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Monday, August 02, 2021

THE FISH ROTS

by Bruce Bennett

“Since when do Republicans care more about criminals in jail than the cops who put them there? Since when do they coddle domestic terrorists? Since Donald T***p. A new report in The Daily Beast shows how the fish rots from the big orange head.” —Maureen Dowd, The New York Times, July 31, 2021


How many hurt? How many dead? 
How many at that rotten core? 
The fish rots from the big orange head. 
 
How many let themselves be led 
by what they rightly should abhor? 
How many hurt? How many dead? 
 
What was it that he did and said? 
What is it that they now ignore? 
The fish rots from the big orange head. 
 
Who should have been in jail instead 
of causing riots most deplore? 
How many hurt? How many dead? 
 
How long are we to suffer dread 
as he pursues his sick, sick war? 
The fish rots from the big orange head 
 
Whose stink continues still to spread 
through regions none can now restore. 
How many hurt? How many dead? 
The fish rots from the big orange head! 


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). He was a co-founder and served as an editor of the literary journals Field and Ploughshares. 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.

GASLIGHTS

by Jeremy Nathan Marks


Above: In a scene from Gaslight (1944), Brian (Joseph Cotton) demonstrates to Paula (Ingrid Bergman) that her husband has been lying to her in an attempt to drive her crazy. It is the title of this drama that gives us the word that describes the Big Trumplican Lies. 


We need mo’ body armor, Mo
We need the Man on the line, Jim
Andrew, the Shaman says he used Carlson
Wagonlit to book his trip which is proof that
 
It was a tourist visit.
 
Kevin says, Elise, you take it
610,000 examples and it’s up to you
to suggest each one’s fakin’ it
 
We’re setting up an audit
and they’re all gonna turn up
in the same valley of dry bones
where Ezekiel hid the ballots  
Tucker and Laura gonna move the jam
while Sean will provide cover 
urging our supporters to get
 
The jab.  


Jeremy Nathan Marks lives in Canada. Recent work appears/is appearing in As It Ought To Be, Unlikely Stories, Bluepepper, The Journal of Expressive Writing, Sledgehammer Lit, The Pangolin Review, Every Day Fiction, Ginosko Review, Dissident Voice, 365 Tomorrows, and New Reader Magazine. His full length collection Fat Dogs and Amorous Insects is being published by Alien Buddha Press this fall. 

Sunday, August 01, 2021

ANY QUESTIONS?

by Clyde Always




Beware “the Delta”—COVID’s spawn
and, coming soon : “the Epsilon”
(Cyrillic once the Grecian’s gone).
  So, be you willing-to or not,
  you’ll get your monthly booster shot.
 
But, if the needle makes you flinch,
then drop your muzzle just an inch
and brace to feel the slightest pinch…
  Bi-weekly this procedure goes:
  we jam a Q-tip up your nose.
 
If still ill-motives you presume
we’ll lock you in a padded room
where daily lectures via ZOOM
  we hope may help you yet to learn
  your health’s our only real concern.


Clyde Always is an accomplished cartoonist, poet, painter, novelist and Vaudevillian entertainer. His writings and/or illustrations have been printed in the Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Light, Slackjaw, Scarfff Comics, etc. etc. You can see his storytelling act, live and in-person, any Friday evening, at the Scott Street Labyrinth in San Francisco, CA.

D IS FOR DELTA

by Mary K O'Melveny




In math, Delta means change.
An isosceles triangle points the way
to changes in quantity:

  more sick
  more hospital beds
  more ventilators
  more dead
  more masks
  more six foot limits:
    apart from each other
    down in the ground.
 
Changes as in differences in.
  As in:
    yesterday there was reason to hope
    last week we went to a concert
    the airport was full of tourists
  As in:
    the rate of change is significant:
    red lines rise on graphs
    there are no lines of people seeking vaccines
    there are now some lines but not enough.

Changes as in variables.
  As in:
    yesterday I met you at a party
    today I am at the doctor’s office
    tomorrow my family will hold a zoom remembrance.
In science, Delta means a sometimes triangular mass of sediment.     
  As in:
     silt and sand lodged in a river’s mouth
     spit into the sea  or a lake  or a plain
        as in Mississippi    or Okavango   or Kalahari
     tides and waves create sandbars and dendritic silt
        as in the Nile   or the Ganges
     estuaries of brackish water form at the confluence of sea and river
        as in China’s Yellow River.
   Some Deltas become abandoned  
the rivers leave   discard their channels   dry up
   that too denotes movement   change. 
  That change is called avulsion:
    As in:
      the sudden separation of mass from one place to another
      the sudden separation of reason from the brain
      the sudden movement from reality to fantasy.
 
Delta can be a girl’s name:
   books of baby names call it appealing   chic  unique
       fit for a child of grace and distinction.
 This too will change. 


