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Wednesday, May 31, 2023


by David Chorlton

A scream circumnavigates the world.

Is anybody listening


when the police arrive to sweep away

those for whom the last resort

is blocking traffic


to impress upon their fellow citizens

the planet is on life support

and the drivers only have a mile to go


before the ground opens up

and swallows them.


Does anybody care?


Call it Freedom; say Democracy

until it hurts; write to the highest authority

and the mail comes back 

as undeliverable.  

The future’s not the future


anymore. And yet it is still beautiful

when a day begins with a mountain

spreading its wings


and the sun breaking into song.

David Chorlton lives in Phoenix where he writes and occasionally paints watercolors. While his writing is usually poetry, his newest book is a true life account of a murder story from 1960s Vienna (where he lived for several years) in which one of his cousins was wrongly convicted: The Long White Glove published by New Meridian Arts.

Editor’s Note: Listen to David talk about his new book on the Word podcast (about 10 minutes in) from WJZZ.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023


by Susan Vespoli

with a nod to Catherine Pierce’s protest poems

“Fuck Authority” by Dan Colen, 2006, Oil on found painting

In protest I watch eight cops 
unload from their SUV, then strut
past me, a small granny with teal luggage 
waiting at the airport for a ride. 
In protest I say Beefcake. 
Fitted khaki pants and black polo 
shirts decaled with the word Police. 
Guns strapped to each man’s thigh 
with dark bands. In protest I say garter belts. 
In protest I say (in my head) I know 
what you did to my son. I saw the body 
cam. In protest, I glare. Puffed out chests 
and cocky swagger. In protest I say 
Mr. America patrol. I say rooster 

and remember the one that attacked 
my granddaughter at the peacock park. 
We thought it was a soft striped hen 
with a red mohawk until it high-kicked
its claws into her scalp. Blood spurted 
as she shrieked. In protest I say pull it in, 
dudes. Fold those football-player-sized egos
into cloth napkins at a memorial service. 
In protest I say humble. I say karma. I say
apologize. I want to scream, you don’t scare me, 
but remember my other kid saying, watch out, Mom. 
You’re gonna get yourself in trouble. In protest 
I say fuck Superman. I say fuck cultural authority. 
I bow down to sky, birds, dogs, poems, and peace.

Susan Vespoli lives in Phoenix, Arizona where she continues to write toward finding some sort of justice for her son, Adam Vespoli, who was shot and killed by police on March 12, 2022.

Monday, May 29, 2023


by George Salamon

Nette Reed checks on Desi Hurd, 62, near the Human Services Campus in Phoenix, where there are several major shelters, a medical center and respite centers. (Caitlin O’Hara for The Washington Post)

"The lie has become the order of the world.” Josef K. in Franz Kafka's novel The Trial

"More people in the country's biggest cities were becoming homeless, more were living outside instead of in shelters, and a record number of people from LosAngeles to Denver to  New York were dying in premature and preventable ways on the street." —The New York Times, May 13, 2023

“Nearly a quarter of a million people 55 or older are estimated by the government to have been homeless in the United States during at least part of 2019, the most recent reliable federal count available.” —The Washington Post, May 22, 2023

Josef K. uttered the lesson he learned
as he was about to die, the lesson our
homeless have not yet fully grasped:
they, like Josef K., have no right to live
because they are abandoned and weak.

George Salamon thinks most of our politicians are not eager to deal with homelessness (or poverty) because their sponsors would tell them they're wasting their money, while it's OK to throw money to the Military-Industrial Complex because it does its money-wasting for a Strong America.

Sunday, May 28, 2023


by Harold Oberman

AI-generated image

AI ate my sonnet.
Gulped it down / Digested it,
Spit it out in reconstituted iambs.

I want to slip it some clichés,
Gunk up its system with pablum,
Make its metaphors as mediocre as mine.

Oh, don’t taunt me you rhyming clock,
You metronome, you precise pizza.
You took away my love of form,
Translated poetry into pi.

Eat it all my clever friend.

