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Thursday, December 01, 2022

FOR EVERY LOST SOUL, A CANDLE

by Mary K O'Melveny


Glowing Christmas candle in frosted home window, photograph by Thomas Baker —Fine Art America


For every lost soul, a candle
in the window spills its light
into dusky night. Darkening air
softens with hope’s holiday
aromas—sage, balsam, fir, spruce.
Its flame offers a mirror into a forest’s
beating heart, warming deep woods
where easy pathways have slipped
past sight, obscured by doubt, loss.
Its flickered patterns soothe us
as we glance inside into a world
beyond our reach. We want to see
our own reflections there, as if we
had struck the match, poured a glass
of claret, turned on seasonal carols,
smiled at loved ones gathered fireside.
Not the other side where time fells us.
Where its passage startles us anew
as memories sparkle, seduce us
for an instant before they waiver,
then devolve to our collective umbra.


Author's Note: As of November 27, 2022, there have been over 617 mass shootings in the United States and more than 40,000 people have died of gun-related deaths. www.gunviolencearchive.org 


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 most recent poetry collection is Dispatches From the Memory Care Museum, just out from Kelsay Books. 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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

FAVORITE GODDESS

by Karen Warinsky


 


Cynthia waxes, manages her money,
shops off season for the children’s clothes,
stretches the meat with casseroles,
smiles at her husband.
 
Selene wanes, 
lights small candles,
bundles the baby, the grandmother,
cocooning them in blankets woven for beauty,
hums to herself.
 
Like Hecate at the crossroads a woman waits for grain,
for water, the line winding and wide like the Nile,
life pressing against her hip,
laying gentle in her tired hand.
 
Beyond, in the pitch and quiet of space,
Artemis flies, seeking herself in beaming moonlight,
hunting a discovery for men
on a mission that will hold no answers 
for Earth’s struggling, steadfast daughters.

 
Karen Warinsky began publishing poetry in 2011 and was named as a finalist for her poem “Legacy” in the Montreal International Poetry Contest in 2013.  She has two books from Human Error Publishing: Gold in Autumn (2020) and Sunrise Ruby, (2022), both.  Her work centers on mid-life, relationships, politics, and the search for spiritual connection through nature, and she coordinates poetry readings under the name Poets at Large.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

RUSSIAN MOTHER’S DAY MESSAGE

by Bruce Bennett


As anger over the drawn-out invasion simmers in Russia, President Vladimir Putin on Friday held his first public meeting of the nine-month-long war with mothers of soldiers who had been fighting in Ukraine, a move likely aimed at quelling discontent. In a clip broadcast by Russian state media, Putin is seen sitting down with a group of women around a table adorned with ornate tea cups and fresh berries for a talk coinciding with Russian Mother’s Day. “I want you to know that I personally, the entire leadership of the country, we share your pain,” Putin said, pausing and clearing his throat. “We understand that nothing can replace the loss of a son, a child, especially for the mother, to whom we all owe the birth.” —The Washington Post, November 26, 2022



“I share your pain,” says Vlad the Great 

to mothers grieving loss. 

He reassures them that the State 

appreciates the cross 

 

They have to bear. To lose a son 

“that nothing can replace….” 

He’s clearly moved. When he is done 

there’s nothing on his face 

 

To indicate he has a clue 

this has to do with him, 

or that there’s something he could do 

to alter what the grim 

 

And vicious plans of godless foes 

have caused and cruelly wrought. 

Grim faces testify to woes 

that reinforce his thought 

 

And make it clear he’s in control. 

The Dark Night’s not near dawn. 

This glib ghost of the Russian Soul 

decrees the War goes on. 



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, November 28, 2022

MOVING RIGHT ALONG

by Steven Kent



They’re saying now the quiet parts out loud,
These candidates and pundits. Boys are Proud,
Who bigotry and bloodshed advocate
In incoherent rage against the State.
What voices once spoke reason now are still
As zealots do the talking on the Hill.
The party on the Left moved to the Right;
The party on the Right moved out of sight.


Steven Kent is the poetic alter ego of writer, musician, and Oxford comma enthusiast Kent Burnside. His work appears in Light, Lighten Up Online, Snakeskin, and OEDILF, among others.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

FAR FROM HIM I WATCH A UKRAINIAN SURVIVOR ON THE NEWS

by Therése Halscheid


A man carries water bottles as he crosses a destroyed bridge in the frontline town of Bakhmut, in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region, on Oct. 27, 2022, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine. —VOA


He has stopped fearing the sirens, stopped running for shelter,
is now carrying a pail to a crater a Russian missile made.

