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Wednesday, July 24, 2024


by Shawn Avaningo-Sanders

The latest weather dome has uncovered us from its blanket of unrelenting heat. At last, I can walk the trails near my house and not need the inhaler in my pocket. I let the laundry pile up in order to save the grid for more important things—lamplight, fans, the refrigerator’s hum. I’m wearing a T-shirt I haven’t worn in almost ten years with its rainbowed Love is Love on soft heather gray and Legalize Gay on the back. I still remember crying that day the courts ruled in favor of my daughters’ future weddings. I imagine the celebration in the hearts of Black Americans when the Civil Rights Act was signed, a year before I was born. I was too young to understand the ruling in ’73 but have been grateful for rights afforded to our sisters, our mothers, our friends. Now the Ferris Wheel is spinning in reverse. I watch the unraveling of progress in the name of pseudo-freedom, mock patriotism and the so-called good ole days. And here we stand, hand in hand, left wondering which car will be stuck at the top, once this ride comes to an end.

carnival tickets 
scattered like wildflower seeds
we wait for the rain

Shawn Aveningo-Sanders’ poems have appeared worldwide in literary journals including Calyx, ONE ART, Eunoia Review, Blue Heron Review, Tule Review, Amsterdam Quarterly, About Place Journal, and Snapdragon, to name a few. She is the author of What She Was Wearing, a chapbook that reveals her #metoo secret after forty years. She’s co-founder of The Poetry Box press and managing editor of The Poeming Pigeon. Shawn is a proud mother of three amazing humans and Nana to one darling baby girl. She shares the creative life with her husband in Oregon.

Tuesday, July 23, 2024


by Thomas J. Erickson

There are decades where nothing happens
and there are weeks where decades happen.

Out near the trout stream,
there is “the Pine Tree”

a towering white pine that somehow
escaped the blade of the lumberjack.

It was a signpost and a beacon
and we could see it from anywhere

while we walked across the plains to fish there
—me, Joe and Dad and Ed

until the dusk called us home for blueberry pie
and trout and potatoes fried in lard.

That was decades ago. Earlier this summer,
the tree started to fall. 

I was afraid it would be down
in a matter of weeks.

Today, though, the tree is still there. By November,
we might still be able to see it on the horizon.

Thomas J. Erickson is an attorney in Milwaukee where he is a member of the Hartford Avenue Poets. He likes to sit in court and write poetry before his cases are called.  His latest poetry book is Cutting the Dusk in Half (Bent Paddle Press, 2022).

Monday, July 22, 2024


by Daniel Romo

Abdullah the Butcher

The politician wasn’t struck in the assassination attempt

and only his ear was grazed, but the trickle of his blood caused

          half the country to cry, Hero!

          and the other half to yell, Staged!

though no one can deny 

octogenarians are more brittle bones 

than bulletproof, and 

all’s fair in love and reward.


There are those who claim we never landed on the Moon 

and those who maintain the Earth is flat,

yet that doesn’t change the fact that 

           Abdullah the Butcher 

secretly sliced his forehead with a razorblade during matches 

in the days when wrestling was supposed to be 

                     considered real,

and his blood poured down onto his opponents 

like a christening for non-believers in the crowd 

at a baptism rooted in amusement      

and self-mutilation.


My dad didn’t initially recognize me as I visited

him and my mom this weekend

and blamed it on his cataracts.

And while that may be the cause,

I clearly see what’s to come 

for us all. 


When a platform is based upon pretending 

and failure to acknowledge that it’s not true sport 

but entertainment,

who could blame the public’s skepticism 

when a former president is clipped by a sniper 

and seconds later raises his fist to Heaven

as if not giving praise, but 

milking the most out of 

                                life’s misses?


I’m sure the candidate will still be able to hear 

from his right ear 

but never listen.


