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Tuesday, July 05, 2022

THE WIND SPEAKS

by Laurie Kuntz




“I have lost my name and I have lost my reputation.” 
-Ruby Freeman


The wind speaks your name
and carries it into crevices
where only the wind can go
 
far from your calling,
and you find yourself 
begging for the return
of all who called you Lady.
 
Witness your life breaking,
see loss and corruption corralled
in a gust of swirling air.
Struggle to end each day
not with the same stare tasking sadness,
but with a vision of some new thing.
 
Comes a June awakening,
a solstice wind makes chimes spin,
spreads a crimson sheet of plum blossoms over grey streets
and changes your moods, cools an anger,
makes you hear the song of stones sweeping red earth away.
 
You can see a clearing
in the horizon, get a different view
as the wind slaps you in an embrace,
and carries back your name.


Laurie Kuntz is a widely published and award winning poet. She has been nominated for a Pushcart and Best of the Net prize. She has published two poetry collections, The Moon Over My Mother’s House (Finishing Line Press) and Somewhere in the Telling (Mellen Press), two chapbooks, Simple Gestures (Texas Review) and Women at the Onsen (Blue Light Press). Her 5th poetry collection Talking Me off the Roof is forthcoming from Kelsay Press in late 2022. Many of her poems are a direct result of working with refugees in refugee camps soon after the Vietnam War years.  Recently retired, she lives in an endless summer state of mind. 

EVIDENCE

by Bruce Bennett






Glowingly, knowingly 

Cassidy Hutchinson 

Answers the questions 

Revealing it all: 

 

Rudy and Proud Boys 

And weapons and pardons 

And dishes in pieces, 

A smear on the wall. 



Bruce Bennett is the author of ten books of poetry and more than thirty poetry chapbooks. His most recent full-length book is Just Another Day in Just Our Town: Poems New and Selected, 2000-2016 (Orchises Press, 2017). From 1973 until his retirement in 2014, he taught Literature and Creative Writing at Wells College, and is now Emeritus Professor of English. In 2012 he was awarded a Pushcart Prize. He predicted what we were in for in his November 2016 YouTube video, The Donald Trump of the Republic.

Monday, July 04, 2022

THIRTEEN DAYS ON “THE NRA CIVIL RIGHTS CALENDAR”



by Gilbert Allen

Blood On Their Hands _ Anti-NRA T-Shirt by Sarana Mehra

January 1

If the world seems cold

to you, perhaps

you’ve already fired.


January 6

Stop

the Magnetometers!


Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Guns don’t make the world

go round. Guns make

the rounds worthwhile.


Ash Wednesday

Praise the One before whom

thou needest no silencer.


April 1

We inherit our relatives, but

we can choose

our AR-15s.


Good Friday

It is more blessed to grieve

than to reprieve.


Memorial Day

Talk not of wasted

ammunition. Talk instead of those

you’ve wasted


July 4

Believe the worst

about everybody. That way

you don’t have to aim.


Labor Day

My bullets are Teflon.

My burden is light.


Halloween

Every boy

needs a blackbird

to shoot at.


Thanksgiving

Guns don’t kill turkeys.

Turkeys kill turkeys.


December 24

I am the ghost

of Kevlar passed.


New Year’s Eve

Some of us are like cannons: we don’t

like to be pushed, and we’re only happy

when loaded.



Gilbert Allen lives and writes in Travelers Rest, South Carolina. His most recent collection of poems is Believing in Two Bodies.

A PERILOUS YEAR

by Tom Bauer




What fireworks are good enough on any
nation’s holiday? What illumination
is light enough? The light of sweet relief
is the light most creatures seem to love the best.
Where do we find it? Shooting in the streets
and yelling for our rights? Can we ever,
can anyone find peace in war and hate?
How can we feel our best? Ignore the worst?
Paint flowers in the mind? Sell hopes and smiles?
Bring on delightful lies and praise our kind?
It happens, and we never even knew
a flash of light could take it all away.
The long night’s fireworks scream at us all.
We cannot do this anymore. No more.


Tom Bauer's an old coot who lives in Montreal and plays a lot of board games.

