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Saturday, April 30, 2022


by Donna Katzin

"Der Shteyn” in Yiddish means “the stone.” April 19, 2022 marked the 79th anniversary of the beginning of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which lasted for 27 days, as Nazis launched their final liquidation of the largest Jewish ghetto in Nazi-occupied Europe. 7,000 Jews died. News of the uprising spread quickly, giving hope and strength to others struggling to survive and resist. Each year on this date, the survivor community and friends gather at the stone—a memorial marker in New York City’s Riverside Park—to honor the fighters and the fallen, commemorate the uprising, and inspire resistance to the fascist, racist and other oppressive forces of our own times.

On our lapels,
we pin paper daffodils—
yellow like stars.
Together we revisit the stone
asleep in silence, scarcely seen,
through summer, autumn, winter,
waiting by the unwavering river
that warms to an uncertain sun
as wind holds back its tears.
Our grey heads bow,
as we receive the letters
from London and Melbourne,
words of solidarity from Warsaw
somehow still shrouded
in smoke and ash.
This year we honor women
couriers who carried messages
and money in their inner garments,
revolvers in their handbags, passed
with borrowed accents between ghettos,
harbored hope, smuggled life.
Our lips recite
the Hymn of the Partisans
in a language I have forgotten,
as we place blossoms on the stone,
listen for the voices that will rise
as long as we remember.

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

Friday, April 29, 2022


by Anita Lerek

“The Lost Library Forest,” a painting by Luis Peres

Mother, how much time is left
for us in the forest library, 
where master spines 
clasp woody pages
pollinated by wind?
How much time before 
the boxing up, the clearing out
of minds meshed in ancient tree lives: 
now inventory, cubic footage,
caged, trucked away—
to bonfires staged by haters. 
1933, Berlin: Cigarettes, 
chocolate, sausages for sale!
To music and spotlights
some 50,000 books burn.
Burn the texts, said Artaud. 
Did he yearn for another heaven
to leave scripts of cruelty 
far behind?
I cry for you, Mother, 
stroke keys for you. 
Something must be saved here 
of your wounded spines… words. 
How memory’s flesh burns.     

Wind, carry my voice without a voice—
tell the trees that she, I—

Author’s Note: Homage to the thought of Edmond Jabes (The Book of Questions), and to the poem by Don Pagis, "Written in Pencil in the Sealed Railway Car."

Anita Lerek has spent her adult life juggling business with the enchantment of poetry. The visual arts, jazz, and social justice are life-long influences. Born abroad (Poland), she retains a sense of otherness, and a resulting affinity for the divergent. Her poems have appeared recently in Poetry Super Highway, MacQueen’s Quinterly, and River Heron. She is co-founder of Change Artists, a start-up online poetry community relating to political engagement. She is the author of a chapbook, History and Being (2019). She lives with her archivist husband in Toronto, Canada.

Thursday, April 28, 2022


by Agnieszka Tworek

A Reuters photo shows the building of a theatre destroyed in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine on April 10, 2022.

grey butterflies of ashes
rise and fall on Mariupol
after each missile or bomb
is dropped
bridges and roads
to safety are gone,
no way in or out
many can’t pass
the threshold to the other
world because even Death
is overwhelmed in Mariupol
ghosts help wounded
soldiers reload their guns
the lacerated land
bleeds into the sea
shadowed by the enemy fleet
sirens lull children
to sleep and wake them up
what is for breakfast?                         
a spoonful of air
what’s to drink?
a cup of rain
what is a house?                     
fire and smoke
what is a school?                    
a gaping hole
what are the walls?                
your mother’s arms
the city landmarks endure
on maps stored
in survivors’ hearts
grey butterflies of ashes
rise and fall on Mariupol
at dawn, noon, and dusk
a woman covered in dust
presses her hands on the ground,
as if trying to resuscitate
her hometown
wailing and blood
are spilling out
from the underground
does anybody know? 
everyone knows
does anybody come? 
nobody comes
except for bullets, rockets,
and bombs.

Agnieszka Tworek was born and raised in Poland. Her poems have been published in Ploughshares, The Sun, Best American Poetry, The Southern Review, Rattle (Poets Respond), and in other journals.  She lives on Staten Island.  

Wednesday, April 27, 2022


by Dick Westheimer

                   for Vanda Semyonovna Obiedkova

A 91-year-old Holocaust survivor died while sheltering from Russian strikes during the siege of Mariupol, her daughter has said. Vanda Semyonovna Obiedkova died on 4 April while taking cover in a freezing basement without water, in a grim echo of how she had hidden in a basement from the Nazis when she was 10 years old, her daughter Larissa told Obiedkova, the second Holocaust survivor known to have died during Russia’s war in Ukraine, “didn’t deserve such a death”, said Larissa, who was with her mother at the time. Larissa described the conditions in Mariupol as “living like animals”. Photograph: c/o Rabbi Mendel Cohen —The Guardian, April 19, 2022

"I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness;
I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too.”
—Anne Frank

The tongue of huddling in cellars is a forgotten one, a language 
only a few of us remember from the before times. But here I am, 
again, buried in this frigid basement beneath these same shamed streets. 