The crater has filled with muddied water. 
You see him fetching a pail’s worth from the blown out earth.

See him lugging it along the road to Odessa, on the road to Odessa 
you see his back hunched, his legs barely hurrying. 

You do not see any other, only ruins and stacked tires
as well as anti-tank hedgehogs barricading the street.

I want to say to him: the wind knows your face.
It carries the look of others, it has knowledge, the wind does, 

and power enough to change his fate, want to share 
the wind is the bringer of things he cannot imagine 

it is the collector of thoughts and blows them
tirelessly about the world.

Want to say the air wears our collective consciousness
even if hardly anyone believes this can be. 

Whatever is given to the wind the wind willingly carries. 
I want to tell him: work with the wind. 

The softest touch is the finger of wind, feel its peace
at work, for it is our work, what we have been sending. 


Therése Halscheid's poetry and lyric essays have won awards and have been published in several magazines, among them The Gettysburg Review, Tampa Review, Sou’wester, South Loop. Her poetry collection Frozen Latitudes (Press 53) received an Eric Hoffer Book Award. Other collections include Uncommon Geography, Without Home, and a Pudding House Press Greatest Hits chapbook.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

TRUMP IS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT, AGAIN

by Susan Cossette


Photograph by Mark Wilson / Getty via The New Yorker


It is Wednesday, 
another happy hour at the Chesterbird American Legion.
 
The usual suspects of retirees, widows, 
and slumming white collar workers shuffle in
to claim a spot at the sticky bar, 
a creaky chair at a wobbly table.
We buy bingo tickets, pull tabs, and cheese curds.
 
Tonight, the MAGA hats return,
worn bent brims, sweat stains on the cap.
Bearded men in Carhart workpants take selfies,
drink cheap American beer.
 
Make America Great and Glorious Again.
Gloating, they wait for new, improved, hats.
 
In the meantime, they disparage the “fucking Jews”
and the snowflake liberals.
 
In 1943, my Aunt Theresa was deported to Auschwitz,
greeted by Josef Mengele.
His leather crop pointed right, 
she went to the barracks.
Her head and pubic hair shaved by male SS.
She was 15.
 
Everyone who went right got the Zyklon B, 
her parents included.
Tourists regard the fingernail scratches on the cement walls 
under false shower heads.
 
I pay my bill, quietly,
tap one red-hat man on the shoulder
and tell him this story
and that perhaps he needs to reconsider hate speech
in public spaces 
because you never know who might be listening.


Susan Cossette lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Author of Peggy Sue Messed Up, she is a recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rust and Moth, The New York Quarterly, ONE ART, As it Ought to Be, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Amethyst Review, The New Verse News, Crow & Cross Keys, Loch Raven Review, and in the anthologies Fast Fallen Women (Woodhall Press) and Tuesdays at Curley’s (Yuganta Press).

Friday, November 25, 2022

A POEM FOR UKRAINE

by David James


“Writing My Heart Out,” a painting by Gladiola Sotomayor.


I want to write a poem that will lick
 
your heart clean,
that will make you forget every nightmare,
 
every cut and scrape, every syllable of bad news you’ve ever heard,
a poem that will close your eyes and let you dream
 
of another life, perfect in its arc, where
all things, dead or alive, bow to your smile,
 
all clouds move to your breath, birds and desires and wishes
land on your forearm when you call them.
 
I want to write a poem to send all sadness into exile,
to fit all pain and despair onto one gaudy blue dish
 
that you can toss outside and ignore,
a poem so quiet you never hear it
 
come into your life, sit on your couch, sleep in your bed,
never hear its small footsteps on the floor.

This poem, which must be written under a moonlit
sky with eleven stars and one dog barking in town,
 
will end the world as we know it. No more death
or hunger or war. No more aging or sickness or weeping.
 
No more walking with your feet on the ground.


David James’ most recent book is Alive in Your Skin While You Still Own It.

HAIKU

Original photo: People keep warm by fires outside the main rail terminal in Lviv, Ukraine.