7.4.22

by Don Brunnquell


Terrified paradegoers fled the Highland Park, Ill., Fourth of July event after shots were fired Monday. At least six people were dead, more than 40 people were hospitalized and a gunman was at large Monday afternoon after shooting Fourth of July paradegoers from a roof in this Chicago suburb, authorities said. (Photo: Lynn Sweet/AP via The Washington Post, July 4, 2022)


            In the dark times
            Will there be singing?
            Yes, there will be singing.
            About the dark times.
—Bertolt Brecht, “Motto
 
Oh, say can you see, on this day
we celebrate what we used to call
one nation, with liberty and justice
for all, from every mountainside
let us sing all the songs our country
has earned, not only O beautiful
for spacious skies, but the mourning
dirge for today’s dead in Chicago parading
beside us with the children of Uvalde
and the spirit of George Floyd, not only
“Columbia the Gem of the Ocean”
but Woody’s “I Ain’t  Got No Home,”
and with fitting irony This land is your
land, this land is my land, recalling
whose land this really was, every verse
written on the mounds of the old bones.
Perhaps sing “You’re a Grand Old Flag”
not for the flag worship of the title,
but the lines, forever in peace
may you wave, and never a boast
or brag, sing “We Shall Overcome,”
but also the source of its tune,
“No More Auction Block For Me.”
All the songs need to be sung,
then return to “America the Beautiful,”
the closing lines of the second verse,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law. 


Don Brunnquell is a poet working in Saint Paul, MN after careers in pediatric psychology and bioethics.  He is one of the coordinators of the Midstream Poetry Series in the Twin Cities. 

FREEDOM ON FIRE

by Emily Jo Scalzo




Let the flag fly inverted on our 
so-called Independence Day,
a message from the newly chained:
we cannot abide these treasons—
rampart rockets set to kindle
a drought-wracked nation
aflame with hate and greed,
and all the rest no longer 
free to flee conflagration
in the twilight of justice. 


Emily Jo Scalzo holds an MFA in fiction from California State University-Fresno and is currently an assistant teaching professor teaching research and creative writing at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Their work has appeared in various magazines including Midwestern Gothic, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Blue Collar Review, The New Verse News. Their first chapbook The Politics of Division (2017) was awarded honorable mention in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards in 2018.

THE APPROPRIATED FLAG

by William Aarnes




                        a final dispatch from Clemson, South Carolina, June 27, 2022 
 

Fifteen or so white men gather  
on Mondays before dawn 
 
on the intramural field/parking lot 
closest to Death Valley. 
 
Perhaps they’re innocent, 
meeting to pray together 
 
(I’ve seen them all kneel), 
if prayer is ever innocent. 
 
They’ve been a constant for years, 
looking as if they’re training 
 
for something. Sometimes, 
though not this morning, a boy 
 
or two are out here with them. 
They’re in their customary circle, 
 
the Stars and Stripes at the center, 
the emblem of every right               
 
they’re ready to defend. 
They’re talking things over, 
 
likeminded, making sure. 
When the dog and I pass, 
 
a few look our way, polite, 
offering smiling nods.    


William Aarnes is leaving South Carolina.

JULY

by David Radavich



Can we be independent 
together?  It is
 
a contradiction
devoutly to be wished.
 
Parades, floats, marching 
bands, twirling batons,
tricolor costumes,
 
fireworks
in the festive key.
 
Much of our food
is the same—
grilled, between buns,
sided by slaw, beans,
beer and boasting,
 
a ball tossed 
with betting, servers 
bustling as bees.   
           
Ironic how we choose
the same means
to be ourselves
and free—
 
can shared rituals
save a divided land?    
 

Among David Radavich's poetry collections are two epics, America Bound and America Abroad, as well as Middle-East Mezze and The Countries We Live In.  His latest book is Unter der Sonne / Under the Sun: German and English Poems from Deutscher Lyrik Verlag.

Sunday, July 03, 2022

ALL-AMERICAN CANAL

by D. Seth Horton


All-American Canal seen here in Imperial County, California, January 24, 2022. Photo: Matthew Bowler to accompany “Officials doing little as more migrants drown in Imperial County canal,” KPBS, February 8, 2022.


Border Patrol

operator

spotted

All-American

Canal in Calexico

agent

23 seconds

later not

advancing

55 seconds

still struggling

sank

below

canal's current

surface


Author’s Note: This is a found poem sourced from a recent U.S. Customs and Border Patrol media release. It is part of a larger project on resisting Federal interpretations of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. In terms of composition, I deleted most of the original material until I was left with the poem that had previously been hidden within the bureaucratese.  To be clear, I added no words, punctuation, or capital letters to the body of this poem, nor did I change the original word order in any way.  Instead, I simply erased what was in the way and then moved the words that remained into appropriate line breaks. In case readers are interested in comparing this poem against the original source material, they can click here.
 

