assault
The black ant’s back and gnaw his neck—
An Achilles avenging his Patroclus?
The black destroyed all the reds’ limbs,
Lopped off their heads and left with them.
Who won this internecine bellum?
Most warrior Myrmidons soon dead,
Ant squads claimed corpses, black and red.
Author’s Note: This poem attempts to be a microcosm of Thoreau’s discussion in Walden, Chapter 12: “Brute Neighbors.”

Like Thoreau, Ralph La Rosa finds little to commend ants inhumanity to ants.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021


by Joan Halperin

"King Gone" by Michael Ramirez on Twitter.

Watch him step down, taking with him
the taste of a stolen kiss, an unwelcome hug, resting
in his back pocket with the obligatory silk handkerchief
and a long list of "the way things used to be."
Oh for the days when a man could slide
his hand over a woman's backside,
brush against a breast, whisper profanities
into a perfumed ear. When did these flowers
become so uppity? And how did he fall,
splat on the hard earth while holding tight
to the way life used to be? 

Joan Halperin has been published in Confrontation, New York Quarterly, Blue Unicorn, and others. Until retirement, she was a Poet in the Schools in Westchester County and also a Poet-in- Public Service. She now lives in Orchard Cove, a continuing care community in Canton Ma. where she continues to teach, write, and keep in touch with grandchildren. Her oldest grandchild Hanna Halperin has just had Something Wild, her first novel, published to rave reviews.

Monday, August 23, 2021


Illusion painting by Daniel Siering and Mario Shu.

Frederick Charles Melancon lives in Mississippi with his wife and daughter.  He is vaccinated and wears a mask.

Sunday, August 22, 2021


by Donna Katzin

Meet Vusle 'Malombo' Dlamini and Sinegugu Zukulu of the Sigidi Development Enterprise who coordinate the 100+ farmers across four villages who are collectively farming Sweet Potatoes and Madumbes (yams) on the northern edge of the beautiful Eastern Cape's Wild Coast in South Africa. The Amadiba Farmers of the Sigidi Development Enterprise normally sell their produce to informal vendors in Durban. With the start of COVID-19 lockdown collapsing this market, FoodFlow stepped in to purchase this harvest and redirect it to Food for Life in Port Shepstone to be distributed to townships and villages along the KZN South Coast to assist with the hunger crisis. 

They stand as one in their fields,
holding sweet potatoes the size of their hearts,
to sustain life
while the hungry wait.
Holding sweet potatoes the size of their hearts,
they harvest for comrades
while the hungry wait.      
Virus and violence stalk shacks like stray dogs.
They harvest for comrades
to cook so all can eat.
Virus and violence stalk shacks like stray dogs.                   
Old wounds run deep.
To cook so all can eat
they fill the communal pot with amadumbe and beans.
Old wounds run deep
in the land whose strong man has fallen.
They fill the communal pot with amadumbe and beans,
nurturing their neighbors                                              
refusing to die.
Nurturing their neighbors,
they rekindle generations of hope               
refusing to die—
honor every seed.   
They rekindle generations of hope,
stand as one in their fields,
honor every seed   
to sustain life.

Donna Katzin is the founding executive director of Shared Interest, a fund that mobilizes the human and financial resources of low-income communities of color in South and Southern Africa.  A board member of Community Change in the U.S., and co-coordinator of Tipitapa Partners working in Nicaragua, she has written extensively about South Africa, community development and impact investing.  Published in journals and sites including The New Verse News and The Mom Egg, she is the author of With the Hands, a book of poems and photographs about post-apartheid South Africa’s process of giving birth to itself.

Saturday, August 21, 2021


by Virgilio Goncalves

A Taliban fighter walking past a beauty salon in Kabul on Wednesday.Credit: Wakil Kohsar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images via The New York Times, August 19, 2021

for 20 years, hope:
a hint of freedom
a trace of peace
a slither of choice
finally, for women,
possibility of education
opportunity to have a voice
chance to walk streets without fear
within 20 days, despair:
that hint of freedom incinerated
like burning books
that trace of peace throttled
             like silent screams
that slither of choice sliced 
             like cut throats
security intelligence
not worth a dime
and an avalanche of tears
never enough to drown foreboding

Virgilio Goncalves has been a journalist, teacher and tennis coach. He has a nomadic bent, having lived in various countries, including South Africa, Portugal and Australia. His poems and short stories have been published in Australian anthologies. Virgilio, as with other nomads, will forever be restless because his goal in life is to rid the world of misery.  

