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Thursday, September 30, 2021


by Virginia Aronson

Autumn sky unfurls a white cloud balm
between the splash of forget-me-not blues;
the sea's hand welcomes us to calm,
her salt tang warming as it soothes.

Fish chew our feet, nibbling dead skin,
crabs' little pincers that make us laugh;
we wade out, sink, rise up deeper in
the lap of our mother, her womb a bath.

Wide-winged osprey dive down to warn us
over and over their sharp, bitter cry:
destruction from that which will soon engulf us—
ill nature, yes; and we too shall die.

What is so small we know not its weight
building up, amassing—until it's too late?

Virginia Aronson is the Director of Food and Nutrition Resources Foundation. Her novel about food and climate change, A Garden on Top of the World, was published by activist press Dixi Books in 2019. Dixi also published Mottainai: A Journey in Search of the Zero Waste Life.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021


by Alejandro Escudé

‘We must demand that national leaders create a fair and humane immigration system, including a path to citizenship for immigrants, and a safe and fair asylum process for Haitians and all others seeking refuge in the US.’ —Xochitl Oseguera, The Guardian, September 28, 2021. Photograph: Félix Márquez/AP

There are horses galloping 
Within the word, horrible.
Lashing at migrants, 

Centaur on the Rio Grande.

The water parts at first 
To let in the fifteen thousand,
Refugees from Atlantis 

Who bore a hurricane, a quake. 

Children held aloft by mothers 
With earth-bare arms.
I paint the scene for you 

In poetic bronze, a cowboy

Breaking a colt in chaps 
On a corner store in Sedona.
Only this bronze is flesh, 

A border patrol agent in chaps,

Lassoing a sun containing 
The origin of language. 
Syllables like hooves, 

Ten gallon hats, and boots along

The river the color of bronze, 
Dividing a land formed 
Of bodies from the land itself. 

Congo moon, Texas slug. 

Alejandro Escudé published his first full-length collection of poems My Earthbound Eye in September 2013. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis and teaches high school English. Originally from Argentina, Alejandro lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021


by Earl J. Wilcox


So sorry to relegate your obit
to a short poem which might,
but does not, describe your many
roles with other aged stars long gone
along with their contemporaries—
and yours. 
So sorry we don’t even know a single
movie you made, nor do we recognize
most of the stars with which you danced
or lay in bed with or any song you sang
with a catchy tune back in the day. 
The news of the day, alas, is too crowded
with stories about starving kids, murdered
brides, corrupt lawyers, not to mention
floods and droughts and hurricanes
and wild fires and earthquakes...
for us to know how much we’ll miss you.
Earl Wilcox notes with sadness the passing of Jane Powell, Ed Asner, and way too many others to list here, though he will miss them.

Monday, September 27, 2021


by Ken Gosse

Cartoon by Pat Byrnes at Cagle.

They laudit, applaudit,
and so many boughtit—
the Big Lie the former guy nurtured—
they taughtit.
Eschewing all facts,
praising mutinous acts,
so many fools caughtit
and none of them foughtit,
the great pumpkin’s pie in the sky—
AZ Fraudit.

Ken Gosse generally writes light, rhyming verse. First published in First Literary Review-East in 2016, since then by Pure Slush, Spillwords, The Ekphrastic Review, and others. Raised in the Chicago suburbs, now retired, he and his wife have lived in Mesa, AZ, over twenty years with rescue dogs and cats underfoot.

Sunday, September 26, 2021


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

Saturday, September 25, 2021


by Mark Danowsky

Fighting a Losing Battle 8, a print by Alexis Lekat at Saatchi Art

It was so nice to read Butler revisiting Butler—
their change to they for our times

We let some people off so easy
& others we will forever push to the limit

Waiting on the next check
for survival

We are losing our birds
& much more than I know how to notice

I want to save our homeless
more than I want to save children abroad 

The people I know are not pleased
with my ethical quandaries

My city’s beverage tax is abysmal
when we’re debating if 200K or 400K means rich

A credit card notification informs me 
my address falls in a natural disaster location

All signs point to no one coming for aid  

I know it’s tempting to pretend
the worst might be over in 6 to 8 months

Try 10 years of losing
only to lose the nexus of all your efforts

Let the record show I tried

Mark Danowsky is Editor-in-Chief of ONE ART: a journal of poetry, Senior Editor for Schuylkill Valley JournalPoetry Craft Essays Editor for Cleaver Magazine, and a Regular Contributor for VersificationHe is author of the poetry collection As Falls Trees (NightBallet Press) and JAWN forthcoming from Moonstone Press.

