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Saturday, July 13, 2024

JULY OF ELECTION YEAR 2024

by Tarn Wilson




This year, if I keep my pace, 

I’ll read over 100 books.

I don’t know if this is a victory 

or a sad state of affairs.

I don’t know if I am in love 

with the world or addicted 

to distraction. Preachers and 

politicians used to call novels 

filthy and frivolous, wanted

us to read only stripped facts 

and sermons on virtue. Now, 


we’re pleased if children read

at all. Everywhere you look

screens hold miniature stories, 

trapdoors and tunnels toward 


truth and illusion. Last week, 

I asked a 24-year-old which 

candidate will win the youth 

vote for president. Biden is 

ridiculous, she explains: all

those gaffes-turned-memes.

Trump, she decides. He’s funnier.

 Funny? I ask. He has wittier 

insults. He says what we all wish 


we could say. Democrats are 

schoolmarms, then? I ask. 

Mothers who make you feel 

ashamed? What about the danger 

to our democracy? Low wages /

high rentsIt’s all the same to us. 


We need more facts and tracts 

on virtues. We need novels, too,

about civil wars and WWII, 

about loss and love and grief 

and trees, anything to help us 

feel, in our bones, what it is 

we have to lose. Actually, she says, 

face lighting, RFK is trending 

on TikTok. His policies are crazy,

I say. He’s doing pull ups, she says. 

He looks strong. People like that.



Tarn Wilson is the author of the memoir The Slow Farm, the memoir-in-essays In Praise of Inadequate Gifts (winner of the Wandering Aengus Book Award), and the craft book: 5-Minute Daily Writing Prompts: 501 Prompts to Unleash Your Creativity and Inspire You to Write. Her essays and poetry have appeared in numerous literary journals, including BrevityHarvard Divinity BulletinRiver TeethRuminateSweet, and The Sun

DATA AIN’T WISDOM

 by Anita S Pulier


Even a perfect census will not put out the fire
burning in the Nationalist heart.

Nooses, confederate flags,
swastikas

stoke a malicious wind,
tease stray embers ablaze,

decency, fairness torched,
the dead mourned in time

to welcome
the next batch of flatliners,

school children hiding from bullets,
dead folk in synagogues, movies or concerts,

and caravans of the desperate who
wonder how close to an embryo

must one be to claim the right to life?
America, dear,

our once noble experiment
is choking on the foul air

in the autocratic wastebin of
greed and bigotry.

Sure, we will count heads,
tally up racial ancestry,

count votes,
count the dead, but will we learn

why, oh why, are so many
sucking the poison

from the orange beast’s burning breast
while Momma’s milk curdles and dries up?

Anita S Pulier’s chapbooks Perfect DietThe Lovely Mundane and Sounds of Morning and her books The Butchers Diamond and Toast were published by Finishing Line Press.  Paradise Reexamined came out in 2023 (Kelsay Books). Her new book Leaving Brooklyn is due in Jan '25 from Kelsay Books  Anita’s poems have appeared in many journals and her work is included in nine print anthologies. Anita has been a featured poet on The Writer's Almanac and Cultural Daily.

Friday, July 12, 2024

BENEATH THIS HEAT DOME

by W. Barrett Munn


AccuWeather, July 10, 2024


The red juiced rooster-shaped thermometer
crowed a whole octave above 100 again today.
Being forged from tin, feathers can’t be touched
unless a blister is accounted for by a salve
or some suitable soothing lotion.
In the evening beneath this heat dome,
I can see the Milky Way, and weigh in that
the temperature matches all 88 constellations,
explain how some are seen only in New Zealand

or elsewhere below the equator, forming 
constellations with names like Eridanus, Carina, 
Hydrus and Hydra, Octans and Pavo, and Sagittarius.. 
If only the smaller dipper would drip, or bigger tip 
over and spill; but the earth spins slowly, carefully, 
there's no spillage to share. In a few hours the world 
will turn, and we'll face the sun again; who knows 
how many more will die today beneath this dome, 
ferns left in the sun too long without being watered.


W. Barrett Munn is a graduate of The Institute of Children's Literature. His adult poetry has been published in Awakenings Review, San Antonio Review, The New Verse News, Copperfield Review Quarterly, Sequoia Speaks, and many others.

Thursday, July 11, 2024

SURGEONS OF THE INSECT WORLD

by Martin Elster


Ants in Florida perform life-saving surgery on their peers, scientists have discovered. They are only the second animal in the world known to do this — along with humans.  —Live Science, July 2, 2024. Image by Bart Zjilstra.