Friday, August 20, 2021


by Hafsa Mumtaz

Police in Pakistan have opened cases against hundreds of unidentified men after a young woman was sexually assaulted and groped by a crowd of more than 400 men in a park in Lahore as she made a TikTok video. The shocking assault was captured on several videos, which went viral and showed a mob descend on the woman as she was in Lahore’s Greater Iqbal park making a TikTok video with friends. In broad daylight, the men picked up the young woman and tossed her between them, tearing her clothes and assaulting and groping her. The woman registered a case against 300 to 400 unidentified persons with Lahore police, according to the case report seen by the Guardian. “The crowd pulled me from all sides to such an extent that my clothes were torn. I was hurled in the air. They assaulted me brutally,” the woman said in a statement to the police. She said the crowd also stole her money, earrings and a phone. —The Guardian, August 19, 2021

Another day, another woman.   

But the headlines remain the same –

But this time, it wasn’t just a man, just a gang,

But a mob of 400 men...

But this time, it wasn’t just private milieu,

But in the open outside Minar-e-Pakistan...

But this time, it wasn’t just a secret hour,

But the time of Azaan (the prayer call) ...

Another day, another woman,

Just like many previous targets,  

She was dressed decently – so stop this ‘the victim was a victim because

they were wearing such clothes’ nonsense right here.

But why would the maulvis say anything?

For all they need is a woman to blame for her brazenness

For all they need is to hold the axe of ‘Deen’ (religion) and behead the victims

For all they need is a woman to criticise and condemn

For all they need is Islam to exploit.

Another day, another woman. 

Oh, what a free land! 400 predators, 1victim, and no one to bat an eyelid!

Oh, what an Independence Day for the predators whose minds are still enslaved by their lust!

Oh, so this is the country founded in the name of Islam...

I read a random WhatsApp status, saying,

We merely celebrate the Islam (alluding to Ashura),

We don’t adopt Islam.

Similarly, we merely celebrate Independence Day

We still haven’t absorbed the essence of it.

Hafsa Mumtaz is a 22-year-old Pakistan-based emerging poet, a recent graduate of English Language and Literature, and a Muslim. Her poetry was first published in Visual Verse Anthology, and then in Rising Phoenix Review. 

Thursday, August 19, 2021


by Mary K O’Melveny

Lately, I have been thinking a lot
about dancing. Not actually doing it
myself – I was never very good at it –
but how I always imagined it must feel.
Like freedom. Like a grand escape.
Gravity left behind, shaking its weary head,
as I spin, turn, shimmy, spiral away
from heavy hearts, from memory’s drumbeat.
As if one might tap tap tap far away
from troubled minds to discover a brand
new stage where a leap of faith takes flight
on one’s own command. Where the only
things waiting in the wings like wallflowers
are lengthening shadows of regret.
Today, I crumpled up my privileged
dance card as I stared at photographs from
Kabul’s airport. It is impossible to fathom
the despair that sends one racing on foot
down airplane runways, clinging to wings
of jumbo jets as if they were old friends.
With each trip, slip, stumble, tumble to ground,
one sees how certainty of death also
means escape, albeit with less fanfare
than was craved in yesterday’s richer light.
Even as they strained for the upward lift,
those stranded, earth-bound crowds likely
knew how fickle dance partners can be, how
we must become our own choreographers.

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.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021


by Laura Rodley

What would Emily say? The driveway to her brother Edward’s home
is gated, the property surrounded with orange crisscrossed plastic
fencing, plastic not yet invented in her time, nor the cure for her kidney
ailments. Today her condition would have been aggravated by the chlorine
and other astringent agents the town uses to clean the water pumped
to the homes. She would have drunk water from an artesian well
in her Victorian home, writing poems at two a.m., loving someone
she could not have, not from the future, but from her own time period.
Was she ever pregnant as some suggest? Was she virginal as her white
dresses? Did she actually suffer from hypertension? Was she able
to see the future? Her poems crossed realms of time and space.
Would she have cut the crisscrossed orange fence, crushed it down,
or felt more secure to be enclosed, secure in her hermitage
peopled with family, cooks, and Irish workmen, six of whom carried
her casket to her grave in West Cemetery, where she walked in the evenings.
She was nourished by a garden that is no longer open to the public
due to Covid. A garden that fed her, kept her poetry
alive, already passed through the gates into other’s hands through letters.

