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Wednesday, August 31, 2022


by Terri Kirby Erickson 

Sunday school at a Baptist church in Kentucky, 1946 

The Board has determined that fifth grade,
which may be too late for some, is the most
optimal time to inform girls that post-birth
females are not fully autonomous human 
beings. No adverse circumstances or plans
or dreams or medical emergencies trump 
your legal and moral responsibility to give 
birth should any male, whether by force or 
consent, plant his seed in the fertile ground 
of a uterus that becomes, immediately upon
conception, the sole property of The State
The Board, comprised of five men and two 
wholly compliant women, strives to remain 
sympathetic to how hard it must be for you 
to accept this news, having been so revered 
before birth and deceived into believing you 
have the same rights and post-delivery value 
as boys and men. Let us assure you today, 
that you do not. Indeed, should you become 
pregnant and experience a life-threatening 
situation, the continuation of a fetal heart-
beat is all that matters. Furthermore, there 
are many government agencies dedicated to 
ensuring that, under penalty of death or life 
in prison for all involved, no pregnancy is
unlawfully terminated. No questions? Then 
you are, as will often be the case, dismissed.

Terri Kirby Erickson is the author of six collections of poetry, including A Sun Inside My Chest (Press 53), winner of an International Book Award for Poetry. Her work has appeared in “American Life in Poetry,” Asheville Poetry Review, JAMA,Poet’s Market, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore (QLRS)The SUN, The Writer’s Almanac, Third Wednesday, and many more. Other awards include the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize and a Nautilus Silver Book Award. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2022


by Kenton K. Yee

Dean Young, 1955-2022

In The Art of Recklessness (Graywolf, 2010), the poet Dean Young's exhilarating book-length essay on writing poetry, he repeatedly questions and rejects the idea that the most important thing in writing poetry is an acquired mastery of craft, suggesting that it comes at the expense of intuition, risk-taking, wildness, and negative capability. He writes, exasperatedly and in all caps, "WE ARE MAKING BIRDS, NOT BIRDCAGES!" —Michael Dumanis, Editor of Bennington Review

I ping. I ping love.
I ping love and I love pings.
Here’s one from the library:
Due in two.
Love me my deadlines.
Ping me butter melting,
cantaloupe ripening,
gasps quickening.
Dean Young.
I’m waiting for the gulls to return my goldfish.
I’m waiting for squirrels to sing like nightingales,
daisies to bear me raspberries,
and bonsai trunks or cornflakes.
I’m waiting for bugles to herald the dying of salmon.
All this sun and all that sun.
The melting hours. Starlight. Dew.
The lackadaisical one
who settles for steam turned to rice.

Author’s Note: This poem is in memory of Dean Young, who passed away a few days ago. When I first took up poetry, I didn't know what to make of Dean Young and his rich language and ranging movements. Now, he's become one of my poetry role models.

Kenton K. Yee recently placed poetry in Constellations, Plume Poetry, The Threepenny Review, The Indianapolis Review, Matter, Lily Poetry Review, and Pembroke Magazine, among others. An Iowa Summer Poetry Workshop alumnus, he writes from northern California.

Monday, August 29, 2022


by Tom Bauer

‘Self-indulgent’: Churchill statue plans stir public controversy, perplexity over motivation. Statue will be installed at Calgary’s McDougall Centre in 2023. —Livewire Calgary, August 27, 2022

Like deadly white mold, signs keep surfacing.
The skin of life develops pustules and blisters;
past echos of a fierce disease of dominance
resurfacing to blight the natural landscape.

Looking at faces I see hope and care.
I see landscapes of spontaneous growth
moving as one towards some shared outcome
each of us unconsciously wants to see.

Statues do not see, and will not see us through
their purpose, ownership of all we seem.
Their stone presence blocks our human landscape.

The greatest monument might come to be
feeling connected when we come together
and see the real enemy: the harms we cause.

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

Sunday, August 28, 2022


by Mike Mesterton-Gibbons

Pope Francis on Saturday inducted 20 cardinals from around the world, choosing men who mostly agree with his vision of a more progressive and inclusive Church and influencing their choice of his eventual successor. —Reuters, August 27, 2022

Pope Francis [born Jorge Bergoglio] says he wouldn't live in the Vatican or return to his native Argentina if and when he ever retires. ABC News, July 12, 2022

Joe Ratzinger's a marvel. He gets ten
Off me for walking when his sun had set—
Retiring from his job as pontiff when
God told him he was past it—though he'd get
Eleven if the saintly fellow would
Be called, not Benedict, but Joe the Pope
Emeritus, and twelve if Joseph could
Remember his white cassocks are a nope!...
Go back to Argentina, or be found
On Vatican estates, if I step down?
Good heavens, no! Don't let me hang around,
Let Jorge hold confessions in the town
If he retires... But I'm not going yet—
Or you'll get some hardliner I'll regret!

