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Thursday, June 30, 2022

ESTRANGED: LINES OF AN AMERICAN EXPAT

by Andrew Frisardi




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


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

SCREE

by Akua Lezli Hope




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


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


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

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

THE FARRIER OF TIME

by Ian Randall Wilson


“Death blue butterfly” by mirrurin at Deviant Art


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


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

TWO DECADES BEFORE IT WAS LEGAL

by Sarah Brown Weitzman




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


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

TO EMBODY THE BREEZE

by Kent Reichert


Samuel Alito; drawing by David Levine


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

ON CASSIDY’S COATTAILS

by Indran Amirthanayagam




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

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

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


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


Tuesday, June 28, 2022

THE CONSTITUTION AND A SPRIG OF RUE

by David Chorlton




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

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


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

TODAY I PLANTED

by Catherine McGuire




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


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

BURNING

by Mary Specker Stone




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Monday, June 27, 2022

THE PIVOT

by Imogen Arate





With me you 
have meaning
find purpose

A reflection of myself
an imprint
a ghost of the past

Your perpetual search
for mommy-

My forward motion
propelled by reenactment
of recurring cursed roles

you find reassurance
That devil you know
offers no surprises

I flee into the unknown
and you drag in fear
"Let’s go back”

You plead
“Let’s find comfort
in the familiar”

“Remember the good times”
“When I was the slave
and you the master”


Author's Note: I would like to acknowledge the influence Emma Rhodes’ “Johnny Depp Wins, and I Like So Many Others, Think of the Man Who Abused Me” had on my poem.


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.  She often reacts to news in verse, which you can read here, on The New Verse News, as well as in other publications. You can find her @PoetsandMuses and @ImogenArate on Twitter and Instagram.

SITTING ON A TOILET :: ALONE WITH A BED OF ROSES

by Jen Schneider




a group of seven women, all in their late teens, wear white tee shirts of various cuts - scoop, crew, tank – one with spaghetti straps. another with scalloped edges. all on edge. each has a denim bucket hat. each carries a green patent leather (faux) handbag (freshly polished, purchased for $19.99 the night before). one holds a pair of scissors and removes price tags. i sit on a toilet (enraged and in close range / out of sight but not out of fright) and count - sneakers (mostly converse, some ked) and minutes (mostly spinning, some spun). each woman’s tee bears a unique logo: my body my choice; overturn roe - hell no; abortion on demand; abortion without apology; abortion = health care; forced birth is enslavement; shame on you scotus. the letters’ order differ. the order of their message is the same. the women’s bags hold a mix of sundries (bobby pins, breath mints, band aids) and sprays (deodorant - lilac / pepper - precautionary). the women exchange salutations (i’d say good morning but it’s not) and apply sunblock with an SPF of 50 to each other’s bare backs (each has the others’ backs). i am not of them, though i am one of them. each of them is one of me. i know what they carry as well as i know myself. and as little as i know my next steps. one girl takes note of the block print SPF 50 and pauses. fifty years of precedent if not progress / protection if not precaution – gone, she says. the others agree. i take notes (both physical and mental) while i sit in an adjacent bathroom stall, the window’s cover (blinds though not blinded) is open just enough for me to hear them and angled just enough for me to see them, and wonder what to do next. i sit - my middle bent, my legs form a soft v. that my fingers mimic. a cramp pulses and i instinctively smooth the purple corduroy jumper with no waist (a button down, fully buttoned) that covers my torso and jump. i can think of nothing other than rabbits and holes and time and ticking clocks. my eyes track an analog clock affixed to the white cinderblock wall. both hands move – backward. i’m trapped and will soon grow large / the challenge larger. i mouth silent curses and nearly snap. oh dear / oh dear. the women snap photos – mostly selfies – and laugh. their high-pitched voices (of innocence not yet incensed) remind me of a childhood quilt – one with snoopy, hello kitty, and strawberry shortcake patches / hand-stitched. i no longer recognize my own hands – most nails are bitten, all cuticle beds are raw." bed of roses" once a favorite song. i remain on the toilet. wounded though not wasted. and try hard to reclaim a moment / a morning – i don’t know how. the women continue to chatter. one says, we shouldn’t / it’s not the right time. another replies, it’s the only time / we must. and they do - i watch them coat their lips in thick cherry red gloss. i squint and inhale, then flush. i exhale and groan. "bed of roses" plays – somewhere / perhaps nowhere. the women silence. are you okay, one whispers. her eyes track then trace the source of my vocals. their postures shift. i see my reflection (green) in the sheen of her patent leather purse and reply - i do not know. of all the things i’ve ever believed, i’ve never felt more alone.