I should be home, folding laundry, making khrustykys for the little ones, 
maybe napping. Instead, I shiver away the last of what was me
covered only by my daughter’s thin coat.

I recall my father, gone to dust in the gulag days, his sure hand
firm over my small mouth, held my crying inside as Nazis hunted
for my kind in the homes above our blacked-out hiding place.

I beg for water but it’s really the dark that defeats me, steals these 
last shallow breaths of mine. I dream back to that time when 
10 year old me first learned the lightless dialect of cellar life, 

was forever drained of light. Since then, it has been the daily 
illuminated hours that have saved me—that made the thin link 
from one frightful night to the next—and without that dim lit bridge

I am already dead.

Dick Westheimer has—with his wife and writing companion Debbie—lived on their plot of land in rural southwest Ohio for over 40 years. His most recent poems have recently appeared or are upcoming in Rattle, Paterson Review, Chautauqua Review, RiseUp Review, Ekphrastic Review, Minyan, Gyroscope Review, and Cutthroat.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022


by Chad Parenteau

We swore an oath. Does anyone remember the oath?
Free speech is essential, whether or not we recall it.
They continue to take our freedoms away. Can anyone
tell me what those freedoms were? I don’t recollect 
putting any of those freedoms back on when my mask 
came off. Who took my mask off? I can’t remember 
everyone who voted for me, but I know everyone did, 
and the only way I can win is if everyone forgets that 
I won. Protect the integrity of elections. If this could 
happen during the time of my election, whenever that 
is, I would really appreciate it. Remember when Black 
Lives Matter and Antifa fought over who would storm 
the capitol,  or so I’m told by people I can’t recall. Political
power  comes from the barrel of a gun. Mumia Abu Jamal
said that, according to my notes. That wasn’t free speech 
when he said that. Has America proven those words 
to be true? I’ll have to get back to you if the smoke 
ever clears. There’s two schools of thought to research. 
One of them is CNN, which lies about me. The other 
is NewsMax, which uses my complete sentences
but omits everything else I’ve ever said in my life, 
which I may or may not have said. I don’t remember.

Chad Parenteau hosts Boston's long-running Stone Soup Poetry series. His poetry has appeared in journals such as Résonancee, Molecule, Ibbetson Street, Cape Cod Poetry Review, Tell-Tale Inklings, Off The Coast, The Skinny Poetry Journal, and Nixes Mate Review. He serves as Associate Editor of the online journal Oddball Magazine. His second collection, The Collapsed Bookshelf, was nominated for a Massachusetts Book Award.

Monday, April 25, 2022


by Bonnie Naradzay

Mariupol, Ukraine 17 April 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

I searched the ruined city for my brother
to consecrate him with a proper burial.
Snow was still falling in the cold spring then.
I stopped at a body pockmarked with bullets;
the fingers on each hand had been bent backwards.
I came upon a corpse without a head. 
Do I know him?  Oh, they are all my brothers,  
in mass graves everywhere, shoved into ditches, 
dead in the midst of life from this unholy invasion.
Now I myself am buried—in tunnels below the city,   
refusing to surrender to the enemy king who said
not even a fly will be allowed to leave alive.  
Sentries are everywhere, barricading the doors. 
Where oh where is the civilized world?
Some day, perhaps, Sophocles will create a tragedy
for people to witness—and make sense of this.

Bonnie Naradzay leads poetry salons at a day shelter for homeless people and also at a retirement community, both in Washington DC. Poems are in AGNI, New Letters (Pushcart nomination), RHINO, Kenyon Review online, Tampa Review, Florida Review online, EPOCH, The American Journal of Poetry, and others. While in graduate school, she took a class that Robert Lowell taught: “The King James Bible as English Poetry.” In 2010 she was awarded the New Orleans MFA poetry prize: a month’s stay with Ezra Pound’s daughter Mary in her castle in Northern Italy. While there, she had tea with Mary, heard cuckoos calling during mating season, and hiked in the Dolomites.

Sunday, April 24, 2022


by Indran Amirthanayagam

Zoom, you are finished. The Sun is out
strolling on Easter Sunday, spring
roaring into summer making peace
in the heart and loins. Yes, imagine
that word rescued from time, recreated,
reborn 'though bombs are falling on people
and buildings in Ukraine. Refugees are
returning with brave hearts, friends;
and Zoom, you are dead like a cliché,
a doornail. In the suburbs of Kyiv
a woman is looking for keys
she buried under a nearby tree. War
continues but she does not give a damn.
She lives and dies where her home lies.

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.

Saturday, April 23, 2022


by Matt Witt

This month marks the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in major league baseball, followed soon after on the Dodgers by another Black all-star, catcher Roy Campanella. “Campy” was the National League’s Most Valuable Player three times, only to have his career cut short by a car accident that confined him to a wheelchair. Photo: Matt Witt and Roy Campanella.