A writer and scholar focused mostly on the borderlands, D. Seth Horton’s work has appeared in more than forty publications, including the Michigan Quarterly Review and Glimmer Train. Two of his stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His latest book is a forthcoming collection of stories set throughout the U.S.-Mexico borderlands entitled On a NASA Flight to Heaven (TCU Press, 2024). Seth currently teaches creative writing and American literature at the University of Virginia. 

IN DREAMS, DEATH

by Dick Altman




The death toll of migrants who died after they were abandoned in the back of a tractor-trailer that was discovered Monday in San Antonio rose to 53 on Wednesday… —CBS News, June 29, 2022
 
The land of the free...
 
I write this today – in America –
thanks to grandparents who heard
in heart and spirit that phrase echo
in Russian – Yiddish – perhaps
even German – Echo as they escaped
the poverty and oppression of Eastern
Europe in the 1900s – crossed mostly
by foot the continent – to land
at the magic portal of Ellis Island –
opening a door to life that until
this moment existed alone in letter
and rumor and what the mind
conjured as America
 
The land of the free... 
 
From lowlands – highlands – jungles
and shores they came two days ago –
walking – struggling – like my forebears –
this time from Mexico and South America –
leaving mothers and fathers – leaving birth’s
land and language – leaving with visions
that America would somehow – as it had
in the past – open its arms – offer – as it
had in the past – another chance at life –
Except the door – which had for
decades swung so freely – creaked on
its hinges –budging barely an inch
 
The land of the free... 
 
How many times did the refrain echo
in the minds of the sojourners – who –
no longer on foot – stood packed
in an airless – overheated subway
car of a semi-trailer – sworn to open
America’s locked heart – How many times
before the refrain turned from dream into
breathless prayer – How many times –
as one by one – the precious cargo lost
consciousness – calling – screaming
to the heavens – crying out to America’s
indifferent soul
 
The land of the free... 
 
 
Dick Altman writes in the high, thin, magical air of Santa Fe, NM, where, at 7,000 feet, reality and imagination often blur. He is published in Santa Fe Literary Review, American Journal of Poetry, riverSedge, Fredericksburg Literary Review, Foliate Oak, Blue Line, THE Magazine, Humana obscura, The Offbeat, Haunted Waters Press, Split Rock Review, The RavensPerch, Beyond Words, The New Verse News, Sky Island Journal, and others here and abroad.  A poetry winner of Santa Fe New Mexican’s annual literary competition, he has in progress two collections of some 100 published poems. His work has been selected for the first volume of The New Mexico Anthology of Poetry forthcoming from the New Mexico Museum Press.

Saturday, July 02, 2022

WHAT TO TELL CHILDREN WHEN ALL THE NEWS IS SCARY

by Diane Dolphin


“With war in Ukraine, editors help kids cope with scary news.” —News Decoder, February 25, 2022


We have failed you,
utterly.
 
We sold you a fairy tale: Once upon a time,
all children were created equal.
We proclaimed your bodies, your lives
as sovereign. Daughters,
that is no longer true. Black and brown sons,
we know it never was.
 
We have fiddled while the west burns,
the east floods, the poles dissolve.
We watched our elders succumb to pandemic
while we fought over masks. Lost
our children to weapons of death while
we debated the definition of
assault rifles. We wait ­–
we wait—as you are picked off
one by one.
 
Child, the barbarians have breached the gates.
The monster is in your classroom.
Dread seeps into your sleep.
Jabberwock has grown a new head,
is assembling his army of minions.
How can we possibly
console you?
 
You need to grow up,
quickly now. Leave us, the weak-willed
and stunned.
Take up your pen and shield, unleash
your small voices, amass in great numbers.
Demand we step aside.
You are your only hope.


Author’s Note: Above is a poem I wrote in response to the deluge of bad news lately, culminating in the Supreme Court Decision. The poem—and my title—is inspired by the barrage of media articles that always come on the heels of unimaginable news, and which are headlined along the variation of: "What to tell children when the news is scary." 


Diane Dolphin is a poet, writer, and former college instructor from Warwick, RI. 

Friday, July 01, 2022

FOOTBALL GODS ABOUND

by Gary Lark


The Supreme Court said Monday that a Washington state school district violated the First Amendment rights of a high school football coach when he lost his job after praying at the 50-yard line after games. "The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike," Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion.


