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Monday, October 02, 2023


by Marissa Glover

This is the truest thing 
you will read all day. 
Some people mourn
others will rejoice
some write about legacy
others, swaths of destruction.
It happens every time.
Rush Limbaugh, bin Laden—
the women/witches at Salem.
What you see always depends 
on where you stand. Just ask
the reporters taking notes
at Calvary. There were women
crying at the foot of the cross;
there were soldiers gambling
for garments. 
If you’re looking for truth,
you will not find it here. 
Not even consensus. Except
Dianne Feinstein is dead.
Be grateful. Elvis and Tupac
can’t even get that much. 
Witnesses of the same car crash
offer cops different details…
Who is right? It doesn’t matter.
Everything goes into the report.
And someday it will be you,
likely not in the news cycle
because you’re not famous.
The only people invited
to speak at your funeral will 
have something good to say.
But there will always be others,
ready with their own story.
The only truth: you are dead.

Marissa Glover lives in Florida, dodging storms and swatting bugs. Her poetry collection Let Go of the Hands You Hold was released by Mercer University Press in 2021. Box Office Gospel was published by Mercer in 2023. Follow her on X (Twitter) at @_MarissaGlover_.

Sunday, October 01, 2023


by William Aarnes

Beth and I are wearing masks

and, as can happen on the subway,


the unmasked man across the aisle

raises his voice to everyone


in the car to tell us that wearing masks

and getting vaccines just shows


we’re brainwashed by the “slime”

of lies told by the government


and the media.  We’ve been tricked

into believing all kinds of fictions.


“Take the sun,” he says, his voice

rising.  “Yes, take the goddamned sun.


You’re telling me you can see something

that’s ninety-three million miles away?


Anyone who thinks for himself knows

his eyes can’t see that far! You’d need


a Hubble, though that Hubble’s

just another made-up lie. Anyone


who’s reasonable and thinks for himself

knows he’s not seeing the sun. Read


your Plato and stop looking up

at the useless sky. Don’t listen


to those swindlers that are telling you

any different. And stop going along


with the idea that something invisible

can make you sick. Or just go ahead.


I don’t give a damn. Why would anyone               

give a damn? You’re all just pathetic!” 

As we leave the train, we don’t dare

wish him well—what would he do?—

though we want to. Beth and I wear

our masks the two blocks home.

It’s a gloomy afternoon, light rain.

And the first thing I do in the door

is—trusting the internet—open my laptop

to look up the diameter of the sun.

Then how much light the sun gives off—

enough, I’m told, to leave you blind.

William Aarnes lives in New York.  He worries about what the conservative response to COVID has done to our thinking about public health.  And yesterday his appointment to get a COVID booster was cancelled because the pharmacy had yet to receive its supply.

Saturday, September 30, 2023


by Diana Morley

Halfway up the mountain was a cavern as large as an amphitheater. The cave, which contained a dense concentration of swiftlet nests, is a sacred site for the Punan, who consider it the source of all things. Once inside, a man named Ma’ruf took a seat on the dirt floor. He was in his early 40s but appeared to be half that age, with swooped-over bangs and the youthful skin that comes from a life lived in the shade…. Ma’ruf began to hum, a deep and powerful vocalization that rose from his chest and echoed through the cave. Words took shape in a language only the elders understood. “I am like a porcupine who comes to the cave to rest,” he chanted, according to a translation of a recording of the chant made by Dr. Lansing. —“A Vanishing Nomadic Clan, With a Songlike Language All Their Own: New genetic research confirms the oral history of a small group of nomadic people living in Indonesia’s rainforest,” The New York Times, September 19, 2023

I am like a porcupine who comes to the cave to rest.
I am a benign soul grateful to be guest
seeking only the divine sleep of the blessed. 

Another day I may be gregarious, feel auspicious, 
forgetting the need to be scrupulous— 
but so worn I now risk becoming odious.