Laura Rodley, Pushcart Prize winner, is a quintuple Pushcart Prize nominee and quintuple Best of Net nominee. Latest books: Turn Left at Normal by Big Table Publishing, Counter Point by Prolific Press, and As You Write It Lucky Lucky 7, a collection of 11 writers' work.


by Susan McLean

      Overheard in Southern California

“I can’t believe we have to wear masks again
just to save eight fat old women,” one
hipster, walking past me, told the other, 
staring at me, no longer young nor thin.
Which crones would she gladly jettison? Her grandmother?
Her eighth-grade English teacher? Did she imagine
a merciful weeding of homeless crazies or
the clutter of ghosts at care facilities?
Of one thing I felt sure: she couldn’t picture
herself at seventy, softened by loss and sadness,
weighted with aches, regrets, lost fantasies,
and wanting nothing from life except some sweetness.

Susan McLean, a retired English professor from Southwest Minnesota State University, has published two books of poetry, The Best Disguise and The Whetstone Misses the Knife, and a book of translations of the Latin poems of Martial, Selected Epigrams.  She is the translations editor at Better Than Starbucks.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021


by Robert Halleck

I didn't like "These Boots Are Made For Walking."

I loved "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?"

It needed to end.

I'm going into the garage

to find my old shirt

that says

Robert Halleck is a member of San Diego's Not Dead Yet Poets, a Vietnam War veteran, and a man who continues to write poetry to help him understand life.

Monday, August 16, 2021


by Joan Halperin

To donate to Haiti Earthquake Relief via CNN, click here.

As she usually does when we dine,
when we laugh and carry on,
Margaret says “and we sit here in our bubble
while Haitians scurry around the rubble
attempting to extricate their dead.”
None of us wants Margaret at our table.
We pause. What can we do to help?
Donate clothing, food,  perhaps even toys.
Margaret says “Nothing like that will stop their strife,
will stop a boy from devouring garbage.
A toy teddy bear never saved a life."
None of us wants Margaret at our table.
None of us want to devour our ice cream scoops.
but deep in us a desire to save  our neighbors,
deep in us a knowledge that we own too much.
None of us wants Margaret at our table
but she finds the timber, lights the fire
flickering, that small spark,
almost available to touch.
Joan Halperin has been published in Passengers, Confrontation, Persimmon Tree, and others. She lives and continues to write at Orchard Cove, a continuing care residence in Canton Mass.

Sunday, August 15, 2021


by Indran Amirthanayagam

I did not want to write right after the crack, letting my mind fill slowly,
Caribbean and North American plates, moving side by side, whiplashing
each other for a moment, causing walls and roofs to tumble and Fortuné
to lose his bet, just one of several hundred dead already, thousands
with open wounds, tropical storm on the way. But there are some
cheerful consequences, the truce called by gangs so rescue trucks
and supplies can move south from Port Au Prince, heroism everywhere,
doctor performing surgeries on the tarmac, a man lending his propeller
plane to lift wounded to hospitals in the capital, hundreds digging
with pick axes, shovels, hands, to free family trapped under concrete,
sparing of human life at my friend's family compound, although
the famed swimming pool full of holy water has cracked and will
require repair, but faith remains in place, survivors have nowhere else
to turn but to internal (and external) resources. Aid ships are flying,
trucks rolling, but if only money I give can assuage pain, even if it buys
no pardon, if it means just that someone will get medicine, food, a blanket.
As for the political cyclone, early morning murder of the president,
and now systematic killing of investigators of the crime, these too must
be resolved. Murderers cannot be allowed to wipe away tracks, and
the memory of this latest natural beating can only be honored by building
with bricks, leaving space within foundation pillars, to allow for swaying
with the plates when they come together again the next time.

Indran Amirthanayagam writes in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Haitian Creole. He has 19 poetry books, including The Migrant States (Hanging Loose Press, 2020) and Sur l'île nostalgique (L'Harmattan, 2020). Indran Amirthanayagam's Blue Window/ Ventana Azul, translated by Jennifer Rathbun,  is about to be published by Lavender Ink/Diálogos Books. In music, he recorded Rankont Dout. He edits The Beltway Poetry Quarterly, is a columnist for Haiti en Marchewon the Paterson Prize, and is a 2020 Foundation for the Contemporary Arts fellow.


by Mike Mesterton-Gibbons

An athlete, who cleared hurdles with great ease,

Got ready for the most important race

Of his career by streaming melodies

On board a bus to take him to the place

Decided on. But he relaxed too good!

Soon he was miles from where he should alight

And, if he took official guidance, would

Miss any chance of setting matters right.

And then a Good Samaritan appeared,

Re-routing him and stepping in to pay ...

In life, for certain hurdles to be cleared,

The stranger's kindness proves the only way,

As this man, with Olympic gold to own,

Now tells. He did not win his gold alone!