Friday, September 24, 2021


by Barbara Loots

Three family members whose bodies were found in the living room of a Glenaire house over the summer all died of natural causes possibly related to the untimely  death of the home caretaker… The family dog was also found dead next to a toilet in the bathroom. Kansas City STAR, September 21, 2021

No one knew it when the old man died.
The uncollected mail, unanswered phone,
untended grass.  Nobody notified
authorities.  He’d always coped alone
with caring for his sister and his mother,
dependent as the dog for food and drink
on one who didn’t want to be a bother
to friends or neighbors.  What are we to think
of this small tragedy?  Whom shall we curse?        
Who counts inconsequential lives like these,
as millions vanish from the universe
from hunger, guns, disaster, and disease?
Humanity has nothing new to learn.
When time has ended, still the stars will burn.

Barbara Loots wonders why we worry when we are all so small in the overall scheme of things.

Thursday, September 23, 2021


by David Chorlton

Unrest #1, a painting by Alyssa Liles-Amponsah

                nobody rich or famous…
                                Richard Shelton

The car in the driveway
has barely a pulse
and the windows don’t let in the light.
The palm trees no longer
aspire to the sky
and the garden hose hangs
on a hook.
Something’s eating the house from inside
say the neighbors,
no one answers the door when
they knock. The ceiling gave way
and a bucket of grief
stands under a hole where
time drips day
after day. The telephone’s hoarse
from repeating
I’m sorry I can’t speak now…,
the doorbell plays a dirge
and every minute makes
a tiny splash as it falls
into the unwashed dishes
in the kitchen sink.
He brought the border home with him,
unrolled it on the floor,
ran it through the kitchen to
the living room and cut
it into strips to hang instead of curtains
at the windows where a light
shone upon every nationality and exposed
the fault line between the rich
and poor. His trash bin
was filled with tailings from a mine
and every day he emptied it and
every next day it was full
again but he kept emptying. When the nails
fell out from where they held
the world together, he picked them up
to hammer back. Meetings.
Petitions. Meetings. Letters.
Meetings. Always somewhere to be,
to drive across town
on the sweating summer asphalt
with the windows down
to save money for gas.
Nobody knows for sure. It was
a mystery. The neighbors didn’t care much
for the man. He kept
largely to himself. Didn’t have a lot
to say. Kept going out, revving up
his car and coming back
then leaving again six
or eight times a day. The lady who lives across
from his house knows; she kept count.
Never really spoke
to him. And he spoke only
when spoken to. He was alone the last
few weeks. Come and go. Feed
the cats. People watched but didn’t know
what they were seeing. Didn’t
ask. Left him alone. And the weeds grew
like secrets in his yard
until one night the moon tipped
on its side, spilling
silver dust onto the moths around it
asking ancient questions
of the passionate light.

David Chorlton is a longtime resident of Phoenix, who continues writing, painting, and keeping track of the local bird life. His newest book is Unmapped Worlds, a collection of rehabilitated poems from his files of the past.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021


by Buff Whitman-Bradley

It is good to know

That in these troubled and confusing times

When old values are under attack,

When what we hold dear 

Is mocked and undermined

By those who have no respect

For the venerable ideals, 

The policies and practices,

Of American democracy

That have stood this nation in good stead

Through trial and tribulation,

Through unrest and upheaval,

Through multiple wars

And challenges to our hegemony,

It is good to know 

That those finely-crafted

Highly developed techniques

Of civil and social discipline

As American as, oh, 

Genocide, slavery, lynching,

Suppression of dissent,

That those undeniably effective,


And invaluable means

Of exercising our rightful authority

Are still in use at our southern border

Where inconsiderate people 

Eager to avail themselves of the advantages

Of this God-favored land

Are being whipped and beaten

To teach them a lesson

About the distribution of privilege

In our world,

About who are the deserving 

And who the undeserving,

About how we deal with those

Seeking to take advantage

Of our famous kindness

And get a free pass to enter

Our sweet land of liberty.

