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Monday, January 31, 2022


by Jennifer Davis Michael

Jennifer Davis Michael is a professor of English at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. Her work has appeared previously in The New Verse News and in such journals as Think, NELLE, Raintown Review, and The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. She is the author of the chapbook Let Me Let Go (Finishing Line Press, 2020), and another, Dubious Breath, forthcoming this year.


by Charles Rammelkamp

Ukraine has initiated a defensive strategy for the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, one of the most radioactive places on Earth, which lies on the shortest path between Russia and Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv. Photo: A Ukrainian border guard on a joint patrol with the Ukrainian police inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. —The New York Times, January 22, 2022

“It doesn’t matter if it’s contaminated,
or if nobody lives here,” Yuri declared,
responding to the unspoken skepticism 
in the sheen of the reporter’s dark eyes.
“It’s our territory, our country,
and we have to defend it.”
Shouldering his Kalashnikov, Yuri patrolled 
the snowy fields of the Chernobyl zone;
winter in northern Ukraine.

“I remember reading about the Soviets
parading the children on May Day 
through the swirl of radioactive dust
right after the accident 
to try to make us—and the world—believe 
nothing serious had happened.
Thank goodness I wasn’t alive then.

“Pripyat’s a ghost town now;
used to be the biggest city in the area.
You can still see the old Soviet propaganda –
a sign extolling the virtues of nuclear energy.
‘Let the atom be a worker, not a soldier.’”

Hunching his shoulders, as if to toss away his anger,
shifting the rifle, Yuri went on:
“Now we don’t know 
what will kill us first,
the virus, radiation, or Putin’s bombs.”

Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore, where he lives with his wife Abby. He contributes a monthly book review to North of Oxford and is a frequent reviewer for The Lake, London Grip, Misfit Magazine, and The Compulsive Reader. A poetry chapbook, Mortal Coil, was published in 2021 by Clare Songbirds Publishing and another, Sparring Partners, by Moonstone Press. A full-length collection, The Field of Happiness, will be published in 2022 by Kelsay Books.


by Suzanne Morris

Sergei Ilnitsky, a Russian photographer of the European Pressphoto Agency, won the 2015 World Press Photo First Prize in the General News Category, Singles, for this image of damaged goods lying in a kitchen in downtown Donetsk, in war-torn eastern Ukraine.

Imagine, just
moments before.

No artist could more deftly
arrange these few articles
while conjuring
a still life in Ukraine.

See the embroidered lace curtain
swept aside to reveal
a kitchen table covered in
dainty muslin,

on which are placed
a small bowl of ripe tomatoes,
a lidded porcelain teapot with
poppies on the side; nearby

stout mugs, an empty tin can,
a cutting board with knives.

The view, tilting from above
and to the left,

the artist’s palette dabbed with
simple colors in homespun hues–
vermilion red, salmon pink,
maize yellow, white, gray blue.

Not seen, but understood:
the chairs drawn near,
a hand reaching for the teapot

to fill the mugs 
and slice tomato wedges
for tea

in the midday light
streaming through the 
kitchen window.

What family had sat 
having tea?

Were the children

Did all escape
the bomb,
exploding in near range:

still life impastoed with
shattered window glass
and dust?

But no, a new color,
burnt umber,
spatters the scene;

it soils the table cover and
collects in indentations of
lace flowers and leaves.

A novelist with eight published works, Suzanne Morris began writing poetry in the context of her fiction.  Eventually she shifted her creative focus from novels to poetry only.  Her poems appeared in No Season for Silence - Texas Poets and Pandemic (Kallisto Gaia Press, 2020) and have frequently appeared online in Texas Poetry Assignment.

Sunday, January 30, 2022


by Jane Patten

The process begins—
But confirmation
Will depend
Upon its closeness to the midterms 
Or what it costs to send
A moderate to the court,
Saturn lying opposite
The Sun or
The last of the Super Moon
Shining bright, 
Agreement from the Right
And well-laid plans
To obstruct and strike again.

After retiring and moving to Huntsville, Jane Patten decided to write about her adventures, including growing up in Delaware and her career as a teacher in rural Georgia. Her writings have been published in Out Loud HSV: A Year in Review anthologies, The New Verse News, Reckon Women, and Reckon Honey.

Saturday, January 29, 2022


by Wu “Sacred Bee” Li

A Chinese PLA Xian H-6 jet bomber. China’s air force flew 34 fighter jets, one bomber, two electronic warfare planes and two intelligence-gathering planes into the Taiwan Strait on Sunday. Photograph: Taiwan Ministry Of National Defense/EPA Helen Davidson in Taipei —The Guardian, January 24, 2022

The Red-capped Cock-man has announced the Coming of the Dong .
The Keeper of the Robes is bringing terror to Taiwan.
The heavenly nine doors re-ve-al thirty-nine aircraft.
The coats of many countries kowtow to the Golden Calf.
Sunlight has entered into the Cheat’s craven carven plans.
Incense and hatred round the Dragon spread to many lands.
The Chengdu J-10 fighters, electronic spotter planes,
and the Shenyang J-16 jets roar out enraged refrains.
The audience hears edicts, blue, black, yellow, red and white,
a Phoenix phalanx sent forth by the Secretariat.