Mike Mesterton-Gibbons is a Professor Emeritus at Florida State University who has returned to live in his native England. His acrostic sonnets have appeared in Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Better Than Starbucks, the Creativity Webzine, Current Conservation, the Daily Mail, the Ekphrastic Review, Grand Little Things, Light, Lighten Up Online, The New Verse News, Oddball Magazine, Rat’s Ass Review, the Satirist, The Washington Post, and WestWard Quarterly.

Saturday, August 27, 2022


by Robin Wright

First day of school, pens, pencils, notebooks,
scissors, crayons, lunch bag, corralled and ready,
along with fear, anxiety, worry.
Parents hopeful—not their children’s school, 
not their children’s lives on the next segment 
of the news with police interviews on who, how many. 
I watch a video of a mother teaching her child 
what to do in case a shooter appears at school, 
run to the corner, curl up behind his backpack. 
Do not let anyone tell him he doesn’t need 
this small wall of protection. She instructs him 
on what to say, NOTHING.
She tells him, be small, be quiet, run if you can. 
I will find you. Yes, I will find you,
wearing your Spiderman backpack.

Robin Wright lives in Southern Indiana. Her work has appeared in The New Verse NewsOne ArtAs it Ought to BeThe DrabbleBombfire LitYoung Ravens Literary Review, Olney MagazineRat’s Ass ReviewMuddy River Poetry Review,Sanctuary, and othersShe is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and her first chapbook, Ready or Not, was published by Finishing Line Press in October of 2020.

Friday, August 26, 2022


by Chris O’Carroll
In an appearance back in his home state of Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) downplayed the odds of Republicans reclaiming the Senate—and, by extension, him reclaiming the title of majority leader. In doing so, he suggested that “candidate quality” was a key factor.
“I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate,” McConnell said, according to NBC News. “Senate races are just different—they’re statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.” —The Washington Post, August 18, 2022

Candidate quality
Doesn’t look great for the
GOP’s brand.

Voters seem cool to those
Mouthing the lies MAGA
Wingnuts demand.

Chris O’Carroll is the author of The Joke’s on Me and Abracadabratude.  His poems have also appeared in the Potcake Chapbook series, New York City Haiku, Extreme Sonnets, Love Affairs at the Villa Nelle, and The Great American Wise Ass Poetry Anthology, among other collections.

Thursday, August 25, 2022


by Chad Parenteau

Now comes the latest upheaval for the [Boston’s] weary commuters: a complete 30-day shutdown of the Orange Line, the area’s second most-traveled subway line, which typically provides 101,000 passenger trips a day from Boston’s southwest neighborhoods through its downtown core and into Somerville, Medford and Malden, three cities to the north. Transit officials announced the shutdown after a series of safety problems on the T, as the region’s transit system is known, including an Orange Line train that caught fire in July while on a bridge, prompting one rider to jump into the Mystic River below. —The New York Times, August 23, 2022

First of trainless
thirty days, possibly
preluding forever.
Slower busses
bound for Mattapan
might have chance
to shine, if not for
oversized shuttles
to Copley Square
pushing commerce
first, blocking last
gasps of commute.
Newspaper calls it
“Orange Crush’
because if officials
could tighten belts,
poke extra holes,
make new notches,
stretch bodies further
from city’s center,
they already would.
Forrest Hills remains
quiet as crematorium,
ashen holdovers already
gone from benches.
Nobody wants to be
left further behind.

Chad Parenteau hosts Boston's long-running Stone Soup Poetry series. His latest collection is The Collapsed Bookshelf. 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 JournalNixes Mate Review, and the anthology Reimagine America from Vagabond Books. He serves as Associate Editor of the online journal Oddball Magazine.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022


by Cecil Morris

Photo by Stu_Spivak

The Bible is among dozens of books [including the graphic novel adaptation of Anne Frank's diary and numerous books with LGBTQ+ themes or characters] removed from this Texas school district. —NPR, August 18, 2022

