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Tuesday, May 31, 2022


by Geoffrey Philp

‘Stay Woke, Go Vote’ rally stirs spirited emotions, heartfelt pleas

Where are the protestors from the summer of plague
who saw Black lives threatened, and marched to free
us from fascists and were greeted by an army of fear
mongers united in their cause to make sure change
would never happen, and began a campaign of lies
among the afflicted to sate the elites' lust for power,
that revealed their resistance to Black power—
the rising numbers in the cities they see as a plague,
so every cable series or news story is filled with lies
about Black crime—dire warnings that if we're ever free,
no one will be free, for we will have changed
America for the worse, and everyone will live in fear?
It's what Public Enemy was rapping about in Fear
of a Black Planet, especially in "Fight the Power,"
so we'd start the process of believing in the change
that must happen at the top, or else we'll be plagued
by doubters who will delay our quest for freedom
from their lies. For they lie. They lie. They lie.
But what if we stopped believing their lies,
the denials and gaslighting that keep them in fear
of shadows they've invented—that won't set them free
until they've given up their need for control, for power,
at the cost of the planet's life—before we're plagued
by circumstances, we won't be able to change
once the irreversible effects of climate change,
which oil company CEOs have labeled as a lie,
melts ice caps and releases viruses to plague
future generations, who will live in perpetual fear
of the next hurricane, heatwaves that disrupt power
grids, melt electric cables—when fresh air won't be free?
The ancestors' promise lives in the struggle to be free.
Ancestors like Marcus and Malcolm, who tried to change
our minds about the hold of the empire's power
over our people who have been educated with lies
about our past while others, paralyzed with fear
stare into the future as if it were a plague.
Rise, once again, and free yourselves from the lies
that keep us cowering in the dark. Rise, change your fear
from a plague of doubt into a power that liberates.

Geoffrey Philp is the author of the novels Garvey's Ghost and Benjamin, my son, five books of poetry, two collections of short stories, and three children's books, including Marcus and the Amazons. His forthcoming books include a graphic novel for children, My Name is Marcus, and a collection of poems, Archipelagos, which borrows from Kamau Brathwaite's "Middle Passage" lecture, Aime Cesaire's "Discourse on Colonialism," Sylvia Wynter's "1492," and Amitav Ghosh's thesis in The Nutmeg's Curse to explore the relationship between Christianity, colonialism, and genocide in the Plantationocene. He is currently working on a collection of poems, Letter from Marcus Garvey.


by Laurie Rosen

Two days after their daughter, Alexandria “Lexi” Aniyah Rubio, was shot and killed in Uvalde, Texas, Kimberly Rubio and her husband are urging elected officials to pass restrictive gun laws to help prevent future tragedies. “We live in this really small town in this red state, and everyone keeps telling us, you know, that it’s not the time to be political, but it is—it is,” Ms. Rubio said, her voice breaking through tears. “Don’t let this happen to anybody else.” Their family was contacted by Gov. Greg Abbott’s office on Wednesday, she said, and asked if they would be willing to meet with the governor. Ms. Rubio and her husband declined. —The New York Times, May  26, 2022. Photo: People visit a memorial for the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 28, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas, United States. Anadolu Agency/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images via CHRON

He lays still, pretends to be dead. 
He frantically calls his mom from his classroom,
she hides under a desk, covers herself with her dying friend’s blood,
she whispers on the phone to 911, send police,
he hears a bullet crack his friend’s nose.  
She hears a cop shout to her, yells help, gives away 
her hiding spot, then promptly succumbs to gunshot. 

A husband dies broken-hearted two days after his wife perishes 
by gunfire—four children, left parentless.  
A mother’s son never returns home.
A father’s daughter, a cousin, a nephew, never return home. 

This is not a war zone/This is a war zone/We live in a war zone.
Our children grow up in a war zone, are taught to escape killers, guns
and madmen/Our children learn they won’t escape madmen with guns, 
that bullets meant for war pierce metal doors, tear off locks. 
Bullets ravage the faces and bodies of teachers and best friends, forever haunt 
survivors' dreams––nightmares of pooling blood and mangled flesh.

Our children promise to stay still and quiet/If only they stayed still enough, quiet enough. 

I did good Mommy, I stayed still, I stayed quiet.  

A lifelong New Englander, Laurie Rosen’s poetry has appeared in The Muddy River Poetry Review, Oddball Magazine, Zig-Zag Lit Mag, Peregrine, The New Verse News, Gyroscope Review, and elsewhere.

