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Sunday, April 30, 2023


by Ann E. Wallace

The swift punishment brought down on Zooey Zephyr, a transgender lawmaker in Montana, began over words that others in American politics have used without hesitation or consequence: saying opponents have “blood” on their hands. The governor of Texas. A GOP congressman in Florida. A city councilwoman in Denver. Just in the past few years, they are among the elected officials who have chastised colleagues in government with the same pointed rhetoric almost word for word — accusing them of bearing responsibility for deaths — over everything from immigration policy to gun laws. None faced blowback, let alone retribution. But not Zephyr, who on Thursday began legislative exile after Montana Republicans barred her from the state House floor a week after saying those who voted to support a ban on gender-affirming care would have blood on their hands. —AP, April 27, 2023

This was her warning,
the cost of the ban 
on affirming healthcare 
for trans kids.
They would have blood
on their hands,
she said.
The words, or her body, labeled 
a breach of decorum,
they removed her,
silenced her voice
with a majority, 68 to 32. 
She may watch,
voiceless, may cast
her singular vote 
out of sight and from afar.
Hers is a body they do not want 
to see. And they do not want 
to hear about their own hand 
in doing harm, about the toll 
of bloody-handed legislation 
on kids, or on the adults 
like her who once were kids 
in need of votes and affirmation.
They removed her from their sight.
They will wash their hands 
with blood.
And her voice, 
it will grow stronger.

Ann E. Wallace is the Poet Laureate of Jersey City, New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter @annwlace409 or on Instagram @annwallace409.

Saturday, April 29, 2023


by Robert Knox

“America I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.” 
—Allen Ginsberg, Howl and Other Poems, 1956

I am frankly envious of the poet who, on Jan. 17, 1956,
wrote, in a poem entitled “America,”
“America, go fuck yourself with your atom bomb.”
Tennessee, I invite, in the same spirit of candor,
go shoot yourself with your absolutely unqualified no-foolin’, stand-your-ground
irredeemably nut-case gun rights laws,
per events on the ground taking place March 28, 2023.
I could simply echo every sentiment in that mid-century poet’s inspired piece
     of unbridled spontaneity
composed on the theme of his America, in which he that mid-century poet vowed,
amid other proclamations,
“I won’t write my poem till I’m in my right mind”…
but I do not expect to be in my right mind
so long as the YMCA in which I seek to run away from my fury and despair
offers news channels on its TV service available to rats like me
who run on treadmills of anger and despair
Networks, that is, on which the munitions-injury expert
is asked to describe the effect of AR ammunition on the bodies of children,
and what I increasingly wish somebody (even crazier than me) would do
to the persons of the elected Tennessee officials
who valiantly protected their freedom-loving constituents from any limitation,
however slight and publicly supported by official law enforcement,
on their natural right to destroy the bodies of children
with whatever armaments the Good Lord, acting through the protected mediation
    of the National Rats Association,
entitles them to possess
“America,” Ginsberg demanded in his disarming and eternally youthful way:
“when will you take your clothes off?”
“America” – how’s this for pre-visioning the paramilitary far right?—
“why are your libraries full of tears?”
America, we ask in our hair-tearing, torn-clothing way,
Why are your courthouses, state houses, ballot boxes and school boards
full of self-made demagogues who failed to read the books
in their now besieged schoolhouses when they had the chance?
who think that libraries are merely back alleyways for the gang fights
     of the culture wars?
America, we ask, why do the voters of Tennessee develop amnesia of the ballot box?
When will it end, America, your war on humanity?
When will you be worthy of your blues singers, jazzmen, street corner poets,
         dancers on the page as well as on the stage?
When will you invite Stephen Colbert to be the speaker at the next inauguration?
America, the cherry trees are blossoming
and I feel sentimental about the days of wine and roses and that legendary decade ban
     on assault rifles…
and even when the party of Richard Nixon was, by comparison, a beacon of moderation
Americans, we are obsessed by media, by the Chinese timebomb that goes TikTok, TikTok
America, the best minds of my generation are already underground
America, there is nobody left to vote for
America, our ancestors saved the world from fascism
But all the fascists have to do today is show their pure-white fannies on TV
and the writing on the wall goes tic-toc-clock, as the timebomb of private self-interest
     melts the glaciers
and brings the ocean to your living room
just before the signoff of the foxed and phony nooz
America, you are teaching all the world how to kill people,
     best result for the buck
Because that is all you remember how to do

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

Friday, April 28, 2023


a poem for Palestine
by Maliha Iqbal

Thousands of people attended a joint Israeli-Palestinian memorial ceremony for victims of the conflict in Tel Aviv on Monday night, running the gauntlet of a handful of right-wing activists who shouted hated slogans. —Haaretz, April 24, 2023. Photo by Gili Getz, The Times of Israel, April 25, 2023.