Mike Mesterton-Gibbons is a Professor Emeritus at Florida State University. His acrostic sonnets have appeared in Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Better Than Starbucks, the Creativity Webzine, Current Conservation, the Daily Mail, the Ekphrastic Review, Grand Little Things, Light, Lighten Up Online, The New Verse News, Oddball Magazine, Rat’s Ass Review, the Satirist, the Washington Post and WestWard Quarterly.


by Stephen House

Medal count at the Tokyo Summer Olympics is something we’ve watching. And this year, there has been an LGBTQ rainbow twist. We at Outsports tracked them as though they were a country: Team LGBTQ. Imagine if all of the publicly out lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and nonbinary athletes were on one team representing one country with common causes of visibility and inclusion. That’s how we covered this collective group of inspiring out athletes. The final standing: Team LGBTQ ranked 7th overall, just ahead of Netherlands, France, Germany and Italy. —Outsports, August 10, 2021. Photo: Gold medalist Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil poses after the women's 10-kilometer marathon swimming at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo on Aug. 4.Clive Rose / Getty Images via NBC News.

for many LGBTQI people world-wide
it is the story of the week
maybe for some
the story of the year
of their life
discrimination / abuse / inequality / oppression / exclusion
hits hard
at least one hundred and eighty two
queer identifying athletes were at the Tokyo Olympics
publicly out
gay / lesbian / bisexual / transgender / queer / gender-nonconforming
some of them using the Olympic platform
to come out
in Tokyo
representing many sports

archery / basketball / beach volleyball / BMX freestyle / BMX racing / boxing / canoe / cycling / diving / equestrian / fencing / field hockey / golf / gymnastics / handball / judo / rhythmic gymnastics / rowing / rugby / sailing / softball / skateboarding / soccer / swimming / shooting / table tennis / taekwondo / tennis / track and field / trampoline / volleyball / water polo / weightlifting / wrestling / triple jump

from many countries
Italy / Belgium / USA / Puerto Rico / Australia / Canada / Brazil / Ireland / Philippines /  Britain / New Zealand / Denmark / Netherlands / France / South Africa / Sweden / Germany / Israel / Mexico / Poland / Argentina / Cyprus / Chile / Peru / Tonga / Finland / Trinidad / India / Venezuela
impartiality / kindness / equality / acceptance / inclusion
is human  
at least one hundred and eighty two
queer identifying athletes at the Tokyo Olympics
should make the entire world proud

Tokyo Olympics was also Tokyo Pride
for many LGBTQI people world-wide
Tokyo Olympic Pride
gives hope

Stephen House has won many awards and nominations as a poet, playwright and actor. He’s received several international literature residencies from The Australia Council for the Arts and an Asia-link India residency. His chapbook real and unreal was published by ICOE Press. He’s published often and performs his acclaimed monologues widely.

Saturday, August 14, 2021


by Tricia Knoll

Old friends remember Tom’s birthday party
when we were young and houses were small. 
We assembled in the living room to start with wine
or beer, some sort of dip. Then his wife cried out
Pearl! and we all saw that my small gold mutt 
named after Janis Joplin stood by 
the coffee table to lick half the white frosting
off Tom’s carrot cake. No one noticed
for a long time. A decision made to accept
the other half for the celebration.  
This fate of glaciers—sneaky heat
licks them away, inch by inch until
it’s too late to do anything but see
what is and try to figure out 
where is the other half of the cake.  

Tricia Knoll is a Vermont poet who believes the impact of the IPCC climate report can be felt in what we know is happening in our own lives—and have known but did not address over decades. Much of her poetry is eco-poetry which you can find at


by Penelope Scambly Schott

I was inside at my desk.
The dog poked her nose into my hip.
I didn’t feel like walking her.
I didn’t want to go out.
We went out.
We cut across the school football field.
At the fifty-yard line the dog rolled in the grass.
We walked into the shade behind the gym.
I lay down on the lawn.
The dog lay down next to me.
Her fur was warm against my bare arm.
She licked my shoulder.
My shoulder was suddenly cool.
Even the grass remembered cool.
I am telling you this on a warming planet,
on a planet that still has people and dogs.
I want to say we went home
but it’s all home, isn’t it?

Penelope Scambly Schott is a past recipient of the Oregon Book Award for Poetry. Her newest book is On Dufur Hill, poems about the cycle of the year in a small wheat-growing town.