Monday, May 30, 2022


by Michel Steven Krug

How do they know the real population of Minnesota, asked my daughter, as her older sister was within hours of an and-one moment. There are vital statistics kept, each birth and death are tracked to offset the changes. Deaths by IED, in schools, grocery stores, dance clubs, by gangster/zealot/misguides with ARs, by combat, depression, vengeance-disease or age. Thinking of my Aunt, with her new pacemaker, describing her day to her what’s-his-name son, because after dinner, the mind’s velocity wanes, as if a human comet falling back to earth. I visited my dad’s grave, saluting his WWII Airforce time, sure, but his greatest service as mentor to all. If he could see what the insurrectionists assert today in the name of patriotism, he’d re-enlist and ask for a D.C. assignment, thinking he could detox the paranormal hatred engendered against progressive democracy. If unsuccessful, he’d enter his “come on now” mode, demanding nothing less than reason, flinging treason into the infested sewer. It’s said we are coded.  His sense of equanimity/persuasion/reason/forceful compassion = soother of spirits. We each inherit a collection of such souls, all of the elements swirling within, like an alphabet of inclinations. With it do we promote peace, or reflexively look for sales, fitfully running from the best within? Memorial Day is indeed solemn, honoring passed down lives that survive as we ride the bear, the bull and the barrel.

Michel Steven Krug is a Minneapolis poet, fiction writer, former print journalist from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars. He’s Managing Editor for Poets Reading the News (PRTN) literary magazine and litigates. His poems have appeared in Liquid Imagination, Blue Mountain Review, Jerry Jazz Musician, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Portside, The New Verse News, JMWW, Cagibi, Silver Blade, Crack the Spine, Dash, Mikrokosmos, North Dakota Quarterly, Eclectica, Writers Resist, Sheepshead, Mizmor Anthology, 2019, PRTN, Ginosko, Door Is A Jar, Raven's Perch, Main Street Rag, and Brooklyn Review


by Peter Witt

A mother in Black Creek, GA
drops her child off at school,
heads to the AR-15 assembly line
at Daniel Defense, where guns
coming off the assembly line
are packed by a father of three,
two in college, one still in high school.

A young woman, barely out
of high school processes online
orders for the killing machines
from gun stores across the U.S.,
trying not to think about if one
will end up in the hands of an 18
year old with murderous intent.

The owner of a Uvalde gun store
remembers legally selling the semi-
automatic weapon of mass destruction
to a young man who'd just turned 18,
then heading home for a birthday party
for his elementary school-aged niece.

A host of people, some with children,
have their fingerprints on the bullets
that made their way into the hands
of the Uvalde shooter, never realizing
they'd touched the bullets
that would shatter bones, blur faces
in a one-hour classroom rampage.

Somewhere in a peaceful office
a NRA publicist cranks out scripts
that pols and apologists can use
when the inevitable questions
about gun safety and control emerge,
he's yet to marry, have children,
doesn't think that children killed
in the sure to be future mass murders
could someday be his offspring.

In a conference room in Black Creek, GA,
the owner of the killing machine company
authorizes another 50K donation to the NRA,
a necessary cost of doing business,
profits from his company putting
his children through college.

Airforce One ferries the president and his wife
to yet another memorial gathering
where he will console parents whose
children never came home from school,
having only recently returned from
a similarly gathering of families
recovering from the hatred of a racist
who shot up a supermarket in their town.

At dinner tables around the country
families gather over traditional
Memorial Day hot dogs and hamburgers,
some with thoughts and prayers,
others to have discussions
about the need to own a gun,
protect their families, stave off
the murderous intent of someone
who purchased a gun made, shipped,
sold by fellow citizens, many with school
aged children—who firmly believe
the 2nd amendment is God's will
and plan to protect their children
from mayhem...

while somewhere in a bedroom
a young man, not yet 18, dreams of the day
he too can go the local gun store, purchase
an assault weapon made, shipped,
and sold by people with children,
so that he too can join the ranks
of the dead who've created
mayhem in a supposedly safe
classroom somewhere in the U.S.A.

Peter Witt lives in Texas, only a few hours away from Uvalde.  His work has appeared in The New Verse News, other online publications, and several print volumes.