Harold Oberman is a poet and lawyer writing in Charleston, S.C. He has appeared recently in The New Verse News, The Free State Review, An Anthology of Low Country Poets, and has been honored by the Poetry Society of South Carolina for, among other things, a sonnet. However, he has given up on that after a now antiquated version of AI generated the following poem, with minor prodding, in 3 seconds:

Oh gravity, force that keeps us all in place,
That pulls us down and holds us to the earth,
A power strong and constant in its pace,
That gives our feet a steady, solid girth.

But horses, with their grace and beauty wild,
Seem not to feel the pull of gravity's might,
They gallop free, their manes and tails unfurled,
As if to mock the laws that bind us tight.

But though they seem to fly, they too are bound,
By gravity's unyielding grip on all,
And though they run with freedom all around,
They too must fall, when gravity's call.

So let us strive to soar, like horses do,
But always keep in mind, gravity's rule.

Saturday, May 27, 2023


by Devon Balwit

The National Park Service is seeking information on a man who interacted with a newborn bison calf, which it said had to be euthanized after it was rejected by its herd. Credit: Hellen Jack, The New York Times, May 24, 2023

who moved a bison calf, causing it to be rejected,
who, I can guarantee you, was responding to the pleas
of his children—Dad, you have to do something! Dad!—
the way I respond to the urgency in my own kids’
voices and go charging off to school to intervene
in a situation that becomes worse, not better,
me ignorant of the whole story as I struggle to haul
the bellower out of the mud and set things right
while the herd looks on from a distance and sniffs
the wind. That dad and I wipe our hands on our pants
thinking job well done, unaware that kid and calf
both bear the unshakeable stink of a meddler.

Editor’s update from BuzzFeedA Canadian man who put a bison calf at Yellowstone National Park in his SUV, forcing officials to later euthanize it, has pleaded guilty and will be fined. Shamash Kassam picked up the bison calf because he thought it looked cold and assumed "it would have been roadkill" if he did not intervene. Thursday, Kassam pleaded guilty to a wildlife violation charge and was fined a total of $735, according to KTWO.

Devon Balwit walks in all weather. In her most recent collection, Spirit Spout [Nixes Mate Books, 2023], she romps through Melville’s Moby Dick.

Friday, May 26, 2023


by Paul Hostovsky

The name-sign for Ron DeSantis
in American Sign Language
is exactly the same as the sign 
for Satan, according to my deaf
informants at the Florida School
for the Deaf and the Blind
in St. Augustine. The etymology
of that name-sign may have something to do
with the visual similarity (deaf people 
are intensely visual, after all) between 
the letters in Satan and the letters in Santis, 
or it may have something to do 
with the similarity of their policies–
for example, their shared affinity
for burning, and also their preference
for darkness and the benighted 
over the light of day and the being fully 
awake. Bottom line, if you ever happen
to eavesdrop on some deaf people 
animatedly signing about Ron DeSantis,
it would be a forgivable and understandable mistake
if you thought they were talking about Satan,
because although they're not quite synonyms
they are unmistakably homonyms in ASL.

Paul Hostovsky makes his living in Boston as a sign language interpreter. His newest book of poems is Pitching for the Apostates (forthcoming, Kelsay Books).

Thursday, May 25, 2023


by Alan Walowitz

Russia has expanded its list of sanctioned Americans in a tit-for-tat retaliation for the latest curbs imposed by the United States. But what is particularly striking is how much President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is adopting perceived enemies of former President Donald J. Trump as his own. —The New York Times, May 21, 2023

I want to get on that Russia-list.

To be among those who can’t go to Moscow—

would be so Chekhovian, bittersweet

not to see the Cyrillic sights, or trade in  

Gazprom futures, or pass gas in Red Square.

Here in the Times is a list of my peeps, my peers—

the Jews, the odd, the Kleptocrat wannabes, 

the comedians, the gays, the left-wingers, a few right

who despise George Santos, his lies which

make them queasy, though wonder at how easy. 

Some who grew up in Brighton, or 108th in Queens—

and here a Huckabee from Arkansas, 

notorious for lying herself. 

And others, much kinder, smarter—

actors, heiresses, entrepreneurs, free-thinkers

who submit clever Shouts to The New Yorker,

most never to be heard

except for an occasional squint 

through that imperious monocle.

All of us who would have been

red diaper-babes once upon a time

whose mothers never lived to see the day

our names had made the Russia-list 

in The New York Times.