After the thunder and dash
we have the coach
and his batch of Evangelicals
kneeling at the fifty yard line.

The Wiccan folks are on one twenty
and Muslims on the other.

Down by the east goalposts
there's an Indigenous circle
seeking guidance with peyote.

Over to the west Jains
are trying to avoid the ants.

Sikhs and Jews are having a debate
about the shape of the field.

Eleven Buddhists are chanting
on the east thirty,
Hindus claim the west.

On the track three Mothers
Against Drunk Driving
have given up and are passing a bottle.

The Eckankar crowd are setting up
near the concession stand.

The Crips and the Bloods
are sharing a joint with Spinoza
in the bleachers.

There's a street preacher
practicing his quick draw
when the lights go out.


Gary Lark’s most recent collections are Easter Creek (Main Street Rag), Daybreak on the Water (Flowstone Press), and Ordinary Gravity (Airlie Press). His work has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Catamaran, Rattle, Sky Island, and others.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

ESTRANGED: LINES OF AN AMERICAN EXPAT

by Andrew Frisardi




Our smoldering has turned to smoke
That streaks the sky like contrails spread
Across the sea. Your fertile body
Gave me a life before I woke
To sleepwalk where my dreams had led,
Oblivious there’d been a rift.
Though distant, you still have your hooks
In me. Your plain talk has gone shoddy,
Your ruddy natural good looks
Are faded, yet your undertow
Still raises riptides in my blood.
Marking our continental drift
Apart, our fits of fire and flood
Are all goodbye and half hello.
My mother, my love, our past runs deep.
We don’t know what is going wrong,
To whom or where we now belong,
As we turn and toss and turn in sleep.


Andrew Frisardi is a Bostonian living in central Italy. His recent books include The Harvest and the Lamp (2020) and Ancient Salt: Essays on Poets, Poetry, and the Modern World (2022, forthcoming).

SCREE

by Akua Lezli Hope




The five-justice Supreme Court bloc that overturned a half century of women's abortion rights on Friday had coalesced less than two years. But they had found their moment and they seized it. 
CNN, June 25, 2022


This is insane, jackboot, psychic rape
The Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade
another way the inane U.S. of A
reminds it's not for most of us
already thrown under the careening bus
of a twisted, hegemonic, male patriarchy
 
We’re flattened again into oppressed dust
made to adhere to perverted needs
the worst of pornographic politics
their insatiable soul-robbing greed
to control another’s body
There's no daycare, scant maternity leave,
 
and yes, human trafficking is on the rise… 
 
They are on the take, ensuring innocent’s demise
States have their say over our reproduction
 
Those who don’t give a damn, limit our care
already so much less than what is fair
I pay 5 grand a year for nothing,
fight each and every month for access
to protective gear, bandages, dressings
 
Regressive, life threatening government decisions—
we feel the genteel violence of head in sand inaction
the incessant roar of entertainments’ self-indulgent distractions
who cares if one multimillionaire berates another
 
They build on sliding mountaintops and buy
their own fresh water, their own fresh air
their wild caught this and free range that
we communicate instantly these mounting tragedies
ever less and less and less free


Akua Lezli Hope is a creator and wisdom seeker who uses sound, words, fiber, glass, metal, and wire to create poems, patterns, stories, music,  sculpture, and peace.  A paraplegic, third-generation New Yorker, her honors include the NEA, two NYFAs, SFPA, Rhysling and Pushcart Prize nominations.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

THE FARRIER OF TIME

by Ian Randall Wilson


“Death blue butterfly” by mirrurin at Deviant Art


It's like waking from the dream of an accident
into the accident, real and sure to be bloody,
the day pulling hard from the list of extinct thoughts
suddenly revived after 50 years.
It's easy to be furious with the ones
who read the entrails but ignored
the auguries, secure in their belief
the drum would not beat this day,
forest sending smoke rings back in time,
and yet I find I am furious with myself,
feeling at fault that somehow we let them—
I let them—turn the wheel
so the earth-mind must shift
toward thinking again
about bent wires and blood.
 
Except those endowed enough
to survive the ruins
and make it to the coasts
on damaged wings, the back alleys
will open for business
and the blue butterflies
will once again
die there.  How can it be
that the permanent road
now leads elsewhere?
 
Oh, the six are resplendent
in their black robes pretending
the sunset is not bleak.
They hold up their hands
which they claim are not stained,
the rest of us stand covered in ash.
 