The last thing that survives
When the frightened mother
Hides her littler children behind her
In the face of the hard glint of a soldier’s gun
The last thing that survives
When the eldest child loses his childhood and innocence
Because he is the only one left
To look after his little brothers and sisters
The last thing that survives
When the soldier stares at the picture
Of his dead daughter and crouches down,
Wishing to shut himself off from the world and sob forever
The last thing that survives
When little children lying in hospital beds
With IV drips attached to their arms
Smile through the bandages at their parents
To give them something to go on
The last thing that survives
When everything is covered with thick choking smoke
Like a massive cloud has crashed on earth
And all you see around yourself
Are dead bodies floating in the cloud
You vaguely recall the boom of the bomb
And the gunfire that shattered the windows of your home
The smoke strangles you, makes you tear up
But you don’t care because 
You have just remembered the scream of your loved ones
And right now you are too busy looking for them
The last thing that survives the night of war
Is the love that waits for the break of dawn.

Maliha Iqbal is a student and writer based in Aligarh, India. Many of her short stories, write-ups, letters and poems have been published on platforms Live Wire (The Wire), Creativity Webzine, Cerebration, Histolit, Countercurrents, Times of India, The Palestine Chronicle, Freedom Review, ArmChair Journal, Counterview, Good Morning Kashmir, Writers’ Cafeteria, Café Dissensus, Borderless Journal, The Cadre Journal and Indian Periodical. She can be reached at malihaiqbal327(at)

Thursday, April 27, 2023


by Jerrice J. Baptiste and Roodly Laurore

Dèyè mòn, gen mòn. (Beyond every mountain, there's another mountain.)
—Haitian Proverb

A woman walks past local authorities removing the bodies of men that were set on fire by a mob in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, April 25, 2023, a day after a mob pulled the 13 suspected gang members from police custody at a traffic stop and beat and burned them to death with gasoline-soaked tires. (AP Photo/Odelyn Joseph) April 25, 2023

Sadness in his chest, 
his spirit weakens,
enemy of our race.
I’m still a young girl grinning, watching him smile. 
Now, his smile vanishes quick, unlike gun 
powder floating in air, we both know the scent well.  
“Free my heart,” he says.
His mango tree awaits, bandits pluck his luck.    
Our island is still awake, sleepless 
1,460 nights, and centuries of anguish. 
You snooze, you lose your life.
No banana leaves to fold his skin. 
Wrap, wrap his chest to become 
a bullet vest, impenetrable.
No difference from his friends’ ashes 
at noon or during the early moon.    
“My soul courts pain and grief,” he sighs.
I fall deeper in disbelief. 
Nothing to catch either one of us. 
No net large enough from any fishermen. 
When will the rays of hope appear?
Sunshine after anxious nights. 
Loss of kinetic energy. Craves the little joy of
scooping young coconuts like we used to  
in the countryside. Flamingos on a distant beach.
Now, my uncle wishes 
one day to enjoy 
the pink side of life. 

Roodly Laurore was born and raised in Haiti. He is an engineer and poet. His poems are published in Kosmos Journal, Autism Parenting Magazine, Solstice Literary Magazine, Jerry Jazz Musician, and others.  Roodly lives in Haiti with his wife and two sons. He collaborated with his neice Jerrice on this poem.
Jerrice J. Baptiste is an author of eight books and a poet in residence at the Prattsville Art Center & Residency in NY.  She is extensively published in journals and magazines such as Artemis Journal, The Yale Review, Mantis, Eco Theo Review, The Caribbean Writer, and many others. Jerrice has been nominated as Best of The Net by Blue Stem. She has been facilitating poetry workshops for eighteen years.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023


by L. Smith

Disgraced Minnesota police officer Kim Potter walked free from prison after serving just 16 months for shooting dead Daunte Wright when she mistook her gun for a Taser during a traffic stop. Potter, 50, was released from Minnesota Correctional Facility-Shakopee in the early hours of Monday morning to serve the remainder of her sentence on supervised release. —The Independent (UK), April 24, 2023