The femur of an ant sustains a wound?
No fear! Her friends come round to amputate it.
The injured ant is brave. (They don’t sedate it.)
Her tight-knit colony is super-tuned
to spot all troubles, never apathetic
to nest-mates. Every helper is a hero.
Each one of them, despite receiving zero
training, is a natural-born medic.
They diagnose, see if the wound’s infected
or sterile, and then treat accordingly
(like surgeons you or I might go to see).
Damaged or not, no member is neglected.
They work for forty minutes on her leg
to lop it off. At first, they lick and lick
the wound so clean, no germ will make her sick.
Mouths moving up her limb, she doesn’t beg
her mates to stop. Stoic, calm, collected,
she sits there while the surgeons work intently,
gnawing at her shoulder — far from gently.
With five remaining legs, feeling respected,
she walks off as if nothing is amiss
with feelings of contentment — or even bliss. 
With Primal Instinct as their sole director,
she’s confident her kinfolks will protect her.


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).

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

A NEW DAWN

by Dick Altman 



As the poet might have awakened to it…


After an historic,
all-night zoom
with world’s leadership,
she—America’s new president—
stood on California’s shore,
sun rising directly behind her,
ray’s emanating
from her silhouette,
as from the Statue
of Liberty’s crown,
to announce America’s
new proclamation
of emancipation.
 
An emancipation,
she exclaimed,
that would usher in
a new era
of global freedom,
not imposed,
but welcomed,
in every corner,
and at every level,
of humanity.
 
We need to fight,
she said,
not each other,
but for each other,
for the planet,
to sustain and nourish
each other,
for the world of work
to offer dignity
and opportunity,
for economies to thrive,
as they compete,
with best ideas,
realized at best price.
 
We need to recognize,
she went on,
to honor
our collective individuality,
our shared commonalties,
the dissonant music
that entwines,
and enriches our lives,
rather than fractures,
if we let it.
To recognize the need,
she stressed,
for borders of heritage,
rather than walls
of defense,
for borders of possibility,
rather than denial.
 
We can all wish
for a perfect world,
she said,
in that dream
we all inhabit,
each in our own measure,
loving thy neighbor,
and the flowers
always in bloom.
Yet it is imperfection
that permeates life,
and the striving
to overcome it.
In that we are all joined.
 
Let America,
once again,
by word and deed,
by shake of hand,
hug or clap on shoulder,
remind we breathe
the same breath,
share the same night,
wake to the same sun,
shining on similarity
and difference,
without exception.


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. His work also appears in the first edition of The New Mexico Anthology of Poetry, published by the New Mexico Museum Press. Pushcart Prize nominee and poetry winner of Santa Fe New Mexican’s annual literary competition, he has authored some 250 poems, published on four continents.

FIVE MONTHS BEFORE THE ELECTION

by Rachel Landrum Crumble




It’s easy to pull weeds from damp soil, 
to power down my front steps and break
a spider’s web and not know the little guy
is hanging on me like a kid grasping 
a kite string, trying not to blow away
on a windy day. 

My point is: we should have done more,
sooner. The weeds have taken over,
yet we topple lesser kingdoms without knowing
by just walking around in the world.

In one neighbor’s house, the TV news
frets the play-by-play of a trial
that’s just concluded. In another house,
the camera’s eye bears witness to the same event, 
except the one on trial is the opposing party.
We have fashioned the media into our own ugly image. 

Truth is on trial, and must sequester
for the duration. We can’t remember whether or not
this is standard fare. We gulp the wind from giant goblets,
still parched. We are too discombobulated to know
we are lost. 

Let’s huddle together. Let’s find communion.
Sure, the wafer is thin and tasteless, but it symbolizes
something we can’t do for ourselves.


Rachel Landrum Crumble retired from twenty years of teaching high school, having previously taught kindergarten through college. She has published in The Porterhouse Review, Typishly, among others, and recently Poetry Breakfast, Humans of the World, and forthcoming in Euphony Journal. Her first poetry collection, Sister Sorrow, was published by Finishing Line Press in January 2022. She lives with her husband of 43 years, a jazz drummer, and near 2 of their 3 adult children, and two adorable grand twins with another on the way.

HELP ME, JOE

by Alan Walowitz




I’m not the handiest man
though sometimes feel the need to prove I am—
at least among those still extant in my demographic
who might be foolish enough to wield a screwdriver 
a couple of  feet in the air
and intend to get close enough to what needs tightening.
Though not mistaken for the Wallendas
who repair the skylight when it won’t close right.
Or that D.B. Cooper guy I hire to change the bulbs
in the fixture that hangs a hundred feet in the air
from my foolish cathedral ceiling. 
You know, it’s been a while since
I climbed to the top rung. 
I’m happier watching from the ground
and telling those youngsters 
everything they’re doing wrong
and how I would’ve handled it
way back when, a couple of year before. 
Though I do remember from being up there, 
the thrill of the heights
I know when you fall, you hit with a thud.
Meantime, help me, Joe. 
Hold this ladder, will you? 
For this young one
willing, ready  to climb up.


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.

Tuesday, July 09, 2024

UPROOTED ON ROUTE 99

by Kathryn Stepanski


A beloved palm and pine tree mark California’s center. Now they’re being cut down. —The Guardian, July 6, 2024


Where Northern California meets Southern California they stand,
Phoenix Canariensis and Cedrus Deodara.
The palm and the cedar pine
on the route from Calexico to Vancouver,
over a hundred years their roots have grown.
To be chopped down as highway lanes expand,
turning into asphalt at the fate of Caltrans.