When they entered the pit, they told us
the air was settled, vowed all was settled.
How good of them, how good
for them in their bribed cabins,
their false and active gods arranged,
watering the Chrysanthemum.


Ian Randall Wilson has poems published in many journals including Puerto del Sol and Alaska Quarterly Review. His first full-length collection is entitled Ruthless Heaven. He has an MFA in poetry and in fiction from Warren Wilson College. By day, he is an executive at Sony Pictures.

TWO DECADES BEFORE IT WAS LEGAL

by Sarah Brown Weitzman




Under a morning sky like curdled milk in a blue bowl
my childless friend of 40 years confesses to a 1953 abortion.
 
She was fifteen.  She was a virgin.  She had been beaten.
into submission.  She had been raped.  She gave
 
$100. to an elderly Carribean woman who laid her
hips on a rough, grayed towel, spread her knees apart
 
to stuff a narrow rubber hose cut from an enema bag
and stiffened with a copper strip up into her womb,
 
packed the cavity with wads of cotton, all tied together
by a string like a tampon.  “Tomorrow pull the string
 
and everything will come out.”  Three bright drops of blood
on the towel, the color of induced labor hours later.
 
The wall of her womb pierced.  Peritonitis. Hospital.
Penicillin.  Police.  But she was free of that unwanted child
 
or any child she could never have now.   Her nipples oozed
droplets of sour milk staining her bras for weeks after.


Sarah Brown Weitzman was a past National Endowment for the Arts Fellow in Poetry and twice nominated for the Pushcart Poetry Prize.  A finalist for the Academy of American Poets First Book Award contest and the Foley Prize, Sarah has had poems published in hundreds of journals and anthologies including North American Review, Rattle, New Ohio Review,  Mid-American Review, Poet Lore, Potomac Review, Miramar, The American Journal of Poetry, Alaska Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. Her fifth book Amorotica was published during the pandemic by Main Street Rag.

TO EMBODY THE BREEZE

by Kent Reichert


Samuel Alito; drawing by David Levine


At what point do men sit in judgement on the wind
or declare the light of the sun to be illegitimate?
Who threatens the height of waves upon the sea
or punishes the lightning for its brilliance?
What sovereign governs the mind and body,
imposing only its transitory will upon human essence
until the final physical manifestation
presents itself
to be
ignored and forgotten.

Do we cloak perjury in everlasting robes
and acquit the deception
as a harmless falsehood
enabling the taste of judges we savor,
garbing ourselves in the trappings and vestments of,
"God's will!"
That is, our God's will.

Who sings the elegy
for truth,
now floating helplessly aloft
untethered to reality?

The leader cleans his glasses and smiles
while the useful idiot struts and preens
telling the fawning, faithful masses,
certain in their creeds and dogma,
"I did this!"

Quietly, away from the light of day,
the leader softly phrases his words with hollow lips
intoning with a smirk, "No, I did this!"
"I did it all 
for the sake of power and dominion."

And, in the assembly of self-righteous,
monochromatic males,
Whatever he says is the way
becomes the truth,
and for women,
their lives.


Kent Reichert is a retired educator who believes in the power of words. His work has appeared in The Dead Mule and The Dispatch.

ON CASSIDY’S COATTAILS

by Indran Amirthanayagam




You have affirmed my faith Cassidy Hutchinson
in telling the truth, in speaking it openly before
the camera, in real time, before Congress, before
history and its judgments, before the criminal
watching from his Mar a Lago mansion, before
my children, before all people interested
in seeing the line that cannot and will not
be crossed no matter how many tantrums,
and lunges for the clavicle, and requests
to overturn an election fairly won come down
from the boss, the besotted and dangerous fool
who took control of the powers of state and sought
to make them serve himself first, his acolytes second,
and damn the people, his charge. Damn even
the deranged, armed with rifles, handguns,
spears and flagpoles and bear spray who marched
to stop certification of the US election. Amazing

that we saw this defacement, as Cassidy said,
of our Capitol. Amazing that we got through
that plunder, and are still living and loving
and moving about our United States. We were
driven to the brink. And the violation of 
women’s rights called Dobbs, and the approval
to carry guns in public, and I don’t know what
else, will come out of that radicalized building
on 1st Street NE, but let me speak for the not
silent majority. No more. We will not allow
Januuary 6th to happen again. Not in one day.