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.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

IF THIS WERE A SAM ALITO POEM

by Dick Westheimer






Learn to predict a fire with unerring precision.

Then burn down the house to fulfill the prediction.

Czeslaw Milsoz



If this were a Sam Alito poem,  it would be written in tidy couplets, matched in beat and time. It would forget that words are born from grunts and battle cries, that swords decide which terms can be used and which are taboo, that the right to cleave your neighbor with a steel blade is her duty to bear Samuel’s baby, the one he so loves, the one that he is willing to render in tersets and turds, to bang and clang the lines into refrigerator magnets with the only words being “life” and “thoughts” and “and” and “prayers.”


If this were an Amy Coney Barrett poem, The First Word In Each Line Would Be  Capitalized, the lines themselves would neatly rhyme, would chime with the rhythm of the Sainted Ones, entrain with the iambs of a military parade—with goose-stepping Aunties’ heads and staffs held high, saluting to the the crowd of Commander’s wives in their hues of blue, and to the Guardians of the Right who know a thing or two about the bump and mad grind, about how we’re all inclined to naughty deeds with the lights turned off with a glory hole chemise cagoule between a woman and the beasts with their hairy parts and the beat of steeple-hatted bigots stomping time on courthouse floorboards.


If this were a Clarence Thomas poem, the meter will be trochee, a hammer hammer hammer double time.  It would be a sestina cycling lines of the before times when men were men and women were not, when guns were muskets and books were sewn with linen thread, when Coke cans shed the hair of the dog that bit us all, when what was written in the age of powdered wigs was wise and there would be a crowning of a New King who’d reign over a land where men who held hands with men were melted down into guns anointed by boys who’d hold lead to the heads of women great with child.


And if this were my poem, the verse would be blank, the words mute, the letters scattered across the page. The white space would be smudged with ash, the margins smudged with blood and pocked with powder burns. The verse would exercise its right to remain silent, cuffed to a chair, pregnant, with despair.



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.

JUSTICE, CLARENCE?

by Geoffrey Philp




Justice Clarence Thomas, hailed as the “brightest
possible northern star“ and lauded as a “legal titan”

prefers the sobriquet of Originalist, a justice intent
on reversing laws not explicit in the Constitution.

And while he remained quiet during oral arguments,
he’d been preparing tortured briefs against abortion

and affirmative action, which he called a threat
to the “notion of equality,” in his considered opinion.

But I wonder what the other black-robed justices think.
For at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia

Clarence would’ve been reduced to 3/5 of a man—
His marriage would’ve been ruled as miscegenation

His home surrounded by hooded men on horseback:
“Don’t be scared, ma’am. We’re just here for the n***er.”


Geoffrey Philp is the author of two novels, Garvey’s Ghost and Benjamin, my son,, three children’s books, including Marcus and the Amazons, and two collections of short stories. He has also published five books of poetry. His forthcoming books include a graphic novel for children titled My Name is Marcus and a collection of poems titled Archipelagos. His forthcoming poetry collection 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. He is currently working on a collection of poems titled Letter from Marcus Garvey. He can be found on twitter and on instagram.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

JOHNNY DEPP WINS, AND I, LIKE SO MANY OTHERS, THINK OF THE MAN WHO ABUSED ME

by Emma Rhodes




I’m in a courtroom with him in my dreams.
Years live, tangible and growing inside of me.
Stench rotting from the inside out makes me gag, and

the judge thinks I drink and doesn’t believe a word I say.
 
As things rot, their appearance, smell, stories change. 
Leave something to fester long enough it becomes absence, 
memories warp but sickness remains. 
 
We beg you to believe our guts even when they stink.
 
There is a constant drip on the windshield of this car. The evidence is shown 
through the screen so it’s water-warped & memory-warped & 
dream-warped but he doesn’t deny a thing
 
The jury appreciates his honesty, his charm. 
 
Court takes a break. He says we need to play laser-tag—the judge said so. 
That can’t be true and yet suddenly I’m shot by light from all angles, 
put me under a spotlight and call me a liar.
 