Wu “Sacred Bee” Li is the latest anagrammatic pseudonym of a New Verse News regular. This poem draws on a poem from the Tang dynasty by Wang Wei (王維, 701-761). Dong means East.

Friday, January 28, 2022


by Penelope Scambly Schott

BBC Graphic January 26, 2022

Empty bird feeder
starts banging,
keeps banging
against my window.
News report:
troops at borders.
Birds and I
share bad dreams.

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.


by Mel Cápec

BBC Photo January 26, 2022

In a tweet today, poet Ilya Kaminsky reminds us: “People say Ukraine is on the brink of war with Russia. That is not entirely accurate: Ukraine is *already* at war with Russia. Parts of Ukraine are occupied by Russia since 2014. A piece I did at that time might give some context & introduce new poems.”

“Will Russia invade?”
“They better not.”
I now live abroad, far away from the front.
They talk about my country,
I try to act calm
I feel like they always forget where I’m from.
My classmates are angry,
they say they’re afraid…
I don’t think they get it, it can’t be explained.
I’m scared for my friends
who live in Ukraine –
we’re over 18 now, hope they won’t see war terrain.
Tensions are rising,
US sends lethal aid.
It’s gonna be bad, my heart is dismayed.

Mel Cápec is an 18-year-old emerging queer writer. She moved to the Czech Republic from Ukraine. She is now a high school student and would like to pursue a degree in journalism.

Thursday, January 27, 2022


by Bonnie Proudfoot

Members of United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) picket outside the BlackRock headquarters in New York City. Photo: Brendan McDermid/Reuters via New York Magazine, January 20, 2022.

Unionization efforts involving some of the most recognizable names in business have dominated headlines across the United States in recent months. Starbucks workers in Buffalo and Amazon employees in Bessemer, Ala., and on Staten Island have recently moved to unionize, as have workers at an REI store in Manhattan last week. Successful strikes at John Deere and Kellogg have drawn new attention to the state of the labor movement as well. —The New York Times, January 25, 2022

The first tool I ever bought was a hammer
at Western Auto in the Central Park Plaza,
in Buffalo, in 1974. I liked the feel of it,
not too light, not too heavy, oak handle,
a pretty grain. I liked the idea of having
a tool. I wanted to hang posters, to fix things,
a stuck window that needed a tap, a carpet runner
that curled on a stair tread. I liked how the metal head
went tink, tink, tonk as a nail sunk deeper 
into wood. It said power, power, power.
These days, the handle still fits my palm,
the wood has darkened, smooth as skin,
tough as bone, like the forearm of my grandfather,
a union man, steady and tanned, a guy
who’d drop everything to lend a hand
to anyone. When he died, I chose his scroll-saw
and drill, some chisels with steel blades that
I’ve used well and misused, too, by whacking them
instead of tapping, by going against the grain. Nothing
can fix everything, though sometimes I want to be a hammer,
to use extra force to make emphatic the connection
between mind and thing. Sometimes one hit
is not enough, I want to hear a chorus of power, power.
I want to be a chisel, too, a sharp one. A union
can be a hammer, a contract can be a nail,
collective bargaining, shared governance, chisels.
Ideas can be hammered on until they strengthen,
nailed down, or shaved and honed. Power, power.
I’m twenty years older than my Western Auto hammer.
I’m still learning what to try to fix, what tool to choose.
I know the task is the real teacher. When I look out
at this broken world, I still see my grandfather,
his steady arm, his sure aim, how right it sounds
when it all comes together, when it all works. 

Bonnie Proudfoot lives in Athens, Ohio. She has belonged to several unions in her life, most recently the Ohio Education Association. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in online and print journals, and her novel Goshen Road (Swallow Press, 2020) was Longlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction in 2021.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022


by Sister Lou Ella Hickman, I.W.B.S.

“School librarians are professionals dedicated to the education and protection of children while cultivating a thirst for knowledge. We should trust them to do their jobs – while holding them accountable – not subvert their expertise by searching for a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. There are already processes in place if a parent wants to challenge a book that they find inappropriate or have concerns about. These processes are designed at the local level to adjudicate the challenges because one size does not fit all when it comes to education. The state should respect the local processes in place in Texas.” —Texas Library Association, January 20, 2022. Photo by Getty; Adam Maida at "This Is a Shakedown: Texas has a book-banning problem" by Emma Sarappo at The Atlantic, December 9, 2021

deep in the heart of texas 
there is a bonfire of books 
burning words  
like witches 
there is no white heat   
no smoke 
but still they burn 
in their sealed boxes 
by those who would coffin thought 
those who would scatter the ashes 
what is written on paper 
is also written in stone 

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 The New Verse News as 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 the 92nd Street Y in New York City. The group of songs is entitled “Chavah’s Daughters Speak.”


by David L Williams

Cartoon by Nick Anderson at The Week

A Republican state lawmaker has launched an investigation into Texas school districts over the type of books they have, particularly if they pertain to race or sexuality or "make students feel discomfort." State Rep. Matt Krause, in his role as chair of the House Committee on General Investigating, notified the Texas Education Agency that he is "initiating an inquiry into Texas school district content," according to an Oct. 25 letter obtained by The Texas Tribune… His list of titles includes bestsellers and award winners alike, from the 1967 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron and Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates to last year's book club favorites: “Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot” by Mikki Kendall and Isabel Wilkerson's Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.The Texas Tribune, October 26, 2021

The Brahmin cried, ‘I found a corpse inside
My mind, and gave it decent burial
To finally start the journey of my life
That had to wait until I became equal.’