So, does time have color, too?
Why do they get less time for the same offense that, say, we might do?
Is their time more valuable than, say, mine?
I mean, ain’t we living on the same clock? Same timeline? Same century?
Maybe we need to leave the time up to the jury, because the judge is too easily nudged by emotion. Are you sentencing the crime, or are you sentencing the color? Are you sentencing the crime, or are you crying for a mother? Are you sentencing the crime, or are you sympathetic to the other?
Is one color more fragile than the other? You know the phrase, right? —"Don’t do the crime,
if you can’t do the time.” Does that not apply for every color?
What? Y’all think we got a time machine? Think time go by for us at warp speed?
Is time not supposed to affect the brother like it does the other?
Y’all don’t age the same, but them years don’t go by no faster for us.
We age on different scales, but them years go by the same. 
I thought time was about alignment, about the crime,
about time to match the crime—not the color. Not how sullen one is once seized.
But it seems the brother gets more time than the other because of his color.
Does color determine risk? After all, who has the means to take the most risk?
The brother? Or the other?
Or is it: don’t do the crime, unless you got the right color? 
I mean, can y’all meet us in today? Can we at least decide time like we living in the same decade?
Whose family will suffer most under the cloak of the time?
During the absences, the voids, the gaps, the setbacks brought on by the time? Whose family is already behind?
Why can’t white time and black time be on the same damn black line?
I didn’t know time had color, too.
I guess time, like fairness, are both abstract, are just a construct. 
Time being obstruct for the fair-skinned,
abundant for the brother, but absent, lightened, or lifted for the other.
Intangible for the other, hard-lived for the brother.
Time itself is colored obtuse.
Color makes time profuse.
For the colored, time is abused.
And in today, time is a noose.
I didn’t know time had color, too.
And since it does, why can’t our time have the color of you?

Lynette Smith, a New Orleans native, is a writer, multi-certified, English and master reading teacher, who has freelanced for local newspapers. Her poems “Black Man Running” and “Worse Than Rodney King” have also been published in The New Verse News. She has an anthology of poems and prose set to publish spring 2023 that her mother and daughter created space for her to write. She also has begun this blog for writer teachers.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023


by Brian O'Sullivan

Union leaders say the traditionally high status of teachers in Ireland is under threat due to a combination of issues such as pay, workload, limited promotional posts and the growing complexity of the job. So, is teaching still an attractive profession? We asked delegates at teachers’ unions annual gatherings. —“Is Teaching Still an Attractive Profession?” The Irish Times, April 11, 2023

Orla Ryng told The Irish Times that “that magic
of being in the classroom is still there.” That magic

turns a student’s face from the cell phone’s dim light
to the brightness of a peer and an idea. That magic

turns some paper mache into a volcano,  and it
turns jumbled numbers into that kind of magic

spell mathematicians call a formula, and it even turns
the mangled words of social media into that magic

that I—and you, I bet?—value just about the most:
Words that leap and love and shout that magic,

which is to say poetry, will never die. And it’s with words
and letters that teachers are rewarded—like that magic

“N.T.” that got dangled off the ends of National Teachers’ names
in Ireland. My dad, being Irish, seemed to believe in that magic;

he asked, as I trudged through grad school, when I’d
be getting “the letters after [my] name,” that magic

“Ph.D.,” and I thought he was just teasing me, but later
I knew that even he, a practical guy, valued that magic

of letters. But letters don’t pay rent, and so Sean
Maher lives with his parents, still valuing that magic

That devalues him. Economists may
say that if you get good money and you also get that magic,

then you’ve been paid twice. ‘No one goes into teaching
expecting huge wages,” says Eoin Fenton; that magic

serves in place of huge wages, and asking for both money and magic
might be hubris. But would it, in the end, be all that tragic?

Brian O'Sullivan teaches literature and rhetoric in southern Maryland. He has had creative writing published in ONE ART, The Galway Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Verse Virtual, and Every Day Fiction.