The water continues to drip on the windshield.
 
They tell me I had the means to get out. Look at me now. Just drive away they say. Just drive away if it was so bad why didn’t you leave but facing the other wall is a boot on the wheel and I am stuck in his bed, his bathtub, pacing the one single hallway while he left in a car to see 
 
his parents (who are so proud of him, by the way. He was always a great boy.)
 
And Taylor Swift hasn’t said anything this time, none of the #MeToo baddies have spoken.
The water on the windshield breaks through and shatters. 
Glass shards in the courtroom. Everyone yells 
 
“violence!”
 
And I am left. Picking up one shard after another. He walks by, stomps on a shard so it crumbles into a million more (another inconsistency), says 
 
“thanks for keeping me around.”
 
I’ll stop writing about violence when I stop seeing it. 
I’ll stop writing about violence when the world stops trying to kill its women.  


Emma Rhodes is an emerging Queer writer currently living on the unceded territory of the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee people. Her work has been published in places such as Prism International, Plenitude, Riddle Fence, and elsewhere.

Friday, June 24, 2022

TODAY STARTED OUT WITH A HOPEFUL MOMENT

by Mark Danowsky


by Andrew Shu



“My dear fellow, who will let you?”
“That’s not the point. The point is, who will stop me?”
                        - Ayn Rand (The Fountainhead)

 
a story about an eagle
saving a baby hawk
instead of devouring

an eagle
the symbol of America
making a surprising choice

a moment of silence now
for humanity
who often shows no mercy

here comes the blood
sacrifices of scapegoats
who cry out the injustice

the weight of voices in pain
screams must echo
there is no way to ignore this 


Mark Danowsky is Editor-in-Chief of ONE ART: a journal of poetry. He is the author of As Falls Trees (NightBallet Press) and JAWN (Moonstone Press). A short collection Violet Flame is forthcoming from tiny wren lit. 

THE DAY ROE V. WADE WENT AWAY

by Susan Cossette


This is where I woke up,
sweaty, in beige underwear
a dirty nightshirt,a
my hair in moist tendrils.
 
The light barely comes in
through the grey shades.
When it does,
there is dust in the light.
Skin cells, pet dander float.
 
There are black wool robes,
hung on an iron bar along the cement wall.
The cats claw and climb, then flee.
 
Dark-robed figures point at me
and put the red hood over my head.

Judges, all of them.


Susan Cossette lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The author of Peggy Sue Messed Up, she is a recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rust and Moth, Vita Brevis, ONE ART, As it Ought to Be, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Amethyst Review, Crow & Cross Keys, Loch Raven Review, and in the anthologies Fast Fallen Women (Woodhall Press), Tuesdays at Curley’s (Yuganta Press), and After the Equinox.

A LOADED GUN

by Ann E. Wallace

after Emily Dickinson


by C.B.


Had my life but stood 
a loaded gun, I might have 
roamed these sovereign states
with ease and in the open.
 
But though this woman’s body
may live longer than its lover,
or its foe, it receives no such 
constitutional protections.
 
We grant inalienable safeguards 
to our guns, as to the men who
cock and press the sacred trigger
with force and as they please.
 
If I were indeed that loaded gun, 
my liberty to choose, to carry 
or to abort, would be a right 
that is secured in perpetuity.


Ann E. Wallace is a poet and essayist from Jersey City, New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter @annwlace409 or on Instagram @annwallace409.

GRANDMA'S NIGHTGOWN

by Sally Zakariya




Handed down and down 
faded to palest purple
now tissue-soft cotton

A slit in the seam 
allows a quick glimpse
of that intimate intersection
of love and creation
hers to do with what she will
or so we thought for years 
until the high court snatched
that liberty away

Sleepy, she smooths
the thrice-owned nightgown
snuggles down under
the supposed safety 
of a heavy blanket 
dreams of owning 
her own self


Sally Zakariya’s poetry has appeared in 100 publications and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her publications include Something Like a Life, Muslim Wife, The Unknowable Mystery of Other People, Personal Astronomy, and When You Escape. She edited and designed a poetry anthology, Joys of the Table, and blogs at www.butdoesitrhyme.com.

