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Tuesday, July 05, 2022

THE WIND SPEAKS

by Laurie Kuntz




“I have lost my name and I have lost my reputation.” 
-Ruby Freeman


The wind speaks your name
and carries it into crevices
where only the wind can go
 
far from your calling,
and you find yourself 
begging for the return
of all who called you Lady.
 
Witness your life breaking,
see loss and corruption corralled
in a gust of swirling air.
Struggle to end each day
not with the same stare tasking sadness,
but with a vision of some new thing.
 
Comes a June awakening,
a solstice wind makes chimes spin,
spreads a crimson sheet of plum blossoms over grey streets
and changes your moods, cools an anger,
makes you hear the song of stones sweeping red earth away.
 
You can see a clearing
in the horizon, get a different view
as the wind slaps you in an embrace,
and carries back your name.


Laurie Kuntz is a widely published and award winning poet. She has been nominated for a Pushcart and Best of the Net prize. She has published two poetry collections, The Moon Over My Mother’s House (Finishing Line Press) and Somewhere in the Telling (Mellen Press), two chapbooks, Simple Gestures (Texas Review) and Women at the Onsen (Blue Light Press). Her 5th poetry collection Talking Me off the Roof is forthcoming from Kelsay Press in late 2022. Many of her poems are a direct result of working with refugees in refugee camps soon after the Vietnam War years.  Recently retired, she lives in an endless summer state of mind. 

EVIDENCE

by Bruce Bennett






Glowingly, knowingly 

Cassidy Hutchinson 

Answers the questions 

Revealing it all: 

 

Rudy and Proud Boys 

And weapons and pardons 

And dishes in pieces, 

A smear on the wall. 



Bruce Bennett is the author of ten books of poetry and more than thirty poetry chapbooks. His most recent full-length book is Just Another Day in Just Our Town: Poems New and Selected, 2000-2016 (Orchises Press, 2017). From 1973 until his retirement in 2014, he taught Literature and Creative Writing at Wells College, and is now Emeritus Professor of English. In 2012 he was awarded a Pushcart Prize. He predicted what we were in for in his November 2016 YouTube video, The Donald Trump of the Republic.

Monday, July 04, 2022

THIRTEEN DAYS ON “THE NRA CIVIL RIGHTS CALENDAR”



by Gilbert Allen

Blood On Their Hands _ Anti-NRA T-Shirt by Sarana Mehra

January 1

If the world seems cold

to you, perhaps

you’ve already fired.


January 6

Stop

the Magnetometers!


Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Guns don’t make the world

go round. Guns make

the rounds worthwhile.


Ash Wednesday

Praise the One before whom

thou needest no silencer.


April 1

We inherit our relatives, but

we can choose

our AR-15s.


Good Friday

It is more blessed to grieve

than to reprieve.


Memorial Day

Talk not of wasted

ammunition. Talk instead of those

you’ve wasted


July 4

Believe the worst

about everybody. That way

you don’t have to aim.


Labor Day

My bullets are Teflon.

My burden is light.


Halloween

Every boy

needs a blackbird

to shoot at.


Thanksgiving

Guns don’t kill turkeys.

Turkeys kill turkeys.


December 24

I am the ghost

of Kevlar passed.


New Year’s Eve

Some of us are like cannons: we don’t

like to be pushed, and we’re only happy

when loaded.



Gilbert Allen lives and writes in Travelers Rest, South Carolina. His most recent collection of poems is Believing in Two Bodies.

A PERILOUS YEAR

by Tom Bauer




What fireworks are good enough on any
nation’s holiday? What illumination
is light enough? The light of sweet relief
is the light most creatures seem to love the best.
Where do we find it? Shooting in the streets
and yelling for our rights? Can we ever,
can anyone find peace in war and hate?
How can we feel our best? Ignore the worst?
Paint flowers in the mind? Sell hopes and smiles?
Bring on delightful lies and praise our kind?
It happens, and we never even knew
a flash of light could take it all away.
The long night’s fireworks scream at us all.
We cannot do this anymore. No more.


Tom Bauer's an old coot who lives in Montreal and plays a lot of board games.