I’m sure my dad will continue to deny

the natural by-products of his age


because lies build like

scar tissue piled up upon skin,

like fresh dirt piled upon 


Daniel Romo is half curve ball, half prose poem, half bodega. Proof at

Sunday, July 21, 2024


by David Chorlton

There’s a picture postcard sunrise
back of the apartments
at 48th and Warner
and a fire truck in the parking lot. Smoke on the second storey,
three bodies, no clues, this neighborhood is zoned
for stillness in the afternoon. Water
for the sparrows, suet for the doves, a whole sky for the hawk
who flew through the yard this morning.
A hummingbird drinks light,
the sun drinks desert
and the desert drinks a hundred years
of silence in a single gulp.
Dustbathing quail in a hollow; eight half-grown
and one adult, each
with a tremble in its throat. Two flickers
on the tallest palm, a hundred
degrees high and climbing. 
Night on its way, the rabbits are out
to listen for darkness. Sure enough, it’s crossing
the ridge now, leaving nothing
but the bones of light behind. 2:20 a.m. reports
of swimming pool shots,
monsoon clouds arguing again, no arrests
are made.
An evening when homicide
hangs between the trees
and stops halfway along the path
to where a hawk’s nest is woven into the wind
the sky turns suddenly electric.
All the stars are flashing.
City lights behind the mountain,
Heaven’s rain falling
and thunder wipes the darkness clean.

David Chorlton has long been at home in Phoenix. He has a forthcoming book from The Bitter Oleander Press, Dreams the Stones Have, dedicated to the desert. 

Saturday, July 20, 2024


by Sarah Al-Hajj

Researchers have assessed the likely toll of Israel’s military campaign, including vast indirect casualties. Illustration: Mona Chalabi/The Guardian, July 12, 2024

The pool is three metres long and three metres wide
The pool is seventeen metres deep

40,400 gallons 
183,662 litres
It is the 10th of July
15,000 children dead
23,000 adults dead
38,000 people slaughtered
278 days
In place of numbers being whispered
The pool of blood screams as loud as the orphans left behind

Sarah Al-Hajj is currently 19 and studying English Literature and Psychology at the University of St Andrews. She is the author of the poetry collection Wonky Fingers. Aside from poetry, Sarah also has love of music and songwriting, having been awarded the COBIS Young Composer of The Year in 2023. 

Friday, July 19, 2024


by Gifford Savage

My stepfather sexually abused me when I was a child. My mother, Alice Munro, chose to stay with him. In the shadow of my mother, a literary icon, my family and I have hidden a secret for decades. It’s time to tell my story. —Andrea Robin Skinner, Toronto Star, updated July 15, 2024. Photo by Steve Russell.

We mourned her passing,
those of us eclipsed by her shadow,
who place words on pages
in vain attempt to come close 
to her masterful levels of wit,
humour and care.
Amongst the greats of short-story fiction,
she was honoured and celebrated,
commemorated in glowing eulogies.
Lifted to the heights of genius
in obituaries dwelling on achievement.
Perhaps we can understand
why they didn’t mention the unmentionable,
those writers who loved her words so much,
for whom Her stories are life itself.
A month later it all fell crashing down to earth. 
What the tributes had carefully left unsaid,
what they had known since the verdict in 2005.
This mother who wrote so powerfully
about the complications of everyday life,
who wrote from a feminine perspective
of girls and boys, of men and women—
while all along, beyond the pen and page was
the guilty abuser she protected,
the dirty secret held close,
the terrible reality denied,
the Nobel prize gathering dust,
the little girl she had betrayed,
no longer a child, bravely breaking her silence—
along with our delusions of greatness.

Gifford Savage is from Bangor, Northern Ireland. His poetry has been published in various journals, including The Storms, The Bangor Literary Journal, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Agape Review, and previously in The New Verse News. He was included in the Community Arts Partnership anthology "Across the Threshold," has performed his poetry on local television station "Northern Visions TV," and was winner of the Aspects Festival Poetry Slam 2022.

Thursday, July 18, 2024


by Steven Kent

The gunman missed his head and ample chassis,
So Trump, of course, was bound to keep it classy:
He swapped the bloody shirt for bloody sneakers,
killer deal—three bills—for MAGA seekers!

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.


by Felicia Nimue Ackerman

The country trumps your wishes, Joe.
Admit it's time for you to go.
Unless you heed this urgent call,
The future's apt to Trump us all.