U.S. SUPREME COURT PROTECTS GUNS

by Penelope Scambly Schott


Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast: “Inside the Celebrity Murder Behind the Gun Law SCOTUS Just Gutted,” June 23, 2022


“A State may not prevent law-abiding citizens from publicly carrying handguns because they have not demonstrated a special need for self-defense,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote.


Through the arched cap
of my neighbor’s brick chimney
the sky so deep blue
and above his chimney
and all around town
while here in my garden        
yellow roses pink roses
and across the continent
over distant chimneys
under other skies
the noise of gunshots
the triumph of lies


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.

THERE'S A WORD FOR IT

by Leonore Hildebrandt




All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify, and we become president, and you are the happiest people. APPLAUSE. (January 6, 2021 at a rally on the Ellipse near the White House.)


The royal we
is willing to usurp us,
but there’s more—
this we promising 
a glory-to-be-shared
is needy. It’s endemic—
the we who owns land 
is vying for water and sky,
it wants more time supreme, 
the we who pulls strings
absolutely needs 
more applause 
from us—which is 
the happiest you,
the you that we now needs 
to storm our building
and more—to holler 
and ram it all through.
And then it’s us 
who’s put to shame.
Pleonexia—more
than greed. 


Leonore Hildebrandt is the author of Where You Happen to Be, The Next Unknown, and The Work at Hand. Her poems and translations have appeared in the Beloit Poetry Journal, Cafe Review, Cerise Press, Harpur Palate, Rhino, and the Sugar House Review among other journals. Leonore lives “off the grid” in Harrington, Maine. 

Thursday, June 23, 2022

UNNATURAL DISASTER

by Dick Altman


The U.S. Forest Service failed to consider how a changing climate could make the landscape more flammable, didn’t adequately estimate the risk of a controlled fire escaping and used incomplete weather information as a prescribed burn went awry and later formed the largest wildfire in New Mexico history, the agency said in a report released Tuesday. The 85-page report describes how federal fire managers, who felt under pressure to complete the prescribed burn while they had the available personnel, made miscalculations and overlooked warning signs—including low humidity, the potential for erratic winds on complex terrain and the heavy, dry fuel loads that could stoke a runaway fire. Although crews followed the burn plan, it contained flawed and incomplete analyses, and some guidelines were out of date amid a prolonged drought, the report said. The result: The prescribed burn ignited a wildfire that later merged with another prescribed burn to create the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire, scorching 341,746 acres as of Tuesday and destroying hundreds of homes in a 500-square-mile area. Santa Fe New Mexican, June 21, 2022. Photo: Hot shot crew members keep an eye on a blaze June 15 as fire crews ignite the underbrush in an effort to contain the Pipeline Fire near Flagstaff, Ariz. (Rachel Gibbons/Arizona Daily Sun/AP via The Washington Post)


Northern New Mexico

Sixty days of flame—
and I watch the sky
as a sailor watches the sea—
for signs in color and wind
and heading—to tell me
how even the air tires
of hefting its load of ash—
of remains of homestead
and livestock—tall-pine
forest—tractor and pickup
 
Until you’ve seen
a high plains landscape
scorched into a nightscape—
a contagion of char—
blackness wherever you look—
you don’t realize what a task
to bend language
into a portrait of asteroidal
extinction—a voided canvas
of negative space that may
take nature forever—if ever—
to paint over and fill in
For friends who’ve lost all—
out of fire simmers the future
in a boil of uncertainty—
a rage smoldering in the mind—
no dream fully smothers
 
How can I with words reseed
generations of struggle—
sow trust that morning ignites yet
with sun’s benign fury—perhaps
not tomorrow—or the next—
but one day—amid sapling
of needle and leaf—short
grass prairie fed upon
by mother and calf—fields
you begin again to recognize
as the only soil you’ve worked—
and wept over—since you were
born
 
 
Dick Altman writes in the high, thin, magical air of Santa Fe, NM, where, at 7,000 feet, reality and imagination often blur. He is published in Santa Fe Literary Review, American Journal of Poetry, riverSedge, Fredericksburg Literary Review, Foliate Oak, Blue Line, THE Magazine, Humana obscura, The Offbeat, Haunted Waters Press, Split Rock Review, The RavensPerch, Beyond Words, The New Verse News, Sky Island Journal, and others here and abroad.  A poetry winner of Santa Fe New Mexican’s annual literary competition, he has in progress two collections of some 100 published poems. His work has been selected for the first volume of The New Mexico Anthology of Poetry forthcoming from the New Mexico Museum Press.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