I learned of this while reading a great book
I’d heard so much about, and now at last
Am disappointed at how long it took
To broach deep inequalities from Caste.

I doubt the author will raise much complaint
My paraphrasing that self-reformed Brahmin
Who boldly cast away the lifelong taint
He felt from having had to wear an emblem

Of how this hierarchy in history
Inflicted untold horrors and misery
Which still continue to the present day
Enslaved as mudsills in the USA.

Editor's Note: In quotation marks in stanza one is a paraphrase adapted from the words of a Brahmin quoted by Isabel Wilkerson on page 364 of Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. Minor adaptations by the poet create here a sort of “found poetic stanza.” For more on Wilkerson's book, see her NYT Magazine piece "America’s Enduring Caste System" and Sunil Khilnani’s New Yorker review, “Isabel Wilkerson’s World-Historical Theory of Race and Caste.”

David L Williams is recently retired from 34 years teaching high school English in Lincoln, Nebraska, his primary residence since he went to college there in the 80s. His poetry has mostly been written since May of 2021, and he has only recently started trying to publish, with success already in several journals.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022


by Eileen Ivey Sirota

Surveillance video shows a Black 17-year-old struggling with staff at a Wichita juvenile center last fall before his death, which followed being restrained facedown for more than 30 minutes. Late on Friday [January 21, 2022], Sedgwick county released 18 video clips of what happened before Cedric Lofton (AP photo above) was rushed to a hospital on 24 September. He died two days later. The release of the clips followed the announcement by the Sedgwick county district attorney, Marc Bennett, that the Kansas “stand-your-ground” law prevented him from pressing charges because staff members were protecting themselves. Bennett said he struggled with whether an involuntary manslaughter charge was justified, but concluded it was not. Sedgwick county’s webpage crashed after the video was posted. —The Guardian, January 22, 2022. Videos are available at The Wichita Eagle.

what can grow
in this salty pool
that does not bring back
a single Emmett or Ahmaud
that does not cleanse
so much as one tainted tree
this sterile balm
useless as nipples on a tomcat:
white woman tears
Eileen Ivey Sirota is a poet and psychotherapist, the author of a chapbook, Out of Order, published by Finishing Line Press in 2020.  Her poems have also appeared in Calyx, Ekphrastic Review, District Lines, The New Verse News, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, and Voices: The Art and Science of Psychotherapy.

Monday, January 24, 2022


by Mary K O'Melveny

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, was one of the world’s most famous peace advocates, philosophers and poets. He developed the concept of “engaged Buddhism” and worked actively to bring an end to the tragic American war against Vietnam and bring aid to its victims, without taking sides in the conflict. He lived in exile in France for many years and returned to Vietnam in 2005. He wrote more than 100 novels, books of poetry, short stories, essays and religious philosophy treatises, including Vietnam: Lotus in a Sea of Fire, Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet, and The Miracle of Mindfulness. He died on January 22 at the age of 95 at a Buddhist temple in Hue. Kham/Reuters photo accompanying January 23, 2022 “Thich Nhat Hanh obituary” at The Guardian: Thich Nhat Hanh at the Non Nuoc pagoda, north of Hanoi, Vietnam, in 2007.

is the light that shines through
each thought, each act, each breath,
each miracle that makes our world
alive    present   comprehensible
each breath forms a bridge
between our body and our mind 
heart and touch   sight and vision
knowledge and understanding
if we sit  as Buddha might sit
inhale   exhale   inhale    exhale
we learn from each leaf  each egret
each flowing river  each drop of rain
if we walk as if our feet
seeded flowers  our earth transforms
each day is the only day given
to make our peaceful pathway
each part of us  is part of all
each idea   each action    bears our name
hope will make each day bearable 
then we can begin to save each other

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 most recent poetry collection is Dispatches From the Memory Care Museum, just out from Kelsay Books. 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.

Sunday, January 23, 2022


by Terri Kirby Erickson

Beyond the snow-laden hill and ice-covered
field, ancient oaks are raising their bare limbs
toward a sky marbled with clouds. Gilded by
a sun we cannot yet see, they look fixed to the
firmament, their shifting so subtle it seems as
if these clouds might never move again, as if
time itself has stopped and winter has come
to stay. I would not mind it. It is cozy here by
the fire, watching the day begin through panes
of glass, my hair busily turning white, my body
grateful for its rest. I never thought of growing
older, imagined I would look and feel the same
forever. But the decades fly by, and now winter
seems to suit me best. There is nothing I need
to do and no place to be. A good book is open
on my lap, and my husband of thirty years is
just up the stairs. I can see the little boy next
door already sledding with his mother. He will
remember always how it felt to zoom down the
steep bank with the person he loves best in all
the world—both laughing, faces red from the
cold. Meanwhile, oaks that will never again be
saplings, hold within themselves the memory
of spring. And the winter sky that was, only
moments ago, filled with gilded clouds, has at
last allowed them to drift ever so slowly away.