Buff Whitman-Bradley’s poems have appeared in numerous print and online journals.  His most recent book is At the Driveway Guitar Sale: Poems on Aging, Memory, Mortality, from Main Street Rag Publishers.  He podcasts poems on aging at and lives with his wife, Cynthia, in northern California.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021


by Rémy Dambron

A new study in the journal Current Biology has published some stark news: one third of the world’s Chondrichthyan fishes – sharks, rays, and chimaeras – are threatened with extinction according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List criteria. —Forbes, September 15, 2021

They arrive in massive ships
industrialized killing machines perfected 

for the hunt.
Nets stretching far and wide

enough to ensnare an island, 
sprawling from the wakes of the stern like

giant mechanical tentacles 
baited with the flesh of bonita, king mackerel, ladyfish 

eager to grab hold 
of any life form that touches it.

Sea turtles, dolphins
blue fin tuna, birds, even whales

an endless list 
all by the day falling prey 

to the savage entanglement
collateral damage, what they call bycatch.

As if this were somehow normal, 
fisherman reeling in their lines 

knives at the ready
taking seconds to sever the sharks’ limbs,

stacking them up into piles 
like gambling chips on a casino floor 

waiting for the highest bidder, 
who will market them to purveyors 

who will sell them to chefs
who will prepare them for servers

who will present them to fancy diners
high-profile entrepreneurs,

hedge funders and yacht goers,
the power hungry and privileged

plotting the expansion of their empires, 
anxious to boost their status

by flaunting one hundred dollars 
for a bowl of distasteful soup.

While somewhere, off the coast
not far from their lavish banquet

bleeding bodies slide down a ramp
back into the sea from which they were poached 

unable to maneuver.

Hearts still pumping. 
Eyes still watching.

Electroreceptors still firing, 
fully processing the repugnance 

of their own slaughter
as their living remains plummet, 

down into the deep. 

Author's note: It may be hard to find compassion for ocean life when the lives of humans, every day, are being attacked by disease, violence, and unconstitutional legislation. But to dismiss the perils of our environment is to turn a blind eye to a global crisis that, on its own, poses the greatest threat to our collective existence.

Rémy Dambron is an author and activist whose work focuses primarily on denouncing political corruption and advocating for social and environmental justice. His poetry has appeared on What Rough Beast, The New Verse News, Poets Reading the News, and Writers Resist.

Monday, September 20, 2021


by Sister Lou Ella Hickman

                                                            for sister colette


this year 

84 died 

brooks county 


the real death valley  


dropping away 

under the texas sun 

each face  

each name 


like a drop of water 

in the sand 

Sister Lou Ella has a master’s in theology from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and is a former teacher and librarian. She is a certified spiritual director as well as a poet and writer.  Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines such as America, First Things, Emmanuel, Third Wednesday, and new verse newsas well as in four anthologies: The Night’s Magician: Poems about the Moon, edited by Philip Kolin and Sue Brannan Walker, Down to the Dark River edited by Philip Kolin, Secrets edited by Sue Brannan Walker and After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo.  She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2017 and in 2020. Her first book of poetry entitled she: robed and wordless was published in 2015. (Press 53.) On May 11, 2021, five poems from her book which had been set to music by James Lee III were performed by the opera star Susanna Phillips, star clarinetist Anthony McGill, pianist Mayra Huang at Y92 in New York City. The group of songs is entitled “Chavah’s Daughters Speak.” 

Sunday, September 19, 2021


by Amna Alamir

“Barren Wood” by Mindy Newman

Hooded and lonesome, untie 

the shrouds and the clouds that 

walk among you and I will 

gently open inviting you in.

Reach out with tender curiosity 

your fingertips, feign a lasso out 

of heartstrings and I will share 

the taste of the ocean, the many 

travels I have bottled up and 

tossed at perturbed sailors.