How simple the world seemed
when I was seven years old
and met Roy Campanella,
the greatest catcher of all time,
and he asked me about the team I was on,
and what position I liked to play,
and told me to keep practicing,
and didn’t tell me that when he was my age
he couldn’t dream about playing in the major leagues
or about the years of protests it took to change that
or how when Black men came home from World War II
many could no longer accept playing in separate leagues
or sitting in separate seats
or being called “boy” or much worse.
How simple the world seemed,
but later, much later,
when I read the history books that said that
Jackie Robinson and “Campy” got to play
because Branch Rickey, the Dodgers’ white general manager,
had the courage to finally see the light,
and that he trained them to behave themselves
so they wouldn’t cause problems for the team,
by then I was old enough to know
that there was more to that story.

Matt Witt is a writer and photographer in Talent, Oregon.

Friday, April 22, 2022


by Pepper Trail

Let us give thanks
In gatherings or on our own
Stepping carefully upon the earth
Looking closely, bending to the flowers
Lifting our eyes to the swallows and the soaring hawk
Listening to the wind combing the grass and
Carrying birdsong across the creek
Scenting the richness of the soil
Mindfully opening every gift
Let us give thanks
Let us grieve
Remembering all that once was given
Meadows bright with butterflies
Daily chorusing of the birds
Far forest-clad horizons
Silent wilderness
Mighty rivers of ice
Blue whales and elephants
Coral reefs in dazzling splendor
Let us grieve
Let us protest
Lest we surrender to the drowsy sun
In our multitudes, cry Enough!
Name the destroyers
Corporate greed
Oil addiction
Political cowardice
Denial of nature’s rights
Willful blindness to all we do
Let us protest
Let us plant
Let us fall to our knees
Prepare the waiting earth
With our soft and ignorant hands
Plant a tree native to this damaged place
A testament to our desperate hopes
Flourishing past our little lives
A lasting gift of breath 
For our survivors 
Let us plant

Pepper Trail is a poet and naturalist based in Ashland, Oregon. His poetry has appeared in Rattle, Atlanta Review, Spillway, Kyoto Journal, Cascadia Review, and other publications, and has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards. His collection Cascade-Siskiyou was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award in Poetry.


by Janice Northerns

Stalks slashed, petals scattered along the road
to the bomb shelter. A country drained of color
waves its flag as a placeholder for the sky.
But spring will green the world again and seeds
crushed under the enemy’s boot will fire
with life. War’s buried relics will multiply
into bright bouquets, blood blossoming
into patches of helianthus coming up
volunteer. Shimmering in the blue breeze:
sun-soaked fields, lapping up the light.

Janice Northerns is the author of Some Electric Hum (Lamar University Literary Press, 2020), winner of the Byron Caldwell Smith Book Award from the University of Kansas, the Nelson Poetry Book Award, and  a WILLA Literary Award Finalist in Poetry. The author grew up on a farm in rural West Texas and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas Tech University. She and her husband live in southwest Kansas.


by Thomas J. Erickson


The battle for Madrid [during the Spanish Civil War]… was decided in lecture halls, laboratories, and classrooms at the sprawling campus of University City… Brigaders stacked books in the windows as shields from snipers; bullets usually did not penetrate past the 350th page, so they sought out the thickest tomes of German philosophy and Indian metaphysics. —Dan Kaufman, The New York Review, February 24, 2022, on The International Brigades by Giles Tremlett. 

If a book can stop a bullet
then it stands to reason that words
can unite a world in ways
that are surprising
to its sense of normalcy
On page 351, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky
and Grossman were just getting started
If only the power of the grand Russian novels
of war and peace and crime and punishment
and life and fate could prevail across the borders,
from east to west.
Of course, that’s not going to happen, I think,
as I lie in bed and check Babel’s Red Cavalry
for thickness.

Thomas J. Erickson is an attorney in Milwaukee.  His latest book is Cutting the Dusk in Half by Bent Paddle Press.

Thursday, April 21, 2022


by Christina Cowling

We are the vaxed, un-vaxed,
the masked, un-masked,
believers or deniers of conspiracy.
Like minded in the measure of our perseverance,
our impatience peaks, declines,
and though we point a shaming finger at each other,
our tongues sharpened like swords divide us,
given no choice, inevitably we ride 
the same pandemic wave together.

Christina Cowling is the published author of short stories and poetry. Her love for writing began at six-years of age. Presently a retired senior, she continues to write and resides in Peterborough, Ontario with her husband.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022


by Sarah Russell


The snow came silent, pure,
a quilt of feathered white
to cover wreckage of the war.

Few saw the snow’s allure—
just ordinary men who stayed to fight.
The snow came silent, pure.

This ragtag, patriot corps
were confident they’d stall Goliath’s might
despite the wreckage of this war.

Russian bodies dead, left unsecured.
Tanks smoldering, explosions in the night.
The snow came silent, pure.

Families, hid in cellars, reassured,
emerged again with trembling to the light
and saw the wreckage of the war.

Old Praskovia clutched her apron. She’d endured 
two wars, was broken by the sight.
The snow came silent, pure
to cover wreckage of the war.