Easy to think reading about is knowing about
but pulling up from my core to bombinate,
to drone, as I can only in my dreams, 
thirsting to crawl into the cave to hold his hand. 

Half a world away, in awe of the sounds,
musical if not lyrical, plucking sounds
from belly, tuned from birth to the heart.

I am like a poet come today to words
from others in my family never met,
feeling the ken of their words, wanting 
to touch as if I knew how to feel by braille.

Diana Morley has published poetry online and in journals and in her poetry books. If she stopped writing, it would be the end. 

Friday, September 29, 2023


by Rob McClure

X Is The Biggest Source Of Fake News And Disinformation, EU Warns —Forbes, September 26, 2023

A great Antarctic ice-wall girds our world

and JFK Junior flies his plane there

first across Idaho, false flags unfurled,

where Bigfoot is a forest-ranger bear.

Junior’s chemtrails stream upon 51

where the freemasons faked the moon-landing 

and spaceship dismantling has just begun,

for alien tech gets swift rebranding.

Soros builds birds there, makes 5G fluoride,

listens to tunes penned by surrogate Paul

who offed Diana on that fateful ride

(9/11 sonic death-waves installed),

while adrenochrome demons mixed vaccines,

fixed birth certificates, voting machines…

Rob McClure’s creative work has appeared in many magazines—Gettysburg Review, Manchester Review, Barcelona Review, New Ohio Review.

Thursday, September 28, 2023


by Joanne Kennedy Frazer

From January 2023 to August 2023, inclusive, the UNHCR records that 2,314 people have died or been declared missing at sea on Mediterranean migration routes; the IOM similarly recorded 2,324 deaths or disappearances over the same time. —Wikipedia

For these burials     at sea

   the dead      are not sewn into sail cloth


No ceremony     no one prays over them


Their boat      converts to casket

      submerges     to a mass grave

                their last refuge

Joanne Kennedy Frazer (Durham, NC) enjoys spending her silvering years writing poetry and publishing in numerous anthologies, journals, and ezines. She has written two chapbooks. Most recently, Seasonings (Kelsay Press).

Wednesday, September 27, 2023


by Laura Rodley

Retired, nurse Jean nurses the homeless along
Chico’s bicycle path near the intersection
of Rio Lindo without washing their backs
or dispensing medicines: she gathers their trash,
clothes, and wet-wipes with a three-foot-grabber
bequeathed by a friend. Fellow walkers along
the path say thank you while she fills plastic
bags, wears cheap plastic gloves, monitoring
her own heart with her pace-maker. Only walls
away divide her from being homeless herself,
though she worked full time since her teens.
She gives back to her country walking
amongst her brethren fallen on hard times,
some still homeless after the Paradise Camp fire.
It’s her home, her country;
in the handkerchief-sized plot outside
her apartment her tomatoes reach
the size of baseballs. You know people
kill rattlesnakes, she says, all you have
to do is walk around them. They live
here too. The Hopi consider them
to be sacred, as is the ground she walks on,
lifting another clump of trash into her bag,
just the way my father gathered litter
as he walked from the train station
on his way home, a veteran longtime gone,
planting tomatoes when he could no longer
see, counting them as round shadows
that hung in the air, sixty-seven last count.

Laura Rodley, Pushcart Prize winner, is a quintuple Pushcart Prize nominee and quintuple Best of Net nominee. Latest books: Turn Left at Normal by Big Table Publishing, Counter Point by Prolific Press, and As You Write It Lucky 7, a collection of 11 writers' work.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023