Where they turned their backs on me: 

this is night country 

this isn’t right country 

in the blackness I am suffocating 

this isn’t my country. 

My body is changing 

has taken on your culture 

and become momentarily ill. 

There are parts of me 

I had to give up, I lost 

gave to you in exchange 

for your acceptance. 

I covered myself in barberries 

ginger root, cardamom. 

I am a rare sighting, now

beyond the star-shaped stars 

that float like lucid ribbons 

when it is time to die 

the earth shivers. 


Amna Alamir is a Kuwaiti writer who currently studies and resides in the UK. She is finishing up her MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and is pursuing further research on silence, the female voice, and somatic practices. 

Saturday, September 18, 2021


Earl J. Wilcox has been seeing days and nights poetically for The New Verse News for years and years.

Friday, September 17, 2021


by Art Goodtimes

For the first ten years after 9/11
a band of us peaceniks marched our
San Miguel County Seat’s main street
in protest & remembrance
Once a month. Every eleventh
Doves preaching to the peacocks
No permits. Just commish & citizen kin
remembering those who held hands
falling from the Towers like shot duck
Remembering those eagles in uniforms
racing up stairwells intent on rescue
as the crushing hate of true believers
came crashing down on their heads
Remembering America’s lashing out
without true purpose. Invading Iraq
Afghanistan. Predator strikes. Collateral
damage. A nation bent on inflicting
endless terror on endless terrorists
After decades of foreign wars
we peace-marchers kind of lost heart
Chickadees with PTSD. Crows
becoming accustomed to carrion
So industrial Telluride’s unreal
estate bubbles on undisturbed
Now, explains
Capt. Barefoot
lives of peace
our only protest

Parade-master & poet-in-residence at the annual Telluride Mushroom Festival, Art Goodtimes served fives terms as Colorado’s only Green county commissioner. He is currently represented in Congress by U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Rifle).

Thursday, September 16, 2021


by Geoffrey Aitken

Give me some good news 


Give me some good news 


Give me some good news 


Give me some good news 


Give me some good news 


Give me some good news 


Give me some good news 


Give me some good news 


Give me some good news 


Give me some good news 


Give me some good news 


Give me some good news 


“Please sir, can I have some more?”

Cartoon by Alan Moir. Twitter: @moir_alan

Note: The Australian Tax Office has opted not to pursue $180m in jobkeeper paid to ineligible businesses due to “honest mistakes” by employers claiming the money. At a Senate inquiry hearing on Friday, independent senator Rex Patrick said the decision contrasts with the government’s approach to social security recipients, with thousands of individuals asked to pay back money they received during the Covid pandemic. —The Guardian, September 10, 2021

A minimalist industrial signature drives Geoffrey Aitken away from the scene of mental unwellness for the eyes and ears of those without voices. Widely published locally (AUS), and internationally (the UK, US, CAN, CN & FR), he chases ongoing congeniality.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021


by Stephen House

there were initial promises
from the Taliban
to form an inclusive government
there will be no women
in government
women playing sport
is not appropriate
women will be killed
if they commit adultery
LGBTQ people’s mere existence
means an automatic death sentence
LGBTQ Afghans are on the run
fearing they will be stoned to death
under Taliban law
Ahmadullah says
the Taliban beheaded his boyfriend
on the day they entered Kabul
Ahmadullah is in hiding
UN and US warn the Taliban
we are watching you
what will watching do?
there were initial promises
from the Taliban
to form an inclusive government

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.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021


Jerome Betts lives in Devon, England, and edits the verse quarterly Lighten Up On Line. His work has appeared in a wide variety of British magazines and anthologies as well as UK, European, and North American web publications such as Amsterdam Quarterly, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, The Asses of Parnassus, Better Than Starbucks, The Hypertexts, Light, The New Verse News, and Snakeskin.

Monday, September 13, 2021


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.