Sarah Russell’s poetry and fiction have been published in Kentucky Review, Misfit Magazine, Rusty Truck, Third Wednesday, and many other journals and anthologies. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee. She has two poetry collections published by Kelsay Books, I lost summer somewhere and Today and Other Seasons.


by Jaime Banks

A mother who scrawled contact details on her two-year-old daughter's back while fleeing Ukraine has described to the BBC her desperation in that moment. Sasha Makoviy said she wrote little Vira's name, age and some phone numbers on her, in case the family were separated or killed while fleeing Kyiv. "In case of our death, she could be found and would know who she is," Ms Makoviy explained. The family are now in France where they feel "surrounded with love and care". —BBC, April 12, 2022

Her Kyiv apartment shakes
from the bombing. A woman
draws her two-year old close,
with permanent pen
scrawls the name Vira 
her birth date
parent’s names
grandparents’ names
telephone numbers
on the child’s slender back,
her hand shaking. 
If something happens,
she slants to think,
may this child be delivered
into familiar arms.
Numbers inked on skin
once a sign of barbarity,
now a mother’s only prayer.

Jaime Banks writes about family, home, and spirituality in everyday experience. She was recently awarded first place prize in the Bethesda Local Writer’s Showcase Poetry Contest, and her work is featured in the anthology Leading from Within: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Lead. A communications specialist and freelance writer, she resides in the DC area.


by Moira Magneson

The Kramatorsk railway station was hit by Russian missiles at about 10:30 local time (07:30 GMT) on Friday, April 8. Ukraine’s governor of Donetsk, Pavlo Kyrylenko, has said the death toll has risen to 50. That number includes five children… The mayor of Kramatorsk said there were 4,000 people, most of them elderly, women and children, at the station at the time of the attack. —The Guardian, April 9, 2022

Only yesterday Nadezhda had gone with her mom to pick up the red
eyeglasses. Once they'd been fitted, looped around her ears, snugged
to the bridge of her nose, she stepped into the street and the sudden
fanfare of the world rose to meet her—linden trees lining the sidewalks,
their green clear song—the sharp corners of buildings, the pebbled earth, the perfect
yellow rings of the blackbird's eyes.
Why had no one told her life could look like this?
At five a.m. today, glasses on, she was strangely happy packing up her belongings
alongside her mom and sister—a duffel, two suitcases, her sister's stuffed pink
hippo, a carrier for her cat.
Their neighbor dropped them off at the train station, promising to see them soon—
When the war is over.
Hundreds queued on the platform, bundled in down, watchcaps, scarves, and coats, some wearing surgical masks, westward bound to Lviv and safety.
Jostling shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip, one long winding caterpillared creature, one breath steaming in the morning air.
Nadezhda reveled in the dazzle, color, and length of it, heartswelling, newfound sight
taking in each detail, scrap, and shape, vowed to love everyone, even
the lead-grey pigeons hobbling in the dust.
It was half past ten when she heard the cat's mewl and twisting cry.
It was half past ten when she saw the birds wheel up into the cobalt sky.
Half past ten when she felt the wave of wind shove through her skin.
She turned to her sister to say—
How do the birds know to rise as one?  
The words stilled forever on her tongue.
Red eyeglasses spilled on the red stained brick.

Author's note: When I read about the Kramatorsk train station bombing on my phone's news feed, the videos and photographs of people's personal belongings—children's stuffed animals, juice boxes, eyeglasses strewn pell-mell across the blood-stained brick—filled me with horror, driving home all over again the cruelty and pointlessness of war. I wondered what it must be like to be a child living and traveling in wartime. How might a child see the war? How could she possibly make sense of it? This poem—with its imagining of a child I call Nadezhda—emerged from these questions.

Moira Magneson's work has appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies, including Plainsongs, Canary, The Rumpus, The Tule Review, California Fire and Water—a Climate Crisis Anthology, and Halfway to Halfway and Back. Her chapbook He Drank Because was published by Rattlesnake Press.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022


by Rémy Dambron

The police in Grand Rapids, Mich., released videos on Wednesday showing a white officer fatally shooting Patrick Lyoya (pictured above), a 26-year-old Black man, after a struggle during a traffic stop last week. The officer, who has not been named, was lying on the back of Mr. Lyoya before he appeared to shoot him in the head. In the seconds before the shooting, Mr. Lyoya and the officer wrestled on the ground and seemed to be fighting for control of the officer’s Taser. —The New York Times, April 13, 2022

at first 
an ordinary traffic 
stop, routine

stay in the car 
get back in the car
do you have a license 
your plates don’t match
do you speak english 
show me your license 
i said your plates don’t match
stay in the car
no stop
you can’t stand there
hey you can’t stand there
stand here no 
wait STOP

grabbing him 
restraining him
throwing him to the ground
with the force of the law
immunity qualified
we’ve seen this before 
too many times before
released body cam footage shows
cop shoots black man
don’t watch it

(body camera shuts off)

he shoots 
he shot him
the cop shot the black man

(body camera turns on)

paramedics can’t revive him
because the cop 
he shot him
he shot him dead 
for what 
forgive me 
for being repetitive 
but another man with a badge 
shows his bad intentions and 
oh, did I mention?