Terri Kirby Erickson is the author of six 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 numerous publications, including "American Life in Poetry," Atlanta Review, ONE ART, Poet’s Market, The Broad River Review, The Sun, The Writer’s Almanac, Sport Literate, Verse Daily. Her awards include the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize and a Nautilus Silver Book Award. She lives in North Carolina.

Saturday, January 22, 2022


by Ron Riekki

“Guantánamo is probably the number one recruitment tool 
that is used by these Jihadist organizations.” 
“Don’t tell me it doesn’t work. 
Torture works, 
OK, folks?  Torture— 
Half these guys [say]: ‘Torture doesn’t work.’ 
Believe me, it works. Okay?” 
6,000 people work at Guantánamo. 
Close to 6,666 people work at Guantánamo. 
Roughly 6,666 people work at Guantánamo. 
9 people killed at Guantánamo.  Roughly. 
A cardiac arrest at Guantánamo.  Roughly. 
A death by cancer at Guantánamo.  Roughly. 
Seven suicides at Guantánamo.  Roughly. 
Rags in the throats of the suicides.  Yes, rags. 
Rags in the throats of the suicides?  Yes, 
rags in the throats of the suicides. And eyes? (See
cages.) Go Geronimo with this Guantánamonow.
Called Gitmo, if you twist the language, if you 
distort the language, if you torture the language, 
then it becomes GTMO.  Git, an unpleasant 
or contemptible person.  “That mean ol’ git.” 
Don’t call him that.  What should I call them? 
You will call them ‘detainees;'
you will not call them prisoners. 
They will call out for their mothers, call 
out for their grandmothers, call out for their ancestors. 
You will not call them children; 
You will call them ‘juvenile enemy 
combatants.’  They will not be allowed 
to call home.  On the outside, it’s supposed 
to say HONOR BOUND, but it looked like 
HORROR BOUND the first time I saw it. 
We spend 5.6 billion dollars on Guantánamo.  
And 5.6 billion less synapses after 
chronic traumatic encephalopathy. 
Difficult to count after traumatic brain injury. 
6,000.  666.  9.  3.  1.  0.  0?  Mouthlike, but 
you don’t call out for your mother when you’re dead. 
You don’t call out for your ancestors 
with a rag in your throat.  Rage.  Honor, 
beating, hooding, waterboarding, bound. 

Ron Riekki co-edited Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice (Michigan State University Press).

Friday, January 21, 2022


by Rudi E. Welec, “Abs”

Although detainees must sleep in cramped cells on cement floors,
and though they must wear shackles with their numbered uniforms,
and though repression crosses Xinjiang’s pale locked-down sky,
the corporate industrial complex won’t bat an eye.
Although Hong Kong was once a base of civil liberties,
and though the communists crush those who want democracy,
and though the people now are jailed, practicing free speech,
the corporate industrial complex won’t say a thing.
So now in Beijing, the Olympic Winter Games go on,
supported by Proctor & Gamble, Visa and Bridgestone,
Intel, Allianz, Coca Cola, and Airbnb…
The IOC states it will be still aired by NBC.

Rudi E. Welec, “Abs,” is an irregular pseudonym for a NewVerse News regular.

Thursday, January 20, 2022


by Steven Croft

In twilight we stare into our deaths
like we are the coming darkness

Our harrowed babies cry
but we dare not sing to them

The flour is gone in days
even tea is scarce

Our colorful dresses long hidden
or already burned for warmth

A bird calls a melody from a snowy tree
like joy trapped by the coming darkness

Warlords with stern faces walk the streets
with whips, rifles,

Whip-march a head-bent man with hands
bound behind by thick layers of rope

They tell us we have now what the hands
of the people have earned

And there is nowhere else to go, just
a cold valley, hill passes snowed for winter

If allowed to sing, we would moan a dirge
now even the night-bird is quiet

Nowhere is even a seed of relief
markets, kiosks, shops, silent and empty

They say our sins haunt us now—
girls wanting work and education

In the cold schools boys recite the Quran

But how many times, O Knower of the Unseen,
until all our sins are erased

In our dreams of spring we see green trees
goat's milk and markets full of vegetables

In our dreams of spring we dance and sing
in our colorful dresses

Steven Croft lives on a barrier island off the coast of Georgia. He is the author of New World Poems (Alien Buddha Press, 2020).  His poems have appeared in Willawaw Journal, San Pedro River Review, The New Verse News, North of Oxford, Anti-Heroin Chic, Soul-Lit, and other places, and have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022


by Devon Balwit

The Biden Administration to Begin Distributing At-Home, Rapid COVID-⁠19 Tests to Americans for Free. Americans can order a test online HERE

It’s just a cold, we say. We’re feeling fine.
But want to reassure, so swab away—
Another rapid test without a line.
The tests are nearly impossible to find.
We call around or treasure hunt all day.
It’s just a cold, we say. We’re feeling fine.
We hide our coughs from those who’d mind.
But none of us can forego pay.
Another rapid test without a line.
The law now makes tests free—how kind—
but where to find them? Hunt and pray.
It’s just a cold, we say. We’re feeling fine.
We’re three years into this new grind—
Vaccinated, boostered—the whole array.
It’s just a cold, we say. We’re feeling fine.
Another rapid test without a line.