7.4.22

by Don Brunnquell


Terrified paradegoers fled the Highland Park, Ill., Fourth of July event after shots were fired Monday. At least six people were dead, more than 40 people were hospitalized and a gunman was at large Monday afternoon after shooting Fourth of July paradegoers from a roof in this Chicago suburb, authorities said. (Photo: Lynn Sweet/AP via The Washington Post, July 4, 2022)


            In the dark times
            Will there be singing?
            Yes, there will be singing.
            About the dark times.
—Bertolt Brecht, “Motto
 
Oh, say can you see, on this day
we celebrate what we used to call
one nation, with liberty and justice
for all, from every mountainside
let us sing all the songs our country
has earned, not only O beautiful
for spacious skies, but the mourning
dirge for today’s dead in Chicago parading
beside us with the children of Uvalde
and the spirit of George Floyd, not only
“Columbia the Gem of the Ocean”
but Woody’s “I Ain’t  Got No Home,”
and with fitting irony This land is your
land, this land is my land, recalling
whose land this really was, every verse
written on the mounds of the old bones.
Perhaps sing “You’re a Grand Old Flag”
not for the flag worship of the title,
but the lines, forever in peace
may you wave, and never a boast
or brag, sing “We Shall Overcome,”
but also the source of its tune,
“No More Auction Block For Me.”
All the songs need to be sung,
then return to “America the Beautiful,”
the closing lines of the second verse,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law. 


Don Brunnquell is a poet working in Saint Paul, MN after careers in pediatric psychology and bioethics.  He is one of the coordinators of the Midstream Poetry Series in the Twin Cities. 

FREEDOM ON FIRE

by Emily Jo Scalzo




Let the flag fly inverted on our 
so-called Independence Day,
a message from the newly chained:
we cannot abide these treasons—
rampart rockets set to kindle
a drought-wracked nation
aflame with hate and greed,
and all the rest no longer 
free to flee conflagration
in the twilight of justice. 


Emily Jo Scalzo holds an MFA in fiction from California State University-Fresno and is currently an assistant teaching professor teaching research and creative writing at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Their work has appeared in various magazines including Midwestern Gothic, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Blue Collar Review, The New Verse News. Their first chapbook The Politics of Division (2017) was awarded honorable mention in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards in 2018.

THE APPROPRIATED FLAG

by William Aarnes




                        a final dispatch from Clemson, South Carolina, June 27, 2022 
 

Fifteen or so white men gather  
on Mondays before dawn 
 
on the intramural field/parking lot 
closest to Death Valley. 
 
Perhaps they’re innocent, 
meeting to pray together 
 
(I’ve seen them all kneel), 
if prayer is ever innocent. 
 
They’ve been a constant for years, 
looking as if they’re training 
 
for something. Sometimes, 
though not this morning, a boy 
 
or two are out here with them. 
They’re in their customary circle, 
 
the Stars and Stripes at the center, 
the emblem of every right               
 
they’re ready to defend. 
They’re talking things over, 
 
likeminded, making sure. 
When the dog and I pass, 
 
a few look our way, polite, 
offering smiling nods.    


William Aarnes is leaving South Carolina.

JULY

by David Radavich



Can we be independent 
together?  It is
 
a contradiction
devoutly to be wished.
 
Parades, floats, marching 
bands, twirling batons,
tricolor costumes,
 
fireworks
in the festive key.
 
Much of our food
is the same—
grilled, between buns,
sided by slaw, beans,
beer and boasting,
 
a ball tossed 
with betting, servers 
bustling as bees.   
           
Ironic how we choose
the same means
to be ourselves
and free—
 
can shared rituals
save a divided land?    
 

Among David Radavich's poetry collections are two epics, America Bound and America Abroad, as well as Middle-East Mezze and The Countries We Live In.  His latest book is Unter der Sonne / Under the Sun: German and English Poems from Deutscher Lyrik Verlag.