I like our high school library now—the high ceiling,
the tall windows inviting light, the shelves throwing
their long shadows onto each other, their blond wood,
so easy to dust and polish now. Something stately,
a little grand, a little minimalist—a kind
of puritan austerity, I think you could say,
now that all the books have been withdrawn, all the ideas
removed from circulation, stored now off site and out
of sight. No more books to face or edge or try to dust,
those uneven tops. No more rows of books to cull
for the out of date, the never read—or checked out,
at least—the ones defaced by flip-page cartoons, or drawn-
in dicks, or very personal slurs that should be kept
to lavatory stalls. No more issuing fines
for books late or lost. I know, as librarian,
I should miss the books, both learned tomes and flights
of fantasy, but this vacuous cleanliness
appeals to my love of order and simplicity,
and the kids—the students—still come in with their phones
where they can find the whole world in bite-size chunks,
where they can Google, scroll, and cite Wikipedia.
And I do not have to check anything out or in
or shush any heads bent over the little lights.
I guess this is what the school board and parents want.

Cecil Morris, a retired high school English teacher, divides his time between Oregon and California.  He has poems in or forthcoming from 3Elements, Ekphrastic Review, English Journal, Evening Street Review, Hiram Review, Hole in the Head Review, The New Verse News, Scapegoat, Talking River Review, and other literary magazines.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022


by Alejandro Escudé

A lizard, small, on my walk along 
the largest airport in the country,
dead, curled, fetus-like, so swift
they are as they shoot back toward
the ivy mounds. At times I imagine
how many trash bins would the 
lizards fill if they were all collected
from the overgrowth—so I take
with my iPhone a photo of him,
Cretaceous little being, extinct, 
and think about the latest warning
issued to all Apple users, a hack
where they could take control,
absolute control, the newscaster
asserts, of your phone. I yearn
for a return to those lizard days
when I couldn’t carry around
a sea of digital pirates, both legal
and illegal, a neon mind-maze,
yet enough data to assume society’s 
panoptic perch. I choose to keep 
from running another space race
with my phone, contemplate
the deadness of a dead lizard
on the sidewalk as monolithic 
shadows of planes, like the foot-
prints of a dinosaur accelerated 
in time, mesh onward to the west.

Alejandro Escudé published his first full-length collection of poems My Earthbound Eye in September 2013. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis and teaches high school English. Originally from Argentina, Alejandro lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

Monday, August 22, 2022


by Kenneth J. Purscell

We could argue all day long
On where the Founders stood 
Regarding things like Christ and church
And Triune personhood.

And some who do so feel compelled
To stand and testify,
To preach and rescue souls because
They fear the End is nigh.

But when "producing" Broadway shows,
Believers must get real.
You'd think a church should not forget

Kenneth J. Purscell is a retired retail cashier, adjunct professor, and pastor. He has been published sporadically, but has made submission more of a habit. He lives with his wife Koni in the south suburbs of Chicago. And he apologizes to Lin-Manuel, who probably could have done this better.

Sunday, August 21, 2022


by Alfred Fournier

Water levels at Lake Mead have fallen dramatically amid a record drought. Compare the satellite images of the lake in 2000 and in 2022, and you can see the stark decline. NASA Earth Observatory via Vox, August 17, 2022

shrunken by drought, 
reveal body by body our sins: 
bricks heaved into once-deep water. 
Inch by inch, layers of strata denuded 
become sheets of ancient music 
played on instruments of doom. 
One last chorus for the climate scientists, 
our voices rising in thin atmosphere,
where far above the moon peers down. 
Is that a frown on the old man’s face, 
or does our willful dance with fate amuse him? 

Alfred Fournier is an entomologist, writer and community volunteer living in Phoenix, Arizona. His poetry has appeared in The New Verse News, International Times, The Main Street Rag, The American Journal of Poetry, The Indianapolis Review, and elsewhere. 

Saturday, August 20, 2022


by Sarah Mackey Kirby

Eastern Kentucky has long been neglected. After recent floods, locals are relying on each other yet again. —CNN, August 9, 2022

beat loss,
beat wood slat rubble,
beat morning Appalachia.
It’s patch-up and fix-up
and clean-up and move-on
time again. The mountains
know these folks. The ones
in old boats, still combing
flooded neighborhoods
with their own homes in shambles.
Teachers without classrooms and
workers taking charge throughout the night.
Sorting clothes and preparing supply
boxes in shelters. Manning the grills.
Handing out water bottles.
Somehow landing on their feet
as they know to do. The coal mine jobs
lost but the sickness those wrought.
The lack of work to replace them.
The stubborn terrain. Two parties that’ve
fought to be the one who gets to use them.
Same generations of neglect. Different name.
Humble people, caricatured through time,
whose character shows despite their pain.
Nurses care for patients. Art and music bring
the light. The breeze blows through soaring pines.
And when the world tires and the cameras leave
and the mud dries and the current-event poems
become current only for them, they’ll keep asking
their neighbors, “Y’all need somethin’?”
Talking distinct Eastern Kentucky, offering help.
Saying, “Bless your heart” to those who’ve never
once tried to understand. Picking up what’s left of
family pictures and damaged front porch swings.
Together. Always rebuilding.