Sunday, September 12, 2021


by Nicholas Katsanis

An Afghan soldier pops up from his tank to signal a U.S. warplane bombing Al Qaeda fighters in the White Mountains of Tora Bora in Afghanistan on Dec. 10, 2001.(David Guttenfelder / Associated Press via the Los Angeles Times)

The owls and the crows are at war
Embroiled in bitter struggle for control of their dominion
Ill-defined by borders and perceived advantages

The owls are old and therefore wise
Or so they tell themselves to make-belief
Convince their childrens’ children of their superiority
Supremacy of poise and purpose, they persist
Until foibles morph into fact,
Poorly begotten truth whose tangled roots are lost—conveniently—in antiquity

The crows are young, confident, energetic
The skies’ embrace belong to them, they preach
For they are fast and nimble
Intimidating in their murder, or so they teach their children
Schooling them in the virtue of their virility, their singularity of purpose

The owls and crows are at war
Bickering over holes in trees
Despite the endless forest that surrounds them

Beak on beak and claw on claw
They decimate each other’s numbers
Each pointless victory and defeat
Treated by triumphalism and defiance in equal measure

The owls’ corpses are offered eternal absolution
The crows’ mangled bodies heavenly promise of peace and honey
Both declaring divine providence over the Final Rights
Both bereft of true wisdom

The owls and the crows were at war
Embroiled in bitter struggle for control of their dominion
Until the lightning in the forest burned
And the rain fell upon the smoldering stumps

And there was nothing left to war over

Author’s Note: Inspired by the Panchatantra collection of classic Indian fables, this adaptation examines the current/perpetual secular and religious tension in Afghanistan post-collapse.

Nicholas Katsanis is an author and poet of magical realism. You can find some of his micro fiction (50-word stories, stories in 100 words) as well upcoming pieces in Literary Stories and elsewhere (including magazines that do not have the word ‘Story’ in their titles). He lives and works in southern Florida. Follow him on Twitter @nicholaskatsan1

Saturday, September 11, 2021


by Darcie Whelan-Kortan

We heard no sound
as they jumped
from a hundred and more
flights up
Just a simple
of body into air
And from our vantage point
below the smoldering towers
through the lens
to somber houses
across thousands of miles
as they fell
they all looked the same—
no clothes
no faces
no fear
Just a black outline
two arms and two legs
joined in the center
like the wiggling X
of a chromosome
a single, unseen, unnamed
living piece in the code
of who we are
lost forever

Darcie Whelan-Kortan has published in Motherwell and wrote the column Beyond Broken for Literary Mama. She is a featured writer on Medium. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College.

Friday, September 10, 2021


by Ellen Hawley McWhirter

I am the very model of a QAnon conspiracy
Born and bred to foster fear and rampant insecurity
And through the years, you must admit
I’ve gotten rather good at it:
I am the very model of a QAnon conspiracy.
I weaponize the people who feel left behind, and I compel 
their loud attacks on science and on medicine and truth itself.
The stranger that my theories get,
The more that they are shared and spread
‘cause QAnon conspiracies, like COVID, are quite hard to quell.
The Democrats are stealing children underneath your very nose
Selling them and eating them and hardly anybody knows.
You must refuse to vaccinate;
Just drink some bleach and you’ll be great,
And watch out for the Deep dark State our hero Trump tried to expose

The national election it was stolen, it was clearly fraud:
Put Democrats and disagreers all before a firing squad!
The Bible and the Constitution
Call for bloody resolution
Get your guns and bombs, and know that Jesus surely would applaud.
The wearing of a mask is an affront to true civility
The bearing of a weapon anywhere is basic liberty
Mass shootings are a lie perverse,
And climate change is even worse
You must defend these truths with Christian hatred and hostility.
The only threat that worries me is thinking that is critical,
That shows my puppeteering, and is clear and analytical,
Exposes my hypocrisy,
and questions what’s in it for me,
and highlights common ground across our differences political.
Now if you think I’m bragging, it’s just not that hard to play this game
When people are unhappy and are seeking someone else to blame
A rumor and some blatant lies,            
And 1-2-3 you’re polarized,
And Jewish lasers shot from space fan all the sparks right into flame.
I am the very model of a QAnon conspiracy
Fed by anger, ignorance, and hunger for identity
I’m anti-logic, anti-truth,
I’m anti-them and all for you:
I am the very model of a QAnon conspiracy.