Sunday, July 03, 2022

ALL-AMERICAN CANAL

by D. Seth Horton


All-American Canal seen here in Imperial County, California, January 24, 2022. Photo: Matthew Bowler to accompany “Officials doing little as more migrants drown in Imperial County canal,” KPBS, February 8, 2022.


Border Patrol

operator

spotted

All-American

Canal in Calexico

agent

23 seconds

later not

advancing

55 seconds

still struggling

sank

below

canal's current

surface


Author’s Note: This is a found poem sourced from a recent U.S. Customs and Border Patrol media release. It is part of a larger project on resisting Federal interpretations of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. In terms of composition, I deleted most of the original material until I was left with the poem that had previously been hidden within the bureaucratese.  To be clear, I added no words, punctuation, or capital letters to the body of this poem, nor did I change the original word order in any way.  Instead, I simply erased what was in the way and then moved the words that remained into appropriate line breaks. In case readers are interested in comparing this poem against the original source material, they can click here.
 

A writer and scholar focused mostly on the borderlands, D. Seth Horton’s work has appeared in more than forty publications, including the Michigan Quarterly Review and Glimmer Train. Two of his stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His latest book is a forthcoming collection of stories set throughout the U.S.-Mexico borderlands entitled On a NASA Flight to Heaven (TCU Press, 2024). Seth currently teaches creative writing and American literature at the University of Virginia. 

IN DREAMS, DEATH

by Dick Altman




The death toll of migrants who died after they were abandoned in the back of a tractor-trailer that was discovered Monday in San Antonio rose to 53 on Wednesday… —CBS News, June 29, 2022
 
The land of the free...
 
I write this today – in America –
thanks to grandparents who heard
in heart and spirit that phrase echo
in Russian – Yiddish – perhaps
even German – Echo as they escaped
the poverty and oppression of Eastern
Europe in the 1900s – crossed mostly
by foot the continent – to land
at the magic portal of Ellis Island –
opening a door to life that until
this moment existed alone in letter
and rumor and what the mind
conjured as America
 
The land of the free... 
 
From lowlands – highlands – jungles
and shores they came two days ago –
walking – struggling – like my forebears –
this time from Mexico and South America –
leaving mothers and fathers – leaving birth’s
land and language – leaving with visions
that America would somehow – as it had
in the past – open its arms – offer – as it
had in the past – another chance at life –
Except the door – which had for
decades swung so freely – creaked on
its hinges –budging barely an inch
 
The land of the free... 
 
How many times did the refrain echo
in the minds of the sojourners – who –
no longer on foot – stood packed
in an airless – overheated subway
car of a semi-trailer – sworn to open
America’s locked heart – How many times
before the refrain turned from dream into
breathless prayer – How many times –
as one by one – the precious cargo lost
consciousness – calling – screaming
to the heavens – crying out to America’s
indifferent soul
 
The land of the free... 
 
 
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.  A poetry winner of Santa Fe New Mexican’s annual literary competition, he has in progress two collections of some 100 published poems. His work has been selected for the first volume of The New Mexico Anthology of Poetry forthcoming from the New Mexico Museum Press.

Saturday, July 02, 2022

WHAT TO TELL CHILDREN WHEN ALL THE NEWS IS SCARY

by Diane Dolphin


“With war in Ukraine, editors help kids cope with scary news.” —News Decoder, February 25, 2022


We have failed you,
utterly.
 
We sold you a fairy tale: Once upon a time,
all children were created equal.
We proclaimed your bodies, your lives
as sovereign. Daughters,
that is no longer true. Black and brown sons,
we know it never was.
 
We have fiddled while the west burns,
the east floods, the poles dissolve.
We watched our elders succumb to pandemic
while we fought over masks. Lost
our children to weapons of death while
we debated the definition of
assault rifles. We wait ­–
we wait—as you are picked off
one by one.
 
Child, the barbarians have breached the gates.
The monster is in your classroom.
Dread seeps into your sleep.
Jabberwock has grown a new head,
is assembling his army of minions.
How can we possibly
console you?
 
You need to grow up,
quickly now. Leave us, the weak-willed
and stunned.
Take up your pen and shield, unleash
your small voices, amass in great numbers.
Demand we step aside.
You are your only hope.