Not incrementally with elimination of
our human rights. There is a new day
in America charged, recharged, driven
by ethics, faith in the republic, in
undeniable rights. Morning again
I call it, for the mother and father
of all marches, in America. Not
on the Capitol, but in the conscience
of all our people. for truth, for justice,
for liberty. for the American way
not the highway, not the forked
road, not the Kool aid served
by the deluded prophet in a MAGA hat.


Indran Amirthanayagam's newest book is Ten Thousand Steps Against the Tyrant (BroadstoneBooks). Recently published is Blue Window (Ventana Azul), translated by Jennifer Rathbun.(Dialogos Books). In 2020, Indran produced a “world" record 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 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 and publishes poetry books with Sara Cahill Marron at Beltway Editions.


Tuesday, June 28, 2022

THE CONSTITUTION AND A SPRIG OF RUE

by David Chorlton




     Clarence Thomas says American citizens are seemingly
     'more interested in their iPhones' than 'their Constitution'
 

Because an iPhone knows
the difference between a single-shot musket
and an automatic weapon;
because the Constitution never mentioned
an abortion but if you ask Siri
she will direct the question to a source explaining
the what and how of it; a source
incidentally unavailable in seventeen-eighty-seven.
One little know-all tablet
fitting comfortably in the hand
can tell you where to turn to reach a stated
destination, connect to the latest baseball scores,
and provide a recipe. But even an iPhone
can’t tell behind
which desk a pupil ought to shelter, or
where the emergency exit is
to get away from someone openly carrying.
Its time to reload
the letters in the Constitution’s “chuse”
with the neatly rounded “oo” that brings
choose up to modern usage.
Ask Siri when the wire coat hanger
was invented. She’ll say Eighteen sixty-nine.
For what was used in earlier
times, Benjamin Franklin advised the use
of an abortifacient to resolve
“the misfortune” of an unwanted pregnancy . . .
while an old Sephardic song
tells of Una Matica de Ruda, the sprig of rue
as a gift from the young man
who has fallen in love.


David Chorlton came to live in Arizona in 1978 and always loved the desert. The land has come to be a part of much of his writing, while other aspects of political and social life present more troubling questions. 

TODAY I PLANTED

by Catherine McGuire




Today I planted.
Poked my thumb into thick, unyielding
earth, dropped tiny seeds—
zinnia, sunflower, kale.
Seeds teardrop-size, dry
seeds, brown and dead-looking
seeds too small to count.
I poked and planted; I pulled weeds
that had triumphed on my neglect.
I found I could pull thistle—that monster—
by the base, without harm.
Get the roots. Important.
But plant. Keep planting.
Don’t give up. Ever.


Catherine McGuire is a writer and artist with a deep concern for our planet's future. She has five decades of published poetry, four poetry chapbooks, a full-length poetry book  Elegy for the 21st Century (FutureCycle Press),  a SF novel Lifeline, and book of short stories The Dream Hunt and Other Tales (Founders House Publishing).

BURNING

by Mary Specker Stone




Whenever I make chilli, I use what I find in the refrigerator,
today, two serrano chilis, thirty or so little tomatillos 

from the garden, and some grass-fed beef that’s too tough
for any other purpose than slow-cooking in a chili. Slicing

the serranos lengthwise with my largest chef’s knife, 
I scrape out the tiny seeds and pulp with my index fingernail,

chop them small, not to a mince, but who knows where the line is?
Boiling water loosens the tomatillos’ papery wrappers to allow

me to peel them, cut them in half. My fingers, not yet burning 
as I chop an onion, press a few small garlic cloves, cut open 

the package of ground beef, add all these ingredients 
to the sauté pan. Roe v Wade has been overturned. Liberty,

as in, history of. Herstory, the proper term, the one we used at
the feminist clinic. Yes, I’m thinking about the right to abortion 

as I cook this meal, and my fingers begin to burn. More burning 
as I wash the dishes. The more water, the more burn. That’s how 

capsaicin infuses the flesh. I might have worn gloves to handle
the serranos, but I didn’t protect my fingers with latex, I wanted 

to feel the chilis’ crisp greenness, so I used my bare hands, 
and now, an hour later, I can barely grip the pen for the burning.


Mary Specker Stone’s work has been published in The Gyroscope Review, The Healing Art of Writing, vol. 1, Paradise Review, and Gila River Review. Mary lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, where she works as a spiritual director and facilitates a monthly poetry salon.