Sunday, May 29, 2022


by Judy Juanita

Sources: Khloé Kardashian claps back at criticism she holds daughter True, 3, ‘too much’Khloe Kardashian Faces Backlash for Holding Baby True Dangerously: 'You're About to Break Her Neck!'The Kardashians' Legacy of Blackfishing and AppropriationKardashians and Cultural Appropriation | Penn State - Presidential Leadership Academy (PLA)

a kardashian butchers her face into
a kewpie doll with our lips
another apes us with silicone butt

mocking the slavemasters who auctioned us naked
inserting the middle finger to show our fertility

one nestles a brownbaby against that recast jaw
triggering envy hate monstrous anger
the reproach: you hold our brownbaby too much
she is defiant: we good

you good
we not

Judy Juanita's poetry collection Manhattan my ass, you're in Oakland won the American Book Award 2021 from the Before Columbus Foundation. Her poem "Bling" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2012. Her semi-autobiographical novel Virgin Soul is about a young woman who joins the Black Panther Party in the 60s (Viking, 2013). Her collection of essays DeFacto Feminism: Essays Straight Outta Oakland [EquiDistance, 2016] examines race, gender, politics and spirituality, as experienced by a black activist and self-described "feminist foot soldier." Winner of the Tartt Fiction Prize at the University of West Alabama [UWA], her short story collection The High Price of Freeways will be published by Livingston Press [UWA] in July, 2022. 

Saturday, May 28, 2022


by Indran Amirthanayagam

March for Our Lives

Keep screaming. I will, Sister. Keep screaming.
I will, Dearest. Keep screaming. The children
will not be forgotten. Keep screaming. The guns
will be stopped, bullets intercepted. With our minds.
Our pens. Here, Senator, is our petition. Here you go
the draft legislation. Don't worry. Take your time
to read every word. We are staying here until
you decide to vote for or against. Not beyond

this line. Not any more. Never again. Not anywhere
in this America. We are not murderers. We are not
going to take the fall for the military industrial
profiteers. We are not going to be quiet. We are
not going to play dead; allow the demon to destroy
what's left of the Dream. Not for Martin. Not for
Malcolm. Not for Ginsburg. Not for John Lewis.
Not for you or me. I was a wretch. We were all

wretches standing on the street while the murderer
walked into the school unopposed on May 24th, 2022.
Keep screaming: Never again. Ban the filibuster.
Never again. Institute background checks,
psychological evaluations. Damn the idiot
argument of arming the teacher and the guardian,
He walked in unopposed. He killed nineteen
children and two teachers. Keep screaming.

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


by Judy Kronenfeld

Time magazine's shocking cover for the Texas shooting: "Enough" - News  Rebeat

The people embracing each other, wiping
tears from their eyes, kneeling
to place roses and carnations, 
the banner headlines, the when
is enough enough? Then the families
home alone after our national rituals,
the presidential visit. Now the children’s
bereft bedrooms, the stories slipping
down front pages and inside the newspaper,
then gone, now Absence just beginning
to take up residence, burrowing
in and in and in. 

Judy Kronenfeld’s fifth full-length collection of poetry Groaning and Singing was published by FutureCycle Press in February, 2022. Previous books include Shimmer (WordTech, 2012) and Bird Flying through the Banquet (FutureCycle, 2017). Her poems have appeared widely in journals including Cider Press Review, MacQueen’s Quinterly, New Ohio Review, Offcourse,  Slant, and Verdad.

Friday, May 27, 2022


by Amy Worley

Nick Anderson

Here lie dead
a star gazer
a trailblazer
a bodhisattva
2 artists with tiny Mona Lisas
stamped on their still small spirts
not yet emerged.
Here lie dead
two seasoned, storied, spirit guides,
who were delicately, precisely, so, so lightly,
tending gossamer spirits.
Here lie dead
would-be mothers &
would-be fathers &
all the glorious would-be children &
all the would-be made inside them.
Here lie dead
among the bullets & bone fragments
unwritten books & unbuilt churches
un-prayed prayers in the
dark, wet cave of adolescence.
Here lie dead
the African-descended
the Mexican-descended
the whatever mix descended
double helixes no longer spiraling.
Among the dead
slivering over bloody bodies &
and rising up to stare us in our unseeing eyes
is the serpent of our failure.
Not an either/or failure but a slimy sludge
of yes/and foundering and non-doing,
with a forked tongue &
voluminous, sweet-smelling venom.
Here lie dead
in this community graveyard
a virologist
an ecologist
a drummer
a plumber
a shattered grandmother whose shards pierce like shrapnel.
Here lie dead
what we didn’t do to serve an unwell young man &
what we didn’t do to protect the hatching of the future.
Here lie dead
we all
knowing of good & evil
and choosing to hide behind the tall, dark tree
rather than stand naked in the dappled light of truth.