Ellen Hawley McWhirter is a professor of counseling psychology and writes poetry to preserve her sanity.

Thursday, September 09, 2021


by Ying Wu

The Taliban fired shots into the air to disperse crowds who had gathered for a rally in the capital, the latest protest since the Taliban swept to power last month. Photo: EPA via Aljazeera, September 8, 2021

Smoke burns our throats in Sacramento.
California is on fire.
Afghanistan has fallen to the Taliban.
I stare into the ashen sun,
and think about the ones who fled—
songs and stories ripped asunder,
flames howling at their doorsteps—
and the ones who couldn’t get out in time—
how beneath this very sun,
some tried to flee, but did not escape—
and the dreams of a generation
annihilated before our eyes—
and the dreamers in hiding,
and the women sent home.
I want to revel in the splendor of the Siskiyous,
but everywhere is haze, shrouding
the sugar pines and ponderosas—
Mt. Shasta erased completely—
and the sun the color of pink lemonade.
Near Ashland, we hike a quarter mile
across dusty, red lakebed
overgrown with cocklebur.
I want to camp beneath the shady oaks,
but the campground’s closed,
and the spigots, shut off.
I want to play guitar
in my folding paisley camp chair,
but a suicide bomb in Kabul has ripped
through the crowds at the airport gates.
I want to swim and shiver and splash
even here in this shrunken reservoir,
but the mud is too thick,
and the water, stagnant—
and the airlifts are ending,
and the bathrooms are locked,
and the treasury is bankrupt,
and the paddleboats, beached—
and thousands have fled,
but millions can’t leave.
A hot, dry wind rustles
the golden grass of August.
What awaits the women and girls
Of Afghanistan?
Women have their own rights,
the Andar district governor tries to reassure,
but his words burn in my ears
like the smoke in my lungs from
the massive infernos
engulfing our mountains.
It has rained at the summit of Greenland’s ice sheet
for the first time in recorded history.
Wells have run dry in central Texas.
The UN “highlights the urgency of climate change,”
a Louisiana senator tries to reassure. 
“But we must avoid policies that rely on…increased regulation.”
How much Islam has given rights to women,
the Taliban tries to reassure,
we will give them that much.
That much.
They’ll give women that much.
While our leaders avoid policies
that rely on increased regulation.
They will give us that much.
While the fires are raging.

Ying Wu is a cognitive scientist at UC San Diego and executive editor of the Kids! San Diego Poetry Annual.  More examples of her work can be found online at Poetry & Art SanDiego, Serving House Journal, Writers Resist, and Poetry Pacific.  Her work is also featured in a permanent installation at the  San Diego Airport.  She leads research on insight, problem solving, and aesthetic experience and lives with her husband and daughter on a sailboat in the San Diego Bay.  


by Indran Amirthanayagam

Eva Millwood holds Brood X cicadas on her property in South Knoxville in this photo at Hellbender Press.

Who recalls Brood X cicadas today, after Hurricane Ida,
earthquake in Southern Haiti, flight of refugees and US military
from Afghanistan? What about the deranged Sri Lankan who
knifed six people in an Auckland supermarket? They have not
expired I read, thank God. Meanwhile, Uncle Gratien went off
to the shade with thousands of others this week in the pandemic.
So how to take stock, to sift through losses: eleven drowned
in New York City basements as Ida roared past, twenty odd
their lungs filled in cars and basements, crushed by trees
in New Jersey, and then in Louisiana, millions without power,
hundreds without homes, various bodies but miracle of miracles,
the reinforced levees of New Orleans held. But then the next
question, for how much longer? And where are sump pumps
today in Home Depot? Can we make sense, God, of these
disparate violations, punishments by wind, fire and tectonic
plates? Yes, I forgot there are thousands of acres and some houses
burning in California. So back towards the future. Where are Brood X
cicadas now, and have they turned into Brood X1? Are they ready
to fly 17 years early just in case the globe cannot cope and needs
another miracle to keep its head above water, above the fire line.

