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Tuesday, February 28, 2023


an erasure/found poem
by Joanne Kennedy Frazer

from John Lewis’s essay published in The New York Times on the day of his funeral 

Motivated by human compassion,
set aside race, class, age, 
language and nationality
to demand respect for human dignity.
Democracy is not a state.
It is an act.
Build the Beloved Community,
a nation and world society 
at peace with itself.
The vote is the most powerful 
nonviolent change agent 
in a democratic society.
We are all complicit 
when we tolerate injustice.
Each of us has a moral obligation
to stand up, speak up 
and speak out.
Redeem the soul of America 
by getting in good trouble, 
necessary trouble
Let freedom ring.
Walk with the wind,
brothers and sisters
Let the spirit of peace
and the power of everlasting love
be your guide.

Joanne Kennedy Frazer, a retired peace and justice director and educator for faith-based organizations, is a third-act-of-life poet. She enjoys writing on issues of justice, the natural world and spirituality. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, journals and e-zines. Her second chapbook Seasonings (Kelsay Press), will be published in early 2023. She lives in Durham, NC.

Monday, February 27, 2023


by Earl J Wilcox

Up close, Alex’s savoir faire

Kicks in—winsome smile, hair

To die for, smart sentence syntax, 

Precise mixture of faux nasal drip

And eye moisture to churn a jury,

Capture the AI red bulb of a robotic

Camera feed for TV’s ripe audience.

Two Kleenex tissues, Perry Mason

plot to sway one juror’s heart.



Earl Wilcox writes from South Carolina, where Mr. Murdaugh is on trial. The news from the low country is riveting.

Sunday, February 26, 2023


by Shih-Min, Sun

 Ironing   stained glasses
   scruffy, growth of magnitude  soul   
         of every somber
     night  comes forth
     suspended on this land
                        flood of 
                                       living , gasping
 rise and walk : bend
                                                                                                                              one shoe up
           fold : clothes / string / dirty nails   unbuckle
                    crusted toes with blood, frosted
                                                                                                                                            moon   black
                                                                                                                      eye of the city   inflamed
                     a year
                                                                                                                     with a year   icy mud   feathers plank
                                             perishable but closer   underneath

                                                                    forest call
                           on each step 
                                upon walls, walls 
              birds depart, river sink
                             to depth of the country, the land   all turn into: prayers and songs
                                                    the orchard 
                              of life
                      respirate   unceasing
                                                                                              glare   now: wide open

Shih-Min, Sun lives and writes in Taipei, Taiwan. Her work has appeared and will be presented in publications including, The Academy of the Heart and Mind, Dadakuku, Rural Fiction Magazine, Wordpeace and has been selected for Atlanta Review 2022 International Poetry Competition in Merit Award. She started writing while working abroad, inspired deeply by family, teachers, and friends. She loves writing as a way to interpret still life and scenes of bond through language. Visit her on Instagram: @aura_a_u_r_a

Saturday, February 25, 2023


by Suzanne Morris

Fighters from Ukraine’s Karpatska Sich Battalion in a church on Dec. 25 that was destroyed by shelling and reportedly looted by Russian forces during their occupation, in the Lyman district in the Donetsk region. Credit: Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

The Church is torn from
limb to limb

daylight flooding through
gaping holes in hallowed walls

Russian spies posing as
monks and priests and nuns 

and at least one Ukrainian abbot 
convicted of espionage.

So I wonder about
the soldier in combat gear

entering through
an arched door

wrested from its hinges,
glass blown out

his heavy boots crunching
on the pulverized pieces

littering a floor
thickly layered with shell dust

below a magisterial portrait of
Jesus praying in the

Garden of Gethsemane,
looking heavenward

as if to beseech God for
an explanation for this

violent schism between two branches
that grew from the same root,

for the shell holes that
pock the background of the

star-speckled sky
above his haloed head

and the rock he kneels against
to pray.

Jewel-toned paraments
embroidered in gold

are strewn about the floor
and flung against

the high upholstered back of a
filigreed chair

while the Virgin Mary
enfolded in deep blue and rose

ponders in her heart
from high above:

For this, my son died on the cross?

Nearby, the wooden altar
with elaborate detail

is deeply scarred, panels missing
its top piece knocked awry

and all around, sections of
towering, frescoed walls blown out,

the portraits adorning them ripped,
iconography broken and dangling.

The soldier’s head is bowed
as though he has escaped

for a few moments of prayer
within this tattered sanctuary.

Or, perhaps he has come to
search for evidence of treason:

lists of people to be killed,
wads of illicit cash,

pamphlets of Russian propaganda
to be traced

so that justice
can be served.

And all the while the
raging war

hurtles into its second year... 

Suzanne Morris is a novelist and a poet. Her poems have appeared in online poetry journals including The New Verse News, The Texas Poetry Assignment, Stone Poetry Quarterly, The Pinecone Review, and Emblazoned Soul Review.

Friday, February 24, 2023


by Dick Westheimer

In the seventy-two hours before I wrote this line,

two hundred fifty-one shot, ninety-two killed

in America. Two hundred thirteen shooters 

with two hundred thirteen guns. In seventy-two hours.