When not teaching, Devon Balwit chases chickens in Portland, OR. Her most recent collections are Rubbing Shoulders with the Greats [Seven Kitchens Press, 2020] and Dog-Walking in the Shadow of Pyongyang [Nixes Mate Books, 2021]. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2022


by Indran Amirthanayagam

Yes, I pray now to God, to Francis
whose name I took at Confirmation,
to the Pieta in whose lap I lie, to my
mother determined to bathe despite
her failing legs and fear of the night.
who recalls the pride with which
we were taught to reply to scissors
and knives of the outrageous
and bigoted, who say that we
do not belong on this side of
the river, on the red carpet,
in the ceremony of democracy.
We will not cede. We will not
be overcome. We will not
despair. We are going to keep
our seat despite the pandemic,
the supply chain hijacking,
the wild fires, because God
will observe the proceedings
once again—this my faith—
to keep us from falling off
the flat end of the other party's earth.

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.

Monday, January 17, 2022


by Jen Schneider

sets on. lights bright. everyone wild. wild about white. all bets on betty. betty always on. leg of hose & humor on tap. eyes of blue & berry sparkle. body & mind of pure spunk. cameras click. lights blind while white binds. folks of television lands. card hands & foreign tongues. tongues click. vocal cords clack. white cures airs of silence. heir to all. syllables stream. smiles crack. baby blues sparkle. betty curates & creates. aches of bellies & bent backs arc. laughter always on the menu. dial in. dial on. of/with/at your back. always streaming. of decades. of then. of now. flashes of brilliance. beltways of brightness. of dolls & decades. of danes, dances & daily documentation. of golden girls & mary tyler moore. everyone always eager for more. regimens & irregularities. broads on main. saturday night brilliance. live on stage (& social). expert at both crafting & creating a life. time to mourn. time to adorn. under the lights. lights bright. sets on. everyone wild. wild about white.

99 (by three) ways to make (live) (transform) a life

1.     Entertain all people, possibilities, & permutations. Ration sarcasm.
2.     Track consumption not weight. Weigh options. Seize opportunity.
3.     Track actions, not time. Treasure time & tunes of many types (& transcripts / scripts).
4.     Experience & experiment with life, love, laughter. Liquid humor, too.
5.     Season all sauces. Secure all seasons (& reasons).
6.     Breed offspring of original lines. Converse (& traverse) lines of unoriginal origin.
7.     Maximize sauciness. Minimize saltiness.
8.     Memorize scripts regularly. Make new memories daily.
9.     Prime personalities & timing. Always of/on prime time.
10.  Improvise finales. Rehearse final lines.
11.  Glow (like a Golden Girl). Emulate (like a multi-Emmy winner).
12.  Collect & create (a life on high definition). (re)Create. Juxtapose. Pose often.
13.  Patron (not patronize) all personalities. Puree peculiarities & ponderings.
14.  Befriend & pet creatures of many paws. Pause often. Inhale. Glow. Regale.
15.  Pen recipes of craft & creation. Greet consumers of/on/in People & Parade.
16.  Serenade serendipity. Harmonize habits. Habituate harmony.
17.  Entertain all possibilities. Entertain all people. Populate screens. Screen popularity.
18.  Track actions. Not time. Treasure time & tunes of many types.
19.  Experience & experiment with life, love, & laughter. Favor foods of familiar roots.
20.  Embrace final words & works. Take action & agency. Work finales.
21.  Grace plates, tubes, & presents. Maintain presence of mind and manners.
22.  Practice gratitude. Tether caution. For/of/in/at duties. Projects, too.  
23.  Be of homegrown grains & household grime.
24.  Assess all situations. Situate all communications. Savor sitcoms.
25.  Twinkle under stars, in eyes, of curtseys. make light of most makings.
26.  Stroll across stages. Put pen to paper. Pamper pets in pens.
27.  Add a dose of sass to all sensations (& creations)
28.  Be curious. Be courageous. Be(t) on/of/for betty.
29.  Mix & mingle. Sip sweet & salty. Stir trouble. Add dashes of umph.
30.  Blanket newsstands. Blanket screens. Fill in (all) blanks.
31.  Run series. Run bits. Run betty.
32.  Plan jokes of spontaneous & unpredictable possibility. Do not plan. Be.
33.  Be (dedicated to thee) betty.


Jen Schneider is an educator who lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Pennsylvania. She is a Best of the Net nominee, with stories, poems, and essays published in a wide variety of literary and scholarly journals. She is the author of A Collection of Recollections (Next Chapter), Invisible Ink (Toho Pub), On Daily Puzzles: (Un)locking Invisibility (forthcoming, Moonstone Press), and Blindfolds, Bruises, and Breakups (forthcoming Atmosphere Press).