Monday, April 24, 2023


 by Pepper Trail

Author’s note: This poem responds to the House passage this week of a bill barring transgender girls and women from participating in women's athletics.  The bill is only the latest Republican attack on transgender youth, an attempt to deny their identity and very existence. In the words of the NY Times, this is "part of a nationwide push by conservatives to restrict transgender rights as they make culture issues a centerpiece of their political message." This has been led by Florida governor Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump and enthusiastically taken up by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Republican governors and state legislatures around the country.  As the parent of a transgender son, I am horrified at this rush to demonize our most powerless and vulnerable children, a cynical play on ignorance and fear that will unquestionably increase suicide rates and mental health crises.

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

Sunday, April 23, 2023


a found poem
by Gordon Gilbert
after an April 20, 2023 Truthout op-ed written by Edwin Rubis
from a federal prison in the hills of Alabama  

Author’s note: Edwin Rubis has served over 24 years of a 40-year sentence in federal prison for a conviction on marijuana charges. 

Editor’s noteApril 20, or 4/20 in its calendar denotation, is a holiday celebrated by many weed-smokers both in the United States and around the globe. 

Gordon Gilbert is a poet and playwright living in NYC's west village.

Saturday, April 22, 2023


by Buff Whitman-Bradley
on Earth Day 2023

Art by Yinza

At Taco Bell
I watch a crow
Reconnoiter the parking lot
For scraps and morsels
Of sustenance.
With it’s dagger-like
Sleek black beak
It flips over
Discarded take-out cartons,
Pokes into empty soda cups,
Snaps up torn bits
Of tortillas,
All without surrendering
A shred of its natural dignity.
As it struts defiantly,
Like a corvid Napoleon,
In front of oncoming cars,
Its spine remains perfectly straight,
Its head held high,
Its bearing proud.
“Get me a burrito,”
The crow orders.
“Hot sauce?” I ask.
“Get me a root beer,”
The crow commands.
“Small, medium, or large?”
I inquire.
Here is a bird
Of natural authority,
A bird with no self-doubt,
A bird who was born 
To take charge.
You’d think with all 
These leadership qualities
Crows might have an interest
In running for public office, but
Too smart to be Republicans,
Too forthright 
To be Democrats,
Crows are dyed-in-the-quills anarchists
Who believe that no crow
Is better than any other crow,
And that no government is better
Than no government.

Buff Whitman-Bradley’s poems have been widely published in print and online journals.  His latest book is And What Will We Sing? (Kelsay Books). He podcasts at and lives in northern California with his wife, Cynthia.

Friday, April 21, 2023


by Carol Dorf

The House voted on Thursday to pass a GOP-led bill that would ban transgender athletes from women’s and girls’ sports at federally funded schools and educational institutions. The bill is not expected to be taken up by the Democratic-controlled Senate and the White House has issued a veto threat. But the vote shows that Republicans are working to spotlight the issue – and it comes amid a GOP-led push in states across the country to pass similar bills restricting transgender athletes’ participation in sports. The final vote was 219-203 down strict party lines. —CNN, April 20, 2023. Photo: People attend a rally as part of a Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31 in Washington, DC. Credit: Jacquelyn Martin/AP

I tell my child
No, twilight is a given
I can’t slow the day’s passage to night
In the photo of the boardwalk through the swamp 
I support my child
as they lean back to look up at the trees
in a inversion of flight
For a while we called
it the Rumplestilskin phase
toddler jumping up and down in fury
Luckily the old oak floor held solid
There are so many things
about the world I would change for you if I could
though I wouldn’t do anything about the dogs
in costumes participating in the Pride Parade
And then—You travelled to the Pride Parade
wearing wings—with friends who also found
wings to celebrate and now you are all flown
All these laws that are disrupting
your flight path—Not in my backyard
but I’ll do my best

Carol Dorf is a Zoeglossia fellow, whose poetry has been published in three chapbooks. Her poetry has also appeared in previous issues of The New Verse News as well as in About Place, Cutthroat, Wordpeace, Unlikely Stories, Slipstream, The Mom Egg, Sin Fronteras, The Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, Scientific American, and Maintenant. She is founding poetry editor of Talking Writing.