*he shot him in the head

they called it a struggle
a fight for control over the taser
cop drawing the weapon first
ready to electrocute 
the man he would instead 
just shoot 
but no charges filed
the investigation is ongoing
ongoing, yes
forgive me 
for being repetitive but 
another man with a badge shows his bad intentions 
and oh, did I mention?

*he shot him in the head

his community going on 
carrying his cry for help
to the city steps in protest
to say to their reps 
stop letting them shoot us
for gods sake 
forgive me 
for being repetitive 
but another man 
with a badge 
shows his bad 
intentions and 
oh, did I mention?

*he shot him in the fucking head

Rémy Dambron is a former English teacher now Portland-based poet whose writing focuses on denouncing political corruption and advocating for social/environmental justice. With the help of his chief editor and loving wife, his works have appeared in What Rough Beast, Poets Reading the News, Writers Resist, Words & Whispers, Spillwords, Robot Butt, and The New Verse News


by Chris O’Carroll

Some schools are considering altering the way they teach math to better serve struggling K-12 students. But the debate is being sucked into the culture wars. —“Is math racist? Wrong question.” The Washington Post, December 15, 2021. See also: “Is math education racist? Debate rages over changes to how US teaches the subject.” USA Today, December 7, 2021.

The Florida Department of Education announced Friday that the state has rejected more than 50 math textbooks from next school year’s curriculum, citing references to critical race theory among reasons for the rejections. —CNN, April 17, 2022

They’ve been slipping weird racial ideas in our math!
Ron DeSantis erupts in a geyser of wrath.
When Florida’s white math books spring into action,
Black lives will be in for a touch of subtraction.

Chris O’Carroll is the author of two books of poems, The Joke’s on Me and Abracadabratude.  He is a Light magazine featured poet and a contributor to several volumes of the Potcake Chapbooks series.  His work has appeared in Extreme Sonnets, Love Affairs at the Villa Nelle, New York City Haiku, and The Great American Wise Ass Poetry Anthology, among other collections.

Monday, April 18, 2022


by David Chorlton
Tiberius Penny at The Smithsonian

Word comes down from the mountain
that Caesar has awakened
and begun to ask for what is his,
much to the distaste of the next man in line
whose shirt tells everyone he’s tuned
to a radio in the sky and he can tell you
why Washington’s to blame
for the state of all things on Earth. He orders
enchiladas. Says with pride
he’s ex-law enforcement. Smiles
at a passing thought available
only to himself.
                        With taxes comes the time
the ocotillo greens in the front yard
where the first of summer’s orioles
has found her way back
to where she came last year. She’s a flash
between red blossoms
and arrives when the Earth’s clock tells her to:
when the people empty their pockets
and count small change, when they
find news in dark rumors, sign their checks
and send them to Caesar
on the last of winter’s winds.

David Chorlton observes the coming and going of birds in the corner of Phoenix where he lives, near South Mountain. The Mountain became the focus of his short book published by Cholla Needles last year, The Inner Mountain, which featured watercolors and poems.

Sunday, April 17, 2022


by Jerry Krajnak

Fifty years ago, a boy returned
on a drizzly Easter Monday and found no one
to curse or kiss him. Holiday decorations
peeled from the walls as he lugged his duffel bag
to the gate of the final red-eye homeward flight.
On that eastbound plane no one asked
what he had done to earn that colorful ribbon
on his lapel or the metal pin on his hat.
Not wanting to hear about Vietnam, they looked
away from him as the plane sped on in the dark.
Only clinking ice cubes and the cry of a baby
welcomed him home on that dark United flight.
What kind of welcome will they receive next year,
all those young Russian soldiers, as they return
from afar? Uneasy and gone so long from home,
will they be thanked for their service to the state,
hear shouts of baby killer hurled, or worse,
arrive ignored by tired mothers and brothers
all sick of deprivation and numbed by broadcast
body counts that cannot be confirmed?
Will sisters and fathers and friends all cover their ears,
unwilling to hear what these young men would tell
about the distant place where they were sent
to do what leaders told them they must do?

Jerry Krajnak is a retired Vietnam veteran who lives in the North Carolina mountains. Recent poems appear in Plants and Poetry, Novus, Rat's Ass Review, Sublunary Review, and in the Flee to Spring anthology.

Saturday, April 16, 2022


by Earl J. Wilcox

Late last night, you creep upon us—
cold, chilly rain, winds whipping
across Georgia & Carolinas.
Our pretty in pink peach orchards
shuddered, ready to eat (almost)
strawberries huddle under plastic tarps.
Bright purple and yellow pansies
still hopeful of weeks yet to shine
before the wilting suns of summer.
Our most beloved children—azaleas
and dogwoods—both already dressed
in their Easter bonnets. cringe, nearly
freeze in the cold winter-like night.
Oh precious and sacrosanct blackberry
cobbler, we shall miss your bubbly sauce,
your savory aroma fresh from our ovens.
Hurry along, children, summer time—
when the living comes easy—already
peeps from behind her humid clouds.
Tomorrow she will likely hum her hymn,
teach cat fish to jump.
Earl Wilcox writes from South Carolina where all flowering creatures are in bloom.