Sarah Mackey Kirby grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. She is the author of the poetry collection The Taste of Your Music (Impspired, 2021). Her work appears in Chiron Review, Impspired Magazine, Muddy River Poetry Review, The New Verse News, Ploughshares, Third Wednesday Magazine, and elsewhere. She holds an MA in Teaching and a BA in Political Science from the University of Louisville. She and her husband spend their time in Kentucky and Ohio.


by Tricia Knoll

The flood of July 28, 2022 was not a natural disaster. To imply this flood, along with so many other weather-borne catastrophes plaguing our world, is a natural disaster is to say three things: We don’t know why it happened, we don’t know how it happened and we don’t know how to prevent the next one. But we do know the answers to these questions. We’ve known them for some time. A combination of unfettered capitalism, environmental degradation through extraction economies and government indifference or plain inaction have borne a land in these hills ripe for weather related disasters and left behind communities with little to no defenses against them. Charles Calhoun, Courier Journal, August 16, 2022

Since 1958, the amount of precipitation during heavy rainstorms has increased by 27 percent in the Southeast, and the trend toward increasingly heavy rainstorms is likely to continue. – What Climate Change Means for Kentucky, EPA, August 2016

When you have always lived in the holler
and the mortgage come due or the river
trickles your worries downstream, you accept
barking dogs, loose chickens in the road
and rusted trucks in the side yard. Kittens
thrive for a while. You know the business
and love affairs of neighbors and grandmothers.
Who has work and who doesn’t. 
Children know barefoot, few strangers,
and security in familiar. Ponies
run lean and the women leaner, 
mountains tall and a gravel lane narrow
—funnels for floodwater.  
You could say the name came from hollows
but you don’t. You honor salty talk while
a warming planet has its say with
record rains few had time to measure.
Refrigerators float and homes sweep down
to wrap around trees. You can scrabble
up a hillside, but like so many places
what grandparents built is gone. 
The holler has only one way out
and yours will never be the same. 

Tricia Knoll does not live in a holler but knows that everywhere is vulnerable to climate change.

Friday, August 19, 2022


by Jon Wesick
with apologies to Charlie Daniels

Jack Ohman: "A peach of a guy," The Sacramento Bee, August 18, 2022

Giuliani went down to Georgia, he was lookin’ for votes to steal
He was in a bind ‘cause Trump was way behind
And he was willin’ to make a deal
When he came across the DA writing subpoenas and slinging ‘em hot
And Giuliani pled attorney-client with Trump
And said, “girl, let me tell you what”
“I guess you didn’t know I’m a lawyer too
At least until I was disbarred
Now you got a pretty good grand jury, girl
But why you gotta’ make it so hard
Makin’ me travel to Atlanta
By bus, or train, or car?”
The DA said, “My name is Fani and I’m gonna’ win
And you can bet you’re gonna’ regret
‘Cause I’m the best there’s ever been”
Giuliani wiped off his hair dye and said, “I’ll start this grift”
And nothing else passed his lips except, “I take the fifth”
All the hacks at Fox News made an evil hiss
While Lindsey Graham filed appeals for judges to dismiss
Fani said, “You’re pretty slick, old son
But sit right there in the witness chair
And I’ll show you how it’s done”
Classified documents out in the sun
While Trump considers a twenty-four run
New York, Georgia, and Feds closing in
Holding our breath for justice to win
Giuliani hung his head ‘cause he knew he’d been beat
As he climbed down off the witness seat
And Fani cracked a smile
“Come on back to Georgia
I’ll see you at your trial”

Jon Wesick is a regional editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual. He’s published hundreds of poems and stories in journals such as the Atlanta Review, Berkeley Fiction Review, Metal Scratches, The New Verse News, Pearl, Slipstream, Space and Time, Tales of the Talisman, and Zahir. Jon is the author of the poetry collections Words of Power, Dances of Freedom and A Foreigner Wherever I Go as well as several novels and short story collections. His most recent novel is The Prague Deception.