Thursday, April 20, 2023


by Sister Lou Ella Hickman


break my bones 
words can never hurt me 
but words are hurting 
even killing 
to shut down 
to shut up 
tit for tat 
with bigger stones 
and bigger sticks 
we’ll show you who’s boss
while children die 
the hungry starve 
families live in cars 
books burn 
(this needful list is long) 
as bones break 
bodies break 
spirits die 
the world watches 
as hands take aim

Sister Lou Ella has a master’s in theology from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and is a former teacher and librarian. She is a certified spiritual director as well as a poet and writer.  Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines such as America, First Things, Emmanuel, Third Wednesday, and The New Verse News as well as in four anthologies: The Night’s Magician: Poems about the Moon, edited by Philip Kolin and Sue Brannan Walker, Down to the Dark River edited by Philip Kolin, Secrets edited by Sue Brannan Walker and After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2017 and in 2020. Her first book of poetry entitled she: robed and wordless was published in 2015 (Press 53.) On May 11, 2021, five poems from her book which had been set to music by James Lee III were performed by the opera star Susanna Phillips, star clarinetist Anthony McGill, pianist Mayra Huang at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. The group of songs is entitled “Chavah’s Daughters Speak.”

Wednesday, April 19, 2023


by Dale Wisely

A Black teenager was shot in the head by a white homeowner in Kansas City, Mo., after showing up at the wrong house to pick up his siblings, lawyers for his family said. Family members identified the victim online as Ralph Pual Yarl, a 16-year-old high school junior. You can contribute to a GoFundMe to help pay for the boy’s hospital bills.

Imagine a bullet approaching its target. It may help to think in slow motion. Let’s say it’s seven inches away from impact. No, let’s say eight because it is important for us to be able to divide readily. No pesky fractions. Haven’t we had enough fractions? Eight inches and... slow that bullet way down. Before it reaches skin, layers rich in capillaries, then skull... but if you’d rather think of, say, a sheet of drywall, that will do. So do. Do think of drywall.
Before the bullet makes contact it must pass the four-inch mark. Then the two-inch mark; then it’s just an inch away from, let’s say, plywood. Sheet metal. Or a STOP sign on a rural road. We can’t avoid fractions after all. When we keep dividing, we get fractions.
Then one-half inch. Then a quarter inch. Almost there. But next is the last one-eight inch. Stop there. Or halfway from there to the target. It doesn't matter where you stop. Just stop. Wherever you stop, think of that as a place where nothing is struck. Where the space left to travel is nothing and everything. Where nothing is pierced, shattered, ended. Where everything is as it was. This is a place where things go so fast and have so little space remaining and so little time left. Where a thing is about to happen but never does. I’m trying to say that this is a place where the skin remains intact and blood is retained in vessels, and bone unshattered. 

Dale Wisely runs Ambidextrous Bloodhound Press, publisher of the journals Right Hand Pointing, One Sentence Poems, Unlost, Unbroken, duality, and first frost.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023


by Joan Leotta
on Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah)

Our tour bus was rushing to
Reach the next “place to see”
In Budapest when I looked
Out the window to watch
Night begin to be reflected
In the Danube.
We turned a corner and
Driving close by the river,
I saw, an installation
of sculpted shoes along the banks.
Our guide did not seem
to notice. Her purview was
government buildings and
restored churches.
With wifi I reached back
In time, to the moment when
real people, Budapest’s Jews,
fell out of those shoes into the
Danube as Nazi machine guns
cut through their bodies.
Men. Women. Children.
My heart began to pound,
Evil lives on where
people chose to ignore it
past or present.
Only remembering can
begin to protect us from
evil perpetrating such again.

Joan Leotta is an author and Story Performer.

Monday, April 17, 2023


DENVER, April 17, 2023 (AP) — After Colorado’s Democratic governor signed a bill Friday banning what experts consider unproven treatments to reverse medical abortions, a federal judge temporarily halted its enforcement following a lawsuit from a religious clinic. Judge Daniel Domenico, who noted that Colorado is the only state to ban the treatment, issued the temporary restraining order over the weekend after Bella Health and Wellness argued that barring them from prescribing the so-called “abortion pill reversal” treatment violates their First Amendment right to free speech and religious exercise.  The idea of reversing a medical abortion has become a flashpoint in the clash over reproductive rights nationwide after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, leaving abortion up to the states. Roughly a dozen states have passed laws in the preceding years compelling abortion providers to inform their patients about the “reversal” treatment. 