Amy Worley is a poet and nonfiction writer living in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, two boys, and her literary dog, Leroy. She is also an attorney and management consultant. She has a BA in English Literature and a Juris Doctorate. Her creative nonfiction and poetry have appeared in various online and hardcopy publications.


by Jen Schneider

Gun-control advocates hold a vigil outside of the National Rifle Association (NRA) headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

again / tiny souls in rubble
and rubber soles
and rainbow-hued cotton
laces. elastic tips tucked
and tied. two-loops.
classroom pride. hide
under desks, behind doors,
on carpet-covered floors.
time once a concept
to be taught, not measured.
again / time knocks
on the doors of a nation
of shame and guns
with no roses
and loopholes
on parades / again
            with no brakes
mindless modeling
of putty and clay
must stop / now
so tiny souls
in rubber soles
            may learn, laugh, live
again / to teach and tell time,
sculpt and script
            a future of roses
                        with no guns  /  what if

Jen Schneider is an educator who lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Pennsylvania. Recent works include A Collection of RecollectionsInvisible InkOn Habits & Habitats, and Blindfolds, Bruises, and Breakups.


by Imogen Arate

Four of the Republican senators bankrolled by the NRA. From left to right Ted Cruz, Mitt Romney, Richard Burr, and Roy Blunt. —Newsweek has the “Full List of Republican Senators Who Receive Funding From the NRA.”

Every time a bullet screams a child's name
Congress rings in a payday
Every time gold-strung puppets mimic "thoughts and prayers"
NRA makes it rain

The higher the body count
the bigger the ROI.

The stock market may be free-reeling
NFTs may be worthless
but LaPierre makes good on his promises

We've arrived at the age 
of lead-pegged currency
We've come to celebrate each day
as gun-violence survival day

drunk the mercurial mead 
of gilded hearts playing 
a mental-health sleight of hand
while we thirsted for salves
that vanished as another gunman
turned the page onto another tragedy

danced our last to the whizzing rhythm
of gun-powdered blues
or which crisis actors got paid
while feigning condolences 

Imogen Arate is an award-winning Asian-American poet and writer and the Executive Producer and Host of Poets and Muses, a weekly poetry podcast that won second place at National Federation of Press Women's 2020 Communications Contest, where she has served as a national-level poetry judge in 2021 and 2022.  Her poetry has appeared in 18 publications on four continents.  You can find her @PoetsandMuses and @ImogenArate on Twitter and Instagram.


by Jan Steckel

Nick Anderson

Sunny sweats on her stoop,
says she’s seen raccoons and cats
mating in her backyard. They’ve bred
a tribe of unholy hell beasts,
coon cats, who haunt the bushes.
She also says we shouldn’t call the cops
if her ex violates the restraining order again.
She doesn’t know whose blood
stains the street today,
the woman gunned down in front
of Carlos’s taco truck. Helicopters
roar overhead, caution tape and wagons
cut off our exit from the block for hours
as officers snap photos, pick up shell casings.
People carry out chairs to sit and watch.
The children are all walleyed and gabbling:
¡Pistolas! ¡Policía! ¡Ambulancia!
Everyone has Covid, except those out
dodging bullets. In Texas, someone shot up
a school again, but that seems far away.

Jan Steckel’s book Like Flesh Covers Bone (Zeitgeist Press, 2018) won Rainbow Awards for LGBT Poetry and Best Bisexual Book. Her poetry book The Horizontal Poet (Zeitgeist Press, 2011) won a Lambda Literary Award. Her fiction chapbook Mixing Tracks (Gertrude Press, 2009) and poetry chapbook The Underwater Hospital (Zeitgeist Press, 2006) also won awards. She lives in Oakland, California, USA.


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

Nick Anderson

here in texas we say 
go down the road a bit 
for getting to the next town 
or just to the next gas station 
where you can fill up 
before you drive on 
sometimes i say 
once you get out of texas 
you are halfway to where you  
are going 
this week  
children and adults again are going nowhere 
with families stuck in a forever sadness  
sad that 
until those in the power of going 
somewhere   anywhere 
feel the bullet bite their own child 
all of us  
will still be going nowhere 

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.”