Thursday, August 18, 2022


by Ron Riekki

Above: Nils-Aslak Valkeapää, known as Áillohaš in the Northern Sámi language (23 March 1943–26 November 2001), was a Finnish Sámi writer, musician and artist.

“I am not saving my life for the future” 
Nils-Aslak ValkeapääTrekways of the Wind 
Tomorrow I go in front of a board 
to speak on the allegations that I 
was “speaking of native issues too 
frequently in class.”  When I heard 
these allegations, no, this allegation, 
no, this pissing-on-a-bonfire, I had 
the revelation of being had.  I had, 
yes, in class, spoke of indigenous 
issues, not realizing it’s a crime, 
but I am guilty of being native, of 
being Sámi, of being Karjalaiset, 
of being of a background where I 
hear, here, “I’ve never heard of 
that.”  The that falling flat.  And 
it’s a board of seven people.  And 
it makes me think of the time in 
Berkeley, where I was walking 
down the street and saw a black 
man, around 70 years old, peace- 
fully being drunk, on a bench, 
buzzed, yes, eyes red, yes, and 
leaving the world alone, then 
a police car drove up and an 
officer asked the man some- 
thing and he said something 
and another cop car pulled up 
and another cop got out and 
another cop car pulled up and 
more police got out and then 
a van pulled up, a cop van, 
a SWAT team reaction for 
this septuagenarian swept up 
so quickly into the back of 
the swallowing vehicles, all 
painted black, as if to mock, 
as if to mask them in night 
where the body was taken 
and I stood there and realized 
how there is the centrality of 
overreaction, of SWAT-style 
action movie hyperbole where, 
in the end, there is the pairing 
of kissing the woman while 
killing the man who didn’t 
matter, the man who was 
reduced to villain and a woman 
seduced by cliché and audiences 
in the dark, snoring.  And a First 
Nation playwright in Montreal 
told me that Hollywood cinema 
is all about conflict, that they 
love conflict, because colonialism 
is hearted in conflict, but native 
playwriting and screenwriting and 
story is about community, not con- 
flict, not the incarceration of their 
films, but instead about connection, 
and he said that there was a reading 
where afterwards a white man 
raised his hand and said he’d have 
to be honest and he said the play 
was boring, and behind him was 
a group of Anishinaabe who were 
all in tears, their sleeves filled 
with tears, and this man was 
bored.  And tomorrow I don’t know 
if I am getting kicked out of college 
or if I’m getting killed out of college 
or if I’m getting left in decorticate 
position, funeraled, how I was told 
that I was not only speaking too 
much about native issues, but I was 
being too “aggressive” with how I 
was talking about native issues and 
an elder, Red Pipe Woman, on 
the phone told me, “Oh, let me get this 
straight: a native person is being 
told they are ‘aggressive.’  They’re 
telling you that you’re being ‘savage’ 
by speaking of native issues.”  And 
our laughter was as normal as all 
the tall clouds above, and our laughter 
was sky-deep, and our laughter was tears, 
and the grey clouds were coming and 
I love walking in the rain and I walked 
home and I wondered if tomorrow 
they were going to try to destroy me 
and tomorrow I am going to find out. 
And tomorrow I am going to find out. 
And I will live even if they kill me. 

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

Wednesday, August 17, 2022


by Jess Morgan

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — On the top floor of a modest two-story brick building near the shore of Lake Superior, the executive director of northern Minnesota’s only abortion clinic flits from room to room, checking in patients, fielding phone calls from people seeking appointments and handling billing questions from those struggling to pay. In the waiting room at WE Health Clinic in Duluth, patients from Wisconsin and Texas sit among Minnesotans — the leading edge of an expected uptick in out-of-state patients following the Supreme Court’s removal of the federal right to abortion. Photo: A clinic escort outside WE Health Clinic in Duluth, Minn., awaits the arrival of patients, Thursday, July 7, 2022. The clinic escorts protect patients from protesters as they approach and enter the clinic. (AP Photo/Derek Montgomery)

We mosh to punk in a shower of bubbles
and beer at house shows on Saturday
in my city where abortion is legal and safe.

Decked out in tin foil and wearing fish heads,
we flail and wail in the annual Smelt Parade
in my city where abortion is legal and safe.

Our earrings are handmade, we drink coffee
brewed downtown and our music is Homegrown
in my city where abortion is legal and safe.

An underground art collective hauls a piano
onto Lake Superior for improvisation opera
in my city where abortion is legal and safe.

We plow out each other’s cars in negative
thirty-degree temperature snow storms
in my city where abortion is legal and safe.