PICTURE PROBLEM

by Rémy Dambron


Video footage (via The Texas Tribune) recorded inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde at 12:04 p.m. May 24. Authorities stormed the classroom at 12:50 p.m.


this picture
evidence we all see 
now for the first time

released 

officers’ long guns drawn
from behind ballistic shields 
formed up for an advance 

but shockingly at a halt

at least five men
sworn trained and well-armed
against the one 

*murderer of children still

the photo’s caption 
stating the time scene was 
captured

12:04pm

just underneath 
another detail displayed
authorities storm the classroom

12:50pm

forty-six minutes
they stood by to witness
as calls for help simply went

(unanswered)

as parents right outside 
against their wishes 
hands tied

by more armed men who just waited

for forty-six minutes
they wouldn’t act, only witness
another sickening school shooting

ensue


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

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

TWITTER VS THE NEW VERSE NEWS — UPDATE

It wasn’t easy, but finally we found the right place at Twitter to complain about the undermining of our urls on their platform. We sent them yesterday’s posting (below) to explain our position. 

Within hours—albeit without explanation or apology—Twitter reversed the sanctions against us.

You and we can again tweet all of our urls.



A few years ago, Facebook took down, without explanation or right to appeal, our page on that platform.

Yesterday, when we tried to tweet an announcement that included our url TheNewVerse.News about the day’s new poems, our tweet was disallowed with this explanation: “We can't complete this request because this link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially harmful. Visit our Help Center to learn more.”

The same happens if we attempt to tweet our basic url: http://newversenews.blogspot.com .

And if anyone tries to click those urls from a tweet, they see this message:


NVN readers know that this journal is guilty of none of the characteristics Twitter lists above.

Neither @TwitterSupport nor https://help.twitter.com/en has provided any specific explanation or any path to appeal.

We can’t help but believe that right-wing haters who loathe the progressive politics of this journal have fed Twitter lies about us.

We will try to work around these problems on Twitter for as long as we can.

And, of course, The New Verse News site itself has not been affected. Not yet anyway.

But we are discouraged.

James

Monday, June 20, 2022

SEQUEL

by Susan Barry-Schulz



          
 
we’ve started
already
 
marring Mars
with our glittering
litter
 
dotted earth debris
in the form
of blended aluminized
specialty fabrics
 
first wind-blown
across a dusty landscape
 
now lodged
in the rugged rocks
of an ancient river delta
on another planet
 
how capable
how culpable


Susan Barry-Schulz grew up just outside of Buffalo, New York. She is a licensed physical therapist living with chronic illness and an advocate for mental health and reducing stigma in IBD. Her work has appeared in The New Verse News, SWWIM, Barrelhouse online, Nightingale & Sparrow, Shooter Literary Magazine, Kissing Dynamite, The Wild Word, Bending Genres, Feral, Quartet, Wordgathering, Gyroscope Review, Harpy Hybrid Review, West Trestle Review, and elsewhere.

I SMELL HER CHOKE

by Mayank Chugh




as I lay/ under the Joshua tree/ I hear the rain/ drown/ the rainbow history/ while I cry/ with my Yellowstone/ earth/ rumbling in pain/ her resilience wavering/ my love/ endangered/ there’s nothing wrong/ with her you said/ it’s all a lie/ the fireplace/ in your homes/ fuming/ with her black blood/ since when/ it’s a lie/ science & suffering/ a cure it is/ for survival/ with instincts/ if you can/ save your mothers/ with pills & potions/ why not mine/ don’t you see her/ melting/ with betrayal/ breathing hardly/ with her mouth/ cracked open   


Author’s Note: This piece is based on the urgency of climate change. Last week we saw rippling videos and images of flooding in the Yellowstone national park, which led to closing of the park in decades. We also discovered world's biggest gas leak of methane in a coal mine in Russia. Although these two events might be unrelated, they are correlative and suggestive of what is about to come. Science does not lie. As a scientist and inhabitant, it hurts to see the planet, the only home we have known, slowly dying, and not doing enough about it. I hope you will resonate will this personal work. 