Thursday, May 26, 2022


by Dana Yost

Barry Blitt

Awake all night.
Adrenaline attack.

Not like the attack
in Texas. Not twenty-one dead.
But fueled by that, 
this adrenaline attack.

What is it in us,
in Americans,
that makes it
OK? One mass
shooting after
Some plead,
some pray.
Some say
leave it alone.
Ted Cruz
says don’t
politicize it.
Ted Cruz
needs a bruise.

It has to be politicized.
It has to be debated
in the public arena.
It has to have meaning,
this debate of ours,
or else it’s meaningless,
the senselessness
goes on.

Gunmen squeeze
their triggers
and children die.
The rest of the world
looks at us and
asks “why.”

We have no answer.
We have no answer.

So I stay awake,
shaking, fretting,
swearing. We pray,
we vow, we say
never again,
but they are hollow
phrases until
we put the gun lobby
down like a dog
with a hole in its gut,
which in any logical
world would be
the case: the gun
lobby allowing
these wounds
to open, to fester,
to be picked and pulled
at until the gut is
an open sore.

Awake all night.
Adrenaline attack
the day of a school
attack, the day we mourn
yet again the loss
of little lives.

Dana Yost was an award-winning daily newspaper journalist for 29 years. Since 2008, he has published eight books. His poetry has been published in numerous reviews and magazines, including The New Verse News. Yost is a three-time Pushcart nominee in poetry.


by Robert Knox

The eyes of the others,
Hate mongering
Closed doors of the mind in self-panic
Race-pandering Congressional creeps
stalk the Halls of Hades
When? in God’s name?
A universal set of trigger-fingers
in circular execution
A lake of burning fire
Armed to the teeth = utterly unprotected
Gehenna on the dusty plain
Looking into the eyes
of the lost
No consolation in the knowing
Self-slaying America
Compelled to repeat the same self-torture
endlessly: forever
Infinite self-slaughter
An underworld of hate,
unholy perdition

Robert Knox is a poet, fiction writer, Boston Globe correspondent, and the author of the recently published collection of linked short stories, titled House Stories. As a contributing editor for the online poetry journal Verse-Virtual, his poems appear regularly on that site. 


by Bonnie Proudfoot

This is a coloring book without lines.
This is a coloring book where Jane
wears any clothing she feels like
wearing and so does Dick, and both
of them won’t carry a gun. In this book
guns aren’t invented. Still, this book
is full of action figures, girl ones and boy ones
Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel
and Doctor Strange and Harley Quinn, ones
who move in light, and ones who delight
in mayhem. All the superheroes use their powers
to keep sharp things out of babies’ reach,
even though they shine. There’s a secret superhero
you can find her if you look, and it is you, 
this is a book that claps for you, who can
almost roll over, who has never worn
a shoe, who can eat her bare feet,
who marched at six months of age,
well, sort of marched, for women’s choice.
This is a coloring book that says it’s ok,
use all the colors, be who you are, it hopes
you see the light that shines through your light
gray eyes, a book that looks like a mirror of love,
that smells like your breath that is a mirror
of milk, that marvels at the impressionist
masterpiece that is your diaper after eating
peas and beets, and that is only something
a nana would say, yes yes, this book
has another secret superhero, NanaMan,
who has the power to stop a gun from firing
at a supermarket or a school or a church
or synagogue, Nanaman is the conscience
of the world, or some kind of weird spirit,
don’t ask me how she/he works. The book knows
that babies are born into light, they come
here with all the colors that they need, and
when the pages of the book are clasped shut
it prays that the world does not start
taking those colors away too soon. 

Bonnie Proudfoot has had fiction and poetry published in the Gettysburg Review, Kestrel, Sheila-Na-Gig, Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, SoFloPoJo, and other journals. Her first novel Goshen Road was published by Swallow Press in January of 2020, and was  long-listed for the 2021 PEN/ Hemingway award for debut fiction. Her debut book of poems Household Gods (Sheila-Na-Gig Press) will be published in the summer of 2022.


by Joan Leotta

The wounded offer healing
Each morning I look to Ukraine,
Through the eyes of an email correspondent.
She and I mourn over cities laid waste,
adults and children wounded, dead
strewn on streets, live ones sheltering in cellars.
The email reaches out to me for support
to help them act on the prayers.
Daily I respond,
I send my hope and prayers
and concrete aid as I can.
Today, in the daily email,
along with news of wasted cities,
wounded children,
they sent their prayers to America
hoping we can put our own, offering prayer.
I pray we can turn our and their
prayers into action to stop the killings here.