Friday, April 15, 2022


Passover 2022
by Anita S. Pulier

Marc Chagall's "Passover Haggadah"

Celebrate forty years of wandering.
40 years of searching.

Read Haggadah to the children,
give thanks,

sing praises
for the tribe surviving.

Focus on the ancients,
not the news.

Ignore ICE, as it issues
this warning: if officers

view you as Other,
hear a foreign accent,

take notice of shabby clothes,
you will be wrangled

like cattle into pens
and, paperless or not, deported.

To where? Weep, explain
you have lived here

since you were two,
this is your home.

Your wife, your children,
your aged mother

may never see you again.
Glory be to what?

Listen! Angry screams nurtured
by hatred, drown out the cries

of kids in Florida, or Texas, or next door.
How many more will be force fed this poison

in the name of a merciless God
punishing the sin of survival?

Tonight, we Jews co-opt words;
suffering, pain, freedom.

I imagine the day that
anyone’s God

will deliver enlightenment,
angels will sing,

heavenly light will shine
on the cruel irony of the self-righteous,

the day each of us will be revealed
as the supplicant,

each of us the Other.
The day our ancient journey,

our Passover celebration,
will not fall so woefully short

of the promised land.

Anita S. Pulier’s chapbooks Perfect Diet, The Lovely Mundane, and Sounds of Morning and her books The Butcher's Diamond and Toast were published by Finishing Line Press. Anita’s poems have appeared in many journals and her work is included in nine print anthologies. Anita has been a featured poet on The Writer's Almanac.

Thursday, April 14, 2022


by Robin Wright

Draw lines that represent countries.
Go further, pen buildings
whole and firm, houses
with sunflowers, children’s toys
in the yard, bicycle leaning
against a tree, a bench in front
of a library. Populate with people
eating ice cream, strolling the streets.
Hold the map close.
Soldiers tear it away,
draw guns, tanks,
bodies on the ground
carpeted with blood,
crushed buildings,
landmines meant to erase.
Snatch it back,
ink blue sky, yellow sun
above people, buildings,
a child’s future.

Robin Wright lives in Southern Indiana. Her work has appeared in Bombfire Lit, One Art, Young Ravens Literary Review, Olney Magazine, As it Ought to Be, Rat’s Ass Review, Sledgehammer Lit, Muddy River Poetry Review, Sanctuary, and others. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and her first chapbook, Ready or Not, was published by Finishing Line Press in October of 2020.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022


by Madlynn Haber

The story of atrocities screams out from the front page
until the end of the column of words. The story continues
on page five. In between, is the weather report. I stop
to follow the progress of early spring’s longer days,
full sunshine, warming temperatures. Delightful. Turning
pages, today’s atrocities pick up with images of rubble,
devastation, tears running down children’s pale faces.
A cartoon follows for our amusement, then notices
of upcoming fun, fairs, and festivals.
The word atrocity repeats until it is familiar, so
commonplace it almost loses its meaning.
It’s just another atrocity, one might say.
Red is the color of blood as it spills across
the globe from bodies whose skin tones reflect
a spectrum of hues from light to dark.
Today’s crumpled headlines continue screaming
with news as the paper is thrown on a pile going back
to the beginning of time.

Madlynn Haber lives with her dog, Ozzie, in a cohousing community in Northampton, Massachusetts. Her work has been published in the anthology Adult Children (Wishing Up Press, 2021), Random Sample, Borrowed Solace, Buddhist Poetry Review, Muddy River Poetry Review, Poetica Magazine, and other journals.


by Bonnie Naradzay

CAIN ET ABEL (CAIN AND ABEL), 1960, an original color lithograph by Marc Chagall designed for and published by VERVE for the volume Dessins pour La Bible.


If I gave the best when I offered my sheep
while your harvest fell short of the mark,
why turn against me? There was still time–
Now my blood cries out from the ground
you have claimed as your own. You know
the land mine you rigged to me will explode.
Alas, the loaf of bread I’d held, this pool of blood.
How could you choose to bludgeon my cows,
to wreak your vengeance against them too?
We are brothers; yet you attacked my humanity,
dragged me with your arms. Let me feel the snow
fall across my face as I say goodbye to life.  

Bonnie Naradzay’s poems have appeared in AGNI, New Letters (Pushcart nomination), RHINO, Kenyon Review Online, Tampa Review, Florida Review Online, EPOCH, Pinch (Pushcart nomination), Potomac Review, and others. Her essay on friendship was published in 2020 in the anthology Deep Beauty. For many years she has convened poetry salons with homeless people and with residents of retirement communities in the Washington DC area.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022


by Annie Cowell

“Twenty-two years after a pair of notebooks filled with Charles Darwin’s early musings went missing from the Cambridge University Library, they were anonymously returned in good condition last month along with a note to the elated librarian: ‘Happy Easter.’” —The New York Times, April 5, 2022. Photo: One of the returned notebooks included Charles Darwin’s famous “tree of life” drawing, which maps out how related species could diverge from a common ancestor. Credit: Cambridge University Library via The New York Times