Sari Grandstaff is a school librarian and poet in the Catskill Mountains/Mid-Hudson Valley of New York State. Her poems have been published in many print and online publications including The New Verse News and Chronogram. She and her husband have three adult children and a little chihuahua mix named Ruby. 


by Anayo Dioha

Here, you hardly distinguish the hangman
from his victim. It’s like having red Roses
and Ranunculuses thrive in the same garden;
both capable of smothering life, one much
renowned, the other, unknown, as potent,
as lethal. How the conversation always
metamorphosed from a failed public
process and a couple of dashed personal
hopes to who’s from where? has always
been the bone which these unscrupulous
termites continue to wittingly crunch.
For a courageous truth, there stands in
repel, a garrison of a hundred thousand
armed-to-the-brain blindfolded Tribal
Security Watch. The wool of patriotism
has grown so lean it can’t warm off the
blizzards of ethnocentricism, and a
country’s heart beats rapidly from a
race towards an ever-hungry grave.

Author’s Note: Nigeria is a country which has hugely fragmented, over the years, across certain sentimental lines among which is ethnicity. There are over three hundred and fifty (350) ethnic groups in Nigeria, although the most prominent are Hausa/Fulani, Igbo and Yoruba. It has become a norm that serious issues of national importance often lose their grit in the cloud of such societal sentiments as tribalism or ethnicity. And this is what is witnessed in the responses following the 2023 presidential election in the country, which has been widely criticized by observers as heavily flawed with electoral malpractices. The major candidates at that election are Atiku Abubakar (Hausa/Fulani) of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi (Igbo) of the Labour Party (LP) and Bola Tinubu (Yoruba) of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the declared winner. However, most Nigerians believe Obi won at the polls. Chimamanda Adichie (Igbo) wrote in The Atlantic with respect to the perception felt about the process of the election in general and not necessarily because of the candidacy of Obi. But this soon spiraled into a squabble about the tribes, as Wole Soyinka (Yoruba) also granted an interview where he gave his candid opinions regarding the process and conducts of the key players. Things degenerated with some figures in Lagos—a city in western Nigeria dominated by the Yorubas—declaring, with threats of violence—some of which were actually mated—that Igbo residents in the city should go back to their home towns mostly in the south-eastern part of the country. The use of “obidiots” by the responder in the tweet headlining this poem is an incendiary reference to the self-styled supporters of the Peter Obi presidential campaign, the Obi-dients.

Anayo Dioha is a Nigerian Igbo-born writer and lawyer whose work is forthcoming in Queens Quarterly. He is currently a PhD researcher at the Odumegwu Ojukwu University. He spends most mornings counting squirrels and reveling in the tunes of waxbills.

Sunday, April 16, 2023


by Ferdi Wheeler

While people currently make better assistants than chatbots… A.I. can already do a good enough job handling many administrative tasks. Widespread use of chatbots could potentially shift the duties of executive assistants away from rote tasks and toward more strategic problem solving, or replace humans altogether. —Brian Chen, The New York Times, March 29, 2023

AI is rife now,
with its failings and its pre-eminence,
but as for the former,
there are many warnings:
like that  it is easily mistaken,
its facts are dodgy,
and it gives many explanations
of the same faulty kind;
well then, I think,
the engineers have recreated
the perfect human mind.

Ferdi Wheeler is a South African and retired archivist. He lives in Bloemfontein, a city in the Free State Province. He published in print and online in local magazines. His short stories and poems appeared lately on Litnet and Roekeloos—Plek van die Uitverkorenes. He writes in Afrikaans and English. Examples of his work can be viewed by Googling “Ferdi Wheeler Litnet.” He holds a Masters degree in Communication.

Saturday, April 15, 2023


by Ralph Dranow

poster available at amazon

A new pandemic is sweeping the world.
Scientists speculate it started last month
with a six-year-old girl in Indonesia,
a precocious child,
who transmitted it to her parents,
who passed it on to others.
Now it's spreading throughout the country
and other places as well.
The virus surges through the bloodstream,
infiltrating the heart and third eye,
causing people to love one another.
Politicians, CEOs of corporations, and Republicans
are furiously working to contain the virus,
claiming it's bad for business,
suggesting people wear masks and social distance.

But it might be too late.
The virus is very powerful,
seeping through even the strongest mask,
dancing through the bloodstream,
like an ecstatic child.