Sunday, January 16, 2022


by Geoffrey Philp

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued level 4 and level 2 travel advisories for Jamaica which sees them strongly warning against travel into the country due to several factors including Covid-19 and violence which has plagued some areas. —YardHype, January 12, 2022. See also CDC, January 10, 2022

The CDC has updated their travel advisory
to Jamaica due to crime, the spread of Covid,
and a lack of police presence in the county.
They’ve suggested avoiding public buses or secluded
places and added to statistics of robberies and break-
ins, a rising positivity rate. Fully vaccinated,
boostered, and up-to-date on flu shots I’ll take
my survival odds on the island this winter.
You see, America, I need a long-deserved break
from my daily rehearsal of answers to policemen
with the tiresome, “Who are you? Why are you here?”
usually by some rookie hoping to make his bones
with an exotic trophy in the trunk of his squad car
where he’ll pose with his first kill of the New Year.

Geoffrey Philp is the author of five books of poetry, two collections of short stories, three children’s books, and two novels, including Garvey’s Ghost. His poems and short stories have been published in The Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse, sx salon, World Literature Today, The Johannesburg Review of Books, The Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories, Bearden’s Odyssey Poets Respond to the Art of Romare Bearden, Rattle: Poets Respond, and Crab Orchard Review. A recipient of the Luminary Award from the Consulate of Jamaica (2015) and a former chair for the 2019 OCM Bocas Prize for Poetry, Philp’s work is featured on The Poetry Rail at The Betsy—an homage to 12 writers that shaped Miami culture. His next collection of poems, Archipelagos, is forthcoming from Peepal Tree Press.

Saturday, January 15, 2022


by Tricia Knoll

As a forecast this seems like calling for mayhem
until the front moves in and the silence of snow
licks every branch and sticks to each twig’s gesture. 
The goldfinch and nuthatches retreat from the feeder
to unseen hideouts. The dogs yawn, and I succumb
to a sleepiness at odds with the morning news
of those who call for civil war, the skyrockets
of corona deaths, projections of costs in trust
and cash. The silence of falling snow deepens
inch by inch above the ice slick the rain gave 
first. Slow gather and the flurry of politicians
with papers and proof seeking. Such sad news
in accumulations inch by inch by inch. 

Tricia Knoll is living out the series of wintry mixes in Vermont where the forecast calls of windchills of -20 in the next few days. Her new chapbook Let's Hear It For The Horses is available February 1, and the horses outside down the road during the day  are all wearing heavy blankets now.

Friday, January 14, 2022


by Earl J. Wilcox

Baseball labor talks to end the lockout resumed Thursday for the first time in 1½ months with little evident progress during a bargaining session that lasted about an hour, jeopardizing a timely start to spring training. Major League Baseball imposed the lockout on Dec. 2 as soon as the five-year collective bargaining contract expired, a few hours after talks broke off. —Los Angeles Times, January 13, 2022

Your tinny voice throws me off.
You stand slightly slumped holding
a baseball bat. Your face is a bit
out of focus though my macular
eyes make most pictures seem dim.
I have trouble figuring where
you and I are: a ball park, a small
dugout, perhaps just a dirt yard,
the kind I know well from childhood.
We sit very close. I see the bat, its
stark beauty of slightly tanned oak
or is it maple or some wood I see only
in my dreams. We chat, but I cannot tell
what we say. Man, your quirky smile
radiates warmth through shaded
teeth of twilight in dreamland.
You talk a lot about a pitcher’s
knuckleball you once hit. I mumble
a reply and just want to know more
about Enos or Gibby—and the lockout.
You shrug then take a sliver-looking
candy bar from your pocket. You put
the bar in your mouth, blow, cheeks
slightly puff out. I feel & hear a wail
sounding like Wabash Cannonball
or an old gospel tune clearly off-key.
My Alexa gently nudges me with music
and some NPR news, mid-January morning.

Baseball lovers all will have no trouble puzzling out who appeared in Earl Wilcox’s dream.

Thursday, January 13, 2022


by Tom Bauer

E.O. Wilson, famed entomologist and pioneer in the field of sociobiology, dies at 92.

It’s safe to say. It's like the species does
what others do, but quickly, consciously,
aware of what it does while doing it,
like caterpillars on the dying edge;
the lava comes, the inner circle’s safe;
above it rains, they’re safe below, beneath
the layers of others, those who will go first,
who'll dive off leaves into the drowning ground.
The finest traits in all the kingdom are
amassed and ready in the mass, to move,
adapt, the speed of thought, instant meta
class of entity, biology, human,
bipedal feces-maker, building wide
a grand estate of armor-plated lies.