by Jacqueline Coleman-Fried

after Jorie Graham


Here it comes, at last, the nightingale,
after wintering in Africa—
black eyes on fire.
Listen to me.
You searched for me in all England’s 
green patches,
but the land where Keats
wrote his great poem
has lost the low brush, the woodlands
where we nest.
Our wings
have shrunk, the journey
to sunshine and back too far, too ominous.
Why are you listening only now?
Why did you not
You didn’t notice my long,
thin beak opening wide—
issuing more sounds
than any other bird.
And silence, repeated, like white
between stanzas.
Now you want to learn—
you write like you talk,
without music—
do you know I’m the bird of Ukraine?
of poets and musicians.
How many are dying? Dying every day.
Our songs call lovers,
shame all who close their ears.
And he left then,
the bird,
taking every living thing with him
in his ballooning, throbbing throat,
before I could say goodbye.
Jacqueline Coleman-Fried is a poet living in Tuckahoe, NY. Her work as appeared in The New Verse NewsThe Orchards Poetry JournalpacificREVIEWQuartet Journal, and soon, Consequence, and HerWords Magazine.

Monday, September 25, 2023


by Ron Riekki

“I’m against picketing, but I don’t know how to show it.”

—Mitch Hedberg


“A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”

—Yogi Berra


“Mary Barra makes twenty-nine million a year,” he says.

He’s sitting in front of the class.  He sits, because of his back.

He says he won’t be back for possibly infinity, that this

strike might put his family out, have to leave.  “And I’m from

Waterford too,” he says, “Where she was born.”  A student says,

“They put Ford into everything here—Ford River, Waterford.”

“Yeah, they put it right in the drinking water,” says another

student, “Trust me, I’m from Flint.”  The first day of class

he had us go around and say our names, what we do for

a living—roofer, firefighter, truck driver.  He stopped us,

said, “You guys have the hardest jobs.  What, is one of you

an oil rig worker?”  “I used to be,” said one of the students.

“What’re you all doing here?”  “We need some comedy

in our lives.”  I don’t tell the class this, but my PTSD

counselor recommended improv, said social connection

is better than counseling.  So I came.  One day, the teacher

asked for a suggestion, and someone shouted, “War!”

I froze up, couldn’t talk.  The teacher stood up, said,

“And this here’s the old town statue, unfortunately,

we’re gonna have to tear it down.  Bye, Robert E. Lee.”

And then a bunch of the class entered into the scene

as townspeople and they picked me up and hauled me

in the air across the stage.  Everybody was dying

laughing.  After, a student said, “You make a really

good Bobby E. Lee.”  More laughter.  I had started

to have a panic attack, but they brought me back, tore

it down.  And now we’re worried class is going to be

canceled.  An EMT in the class said COVID’s coming

back.  A guy who’s unemployed told us he was jealous

of our having work—and now our teacher doesn’t, says

it might go on forever, the strike, says he has to be out

on the line at 6 a.m., “but there’s no parking,” said he’s out

there in the rain.  “That sucks.”  “No,” he explains, “It’s

what I’ve been doing at GM my whole life.  We work

outside, every day.  Winter too.”  We sit there and stare,

silent, at the stage.  It’s empty.  Totally empty.  Black-

box theater.  But not even black boxes.  Nothing.  Just us.

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

Sunday, September 24, 2023


by David Chorlton

Yesterday’s news sent the city to bed
with domestic terror for a nightcap, home grown
it said, easy to fund, you can’t
keep bad men down. And fall begins today
even if summer still has
a scorpion’s tail. A night of interrupted sleep
with a dream of far away;
how well those friends of years ago
appeared. Good health among the living
and even better with
the dead. Who would have expected such
a fine reunion, or found
the references to erotica made in Vienna?
Outside, it’s Arizona warm
with coyotes wandering the starlit streets
and bus shelters doubling
as bedrooms for the poor. The midnight traffic
on the interstate is singing
in a sparkling monotone
and the moon hangs
like half a cup of fire between two
leaning palms. Let the past
be the past, say Goodnight
and ride a beam of dreamlight home.
Fumble for the key.
Ignore the splinters in the door where someone
must have brought a crowbar.
Imagine! The cracking wood, the aching
hinge, the next door neighbor’s
reassuring words: don’t worry,
it could never happen here.

David Chorlton has considered Phoenix home for several decades. He used to live in Vienna but rarely dreams about it. Much of his poetry comes from life in Arizona, where he has found strains of unrest and social disquiet that he can't ignore.