Alan Walowitz is a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry.  His chapbook Exactly Like Love comes from Osedax Press. The full-length The Story of the Milkman and Other Poems is available from Truth Serum Press. Most recently, from Arroyo Seco Press, is the chapbook In the Muddle of the Night written with poet Betsy Mars. Now available for free download is the collection The Poems of the Air from Red Wolf Editions.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023


by Mary K O’Melveny

She blew in like a Hurricane

A river deep    A mountain high


She ditched Ike   Took over the mike

Blew our minds   Broke our hearts


Tina Turner knew first hand 

What love’s got to do with it


She told us what we needed

Knew what we wanted


Tina stamped her feet   Released her hips  

Danced like unleashed wind


She defied age   Demanded respect

Broke the rules   Exposed the fools


Tina wore Stiletto heels   Spangled dresses

Split sexy skirts    Spiky blonde hair


She even taught Mick Jagger

How to dance   swivel   shake


Tina shouted loud   Made us proud

Said we’d better be good to her


She will keep on like a Hurricane   

Turning    Burning   Churning  


Tina was our Queen of Rock ‘n Roll 

Simply the best   Better than all the rest

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.


by Katherine Shehadeh


      (n) commitment to traditional values and ideas with opposition to change or innovation. (Oxford Languages 2023). 


I wonder what we’re clinging to

a deluge of half-sunken flags


a little boy shot dead, his hand 

forever blue in an ice cream cooler


his brother, the driver, wishes

he’d just trusted his sixth sense


not gone so late, recalls seeing the future 

suicided face of the murder-suicider


at the place on the corner that’s 

supposed to be convenient, 


& mom asks if it’s safe to go 

to the Middle East.


I mention the latest mass shooting, not 

the one in Texas or the car ramming from that weekend


a deluge of half-sunken flags

I wonder what we’re clinging to

Katherine Shehadeh is a poet, attorney, and current reader for Chestnut Review who resides with her family in Miami, Florida. Her recent poems appear in Maudlin House, Drunk Monkeys, Saw Palm, & others. Find her on Twitter @your_mominlaw or Instagram @katherinesarts.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023


by Diana Morley

A 13-year-old Michigan boy who used a slingshot to save his 8-year-old sister from an attempted kidnapping said he was “freaking out” and simply reached for something that could stop the attack. “So I grab my slingshot and open the window and I grab two things—a marble and a gravel rock or something,” Police said Owen struck the 17-year-old assailant in the head and chest, and his sister was able to get away. —AP, May 19, 2023

No semi-automatic rifle
but a simple slingshot 
grabbed by a young teen
saved his younger sister
being abducted. A sturdy 
wooden Y the why of her 
escape—of stopping 
the large target wounded 
by a rock and a marble. 

The boy a marvel today  
who instead of grabbing 
his cell phone for a photo
‘freaked out’ at seeing evil. 
A girl’s scream, a window,  
a thirteen-year-old boy with 
a slingshot, rock and marble. 

A biblical story played out
in Michigan—unusual—
but sure did tip the scales
for we the people at a loss
for words over sick shooters
still protected by politics. 

Diana Morley has published poems online and in journals as well as two books of poetry and a photographic/poetic documentary of Oregon’s 2020 wildfire and renewal. She writes and resides in North Carolina. 

Monday, May 22, 2023


by Howie Good

“Springtime” Claude Monet 1886 Fitzwilliam Museum (University of Cambridge), Cambridge, UK

Baby dies in attic fire. 400 dead in floods and landslides. 3 killed, 6 injured in New Mexico shooting. “All of life,” the Buddha said, “is sadness,” as if he’d been reading the same headlines as me. Cops seek masked gunman. Ukrainian attack looms. 12-year-old charged with murder. Every day the mirror held up to existence only darkens further. Then the spring melt reveals there’s been grass alive under the snow this whole time. Birds return to the marsh from the hot countries full of excited chatter. Sunshine grows brighter and more frequent and falls like a benediction on old bent trees and fat buds and us who don’t even deserve it. 

Howie Good's newest poetry collection Heart-Shaped Hole which also includes examples of his handmade collages, is available from Laughing Ronin Press.