Tom Bauer grew up playing violin and listening to spoken word recordings. When he was ten, he rashly announced he was going to be a poet. He did a bunch of university and stuff. He's had some poems published. He lives in Montreal and plays board games.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022


by Gary Glauber

This undated photo shows special education teacher Jennifer Graves, at Dr. Reginald Mayo Early Childhood School, in New Haven, Conn. When her classroom aide didn't show up for work and no substitutes were available for the day because staffing levels have been decimated by the surge in COVID-19 infections, she borrowed paraprofessionals from other classrooms for short stretches to get through. (Courtesy Jennifer Graves via AP) —US News, January 6, 2022

We ask them to identify global issues
at a time when their own lives are the global issue,
when identity comes masked and at a remove
measured and circumscribed for safety
according to the latest recommendations.
This remains a social place, as it must,
where exchanged ideas ignite the fires
that fuel internal growth alongside 
the social and the physical, and we bear witness
daily to the awesome and real act of becoming.
Now we are in a prolonged fugue, a limbo
wherein they better grasp the repetitive hopes
of Vladimir and Estragon, awaiting further instruction.
As news brings forth each sobering tidal wave
of rising numbers, it grows harder to pretend.
Every week brings a new normal.
Haggard-looking administrators roam hallways
with official clipboards of doom,
asking four questions to trace
the trails of those not virally passed over.   
And all the while we take attendance,
having learned to smile with our eyes,
and dispense daily lessons that pale
against these larger life lessons
that challenge and instruct us all.
Here in our smart modern classrooms
we muster the safest havens we can manage,
sharing screens and hearts and minds,
knowing that with each period’s gathering
comes a strong dose of social healing.
All pandemics come to an end,
the wisdom of the ages suggests.
Yet until that ancient saw becomes reality,
there’s a remedy called the classroom
that brings the dream closer, uniting us in wisdom.
With this new world comes higher order questions 
that Bloom’s taxonomy never considered.
Through shared crisis come unmasked truths:
together we feel shared love that helps us through
what often seems these most trying of times.

Gary Glauber is a widely published poet, fiction writer, teacher, and former music journalist. He champions the underdog while negotiating life’s absurdities. He has four collections, Small Consolations  (Aldrich Press), Worth the Candle (Five Oaks Press), Rocky Landscape with Vagrants (Cyberwit), and most recently, A Careful Contrition (Shanti Arts Publishing); and two chapbooks, Memory Marries Desire (Finishing Line Press) and The Covalence of Equanimity (SurVision Books), a winner of the 2019 James Tate International Poetry Prize. A new collection will be forthcoming soon from Sheila-Na-Gig Editions.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022


by Katie Kemple

We placed the blue trash can
and the green recycling bin
filled with the detritus
leading up to Christmas
in front of our townhouse
garage, like we always do,
and our neighbors too, and
they stayed there, all the way up to
and well past Christmas,
past New Years. The brown
cardboard boxes of mail-ordered
gifts stuck their tongues out
at us, papers glued like stickers
to the pavement courtesy
of the rain, and the sanitation
drivers never came. The neighbors
built cities of empty boxes.
Shrimp skins haunted us.
We wore yesterday's diapers.
The CEO of the sanitation
company makes 154 times
the pay of his average employee:
twelve-million dollars a year. 
Crows swung down to feast
on the new year's abundance. 

Katie Kemple (she/her) is a poet, parent, and consultant based in San Diego. Her work has appeared recently in Longleaf Review, The West Review, and The Shore Poetry

Monday, January 10, 2022


by Shirley J. Brewer

The funeral for a 14-year-old girl struck by a stray bullet fired during a police shooting at a North Hollywood clothing store is scheduled for Monday in Gardena, family attorneys said. The funeral for Valentina Orellana Peralta is scheduled for 11 a.m. at City of Refuge Church. The Rev. Al Sharpton will officiate and deliver the eulogy, family attorneys said in a statement. Valentina was shopping for Christmas clothes Dec. 23 when she was struck by a stray bullet fired by Los Angeles police who opened fire on a man attacking shoppers. A bullet went through an exterior wall of the dressing room and struck the girl, police said. —NBC Los Angeles, January 5, 2022

Growing up, I spent hours in dressing rooms
not much larger than an upright coffin,
lined with hooks and distorted mirrors—
my mother and I in such close proximity
the space felt like a birthing place.
Every zipper resembled an umbilical cord
I longed to slice in two.

Buried under a cluster of plaid skirts,
ugly corduroy pants—I ached for fresh air.
Holiday sales or back-to-school bargains
signaled dread. It wasn’t all torture.
Mom’s agony while squirming into
stiff girdles and voluminous brassieres
stirred laughing fits I could not suppress.

“Hold these pins,” she’d say
as I doubled over, spilling my M&M’s.
Sometimes we both dissolved in giggles.
Prom time called for battle tactics,
Mom fighting off the billowing crinolines,
eyeing bust and hem before the price tag.
She earned her corsage.

Looking back, I recognize the miracle—
how my mother and I emerged alive
from a thousand dressing rooms, how we walked
together into the safe burst of afternoon light.

A recent Pushcart nominee, Shirley J. Brewer serves as poet-in-residence at Carver Center for the Arts in Baltimore, MD. Her poems appear in Barrow Street, Comstock Review, Gargoyle, The New Verse News, Poetry East, Slant, among other journals and anthologies. Shirley’s poetry books include A Little Breast Music (2008, Passager Books), After Words (2013, Apprentice House), and Bistro in Another Realm (2017, Main Street Rag). Shirley was a 2020 guest on The Poet and The Poem with Grace Cavalieri, broadcast from the Library of Congress.