Our lake is as big as the sea. She is grounding,
healing and as comforting as living 
within a city where abortion is legal and safe.

Pro-choice protestors sing the child I babysit 
happy birthday and feed him cupcakes
in my city where abortion is legal and safe.

Indigenous land protectors chant and bring 
their drums when we rally for choice
in my city where abortion is legal and safe.

A surprising amount of us are queer or trans,
and my non-binary heart feels right at home
in my city where abortion is legal and safe.

I’d like to own goats on the outskirts of town,
and will only raise a family or give birth
in a city where abortion is legal and safe.

My co-workers and I work together to provide
patients with gender-affirming healthcare
in my city’s clinic where abortion is legal and safe.

Patients kiss my hand after a suction abortion,
thanking me for holding theirs during their procedure
in my city’s clinic where abortion is legal and safe.

Too many Duluthians make a poverty wage and rent 
isn’t cheap in my city where abortion is legal and safe.

And each day we must keep fighting for the culture,
clinic and city where abortion is legal and safe.

Jess Morgan is a nonbinary poet in Duluth, Minnesota where they juggle many hats. Their jobs include (but are not limited to) working as a wedding DJ, sound technician, patient educator for abortion services at WE Health clinic, hobby photographer, and occasional goat-sitter. They are a fiscal year 2022 recipient of a Creative Support for Individuals grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Poems they've written have been included (or are soon to be included) in The Nemadji Review, Prøve Art Gallery's Zine titled Emerge, and the Wisconsin Review. Jess shares a Tik Tok account with their partner called @ColdLakeHotPoets to capture their poetry adventures around Duluth.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022


by Dick Altman

"Ball players," a hand-colored lithograph by George Catlin (1796-1872)

How Indigenous Athletes Are Reclaiming Lacrosse: The Haudenosaunee Nationals lacrosse teams have a big ambition: competing in the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. —The New York Times, July 30, 2022

The sound
of a solid rubber
lacrosse ball
into my chest
at 90 mph.
I’m a goalie.
By game’s end
the ball tattoos
red impact circles
all over ribs
and thighs
a “save”.


Syllables poetic
of the Iroquois.
Now known as
nee, to my ear,
almost a poem
unto itself.
Star-strewn lacrosse
team that hopes—
and I share them—not
merely to win six years
from now Olympic gold.
But to trumpet
in the game’s balletic
clash and flow—
of stick on stick,
stick on flesh—
Native America’s
enduring—as I want
to imagine it
in the wider world.


I write this poem for you,
you of First Nations,
to acknowledge
what a privilege
it was to dance
in your ancestors’
To play one of your
magical stringed
instruments, whose
music lets me subdue
strikes in mid-flight.
Bladed ball of poetry
that writes across
my body its wounds.


I stand fifty years later
in front of the mirror.
If I look closely, I can
see fine broken blood
vessels, not of age,
but joy of deflecting
one more shot on goal.
One more Thud! of joyful
pain, to rhapsodize over
a lifetime.

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 forthcoming first volume of The New Mexico Anthology of Poetry to be published by the New Mexico Museum Press.

Monday, August 15, 2022


by Indran Amirthanayagam

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.

Sunday, August 14, 2022


by Julian O. Long

The Chicago Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds, 4-2, on Thursday, but that was hardly the point. Major League Baseball had once again found its way to Dyersville, Iowa, for its Field of Dreams game, and a sport that sometimes struggles with its technological future got a reminder of how great the game can be when it is broken down into its simplest form. “It’s really magic,” Cubs catcher Willson Contreras told reporters of the field, which is a short walk from the one used in “Field of Dreams,” the 1989 film starring Kevin Costner. “It has some kind of energy that I think is real.” —The New York Times, August 12, 2022

We gather as to a shrine
as to a place where prayer
has been valid, not to kneel
but to play or to observe
a sacred game. Sound of our
own wheels drove us crazy
but the year Matt Carpenter
rose from the dead and flashed
across the great white way like
a comet there was still America.
There were still the boys of summer
men playing a boys’ game dressed
in the holy garments of acolytes, dressed
in gladiatorial splendor, stadiums
full or empty still arrayed about
a plate we still called home.

Julian O. Long is a previous contributor to The New Verse News. His poems and essays have appeared in The Sewanee Review, Pembroke Magazine, New Mexico Magazine, and Horizon among others. Recent online publications have appeared or are forthcoming at The Piker Press, Better Than Starbucks, Raw Art Review, CulturMag, and Litbreak Magazine.