A cell biologist and diversity activist at Harvard Medical School,  Mayank Chugh is a poet and an artist. He is a selected poet at Through These Realities, a New England art installation project 2022 challenging the narratives of mass media that invalidates experiences of people of colour. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Narrative Northeast, The Lumiere Review, Spry Literary Journal, and Pepper Mag.Twitter/Instagram @mayank_mchugh

ON "FLICKERING" BY YOSHIO OKADA

by Jenna Le


“Flickering” Box with Sprinkled Design of Jellyfish, 2020, by Yoshio Okada


Wood box decorated with
gold and silver lacquer
on a polished black lacquer ground
with shell inlays and shell overlays
depicting the coin and ribboned-hat shapes
of jellyfish, 

those invertebrates prophesied
to engulf the ocean entire
if climate change continues unchecked: 

if this is how we must die,
well, Yoshio,
this wood box of yours
would at least make a beautiful coffin


Jenna Le is the author of Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011); A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora (Indolent Books, 2017), a Second Place winner in the Elgin Awards; and Manatee Lagoon (forthcoming from Acre Books, October 2022). Her poetry appears in AGNI, Denver Quarterly, Los Angeles Review, Massachusetts Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Pleiades, Poet Lore, Verse Daily, and West Branch

Sunday, June 19, 2022

BIGOTS SHOWED UP TO PRIDE WEARING KHAKIS

by Chad Frame


Authorities in northern Idaho are leaving open the possibility for more criminal charges against 31 white nationalists accused of planning to riot at a weekend Pride festival. Members of a group known as Patriot Front face misdemeanor charges of conspiracy to start a riot. —NPR, June 14, 2022


and it was tacky. So, you want to send 
a message to the gays? Don't do it dressed
like you're about to solicit us all 

to open Best Buy credit cards. Don't rent 
a gas-guzzling, garish orange U-Haul 
and blare Skynyrd out the rolled-down windows

on the Interstate (I want to say I-
eighty something—which, by the way, is how 
old you look. Do you even moisturize?) 

Okay, we get it—you hate us. Still want
to get your point across? Let's start with names. 
No gay will ever repent at the sound

of the name Patriot Front. How about
Patriot Daddy? Patriot Power 
Top? Or Patriot You've Been a Naughty

Prideful Little Piggy and Here We Are 
to Set You Straight? Now we're getting somewhere.
Now, let's talk about that slogan—Reclaim 

America. We already did that 
at Stonewall, remember? That is so June
1969. You'll need something fresh, 

catchy—a real earworm. Might I suggest
Hey, Girl, That Look's Fire, and We Mean Hellfire?
Or consider Stop Trying to Make Fetch 

and Your Alternative Lifestyles Happen
Look, I don't know. Workshop it a little.
Christ. Do I have to do everything?


Chad Frame is the author of Little Black Book (Finishing Line Press, 2022), Director of the Montgomery County Poet Laureate Program, and Poet Laureate Emeritus of Montgomery County, PA, a founding member of the No River Twice poetry improv and performance troupe, Poetry Editor of Ovunque Siamo, and founder of the Caesura Poetry Festival and Retreat. His work appears in Rattle, Pedestal, Barrelhouse, and elsewhere, is available on iTunes, and was sent to the moon.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

ASSANGED

by Lisa Seidenberg




UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has signed an order to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (above) to the United States, where he faces espionage charges, in a decision his organization said marked a "dark day for press freedom." —CNN, June 17, 2022


For publishing classified documents
Of military strikes on innocents
Hits on civilians and wartime blunders
In Iraq and Afghanistan, in shocking numbers
It was not a surprise they took him down
Debating if he is journalist
Assange was a one man wanted list

Sheltered for years in the Embassy of Equador
Until they booted him out the door
His mental state, on view, alarming
But, even so, could still be quite charming
Befriended Pamela Lee, a Hollywood alum
Then fathered two babies and married their mum
While passing the hours awaiting a decision
By London magistrates on his extradition

Why does one choose a life so perilous
When most of us risk so much less?
Or did Julian not know what fate would hold
For one who opted to be so bold
To defy the FBI 
And the CIA
To imagine they would look the other way?
In a more principled world - but not today.

Present day martyrs like Assange and Navalny
Join those in history who took a stand
And paid a high price with stern reprimand
For the crime of speaking truth to power 
And not run away—or cower
I would not do so but let us pause to admire
Those who step out of line and into the fire.


Lisa Seidenberg is a writer and filmmaker residing in Connecticut. Twitter: @Leeside33