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 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.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

ICE CREAM ACTIVISM

by Alisha Goldblatt
after “The Emperor of Ice Cream” by Wallace Stevens


Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/Agence France-Presse, via Getty Images via The New York Times.


Lick the sins of countries past,
the thrown stone, and gather your pints
in unbleached paperboard, crisp waffle cones.
Sell hazelnut play on words that
signal virtue and decadence, and
slick the tongue divine, smooth on spoon.
Let slingshots rile the bull market.
The only flavor is a flavor of fear.

In the modern white freezer, vats 
blister thumbs from the plastic scoop
whose spring-back lever neatly cleaves the ice.
The Green state, the Holstein cows, the fourteenth star.
Shirtsleeves cuffed, tough and chocolate stained
to show how cold we are, and numb.
Let the melting be violent and swift. 
The only flavor is the flavor of fear. 


Alisha Goldblatt is an English teacher and writer living in Portland, Maine with her two wonderful children and one lovely husband. She has published poems in the Common Ground Review, Literary Mama, and Burningword Literary Journal, among several others. Alisha writes whenever she can and gets published when she’s lucky. 

Friday, July 30, 2021

DRONING ON & ON & ON

by Art Goodtimes


In 2013, Daniel Hale was at an antiwar conference in D.C. when a man recounted that two family members had been killed in a U.S. drone strike. The Yemeni man, through tears, said his relatives had been trying to encourage young men to leave al-Qaeda. Hale realized he had watched the fatal attack from a base in Afghanistan. At the time, he and his colleagues in Air Force intelligence viewed it as a success. Now he was horrified. It was such experiences, Hale told a federal judge in Alexandria, Va., on Tuesday, that led him to leak classified information about drone warfare to a reporter after leaving the military. “I believe that it is wrong to kill, but it is especially wrong to kill the defenseless,” he said in court. He said he shared what “was necessary to dispel the lie that drone warfare keeps us safe, that our lives are worth more than theirs.” U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady sentenced Hale, 33, of Nashville, to 45 months in prison for violating the Espionage Act, saying his disclosure of documents went beyond his “courageous and principled” stance on drones. —Washington Post, July 27, 2021


Ironically perverse, ’inn’it
that the whistleblower descendant
of our first patriot spy Nathan Hale
who blew up the U.S. drone program
 goes to jail for four years
 
Convicted & sentenced for exposing
to the light of citizen discernment
our American guide to extrajudicial killings
& their collateral
extinguishment of innocents
 
While, feted followed & showered
with speaker fees
Bush Obama Trump Biden
go on being hailed as leaders
given awards
 
But we the people know whatever the hui
as they’d say on Kauai
with a hang-loose flash of the fist
whatever the name of the game
they gotta keep to the Free World's
bipartisan new normal
 
Mass murders on a scale outweighing all recent
incidents of personal gun violence
in the ol’ U.S. of A
 
So, on we go, in spite of lies
insurrections deceptions liberal
cant & fundraising junk mail
 
On & on. Targeting terrorists
in ever-widening circles of definition


Editor’s Note: For more on Daniel Hale, go to: the sparrow project, the intercept, and Stand With Daniel Hale.


Art Goodtimes is a Western Slope poet, former Green elected official, and constituent of Rep. Lauren Boebert in Colorado's Third Congressional.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

ELEGY FOR THE LUNG

by Robert Américo Esnard




The sun streaks a dull rust 
over the Hudson, 
the dusty air shimmers metallic,
and I am overcome 
with awareness of my own blood.
 
I can feel it, not rushing, but crawling,
a slow advance. 
My whole body a fleshy host.
Incredible, 
the small power of a protein 
 
to sustain a whole body: 
to capture, 
to carry, to climb, to clear. 
We, less thankless 
more heedless. I rarely consider:
 
the shape of a fluid forms 
its function.
A tiny shift is enough to poison 
a whole body: 
to capture contagion, to carry 
 
contaminants through the blood. 
A breath of rust 
climbing as the branches burn,
a body overcome,
making a slow advance to dust.


Robert Américo Esnard was born and raised in the Bronx, NY. He studied Linguistics and Cognitive Science at Dartmouth College. His work has been published by or is forthcoming in Alternating Current Press, Alternative Field, Cutbank, Glass, Lunch Ticket, New York Quarterly, and several anthologies. He is a Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize-nominated poet.