Ralph Dranow works as an editor, ghostwriter, and writing coach. His poems and articles have been widely published.

Friday, April 14, 2023


by Philip Stern
written in serious wordplay

Now the emergingcy
is over,
caution and funding
are over.
Yesterday, one of our leaders went mything.
He said it was a hoax.
Then said
it would not blast.
Then sold equine and oquine
and proposed bleach
to the fringe bleacher seats
at his attent show.
He watched as
the wildfirus burned
saw it sprinkle hot ashes
on refrigerated
covid wagons
circling hospitals
where breathless bodies stiffened.
Yet mythed messages still burn,
about dangers of masking
and vaccines that damnage DNA,
still cause national dysfusion.
So do we now just forget
that we gallowed
over one million deaths
to happen?

Philip Stern is 95, had a poem published in The Atlantic in 1957, wrote pop songs in the 60s, and started writing poetry again after retiring from college teaching.


by Liz Ahl

“The U.S. national emergency to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic ended Monday as President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan congressional resolution to bring it to a close after three years — weeks before it was set to expire…” —NPR, April 11, 2023
Still, these tattered masking tape traces 
on the scuffed tile floors, hieroglyphs  
of our attempts to demarcate safe zones  
of coming and going through  
the narrow public vestibules. 
The box of “take one” surgical masks 
still perched on its pedestal at the entrance, 
offers only its lonely cardboard; empty, 
too, each strategically placed 
hand sanitizer dispenser, which exhales  
a sad, shallow breath when pressed. 

Some smudged plexiglass remains, 

having been more difficult to erect 

and therefore more bother to remove. 


Outside, the windswept tumbleweed 

of a facemask, its torn elastic bands 

flapping their tired fronds against 

the asphalt with the other winter trash. 


Refrigerator trucks rededicated 

to the chilled storage and transport  

of anything but the human deceased.  

Small town campus ice arena 

bearing the slightest scars of cot-legs 

and privacy screens, the strange dream 

of soldiers fading to fragments. 


A ghost of myself, figment out of phase, 

measures distances, haunts the far edges  

of what bustles and churns, a clamorous  

bullying desire for “normalcy” 

almost passing for “normalcy.” 


And of course, the counted dead, 

the dead uncounted. The brutal 

and insufficient arithmetic. The long  

and the short, the landmine damage 

lurking in bodies, biding time 

until the next innocent footstep. 

And of course, the virus, not cc-d  

on the report of its demotion 

from emergency to some other rank, 

still lingers on the perpetual threshold: 

overstayed guest or one just arriving? 

It’s hard to know any more, if we ever could, 

the coming from the going.  

Liz Ahl is the author of A Case for Solace (Lily Poetry Review Books, 2022) and Beating the Bounds (Hobblebush Books, 2017). Recent publications include a poem about Buzz Aldrin in the anthology Space: 100 Poems (Cambridge University Press, 2021) and poems in recent issues of TAB: The Journal of Poetry & Poetics, and Revolute. She lives in Holderness, New Hampshire.

Thursday, April 13, 2023


by Carol Parris Krauss

Some people like to comb the beach for gold coins, silver medals.
There’s an entire group of Civil War buffs who scan the fields
of Suffolk, traipse down to the marsh looking for mini-balls 
and musket pieces. You can purchase the luxury metal detector
for just over a hundred bucks plus shipping online. Artifacts. 

Webster defines the word as an item of cultural or historical interest. 
Pieces of who we were, the battles we chose. I know a man who 
has an entire room walled with knotty-pine shelves 
where he displays his Rebel buttons, Union canteens,
and the occasion dried-up timber rattler. His wife watches 
from the kitchen window as he walks the fallow fields 
with his robot arm shaking. Hours later, he comes inside
and grabs his iced tea. Two lemons. Plops down on the plaid couch
he inherited from Me-maw and begins to watch Live @ Five. 

Breaking news coming from Tennessee. How an entire building
seems to be jam-packed with artifacts. Old white antiques
hidden away in locked rooms. Secrets covered in a layer of dust.

Carol Parris Krauss loves to use vivid imagery. Her work is in One Art, The SC Review, Louisiana Literature, Broadkill Review, Story South, and Susurrus. She was recognized by the UVA press as a Best New Poet and her first book Just a Spit Down the Road was published by Kelsay.