Friday, August 13, 2021


by Zaroya Amjad

#JusticeforNoor was trending last week on Twitter in Pakistan, after Noor Mukadam, 27, was stabbed and beheaded in an upscale district of Islamabad. The week prior, #JusticeforQuratulain had been the top hashtag after the mother of four was tortured to death by her husband in Hyderabad. And earlier this month, it was #JusticeforSaima, who was shot dead after her husband opened fire on her and her children in Peshawar. Photo: Women's rights activists place candles and flowers beside posters with the pictures of Noor Mukadam, who was recently brutally beheaded by her childhood friend. The killing of Mukadam in an upscale neighborhood of Pakistan's capital has shone a spotlight on the relentless violence against women in the country. AP Photo via The National (UAE), July 31, 2021)

Within the bleak paranoia of fear and rage, 
My skinny fingers, blemished with 
The ink of denial and self assurance arise, 
To write a crimson letter to patriarchy on behalf of 
Every abandoned dream,
Joy and happiness sitting silently 
In the corner of my shallow ribcage 
I am a human being 
Made of flesh and bones 
Holding a universe in my eyes 
And vortexes of melancholy in the 
Empty spaces of my heart 
I walk, out on the streets and 
Instead of seeing me as an art,
 A masterpiece of God, 
You look at me like a target,
 A billboard of your desires, 
A menu of your favorite 'desi' restaurant 
The ideas I speak of will take you beyond the Moon 
Beyond the horizons of your notions
Beyond the parallel universe 
Up in the sky, far from the heavens 
But you take them as mere blabbering 
Coming out of my cherry lips
 I speak of bare truths, unraveling the lies, 
Dismantling the facade of "Equality" "Women Rights" and 
"Respect for all" you hide behind
Disguising the beatings, the rapes, assaults, 
Unfair treatment, abuse and hurt 
What you actually are,
 I show you in the mirror and you break it with the 
Sledgehammer of your hefty ego
 I open myself, weep and portray my emotions 
And you label me as weak, timid and fragile
Not worthy of the CEO post
But worthy of the low paid teaching job 
In a private school built in the sector of your insecurities
 I mention my joys and sorrows, 
Dreams and goals and you hush me up, 
Telling me my place is in the four walls of home 
Home never felt like home to me, 
Despite of the beatings and screaming of the male dominant members 
Of my household I tried to dwell in it and yet
 I couldn't 
I fill the holes of your toxic words in my soul
With self love taught by my mother
 And yet I fail to do so, for no matter how hard I try, 
How much I become good at something,
You make me feel like I'm still not enough 
You tell me my clothes are made of shame 
With vulgarity knitted on them 
So how will you justify rape now? 
You chain me within the confines of your self-built city of good women
Not letting me go out, seek and discover myself 
Only because I was born with a pair of ovaries? 
Why shall I be told by you what to do with my body 
When you yourself do now own a body 
So exquisite and strong? 
I bear your abusive words, you catcall me on the streets 
When I'm on my way home, minding my own business, 
Thinking about every worse thing that has happened today 
And not even surprisingly,
 You're on top of the list

Zaroya Amjad is a 22-year-old Pakistani writer, blogger, and poet. She recently graduated from Air University, Islamabad and writes for various Pakistani magazines.

Thursday, August 12, 2021


by Sandra Anfang

“Hope and Justice” by David Garibaldi

is not the thing with feathers bickering at the feeder
bullying the finches into flight
nor the Hallmark card, faded from decades of cliché
shoved in the back of the dollar store rack
Hope is not the white dove flying from the open hymnal
like a pop-up book, nor the blond god on 
nana’s closet door smiling from his ruby throne.
It’s not the inscription on the hand-drawn
sign buried in roses at the site of the latest
black man’s murder by the men in blue
nor the Christian Covid patient emoting from
his ICU bed, hoarding oxygen and prayers
while millions of deniers chorus no,
we won’t go to vaccine clinics.
Hope is not the promised land behind
a child’s eyes when she mouths on bended knee
bless mommy and daddy and
all the creatures in the sea.
Is hope the force that pulls us from our beds
when the world seems to have given up?
Is it the hands that brew the coffee, steep the tea
debate existence with our feline friends
hands that kindle the ritual of another day
as if our time were endless here.

Sandra Anfang is a poet, editor, poetry teacher, and visual artist. She’s the author of Looking Glass Heart and Road Worrier (Finishing Line Press, 2016 and 2018) and Xylem Highway (Main Street Rag, 2019) and the founder of Rivertown Poets in Petaluma, CA. Since Covid overtook our lives, she alternates between binging on statistics and walking and writing to allay her fears.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021


by David Feela

California lights up first thing 

in the morning

while Utah brews 

its second cup.

Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado

congregate on the patio

like neighbors, sharing stories

about wind and lightning strikes.

The Marlboro man 

still saddled, staring west,

leans toward sunrise’s glowing tip

and inhales the day. 

David Feela writes monthly columns for The Four Corners Free Press and The Durango Telegraph. Unsolicited Press released his newest chapbook Little Acres in 2019.