It wasn’t just the fatty bloom of ancient leather
(although my fingers itched to touch it),
but more the lignin laden bibliosmia
which wafts from the wrinkled patina.
Vanilla essence of Darwin.
What lay inside mattered less to me
than the shadow of the procreator,
of the man whose mind gave Life to the Tree.
An aura which goes beyond the scientific,
of ink-stained fingers lacing 
his beard with brown and grey before 
penning those spindly branches. 
Two decades, I have been their guardian.
Whilst they were presumed missing
mislaid, misfiled, misplaced,
I have inhaled Darwin; stared at the covers
through half-closed eyes,
felt his ghostly hands on mine. 
It is only when he whispers
the books are overdue,
that I know I must return them.
The librarian looks a jolly sort so 
I choose a pink gift bag
and leave them with a note,
happy to have played a part 
in the mystery
of the Origins of Life.

Author’s Note: This poem was inspired by the return of Darwin’s notebooks to Cambridge University. I wanted to imagine what had motivated both the taking and the returning of them.

Annie Cowell is a former teacher living in Cyprus. She has poems forthcoming in a number of publications. @AnnieCowell3

Monday, April 11, 2022


by Claire Matturro

“Pregnant women moved from Mariupol hospital were sheltering in bombed theatre.” —Sky News, March 26, 2022. Photo: Mariana Vishegirskaya, an injured pregnant woman walks downstairs in a maternity hospital damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

At first we acted brave as we hurried
Inside the theater to flee mortars.
We had food and water, but I worried
Heavy with child if I’d make the border
If buses didn’t come. We sang bold songs,
then our food ran out, the water was gone.
Missiles crushed the walls, so we ran for trees,
as if feeble branches could stop the siege.
My baby kicks as an old man stopping
By me in the forest offers toffee.
He says “don’t chew it. It is the last one.
Let it melt slowly upon your tongue.
Chocolate and mint, a bit of sweet cream,
like the bold songs we used to bravely sing.” 

Author's Note: This sonnet is a heart-felt response to recent news stories about the continuing ordeal of people in Mariupol. The first eight lines are based upon direct news accounts—including the shelling of the theater where many took refuge and the wait for the humanitarian relief via the Red Cross buses. However, the last six lines, after the turn in the sonnet about the man offering the pregnant woman the last piece of candy, are wholly imagined. I wanted to show something of the kindness and courage of the Ukrainian people, which is so often reflected in news stories, and to offer at least a hint of hope. 

Claire Matturro has been a journalist, a lawyer, and a legal writing teacher at Florida State University and University of Oregon. She is the author of seven novels, including a legal thriller series published by HarperCollins, and is the co-author of a recent novel. She is an associate editor at Southern Literary Review and lives in Florida.


"A loaf of bread on a park bench, collecting snow. A puddle of blood nearby. Those were the traces of two lives lost this past week, two people killed as they sat sharing a late lunch or an early dinner, or maybe just feeding pigeons. No one seemed to know their names. They died at around 5:30 in the afternoon on Sunday in the southeastern Slobidskyi district of Kharkiv from a mortar strike, residents said, describing the victims as an older woman and a middle-aged man." —Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Natalia Yermak, The New York Times, April 6, 2022. Original photo by Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Jimmy Pappas is the Zoom moderator for the Poetry Society of New Hampshire.

Sunday, April 10, 2022


by Eileen Ivey Sirota

The governor of Alabama on Friday signed into law two controversial bills: one that criminalizes healthcare providers who offer gender-affirming care to transgender youth and another that requires students to use bathrooms that match the gender on their birth certificates. Kay Ivey, a Republican, said she “believed very strongly that if the Good Lord made you a boy, you are a boy, and if he made you a girl, you are a girl”. The anti-gender-affirming care bill, described as the first legislation of its kind in the US, makes it a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison to provide medical care including hormone treatment and puberty blockers to minors. It also includes bans on gender-affirming surgeries for transgender youth, which are extremely rare, and compels school personnel to disclose to a parent or guardian that a “minor’s perception of his or her gender or sex is inconsistent with the minor’s sex”. —The Guardian, April 8, 2022

We will fight them on the
beaches    we will fight them in
the sandbox    these tiny
terrorists, the little boys
with nail polish, a spangly pony
and a special Barbie.
We have God on our side
He who surely must have sanctified
the hand of the doctor filling out
the birth certificate.  We have
George Orwell on our side to
inspire our marketing team.
We’ll call it de-nazification, no,
we’ll call it parental support, no,
wait, we’ll call it The Vulnerable Child
Compassion and Protection Act.
No more shelter in the demilitarized
school nurse’s office.  We’ll make It a crime
to slow the inexorable hands of time
bringing forth an unwanted body.
In this holy war
No prisoners are too small.

Eileen Ivey Sirota is a psychotherapist and a poet.  Her chapbook Out of Order was published by Finishing Line Press in 2020.  Her poems have been published in District Lines, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Lighten Up, The New Verse News, Ekphrastic Review, The Poeming Pigeon, Calyx, and Voices:  The Art and Science of Psychotherapy. She lives in Bethesda, MD with her husband and an ever-shifting blend of rage and wonder.