Felicia Nimue Ackerman is a professor of philosophy at Brown University and has had over 300 poems in places including American Atheist, The American Scholar, Better Than Starbucks, The Boston Globe, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Down in the Dirt, The Emily Dickinson International Society Bulletin, Free Inquiry, The Galway Review, Light Poetry Magazine, Lighten Up Online, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Daily News, The New York Times, Options (Rhode Island's LGBTQ+ magazine), The Providence Journal, Scientific American, Sparks of Calliope, Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and Your Daily Poem. She has also had seven previous poems in The New Verse News.


by Cody Walker

Cartoon by RaderDraw via Threads: @rader_draw

Shady. Chance
of locusts, darkness, hail.
J.D. Vance
and his padrone prevail.

Cody Walker is the author of three poetry collections, all from the Waywiser Press. He lives and teaches in Ann Arbor.

Wednesday, July 17, 2024


by Peter Calder

after seeing a small rally of people in George Square, Glasgow (file photo above) following the recent election results in the UK

He says they’re
all in on it.
Every single 
bastard one.
They know what 
they are doing.
Death of Scotland.
That’s what he says.
Politicians. Scientists. 
All of them—
A ripple of hands
startles a pigeon
and sends the flock
soaring above the square.
But this Rally—he says
is rewriting history.
A pocket of truth 
in a new skin suit.
And I guess he’s right.
It is just skin 
holding us together.
We’re all in on it.
The left. The right. 
The indifferent.
Every single one of us 
wrapped up in it.
From Westminster 
to Glasgow lies
a body, bruised 
in patches of blue.
It happens almost
unnoticed. The birds
loop and scatter 
on the ground.
An old man
tosses crumbs—
and the flock

Peter Calder is a Primary School teacher living and working in Glasgow. He is the co-founder and editor of the Hull based magazine Descent Spread and has had poetry and short stories published in various UK-based magazines.


by Stuart McFarlane

No, this is not Nineteen-ninety-seven,
a new Labour, new dawn, a new Heaven.
We've still not forgotten the stain of Iraq.
For you, Tony Blair, there was no way back!
We are, rightly, sick of all politicians,
we know, only too well, they're not magicians!
We hope there is but minimal disruption,
a growing intolerance of corruption.
Time to govern boldly, to influence our fate,
to shake the wrinkles out of the garment of state;
to pluck the jewel of meritocracy
from the tired, tattered threads of democracy.
Yes, there's jubilation outside Number Ten,
but we, the people, will not be fooled again.
Starmer proclaims 'The economy must grow!'
Tell us something we don't already know!
We're aware your tax plans don't make any sense.
We're all aquainted with pounds, shillings and pence.
We don't celebrate the dawn of a new day,
do not so much cheer, as desperately pray.
You are seeking growth, a spike in GDP?
Then why not start by contemplating the sea?
Europe is still there; a constant underpinning;
panacea, no; but, at least, a beginning.

Stuart McFarlane is now semi-retired. He taught English for many years to asylum seekers in London. He has had poems published in a few online journals.

Tuesday, July 16, 2024



by Matthew E. Henry

AI-generated photograph of the Library of our fictitious Antonin Scalia High School

Oklahoma’s State Superintendent Requires Public Schools to Teach the Bible. —The New York Times, June 27, 2024

happy final days of summer. as you can imagine, central office

has been inundated with queries on how you—our intrepid educators—

will meet superintendent Walter’s mandate to immediately “incorporate

the Bible…as an instructional support. while the Bible has important 

cultural, literary, political, and spiritual significance, most educators                                                                       

outside the English and social studies departments are unsure how 

to accomplish this without running afoul of parents, the school board, 

the dept of education, state senators, the ACLU, and the myriad

acronymed mother groups multiplying in our midst. the admin team,

with help from your dept heads, composed the suggestions below.

divided by content area, the following should be read as inspiration,

not limitations to your academic freedom. the endnotes are provided

only as a resource, should you choose to familiarize yourselves with the texts. 