Sunday, January 09, 2022


by Barbara Simmons

“In the weightlessness of space.” Oil on canvas painting by Anastasia Balabina (Ukraine).

We tell ourselves stories in order to live. —Joan Didion

What were the stories that seemed mental U-turns,
that needed returning to, never ending?  At year’s
end, 2021’s review heralded tales most told,
the big look back compactly written,
the headlines sculpting what had happened
into what we should remember.
I’ve skimmed the stories alphabetically, but find the letter C
for COVID is my alpha, tireless virus with infinite variations. I 
flip quickly to the Fed, to China, climate, revivals
on Broadway, deaths we expected someday, but maybe
not this year, like Didion’s, Sondheim’s, Tutu’s.
The story I return to most takes me on SpaceX travels,
finding weightlessness a way to reconstruct my sight,
no longer lineated up and down,
but now a new fluidity, a chance to stream myself beyond
the time and space of just one journey,
just one life, to understand how we are multitudes,
how we are singular, how we are both chorus, soloist, conductor
in a musical rendition of this year reviewed
and what we need most is to listen to stories we’ve composed,
and play
and play
and play
until we fully hear.

Barbara Simmons grew up in Boston, graduated from Wellesley, and now lives in San Jose. As a secondary school English teacher, she loved her students who inspired her to think about the many ways we communicate. Retired, she savors exploring words as ways to remember, envision, celebrate, mourn, always trying to understand human-ity. Publications have included Hartskill Review, Boston Accent, The New Verse News, Soul-Lit, 300 Days of Sun, Writing it Real, Capsule Stories: Isolation Edition, and OASIS. Her book of poetry Offertories: Exclamations and Disequilibriums will be published in Spring 2022.

Saturday, January 08, 2022


by Geoffrey Aitken


the cat
our predatory
household favourite
cannot change
its spots

the cuttlefish
the octopus
and the squid
like the chameleon
can change colour

the automobile

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.


by John Whitney Steele

NASA’s Retiring Top Scientist Says We Can Terraform Mars and Maybe Venus, Too —The New York Times, January 2, 2022

Imagine the red planet with an atmosphere,
replete with plants and animals. It isn’t hard to do. 

A couple billion years ago Mars lost its air,
its water too, and so it is no longer blue.

But should we choose to live there, we could change it,
claims NASA’s top scientist. All we’d have to do

is terraform the planet—that goes for Venus too.
Put up a magnetic shield, block the sun, retain

more heat, and watch Mars turn from red to blue.
The solar system’s ours. Imagine life on Mars 

while back on planet Earth we churn out CO2.

John Whitney Steele is a psychologist, yoga teacher, assistant editor of Think: A Journal of Poetry, Fiction and Essays, and graduate of the MFA Poetry Program at Western Colorado University. His chapbook The Stones Keep Watch was published by Kelsay Books in 2021. His full length collection Shiva’s Dance will be released in 2022. Born in Toronto and raised among the pines and granite cliffs of Foot’s Bay, Ontario, John lives in Boulder, Colorado where he encounters his muse wandering in the mountains.

Friday, January 07, 2022


In the wake of growing outrage over the role the Sacklers may have played in the opioid crisis, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Sackler family jointly announced on Thursday that the Sackler name would be removed from seven exhibition spaces, including the wing that houses the Temple of Dendur. —The New York Times, December 9, 2021

Bonnie Proudfoot has had fiction and poetry published in the Gettysburg Review, Kestrel, Sheila-Na-Gig, Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, and other journals. Her first novel Goshen Road (Swallow Press, 2020) was selected by the Women’s National Book Association for one of its Great Group Reads for 2020.  The novel was also long-listed for the 2021 PEN/ Hemingway award for debut fiction.

Thursday, January 06, 2022


by Mark Danowsky

Vulgar 45, self-chosen wunder-king Insists he can take a life with a 45 Fifth Ave, broad daylight No one stops him Ha, as if he would stop himself Hang any henchmen Who defy a single wicked whim He begs you call him a joker A clown, a magician He calls himself master Of misdirection, of monopoly A game, he jests That one about life Behemoth of rage & spite Batter truth with lies Until truth cowers in a corner Smirk of feckless beast Mirror, mirror, what of this hair Send a few minions Storm the Capitol Torch the word of fair Suit of Big Mac & Diet Coke Asks only the McPoem be gilded 45 laughs & laughs Knowing a loss will be refused As only a loser can lose False god of the not unforsaken majority False demon elite who preys on the powerless He who claims to love what he loathes He who cannot sanitize what he is He who lets disease run rampant To disenfranchise those already wronged He who barks orders at the grotesque To carry out the obscene He who breaks the back of a thousand innocents To grease his palms in 18 holes Let us hope, yes, let us hope Some few brainwashed undrink the Kool-Aid There is no time like the present to accept Our past is full of atrocity And yes we can choose a new path Back towards democracy

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.