Saturday, April 09, 2022


by W. Luther Jett

Satellite images show bodies lay in Bucha for weeks, despite Russian claims. —The New York Times, April 4, 2022

Let’s pretend the moon
is made from cheese, and bees
go there when they die,
and the river runs backward
on alternate weeks, and, oh,
the tallest peaks
are covered in ice cream—
you could climb them in just
ten giant steps—or fly.
Yes, let’s pretend that we
can fly. Also, let’s pretend
that summer will have no end.
The rifle isn’t loaded. Those
are not dead bodies there,
bloating in the city square.

W. Luther Jett is a native of Montgomery County, Maryland and a retired special educator. His poetry has been published in numerous journals as well as several anthologies. He is the author of four poetry chapbooks: Not Quite: Poems Written in Search of My Father (Finishing Line Press 2015), Our Situation (Prolific Press 2018), Everyone Disappears (Finishing Line Press 2020), and Little Wars (Kelsay Books 2021).

Friday, April 08, 2022


by Julie Steiner

"Refugees Welcome" by Omar Ab Abdallat

A Haitian family's asylum case shows double standard at the border: It took three doctors, a small team of lawyers and multiple nonprofits on both sides of the border to get an exemption for a Haitian family seeking asylum in the United States… Border officials have routinely granted exemptions to Ukrainian nationals while subjecting asylum seekers from other countries to much more scrutiny. That included the Haitian family, who had to wait almost four months to get an exemption. Advocates said their case underscores just how arbitrary and unfair the country’s asylum system is right now. —KPBS, April 5, 2022

We’re opening our hearts and homes and wallets.
We’ve got donations piling up on pallets
for families in flight from bombs and bullets—
their frightened faces traumatized and pale. It’s

inspiring, seeing decency at work.
It’s proof the world’s not totally berzerk.
When strangers need our help, we never shirk
our duty. (If their faces aren’t too dark.)

Julie Steiner is a pseudonym in San Diego, California. Besides The New Verse News, the venues in which Julie's poetry has appeared include the Able Muse Review, Rattle, Light, and The Asses of Parnassus.


by Penelope Scambly Schott

More than 100 people have drowned in the Central Mediterranean in one week while at least 130 others have been forcibly returned to Libya. In the same week, MSF teams rescued 113 people from a rubber boat that was taking on water. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) condemns Italy and Malta’s failure to assist boats in distress and urges Frontex and other European vessels in the area to reveal the circumstances of these tragic events.  —Médecins Sans Frontières, April 6, 2022

No, the world is always full of war.
The thing is, this time it’s white people
killing white people, so we pay attention.
When it’s those people with darker skin
and we’re not sure exactly where they live,
we pay less attention. Can you point
to Ethiopia on a map? But really,
what good does our attention do? I mail
my pittance to Doctors Without Borders
on my way to shop at Safeway. Am I being
cruel? Yesterday I listened to my friend
lament for an hour on the phone.
I brought homemade bread to the neighbor
who calls it date night at the cemetery
when he brings a chair to his wife’s grave.
And look at me here with my fresh coffee
in a mug with dancing dogs. Don’t I think
I'm just so goddamn kind?

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 Peter Neil Carroll

“Spectrum I” painting by Ellsworth Kelly (1953) San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and promised gift of Helen and Charles Schwab

War began as predicted, a vision of fire.
I pulled the blanket over my head, safe,
thousands of miles from personal tragedy.
Maybe I should send my blanket to the Red
Cross, they could forward it to a child in
Ukraine. Surely that’s the least I could do.
Not enough, though. Maybe tomorrow I will
purchase a box of soft diapers for a children’s
hospital in Kyiv or a can of condensed milk.
I saw a photo of a woman weeping in the street,
her arms bare, blood on her naked legs, shoeless.
Clothing. That’s what she needs, a little warmth.
Yes, I realize, the wounded need bandages, anti-
biotics, plain aspirin in an emergency. It’s okay
to send medical aid. They call it humanitarian.
I know there are many Doctors without Borders
already there, and volunteer cooks boiling soups,
and stews to nourish folks who have lost kitchens.
Those helpers are so brave, sincere, real menschen.
I should support them, too, but will money arrive
in time to save a country? Can I buy an ambulance?
Can I drive an ambulance? That’s a peaceful way
to help strangers trapped in a war. It would be good
for my conscience. But can one person matter?
What the soldiers who are fighting really want are
more weapons and ammunition or, better still, tanks
and rockets. They could use airplanes and bombs.
But stop there. They must be only old-fashioned bombs
built on TNT. Not atom bombs or hydrogen bombs
because that could kill too many people plus animals.
Where does it end? What is it the right thing to send,
to help someone in trouble? Or a whole country? As if
I could draw a red line on a spectrum or cross over it.

Peter Neil Carroll is currently Poetry Moderator of His latest collection of poetry is  Talking to Strangers (Turning Point Press). Forthcoming is This Land, These People: 50 States of the Nation, winner of the Prize Americana. Earlier titles include Something is Bound to Break and Fracking Dakota.  He is also the author of the memoir Keeping Time (Georgia).