Joan Leotta is an author and Story Performer who feels we need to do more than simply shed tears and points to the efficacy of the Assault Weapons Ban in lessening of such horrific incidents as one concrete thing we have once done and should do again.


by deb y felio

The former guy "is scheduled to speak at the National Rifle Association's Annual Leadership Forum on Friday. But audience members at the group's annual meeting, being held this year in Houston, won't be able to carry guns during his address. The conference is going ahead in the shadow of Tuesday's mass shooting at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school that killed at least 21 people—including 19 students." —NPR, May 25, 2022

Let us now raise our voices
for the freedom we have to make our choices
of who lives who dies 
and not on the battlefields where all are armed
but at schools and churches newly charmed
with flowers and toys, memorialized.

Let us now send out our thoughts and prayers
and pay no notice to the real players
who love to make a stand
not against the gun lobbyists
or restrictions for purchases
those real actions would be too grand.

So Texas before you can bury the children
the NRA you will be welcoming
and after all it isn’t guns that kill.
But if that eighteen year old had entered
that school today and stuck out his finger
would so many lives have been stilled?

deb y felio is a poet writing as witness to the mundane and miraculous and the under-represented sides of historic and current issues while working as a family and child therapist in Colorado. Published credits include anthologies Hay(na)ku 15; Gabriel’s Horn: Startled by Nature (2020); Refuse to Stay Silent (2020). Her cherita sequence was a finalist in MacQueens’s Quarterly March 2021 ekphrastic challenge.


by Katherine Smith

The maples scatter their necklaces of seedpods
to the grass. My heart aches
for Texas where yesterday an eighteen-year-old
walked into a school and shot
eighteen children, more than one for each year of his life.
Anger spins inside me like wind-torn seeds.
All year long in the classroom I teach my students
to barricade the doors. The children are right
to ignore me. They go on chatting
while I point to tables and chairs.
My explanation will do no good
as the faces of congressmen and senators
at the NRA convention in Houston
do no good, pledging allegiance
chins up, wooden jaws squared as if relishing
yet another opportunity to stand rooted
like dead wood to their murderous cause.

Katherine Smith’s recent poetry publications include appearances in Boulevard, North American Review, Mezzo Cammin, Cincinnati Review, Missouri Review, Ploughshares, Southern Review, and many other journals. Her short fiction has appeared in Fiction International and Gargoyle. Her first book Argument by Design (Washington Writers’ Publishing House) appeared in 2003. Her second book of poems Woman Alone on the Mountain (Iris Press) appeared in 2014. She works at Montgomery College in Maryland.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022


by Ginny Lowe Connors

And our steaks—we like them rare.
Our vengeance bloody and loud. Lightning bolts
aimed at the heart. That thrill. That satisfaction
when our rage explodes.
Ask the six-year-olds of Sandy Hook.
Ask their parents. Or anyone from Ulvalde.
Ask the stuffed bunny left behind
on the bed, one ear bent and frayed.
Tissue paper parachutes
drifting over the wastelands of our freedom—
that’s what the prayers became
of those in the Pittsburgh synagogue
and in the Fort Worth Baptist Church.
Nobody asks about the anonymous workers
who come in afterward to clean up the blood.
In the schools, the churches, the nightclubs.
The homes, the offices. Grocery stores.
That sludge, that slurry of hatred, cold sweat, malice—
how long must the smell of it linger?
I myself cannot eat steak. I cannot free myself
from the vision of a little boy racing a school bus. 
Something is happening to the field of wildflowers
I used to carry in my chest, asters and daisies, bees.
Summer sunlight. I’m full of holes.
The hummingbirds are escaping.
Ginny Lowe Connors taught English in a public secondary school for many years. She is the author of four full-length poetry collections, including her latest poetry book Without Goodbyes: From Puritan Deerfield to Mohawk Kahnawake (Turning Point, 2021). Her chapbook Under the Porch won the Sunken Garden Poetry Prize, and she has earned numerous awards for individual poems. She is co-editor of Connecticut River Review and runs a small poetry press, Grayson Books.


by Ann E. Wallace

“Pinky Promise” by Joseph Patton

Can you see it?