Author’s Note: Above is a poem I wrote in response to the deluge of bad news lately, culminating in the Supreme Court Decision. The poem—and my title—is inspired by the barrage of media articles that always come on the heels of unimaginable news, and which are headlined along the variation of: "What to tell children when the news is scary." 


Diane Dolphin is a poet, writer, and former college instructor from Warwick, RI. 

Friday, July 01, 2022

FOOTBALL GODS ABOUND

by Gary Lark


The Supreme Court said Monday that a Washington state school district violated the First Amendment rights of a high school football coach when he lost his job after praying at the 50-yard line after games. "The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike," Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion.


After the thunder and dash
we have the coach
and his batch of Evangelicals
kneeling at the fifty yard line.

The Wiccan folks are on one twenty
and Muslims on the other.

Down by the east goalposts
there's an Indigenous circle
seeking guidance with peyote.

Over to the west Jains
are trying to avoid the ants.

Sikhs and Jews are having a debate
about the shape of the field.

Eleven Buddhists are chanting
on the east thirty,
Hindus claim the west.

On the track three Mothers
Against Drunk Driving
have given up and are passing a bottle.

The Eckankar crowd are setting up
near the concession stand.

The Crips and the Bloods
are sharing a joint with Spinoza
in the bleachers.

There's a street preacher
practicing his quick draw
when the lights go out.


Gary Lark’s most recent collections are Easter Creek (Main Street Rag), Daybreak on the Water (Flowstone Press), and Ordinary Gravity (Airlie Press). His work has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Catamaran, Rattle, Sky Island, and others.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

ESTRANGED: LINES OF AN AMERICAN EXPAT

by Andrew Frisardi




Our smoldering has turned to smoke
That streaks the sky like contrails spread
Across the sea. Your fertile body
Gave me a life before I woke
To sleepwalk where my dreams had led,
Oblivious there’d been a rift.
Though distant, you still have your hooks
In me. Your plain talk has gone shoddy,
Your ruddy natural good looks
Are faded, yet your undertow
Still raises riptides in my blood.
Marking our continental drift
Apart, our fits of fire and flood
Are all goodbye and half hello.
My mother, my love, our past runs deep.
We don’t know what is going wrong,
To whom or where we now belong,
As we turn and toss and turn in sleep.


Andrew Frisardi is a Bostonian living in central Italy. His recent books include The Harvest and the Lamp (2020) and Ancient Salt: Essays on Poets, Poetry, and the Modern World (2022, forthcoming).

SCREE

by Akua Lezli Hope




The five-justice Supreme Court bloc that overturned a half century of women's abortion rights on Friday had coalesced less than two years. But they had found their moment and they seized it. 
CNN, June 25, 2022


This is insane, jackboot, psychic rape
The Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade
another way the inane U.S. of A
reminds it's not for most of us
already thrown under the careening bus
of a twisted, hegemonic, male patriarchy
 
We’re flattened again into oppressed dust
made to adhere to perverted needs
the worst of pornographic politics
their insatiable soul-robbing greed
to control another’s body
There's no daycare, scant maternity leave,
 
and yes, human trafficking is on the rise… 
 
They are on the take, ensuring innocent’s demise
States have their say over our reproduction
 
Those who don’t give a damn, limit our care
already so much less than what is fair
I pay 5 grand a year for nothing,
fight each and every month for access
to protective gear, bandages, dressings
 
Regressive, life threatening government decisions—
we feel the genteel violence of head in sand inaction
the incessant roar of entertainments’ self-indulgent distractions
who cares if one multimillionaire berates another
 
They build on sliding mountaintops and buy
their own fresh water, their own fresh air
their wild caught this and free range that
we communicate instantly these mounting tragedies
ever less and less and less free


Akua Lezli Hope is a creator and wisdom seeker who uses sound, words, fiber, glass, metal, and wire to create poems, patterns, stories, music,  sculpture, and peace.  A paraplegic, third-generation New Yorker, her honors include the NEA, two NYFAs, SFPA, Rhysling and Pushcart Prize nominations.