The litany of shattered bones is endless. To list 

the names and numbers shot, to catalogue 

the body parts stopped, the skin rended,

the night terrors loosed in the dreams of bystanders,

to count the wrung hands, the thoughts and prayers,

the shaken heads of the rest of us—this is

what pornography looks like: us at a distance, gazing 

at the ruined flesh, the survivors, the fallen 

as objects of a feral lust. I mistake the dead 

for something other than dead, see them as credits 

in a snuff film that I watch on repeat, on shuffle mode, 

over and over, so numb that love is no longer at stake. 

But thats all it is: love 

lost, love missing, love bought, love sold

by the wheelbarrow load, love as seen on TV, 

love that can be viewed through the sighting scope

of a gun. I look at this like the shooter does, as redemption, 

and just like the man with the gun, I am able to look away 

when I’ve had enough. But there is never enough. 

There are a trillion bullets left in the world 

and sufficient ire to strike the primer of every one,

and seventeen of them lodged in Americans since I’ve begun 

writing this poem. Eighteen. Nineteen. Twenty-one.

Dick Westheimer has—with his wife and writing companion Debbie—lived in rural southwest Ohio for over 40 years.  His most recent poems have appeared or are upcoming in Whale Road Review, Minyan, Gyroscope Review, The Banyan Review, Ritual Well, and Cutthroat. His debut chapbook Sword in Both HandsPoems Responding to Russia’s War on Ukraine, is published by Sheila Na Gig Books.

Thursday, February 23, 2023


by Nan Ottenritter


I am always proud when I exit my private polling booth.

To get there, I walk between candidates’ signs,

show I.D., fill out a ballot, watch my paper ballot 

slide into the machine, await its successfully recorded

message, slap an I Voted! decal onto my vest, 

lift my head high, and walk out.


After all... so many worked and died for this democracy.

They work still and will believe until the end.

After all... so many throughout the world cannot

do what I just did.

After all... my father landed on Omaha Beach for this.

After all... forces are at play to bring Ukraine to its knees,

Navalny to his death, and democracy to ruin.


I still believe in us.


After all the many young and spiteful congressmen and women

walk our Capitol’s halls, spewing hate, sucking up greed.

After all profess to understand government, yet have no clue

about how it works, nor possess a will to learn.

After all the verbiage they shout through speeches, they

lack a critical gene that helps them to be critical and think.

They lack a will to listen, a drive to understand, compassion to act.


After all that has been done for me, for us.

After all the forces set upon us to destroy,

how can I not cast my vote, lift my head high,

and think, It doesn’t get any better than this.

Nan Ottenritter is a poet and musician who lives in Richmond, VA. Her works have appeared in the TheNewVerse.News, Still Point Arts Quarterly, Artemis Journals, Poets Reading the News, Life in 10 Minutes, Poetry Society of Virginia Anthologies, and As You Were: The Military Review. Her 2021 chapbook Eleanor, Speak is available through Finishing Line Press and Amazon. Nan teaches writing, performs, and is a member of the Poetry Society of Virginia. She voted in Virginia on Tuesday.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023


by Martin Elster

For the past four years, volunteers have spent their winter nights shepherding newts across a one-mile stretch of Chileno Valley Road, a winding country road in the hills of Petaluma. They call themselves the Chileno Valley Newt Brigade, and their founder, Sally Gale, says they will keep showing up until the newts no longer need them. —The New York Times, January 24, 2023

Chileno Valley Road cuts smack across
their migratory path, nestled between
forests and farms and ranches, yet the loss
of newts (small, slender creatures rarely seen
at night) can be acute. It’s time to breed.
Downpours have deluged rivers, ponds, and lakes.
Amphibians wake. They feel an urgent need.
Drivers don’t heed them, nor apply their brakes.  

Dozens of orange forms (wheels can’t dissuade them,
for genes in their amphibian marrow bade them)
slither to the blacktop, blind to dangers.
Yet here’s the noble Newt Brigade to aid them
to reach the primal waters which have made them,
now clinging to the fingers of kind strangers.

The winner of the 2022 Helen Schaible International Sonnet Contest, Martin Elster comes from Hartford, CT, where he studied percussion and composition at the Hartt School of Music and performed with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. Martin, whose poetry has been strongly influenced by his musical sensibilities, has written two books, the latest of which is Celestial Euphony (Plum White Press, 2019).

Tuesday, February 21, 2023


by Indran Amirthanayagam 

The melanoma spread from

skin to liver to brain and

President Jimmy Carter

started to fall often, walking

in the peanut field, at church

on Sunday, at home. He wrote

Always A Reckoning. I wrote

The Elephants of Reckoning

We exchanged our reckonings

in 1997 in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.

I was assigned to the American

Embassy and sat down with Jimmy,

Rosalynn and Chip to talk

politics, health and environment.

The President visited to gather

facts in his fight against

river blindness, one of countless

maladies and challenges 

he dedicated his life to resolve. 

These included everything 

he faced as president—

hostages, recession, first steps

to making America green

and sustainable—and every 

election after as he traveled 

the world to observe their 

conduct, to help keep them 

safe and free. Jimmy Carter,

you walk blessed, a life 

of good deeds and 

harvests and fighting 

back against the blows, 

approaching a century, 

a marvel. Godspeed. 

Thank you again 

for the poetry.

Indran Amirthanayagam is the translator of Origami: Selected Poems of Manuel Ulacia (Dialogos Books)Ten Thousand Steps Against the Tyrant (BroadstoneBooks) is the newest collection of Indran's own poems. 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 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.