Saturday, September 23, 2023


by Jerry Krajnak

Early autumn Friday afternoon.
Erasing idle pencil marks on a desk
where a child’s elbow earlier rested, her face
gazing up through the newly polished glass to watch
the geese head south, a sight, of course, that was missed
by a teacher who always stands as he applies
the disinfectant spray to dirty desks.
Our funds are tight, administration says.
We let our custodians go the day we fired
all counselors and librarians. So, banish the dirt
from all those desks. Like we’ve done with books.
The teacher pauses, moves to the window, looks out,
sees caterpillars chew on poplar leaves.
He thinks about his student loan, regrets
the loss of youthful glee about this job.
Another row of desks. One hundred seventy-five
more days. He turns back to the window, notes
that outside the chewing continues. He watches, smiles.
They soon will find a sheltered spot to wait,
then rise as something new when the weather warms.

Jerry Krajnak gardens, writes poetry, and worries in his North Carolina retirement cabin. Recent poems appear in Star 82 Review, Rat's Ass Review, The New Verse News, Autumn Sky Poetry, and other journals.

Friday, September 22, 2023


by W. Luther Jett

Kim pledges to back Putin’s ‘sacred struggle’ during rare summit —The Washington Post, September 13, 2023

See the two men smile

as they shake hands—

clean-shaven, well-dressed,

and well-fed. Comfortable

in their suits under a round

sun, blue sky. Together

they make history, sing,

ride a train. The platform

is so clean. Their shoes

gleam. Never mind that one

red spot the polisher missed,

there by the heel. It is

nothing. It can’t be blood.

W. Luther Jett is a native of Montgomery County, Maryland and a retired special educator. His poetry has been published in numerous journals as well as several anthologies. He is the author of five poetry chapbooks: “Not Quite: Poems Written in Search of My Father” (Finishing Line Press, 2015), Our Situation” Prolific Press, 2018), “Everyone Disappears” (Finishing Line Press, 2020), “Little Wars” (Kelsay Books, 2021), and “Watchman, What of the Night?” (CW Books, 2022). A full-length collection, “Flying to America” is scheduled for release in the spring of 2024, from Broadstone Press. 

Thursday, September 21, 2023


by Suzanne Morris

after “Bélizaire and the Frey Children”  attributed to French portraitist Jacques Amans, 1837, acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2023

He stands tall, one shoulder
resting against a wide-girthed tree

on the pleasant green expanse
of a Louisiana plantation.

His arms are folded

across the front of his
tailored coat.

His face is solemn,
cheeks highly colored,

gaze fixed on some
point in the distance

as if he’s assessing
his place above

the three young,
open-faced siblings

in dainty frocks
standing below:

What might have led to an
enslaved youngster’s appearance

in a portrait of his
owner’s fair children?

And if this be vouchsafed by
sweet Heaven’s intent, then

might these
privileged youths

who boast to him of their
McGuffey Readers and are
well-versed in Bible stories

one day take up 
their writing pens and

set down the truth of
his people’s history?

Some sixty years hence,
the yoke of American
slavery broken,

Bélizaire’s noble figure
will be cunningly painted over

leaving his ghost to hover
between the artist’s vision

and the sunny sky, added later,
to obscure him.

The antebellum portrait of
three comely white children

will be forgotten

in the dark reaches
of attic and basement

until the dawn of the
21st century, when

Bélizaire’s figure
is finally restored

and the work receives
due veneration

the full franchise of 
his people bought with
calloused feet and heroes’ blood.

Yet now, less than
two decades passed,

Bélizaire looks down

from high up on a
museum wall

as a generation
come lately

forswearing the truth 
painstakingly written

again takes up the brush to
paint over him.   

Suzanne Morris is a novelist with eight published works.  Her poems have appeared inThe New Verse News and The Texas Poetry Assignment, as well as other online poetry journals, and anthologies.  A native of Houston, she now makes her home in Cherokee County, Texas.