Saturday, August 13, 2022


by Mary K O'Melveny

Albert Woodfox, who is thought to have been held in solitary confinement longer than any individual in US history, having survived 43 years in a 6ft x 9ft cell in one of America’s most brutal prisons, has died aged 75. Woodfox’s death was made public on [August 4]… Woodfox was a member of the so-called “Angola Three”—prisoners who were wrongfully convicted of the 1972 murder of a prison guard, Brent Miller, in Louisiana state penitentiary. The prison was built on the site of a former slave plantation and was commonly known as Angola, after the country from which most of the plantation’s enslaved people had been transported. —The Guardian, August 4, 2022. Photo: Albert Woodfox after his release from prison in 2016. —Credit Brian Tarnowski, The New York Times, August 5, 2022

Some say we are alone throughout our life.
Others say loneliness is just a state of mind.
One’s search for inner peace is filled with strife
on our best days. Imagine doing it alone, confined
for forty-three years in a closet-sized prison cell
where one must confront inner demons, serious
fears, failures of will, spirit. He traveled through hell,
emerged home, freed by wisdom. Like Odysseus.

Mary K O'Melveny is a recently retired labor rights attorney who lives in Washington DC and Woodstock NY.  Her work has appeared in various print and on-line journals. Her most recent poetry collection is Dispatches From the Memory Care Museum, just out from Kelsay Books. Her first poetry chapbook A Woman of a Certain Age is available from Finishing Line Press. Mary’s poetry collection Merging Star Hypotheses was published by Finishing Line Press in January, 2020.

Friday, August 12, 2022


by David Chorlton

“El Jefe,” a jaguar last seen in Arizona nearly seven years ago, was spotted in the Mexican state of Sonora last year, researchers confirmed recently, reviving hopes that the species can thwart the border wall that bisects its natural habitat. Above: El Jefe in the Santa Rita Mountains in Arizona on April 30, 2015(AP). Below: El Jefe is seen in the central area of Sonora, Mexico in November 2021(AP). —The Washington Post, August 10, 2022

Land remembered
from the distance of a century
turns into rock and light afloat
on a thread of water
that runs down from a mountain and sings
to the stones in its path.
Here comes night with the moon in its teeth.
Here comes a prayer
with blood on its lip and a heart
that beats time with a past
it’s come to reclaim. When belief
has soaked back into sky
the sky wears a pelt
cut for survival as all the land beneath it
turns mysterious blue
and a jaguar at a water hole
licks away the stars. He’s invisible
all the way inside himself
and quiet as a holy man who went
into the desert for its solitude.
He’s shed one country’s language. Its grammar
ran as liquid through his limbs
and he spat out punctuation every time
he moved in for a kill. Here’s a pool
of thirst.
             A red cloud of breath.
Some bones.
                   A heartbeat running

David Chorlton is a longtime resident of Phoenix. While jaguar sightings are ever elusive, he is content to know that the big cats have allies in their quest for survival, such as the Northern Jaguar Project.

Thursday, August 11, 2022


by W. Barrett Munn

They hunt
as if they were four wolves,
a pack in pursuit of its prey.
When found they surround.
Fearsome, they isolate the young, the weak.
The black

night of the deserted moon masks
their padded steps but rapid hearts
and adrenal sweat unmasks
their stealth intent.

In silence they surround.
Less silent comes their rush:
Sudden. Sure.
They come as one
faceless, nameless, savage fury
until prey can only hope
survival of encounter
but this prey never had a chance:
judged and juried,
justified the pack brings down
its game, misguided hunger quelled.

In silence they survive
the questions; they
close the open net
no game escapes
no mistakes as
the righteousness of nature
nestles close.

Silence is a necessity
voices turn blue ischemic,
black and whites become necrotic.
But the smell won't fade in silence.
Stench always has a cost.

Silence as a weapon is
too weak when conscience speaks
too weak and unreliable when
other hunters—larger,
more powerful—
lay down their open traps.

W. Barrett Munn lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His poems have appeared in Copperfield Review Quarterly, Volney Road Review, Speckled Trout Review, and The Asses of Parnassus. He is a graduate of The Institute of Children's Literature where he studied under Larry Callen.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022


by Devon Balwit

A mind in a body, we want
the body not to suffer,
but bodies must learn
what illness is. To avoid
unpleasantness is to leave them
vulnerable to reinfection.
How tempting are blister-packed
nostrums when better
is to roll in our fever sweat
and full inflammation, each cell
a diligent student
of never again.

Devon Balwit is trying to put her final days of isolation to good use and is crossing her fingers against her own rebound.