The shredding of precious 

organs, of slim muscles and growing

bones, of smiles and baby teeth,

of dimples and pinky promises, 

when weapons meant for war

open fire on 40- and 50-pound

children crouching under desks,

hiding behind racks of graded 

readers, and huddling

in the pretend play center.


Can you imagine

what damage has been 

wreaked when a mother must 

recall the neatly pressed 

dress or red striped shirt 

her third grader selected 

for the end of school festivities, 

two days before summer break, 

when a father must swab 

his cheek or offer a vial of blood 

to confirm that the shattered 

remains held in the morgue 

belong to his darling child?


How as a nation 

do we bear that another 

community has been asked 

to be patient, that parents 

were again told to not pick up 

their kids, not yet, when they heard 

the news, so as not to cause chaos—as if

parents’ terror caused this mayhem—

until officials have finished scouring

the brightly colored classrooms 

for small victims, until doctors

have saved those they could

and zipped those they could not 

into oversized body bags, until 

every student has been accounted for,

until nineteen sets of parents 

have learned they will never 

again pick up their children?


How do we justify

that while the devastated 

people of Uvalde have waited 

in desperation for their children 

to be accounted for, 

no one is holding 

our leaders accountable? 


Ann E. Wallace is a poet and essayist from Jersey City, New Jersey. Her published work can be found at AnnWallacePhD. Follow her on Twitter @annwlace409 or on Instagram

Tuesday, May 24, 2022


by Howie Good

The gunman
shoots to death
19 children
in an elementary school
in Texas
and then turns the gun
on himself.

Editor's Note: The specific circumstances of the death of the shooter at the scene of Robb Elementary School had not yet been clarified by authorities at the time of the posting of this poem. Since then, authorities have announced that the gunman was killed by law enforcement officers.

Howie Good is a poet and collagist on Cape Cod.


by Alan Catlin

19 children 
and one teacher

because one
school shooting
wasn't enough

Alan Catlin has published dozens of chapbooks and full-length books, including the chapbook Three Farmers on the Way to a Dance (Presa Press), a series of ekphrastic poems responding to the work of German photographer August Sander who did portraits of Germans before, during, and after both World Wars.


by Marianne Gambaro

I guess I can’t blame them
for feeling the way they do.
They weren’t there.
They didn’t see your ashen face
against the blood-soaked
laundry service sheets
on your dorm bed.
I wish I could remember your name—
Karen, I think,
or maybe Caryn—
your whitebread family
was pretentiously middle class
so would have spelled it differently,
not at all like that boy
who knocked you up.
Did he disappear fast when you told him!
You were a quiet girl, younger
than the rest of us freshmen,
smarter too,
with all your advanced placement classes.
I think it was your roommate who took you
to that bogus doctor in Pennsylvania,
who stayed with you
and finally called the RA
when she couldn’t stop the bleeding.
You never did come back to the dorm.
Did you come back to school?
Did you even live?
No one talked about you after you left,
at least not above a whisper.
I guess I can’t blame them
for feeling the way they do now.
But maybe you can.

Marianne Gambaro’s poems and essays have been published in print and online journals including Mudfish, CALYX, Oberon Poetry Magazine, Pirene's Fountain, Avocet Journal, Snowy Egret, and The Naugatuck River Review. She is the author of Do NOT Stop for Hitchhikers (Finishing Line Press). She lives in verdant Western Massachusetts, with her talented photographer-husband and two feline muses.

Monday, May 23, 2022


by Dick Altman

Jason Grostic's cows are tame and relaxed on his small Michigan farm. But after repeatedly testing his farm for PFAS chemicals in biosolids applied to his fields, state officials stopped Grostic from selling any meat or cattle from his farm. Feed grown on his farm is contaminated as well, and he's having to buy feed for the herd he can no longer sell. (DTN photo by Chris Clayton) —Progressive Farmer, May 9, 2022