Kathryn Stepanski is the author of The Career Search Book. Her writing has appeared in The Oakland Tribune, San Francisco Bay Guardian, Burner Magazine, and Jokes Review. She is a teacher in Oakland, California.

HIGHKU

by Jerome Berglund


The highest camp on the world’s tallest mountain is littered with garbage that is going to take years to clean up, according to a Sherpa who led a team that worked to clear trash and dig up dead bodies frozen for years near Mount Everest’s peak. The Nepal government-funded team of soldiers and Sherpas removed 11 tons of garbage, four dead bodies and a skeleton from Everest during this year's climbing season. Ang Babu Sherpa, who led the team of Sherpas, said there could be as much as 40-50 tons of garbage still at South Col, the last camp before climbers make their attempt on the summit. —AP, July 6, 2024


heavenly threshold
near the summit 
all the waste


Jerome Berglund has worked as everything from dishwasher to paralegal, night watchman to assembler of heart valves. Many haiku, haiga and haibun he’s written have been exhibited or are forthcoming online and in print, most recently in bottle rockets, Frogpond, Kingfisher, and Presence. His first full-length collections of poetry were released by Setu, Meat For Tea, Mōtus Audāx press, and a mixed media chapbook showcasing his fine art photography is available now from Yavanika.

Monday, July 08, 2024

THE BLUE-STATE HERON

by Barbara Lydecker Crane


Artwork: a paper collage by the poet.


Flapping hard all day and night,
these herons grapple with their plight: 
a large right wing distorts their flight. 
 
Bi-coastal, Blue-states can be found
Virginia Beach to Provincetown,
San Diego to Puget Sound.

They have lost their rural southern range;
midwest statistics now look strange;
and poachers threaten further change.

Not yet in an endangered fate,
they step with slow and measured gait,
biding time. Blue-states wait.


Barbara Lydecker Crane won the Sonnet Crown category of the 2024 Kim Bridgford Memorial Sonnet Contest, Honorable Mention in the 2024 Frost Farm Poetry Contest, and was twice a finalist for the Rattle Poetry Prize. Able Muse recently published her fourth collection, ekphrastic sonnets entitled You Will Remember Me.

Sunday, July 07, 2024

BROKEN WORLD

by Howie Good




Howie Good is the author of The Dark, a poetry collection forthcoming from Sacred Parasite, a Berlin-based publisher. He co-edits the online journal UnLost, dedicated to found poetry.

Saturday, July 06, 2024

THE ENIGMA

by Lynn White


"The Enigma of Hitler" by Salvador Dali


Project 2025’s 180-Day Playbook is a remarkably detailed guide to turning the United States into a fascist’s paradise. —The New Republic, February 8, 2024

The new far-right alliance "Patriots for Europe," only launched two days ago, is already attracting suitors, reflecting a wider struggle for power among the EU's nationalists. Announced on 30 June by radical parties from Hungary, Austria, and Czechia, the Patriots aim to become the largest hard-right group in the European Parliament, and there are certainly plenty of options to increase membership. —euronews, July 2, 2024

The far right wins the first round of France’s snap election —NPR, July 1, 2024


Hitler was an enigma,
Dali knew it,
he could sense it
even in the nonsense of his dreams
he knew Maldoror was malodorous.

Yes, Hitler was an enigma,
such a master of communication,
but Dali knew that his communication
would be as broken as his old black phone,
no more likely to function than an umbrella is
to change into a bat and fly away when the end came.

But that was then and now Dali is dead,
perhaps more dead than Hitler,
who seems again an enigma,
a still unbroken influencer 
of malodorous malevolence
in the era of mobile phones 
and the reality of fake news
breeding New Pretenders to the crown
he left seemingly broken beyond repair.

So many now ready to pick up the pieces 
and put them together to fly
with no umbrella for protection
in the perpetual rain of the present
which spells the death of dreams.


Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality and writes hoping to find an audience for her musings. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud 'War Poetry for Today' competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net and a Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in many publications including: Apogee, Firewords, Peach Velvet, Light Journal, and So It Goes.

Friday, July 05, 2024

THE WAY WE WERE

by Steven Kent


Martin Rowson’s cartoon on the differing fortunes of Donald Trump and Rishi Sunak —The Guardian, July 3, 2024



"Rishi Sunak resigns as Tory leader as well as PM after election defeat" —The Guardian, 5 July 2024


A leader says, "The vote was clear;
It's time for me to disappear.
To my successor, luck and cheer."
Remember when we had that here?


Steven Kent is the poetic alter ego of writer and musician Kent BurnsideHis work appears in 251, Asses of Parnassus, Light, Lighten Up Online, The New Verse News, Philosophy Now, Pulsebeat Poetry Journal, The Road Not Taken: A Journal of Formal Poetry, and SnakeskinHis collection I Tried (And Other Poems, Too) was published in 2023 by Kelsay Books.