THE MAN AND THE IRONIC LUNG

by Ron Riekki




It’s your coffin now —Sharon Olds, from “Satan Says” 
 

My brother says there is nothing funnier than Steven Crowder 
having a collapsed lung, and I tell him I would never use 
the word “funnier” with Steven Crowder, that only “misery” 
works with that guy, how he supposedly re-created George 
Floyd’s murder by having a guy dressed as a cop lightly 
kneel on his neck and how my brother said he’d like to kneel 
on Crowder’s neck for real, & then a few months later & he has 
a collapsed lung, how fitting, how perfectly fitting, this feeling 
that God is listening, how a thirty-four-year-old doesn’t have 
a collapsed lung from nothing, how divine that intervention is, 
the irony of all the hate that came out of Rush Limbaugh’s lungs, 
how it makes sense that he’d go that way, how words can be 
cancerous, how hate speech affects the lungs, the throat, the heart. 


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

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

POEM WITH REPEATED WORD

by Renée M. Schell    




                                    for Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles
 
What if we all practiced saying no?
 
What if every street corner
had a microphone
for the practice of saying no?
 
No, I won’t keep my mouth shut
No, I won’t choose between food and rent
No, I won’t use my body as an ATM to cross a border
 
The no’s would ring out, streaming
like ribbons up and over each other
weaving an ornate shawl
a handmade rebollo
a silk sari
a second-hand skirt
a torn scarf
 
They’d hear No in Amarillo
No in the pueblos of Mexico
No in Iowa,
No in the middle of nowhere,
No in County Kerry
No in the Sahara
No in Angola
No in Afghanistan
 
The microphones would pick
up the tiniest no,
the no of infants,
the no of eight-year-olds,
the no of a mother separated
from her child
at Fort Bliss.
 
How famous
do you have
to be 
for your no
to be
heard?

 
Renée M. Schell’s debut collection Overtones is forthcoming from Tourane Poetry Press. Her poetry appears in Catamaran Literary Reader, Literary Mama, Naugatuck River Review, and other journals. In 2015 she was lead editor for the anthology (AFTER)life: Poems and Stories of the Dead. She holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University and teaches second grade in a diverse classroom in San Jose, CA. 

UNSENT LETTER TO HIDILYN DIAZ, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST

by Jonel Abellanosa




How much more weight
should you lift off our poverty
of belief, how much more heavy lifting
before we know ours is the golden
heart we lost before birth?
 
We pine, nostalgic for the home
we never knew, strangers to our own
archipelago. The beauty we see hidden
in plain sight, stolen long before
we’re old enough to question.
 
Long our memory of plunder,
recall homeless when the monsoon
season rages. We’re too preoccupied
to remember. How much the dearest
question we learn to ask, dear
 
as restless days at a high cost, heaven-high
anxiety we can’t wrap to give our children.
How much, how much more? Enslaved
to more, we open our chests, shocked
our hearts have been stolen.
 
Nor do we have the chest to live by
during months when rain drains all warmth.
How many of us don’t know you emerged
victorious against the heavy burden?
How many of us are still searching
 
for the heart that elsewhere beats
the way living in comfort beats and makes us
hear music, the pursuit of happiness
a birthright equal not just for the few?
For the shortlasting you found our hearts.
 
For a moment
wear it
like a medal
for us
all.


Jonel Abellanosa lives in Cebu City, The Philippines. His poetry and fiction are forthcoming in The Cape Rock and Poetry Salzburg Review and have appeared in hundreds of magazines including The New Verse News, Thin Air, Chiron Review, The Lyric, Poetry Kanto, and The Anglican Theological Review and have been nominated for the Pushcart, Best of the Net and Dwarf Stars prizes. His poetry collections include Songs from My Mind’s Tree and Multiverse (Clare Songbirds Publishing House, New York), 50 Acrostic Poems (Cyberwit, India), In the Donald’s Time (Poetic Justice Books and Art, Florida), and Pan’s Saxophone (Weasel Press, Texas). He is a nature lover, with three companion dogs, and three other beloved dogs who have passed on beyond the rainbow bridge. He loves all animals. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

THE BOOTLEG FIRE IS CREATING ITS OWN WEATHER

by Francine Witte


As the Bootleg fire in Southern Oregon rages on, the massive wildfire is creating its own weather systems. "The fire is so large and generating so much energy and extreme heat that it's changing the weather. Normally the weather predicts what the fire will do. In this case, the fire is predicting what the weather will do," Marcus Kauffman, a spokesman for the state forestry department, told The New York Times. —EcoWatch. Photo: A pyrocumulus cloud from the Bootleg Fire drifts into the air near Bly, Oregon on July 16, 2021. PAYTON BRUNI / AFP via Getty Images via EcoWatch.


Smokedrift and sunblot
from the fire spreading
like deathpain, the heat
so hot it spins the wind,
pinches lightning out
of the sky. Used to be
the wind would tell
the fire where to go.
 
Here in the east, we watch
the fire on TV. The silhouettes
of houses falling cardlike,
the bare hands of trees reaching up
in useless prayer. The weatherman
tells us the clouds we see
in the New York sky aren’t clouds
but smoke from out west.
 