After euthanizing several thousand contaminated cows, Art Schaap is losing not only a once-thriving dairy farm but a place where he and his family have lived for a quarter-century. He has no choice, he said, because the polluted runoff from Cannon Air Force Base that tainted the groundwater, soil and his livestock with cancer-causing chemicals has left Highland Dairy in Clovis [New Mexico] an empty shell… Schaap euthanized 3,665 dairy cows in phases over the past four years, when he first learned they’d become contaminated with PFAS from drinking polluted groundwater. PFAS is short for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Dubbed “forever chemicals” because they last indefinitely in the bloodstream, PFAS can cause increased cholesterol, reproductive problems, impaired immunity and cancer. Highland Dairy, a 3,500-acre farm, is a casualty in an ever-growing environmental and health issue as PFAS increasingly turn up in public drinking water, private wells and food. —Santa Fe New Mexican, May 19, 2022

Hey, diddle, diddle.
The cat and the fiddle.
The cow jumped over the moon.
Except the bovines,
all thirty-six hundred,
who couldn’t overcome
pollution’s deadly gravity.
Who weren’t invited
to your last barbecue.
Whose cream didn’t fortify
yesterday’s Frappuccino.
Hey, diddle, diddle.
The cat and the fiddle.
The cows who didn’t
jump over the moon,
died rife with PFAS,
“forever chemicals” etched
into their bloodstreams.
immunity all impacted.
Cancer lurking.
Hey, diddle, diddle.
The cat and the fiddle.
The cows who tanked up
on PFAS-ed groundwater.
Who drank the brew/runoff
of airbase firefighters practicing
with PFAS-laced foam.
The entire herd euthanized/
farm closed/soil toxic.
PFAS showing up
in public drinking water,
wells and food.
Hey, diddle, diddle.
The cat and the fiddle.
The cows’re all dead.
No place to rest/exit.
Oh, just this once.
change the flight plan.
Let them jump on the moon—
rather than over it.

Dick Altman writes in Santa Fe’s high, thin, magical air, where, at 7,000 feet, reality and imagination often blur. The Santa Fe Literary Review, American Journal of Poetry, Haunted Waters Press, and many others have published his work in the U.S. and abroad.  A poetry winner of the Santa Fe New Mexican’s annual literary competition, he has in progress two collections of some 100 published poems, Voices in the Heart of Stones and Telling the Broken Sky.

Sunday, May 22, 2022


by Peter Witt

On May 20, Dmytro Kozatskyi, a soldier of the #Azov Regiment posted his photos of the defenders of #Mariupol, calling on the world media and those who can help to distribute them. "Well, that's all. Thank you for the shelter; Azovstal is the place of my death and life. See you".

I hear the drums of war banging
as recruits shoulder their weapons,
while merchants of arms pray
half-heartedly for peace knowing
money is to be made
off the mayhem and suffering.

Somewhere safe and hidden,
a barely 19 year old guides
a drone capturing images
of hospitals, schools, that
will soon smolder with
the aftermath of airborne
mechanized chaos...silently
he offers a prayer for the living
and soon to be dead.

Mother with teething child,
walker propelled grandparent,
and shivering family dog
board a train that chugs
its way to the western border,
rails singing "pray with me,
pray with me."

Someday, when bodies
are counted, refugees
and soldiers hobble home,
there'll be an annual day
of remembrance of victory
and defeat, speeches made,
loved ones honored,
as the priest asks
the assembled to bow
their heads and pray.

Peter Witt lives in Texas.  His poetry has appeared in a variety of online and print publications.


by G. R. Kramer

On May 20, Dmytro Kozatskyi, a soldier of the #Azov Regiment posted his photos of the defenders of #Mariupol, calling on the world media and those who can help to distribute them. "Well, that's all. Thank you for the shelter; Azovstal is the place of my death and life. See you".

all across the road
blood of butchered                  root in cracks
seed of black spring             bloom
below white flowers
we lie with the fray of bees
nowhere people are
mir meant peace to both
when trees leafed over laughter
now           stumps             stand    their     ground
see how the flies help
keep down             the odor of rot
old men in ditches
may the good endure
tanks missiles sunflowers plows
may the lost                    return
family        stained             red
parlor tatters                      open sky
empty sniper eyes
war machines rust out
wind blown blood loam covers steppe
lily bulbs open
when do nations live
empires feed         death to their dead
human history
for get       ting
mothers of soldiers
whose blood drains to the black sea
mothers of soldiers

G. R. Kramer grew up in Canada, Kenya and the U.S., the child of refugees from fascism and communism. A lawyer by vocation, his passion for writing poetry has rekindled in late middle-age. His first poetry chapbook is forthcoming from Finish Line Press and he has published in numerous journals.