Indran Amirthanayagam produced a “world" record in 2020 by publishing three new poetry books written in three languages: The Migrant States (Hanging Loose Press, New York), Sur l'île nostalgique (L’Harmattan, Paris) and Lírica a tiempo (Mesa Redonda, Lima). He has just published Blue Window (Ventana Azul), translated by Jennifer Rathbun.(Dialogos Books). He writes in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Haitian Creole and has twenty poetry books as well as a music album Rankont Dout. He edits The Beltway Poetry Quarterly and helps curate Ablucionistas. He won the Paterson Prize and received fellowships from The Foundation for the Contemporary Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, US/Mexico Fund For Culture, and the MacDowell Colony. He hosts the Poetry Channel on YouTube.

Wednesday, September 08, 2021


by Martin Elster

GERONIMO the tragic alpaca was dragged from his paddock [on August 31, 0221] and executed by a team of [UK] government officials. The eight-year-old animal, whose plight touched the nation, was shoved in a horsebox and killed with a bolt gun after 25 cops and four Defra [Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] agents descended on his farm. Geronimo, who Defra claimed had TB, kicked out and appeared distressed as he was pulled away with a rope round his neck at Wickwar, Gloucestershire [UK}. His furious owner said the tragic alpaca’s “barbaric” execution was murder. The eight-year-old animal was dragged to his death by a team of “bully-boy” Defra ­officials after he tried to make a last dash for freedom. The Government claims he had TB but Helen Macdonald, 50, said he was perfectly healthy. She previously vowed to “take a bullet” for her beloved alpaca. —The Sun, August 31, 2021

I felt healthy and hardy.
TB? None, for sure!
Why the gun to my head?
Does that make you secure?

Sniffing hay-scented air,
I was glad when I saw
my owner each day;
but condemned by your law,

a scapegoat alpaca,
I paid a big price.
As for your cold heart,
try melting its ice.

Martin Elster, who never misses a beat, was for many years a percussionist with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. His career in music has influenced his fondness for writing metrical verse, which has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies in the US and abroad. A full-length collection Celestial Euphony was published by Plum White Press in 2019.

Tuesday, September 07, 2021


by Terri Kirby Erickson

Floodwater surrounds a house on Sept. 01, 2021 in Jean Lafitte, Louisiana. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images via NPR)

In South Louisiana, every single thing we do is jazz or zydeco.

An old woman sits on her front porch in Jefferson
Parish, smoking a Kool and watching a copperhead
swim past her house. She is wearing her favorite pink
housecoat with the torn pocket, and hasn’t so much
as combed her hair in two days. Three feet above the
water line, she is safe from drowning and unwilling
to be rescued by a neighbor boy who keeps motoring
by in his daddy’s fishing boat and won’t take no for
an answer. She was making a roux when the power
went out, and left the mess right where it sat since it
was clear Ida had no intention of leaving Louisiana
without making a big fuss. BeauSoleil was playing
Zydeco Gris-Gris on the radio before the room went
silent, and that song keeps rattling around her head
while a red, high-heeled shoe lodges against a limb
rising from the torrent, its branches like the fingers
of an arthritic hand. Laughing out loud, she blows
a few puffs of smoke into the muggy air, recalling
a time when most men would have paid cash to see
Rosaline Mayeaux in red stilettos and nothing else.
She squints in the bright sunshine as that stubborn
boy steers the same old fishing boat up to her porch
for what she hopes will be his final run, and hollers
like she is deaf, “You about ready to hit the road,
Miz Mayeaux?” which says it all when it comes to
how much brain power he has going for him, since
no roads are visible after Hurricane Ida turned their
hometown of Jean Lafitte into a bowl of hot soup.

Terri Kirby Erickson is the author of six full-length collections of poetry, including A Sun Inside My Chest (Press 53), winner of the 2021 International Book Award for Poetry. Her work has appeared in “American Life in Poetry,” How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope, The Sixty-Four: Best Poets of 2019, The Sun, The Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, and numerous others. A former resident of Rapides Parish, she has lived most of her life in her home state of North Carolina.