It makes me think of other weathers,
the ones that weren’t weathers,
the storm of my father leaving so fast
the windows quaked, and then, the quiver
 
of hospitals filling up again, the rain
in the eyes of the left-behind.
The quiet drought of a man,
somewhere, shaking his head
sending the word “hoax” into the
air like a butterfly.
 

Francine Witte’s poetry and fiction have appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, Wigleaf, Mid-American Review, and Passages North. Her latest books are Dressed All Wrong for This (Blue Light Press), The Way of the Wind (AdHoc fiction), and The Theory of Flesh (Kelsay Books). Her chapbook The Cake, The Smoke, The Moon (flash fiction) will be published by ELJ in Fall 2021. She is flash fiction editor for Flash Boulevard and The South Florida Poetry Journal. She lives in NYC.

Monday, July 26, 2021

UP UP AND AWAY

by  Judy Juanita


Billionaires space race published July 12, 2021 by Dave Whamond.


Billionaires millionaires the amerikkkan dream
Up, up and away onto the edge of space
Horatio Alger wins again
Rags-to-riches
Poor boy sandwiches
Raggedy Ann dolls
Immigrants in shacks 
Children in cages
We love it all, eh?
Up, up and away
The bigger the better
The farther from the crime scene 
The better. And the edge of space is
The Mall of America.
Opportunity our national anthem
Except except Tulsa in 1920-when? 1921
Black people black dynasties
Black millionaires buying and flying
Their own airplanes
Black businesses black prosperity
And we prostrate ourselves
For a black face on the $20 bill
   Eh?
Ask the black Okies
About the grand downtown they built
Especially for the bombs
Dropped especially on Tulsa

Listen to the sound of bombs
The bombs bursting in air
That Francis Scott Keys conjured
Ask the black Oakies
Then forward to Philly in 1990-what? 
1990-when? 1990-why?
Because a black mayor dropped bombs
On wild haired Ramona Africa 
An American millionaire, no?
Rags to riches, no?
Horatio Alger, no?
MOVE the antithesis of progress
Cleanliness
We, the clean, deodorant-rich country
Watching  televised spectacles 
Little blue-and-white suited people
Blast past the boundary of space as
The richest man in the world
Thanks his wage slaves and customers
For paying for it all

And all is forgiven because why? Because
When the land ran into the Pacific Ocean
Manifest destiny shot into space


Judy Juanita's latest book is Manhattan My Ass, You’re In Oakland,  a collection of poetry. Her semi-autobiographical novel Virgin Soul chronicled a black female coming of age in the 60s who joins the Black Panther Party. Her collection of essays DeFacto Feminism: Essays Straight Outta Oakland examines the intersectionality of race, gender, politics, economics and spirituality as experienced by a black activist and self-described "feminist foot soldier." The collection was a distinguished finalist in Ohio State University's 2016 Non/Fiction Collection Prize. Her seventeenth play, “Theodicy,” about two black men who accidentally fall into the river of death, won first runner-up of 186 plays in the Eileen Heckart 2008 Senior Drama Competition at Ohio State University.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE NEW YORKER CARTOONS?

by Earl J. Wilcox


From the current issue of The New Yorker. 


Once, they were not just cutting edge,
They were the edge. Timely, clever,
Witty, observant of contemporary politics,
Our mores (for better or worse)—
Fresh, unique, without peers in other
Mags. (I could go on listing adjectives
Suggesting their demise, but you get the point.)
 
Was it the pandemic? A change in editors at
The storied mag? Perhaps all the good cartoonists
Died or became so out of touch or old or both
They no longer know what’s funny and what’s
Just a quaint take on our times.  I long for a return
To those good old days when The New Yorker 
Made me smile out loud at least three times
Each week. Or is it just me?
 
When did I stop seeing humor in politics and people,
In our pain and our poignant moments, our sass,
In all that’s worth seeing in human nature, even
Occasionally cruel jesting at our sores and warts,
our meanness. So many sexy innuendoes in those
Cartoons one could publish a book (as the mag’s
Editors have done several times over!) Such
Terrific and precious or precocious punch lines.
Is such pleasure taken from us forever?
Is this the way the world may end, not
With a SHAZAM but a New Yorker
Cartoon blaaah?
 
 
Earl Wilcox discovered The New Yorker cartoons about seven decades ago.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

DISTANT WILDFIRES

by Geoffrey A. Landis


The map above, based on modeling from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shows how the smoke from Western wildfires spread across the country. —The New York Times, July 21, 2021


High in the sky
the gibbous moon blushes pink—
distant wildfires.


Geoffrey A. Landis is a poet, science-fiction writer and scientist. His poetry appears in places from ArtCrimes to The Year’s Best Fantasy, and he is the author of two poetry collections: Iron Angels from VanZeno Press and The Book of Whimsy from NightBallet. In his spare time, he fences épée, because he likes to stab strangers with a sword.