Tuesday, August 09, 2022


by Phyllis Frakt

What is “rule of law”?
What stops one branch of government
from becoming too powerful?
What is the supreme law of the land?
What does the judicial branch do?
I slip through a distorted looking glass
to prepare the class for US citizenship,
to speak, read, write simple English,
and recite answers to 100 questions
about American history and government.
On their side of the looking glass,
I simplify revered founding principles
that most of their American neighbors
learned in school, then forgot.
But the class must learn and remember.
So, we thrash through a verbal thicket –
pursuit of happiness, colony, revolution,
Civil War, civil rights, Constitution,
democracy, Confederacy, emancipation,
declaration, representation, discrimination.
They grasp at historic words and principles
as keys to permanent homes in America
with steady income, education for their children,
safety from vicious gangs or husbands,
freedom from fierce dictatorships.
Feliz once was a high school teacher.
She escaped violence, and cleans houses now.
Selim and his family fled their country,
running from false government accusations.
No job back home for Abeo, a stutterer.
On my side, I cringe at lessons about
civic ideals now sullied or out of reach:
no one above the law? checks and balances?
The class waits patiently for me to explain,
and I slip back through the looking glass.

Phyllis Frakt's poem "Recoveries" will appear in the upcoming edition of Worksheets 67. She lives in New Jersey, where she has volunteered as a citizenship teacher for ten years.


by Dave Day

Source: For the Sake of Arguments

Grapeshot, grapeshot
British artillery and redcoat musketmen
undone by Rhode Island farmboys
heeding the militia’s call
fully automatic AR-15s with
laser sights and aerial drone support
the colonists spray the loyalists
in the killzone
nine-millimeter sidearm
dum-dum jacketed softpoint
magnum ACP
thirty rounds for Lord North and
the madman King George
to enfilade the tyranny of
the House of Hanover
well-regulated militiamen all
comporting with the history and tradition
of SEAL Team Six, which was founded after
the Battle of Agincourt
the militia, our militia
selfless minutemen doffing
tricorne hats, brass buttons gleaming on
ballistic body armor, hurrah!

Dave Day is an attorney from Honolulu, Hawaii.  Dave has published poetry in The Ekphrastic Review and The New Verse News, and extremely nonpoetic articles in the Hawaii Bar Journal and Emory International Law Review.

Monday, August 08, 2022


by Andrena Zawinski

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School's 1200 building has been sealed since the massacre on February 14, 2018. On Thursday, jurors in the sentencing phase of the school shooter's trial walked through the undisturbed scene, where the blood of the victims still stains classroom floors. Bullet holes also mark the walls of the Parkland, Florida, school where Nikolas Cruz killed 14 students and three staff members. A lock of dark hair remains on a floor more than four years after the body of a victim was taken away. Valentine's Day gifts and cards are strewn about, as shards of glass crunched beneath of the feet of visitors. These are the unsettling notes from a group of reporters allowed to enter the building after jurors completed their walk-through to provide details to media outlets across the country, including CNN. —CNN, August 5, 2022

their brassy caps 
glinting golden in the dark
ammo tray tucked under
a student study desk,
more bullets in a bandolier 
crisscrossing the chest, bullets
maneuvered across a screen
in slugs of anger and angst 
in bullet launchers, landmines 
of bullets, bullets of the slain 
in a shooting game.

their powder packed cartridges
of panic and fear, hollow points 
shattering identities, blasts 
sounding in sleep, bullets 
of grief from a spray hate. 

that silence at windows, on lawns, 
on street corners, in schoolrooms, 
supermarkets, factories, churches, 
all turned altars of flowers,
candles, placards, and prayers, 

while bullets 
fill bank accounts
of makers and regulators
dodging bullets whistling by,
shells jingling in pockets 
like loose change spent 
in puddles of blood.

their full metal jackets 
dug from the corpse 
with its legacy of wounds, 
bullets that pierced the flesh, 
shattered the bone, riddled 
the heart and all the wild in it,
depositing dreams
to urns and coffins
buried in holes in the dirt,
screams smothered, 
breaths sealed.

Andrena Zawinski’s poetry has received accolades for lyricism, form, spirituality, and social concern. It has appeared in Artemis, Blue Collar Review, Progressive Magazine, Aeolian Harp, Rattle, Verse Daily, The New Verse News, and elsewhere. Her latest collection is Landings. She has two previous award winning books: Something About and Traveling in Reflected Light and a fourth collection, Born Under the Influence, forthcoming in 2022.