Drama/Performance Arts: students can compose monologues 

on the benefits of feigning mental illness,1 stage a morality play 

focusing on the perils of drunken fathers being sexually assaulted 

by their children,2 or send up a musical about a king singing 

and dancing before his subjects, his penis flapping in the wind.3


Foreign Languages: compose conversational scenarios imparting 

the importance of language as a means of bridging cultural gaps,4

communing with spiritual beings,5 and mitigating the slaughter 

of 42,000 people for mispronouncing a Hebrew word.6


Government/Economics: stage a mock trial for a woman who 

grabbed the penis of the naked man dominating her husband 

in a physical altercation—should her hand be cut off without pity?7

host a debate on the fairness of a prophet being mauled by a lion 

for not disfiguring another prophet.8 present case studies of God 

smearing fecal matter on the faces of corrupt politicians9 and 

how acts of personal violence are Jesus’ preferred method 

of addressing the harms of unfettered, exploitative capitalism.10


Health/Sex Education: have students build interactive websites 

or slide decks on donkey-sized dicks with horse-volume emissions,11

the nature of wet dreams,12 reasons for avoiding menstruating women,13

the risks of ‘pulling out’ as a birth control method,14 and how to craft 

sex toys from precious metals.15


Home Economics: experiment with recipes for barley bread baked

with pellets of human waste,16 mixed drinks appropriate for political 

assassinations,17 and patterns for sewing sackcloth coverings 

for repentant cows.18


Mathematics: construct word problems to calculate the number of nights 

one could survive in a big fish,19 how many horsemen are needed 

for apocalyptic destruction,20 how large a skin-scarf one could quilt

from 200 Philistines foreskins,21 and the means of equally distributing—

around a set geographic region—the remains of a woman gang-r*ped 

to death and then hacked to pieces by her husband.22


Physical Education: teach the importance of conditioning by placing 

students in the athletic shoes of the murdered prophets of Baal23

or the young men unable to escape bears sent to avenge the bald prophet 

they mocked.24 dodge ball can be supplemented with a mini-lesson 

on throwing the infants of one’s enemies against jagged rocks.25


Science Classes: students can calculate the impact of a boy falling 

from a window after dozing off during a sermon that ran too long,26

and the amount of refracted light needed to prevent another watery geocide.27

they can also determine the physical and chemical changes needed 

to liquify a golden statue enough for forced human consumption,28

and the active ingredients in a potion to impel hysterectomies.29


Speech/Rhetoric Class: suggest the usefulness of ad homien attacks,

such as referring to your enemies as aborted fetuses30 and openly praying

they fall victim to botched circumcisions.31


once again, these are only suggestions. if you have any further questions, 

please bring them to the attention of your dept head, building admin, and 

the four new “biblical coaches” the district has hired to support you.

unrelated, recent budgetary concerns leave us unable to maintain

funding for professional development, academic conferences, and 

continuing education efforts of faculty for the foreseeable future.

here’s to a wonderful beginning of the school year: GO CRUSADERS!


11 Samuel 21:10-14 | 2 Genesis 9:20-27 and Genesis 19:31-38 | 3 2 Samuel 6:14-20 | 4 Genesis 11:1-9 | 5 1 Corinthians chapter 14 | 6 Judges 12:5-6 | 7 Deuteronomy 25:11-12 | 1 Kings 20:35-36 | 9 Malachi 2:1-3 | 10  John 2:13-17 | 11 Ezekiel 23:20 | 12 Deuteronomy 23:10 | 13 Leviticus15:19-30 | 14 Genesis 38:8-10 | 15 Ezekiel 16:17 | 16 Ezekiel 4:12 | 17 Judges 5:24-27 | 18 Jonah 3:7-10 | 19 Jonah chapter 2 | 20 Revelation 6:1-8 | 21 1 Samuel 18:27 | 22 Judges chapter 19 | 23 1 Kings 18:16-40 | 24 2 Kings 2:23-24 | 25 Psalm 137:8-9 | 26 Acts 20:7-9 | 27 Genesis 9:13-17| 28Exodus 32:20 | 29 Numbers 5:11-31 | 30 Psalms 58:8 | 31 Galatians 5:11-12.

Matthew E. Henry (MEH) is the author of six poetry collections, most recently said the Frog to the scorpionHe is an educator and editor who received his MFA yet continued to spend money he didn’t have completing an MA in theology and a PhD in education. He writes about education, race, religion, and burning oppressive systems to the ground at .