Dan Kitwood | Getty Images News | Getty Images via CNBC, November 22, 2022



Richard Matta grew up in New York and now lives in San Diego. Some of his work is found in Ancient Paths, Dewdrop, San Pedro River Review, Gyroscope, and many international haiku journals.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

MASSASOIT’S DAUGHTER, MIONEAIME

by Suzette Bishop


Massasoit Sachem or Ousamequin (c. 1581 – 1661) was the sachem or leader of the Pokanoket sachemship. Massasoit means Great Sachem. It was he who allied his people with the Plymouth colonists. Massasoit had five children, among them daughter Mioneaime later called Amie. Above: Statue of Chief Massasoit by Cyrus Edwin Dallin, 1861-1944 Bronze (posthumous casting) Gift of the James F. Dicke Family, Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, Ohio



On your deathbed
You tell me and my sister and brothers
To make friends with the white man.
We look at each other,
Unease in our eyes,
But nod.

Why would we do this?
Nothing is the same since
They floated into the horizon,
My gathering of mussels
Not the same,
Brief season of warm sand I loved.

So few of us after the sickness,
Flurries, wind, saltwater,
But I knew who I was,
I knew where I belonged.

Even the ones who saved your life once
Are not friends,
Will not own us if we marry among them,
Have children,
I won’t recognize their children’s children, either,
Not the one writing this poem
Not in our language.

You drift away,
                                And I see us as driftwood carved by wind,
                                                                    Remnants of how we lived.
Enemies to the North
Like the heavy storms descending
And the sickness gave you no choice
But to offer peace, welcome, alliance, land,
 
Our seed,

And blue-black shells

Discarded, unused,
Their beauty unseen,

 What I see in the future with our friends.


Suzette Bishop has published three poetry books and two chapbooks, including her most recent chapbook, Jaguar’s Book of the Dead. Her poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies. She lives with her husband and two cats.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

JANUARY 28, 1986

by Bonnie Proudfoot




All morning we waited, the January air frigid and clear, 

"Come see," I said, pointing at the tv. You settled your 

not-quite 3-year-old body beside me on the corduroy couch, 

my belly swelling with your little brother not yet born.

You were my playmate, usually you told me who to be, 

sometimes you were Robin Hood and I was Maid Marian, 

mostly we were Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, 

but that day I called you the first spaceman, John Glenn, 

I was the first space woman, Christa McAuliffe, I pronounced, 

my teacher heart swelling, and then, you were leading me 

by the hand, into the capsule, we were waving to school children 

gathered to see the launch and even Tom Brokaw seemed 

to have his heart on his sleeve when he introduced 

mission control for the countdown, the lift off. 

 

On our couch from a mountaintop in West Virginia, 

surrounded only by the universe, we could almost see 

the Challenger capsule heading to that place beyond the sky, 

except, a jagged fork, that looked wrong, and then 

the waving stopped, hands covered mouths, children stood

in silence, and you looked up at me for answers 

I did not have. I'm sorry, I wanted to say. I'm sorry 

I called you over to watch with me, that you had 

to see this. Again and again, the tv replayed the lift off, 

as if, if they showed us once more, it would go differently. 

 

But no, the small streak of light, the speck of fire. Sometimes it takes 

so long to figure out what I want to tell you, even longer to know 

which words to use, and now, 35 years later, deep-sea divers find 

sets of Challenger tiles on the ocean floor, like pennies dropped 

into an infinite well. Oh, my boy, now man, now father, 

sometimes what you long for will disappoint you, and sometimes 

what you love will rise because of your love, and you'll rise too. 

All afternoon, on our little speck of earth, death walked 

beside us, his index finger waggling, a broken branch, 

and we did the only thing we could, we walked down the lane, 

gathered warm eggs from the hens, picked up limbs the wind

had flung onto the road, all eyes scanning the empty sky for signs


Bonnie Proudfoot has published fiction, poetry and essays. Her first novel Goshen Road (Swallow Press, 2020) was selected by the Women’s National Book Association for Great Group Reads, was long-listed for the PEN/ Hemingway Award, and received the WCONA Book of the Year Award. Her poetry chapbook Household Gods was published by Sheila-Na-Gig Editions in 2022. She lives in Athens, Ohio, and in her spare time she creates glass art and plays blues harmonica. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

ANTHROPOPHOBIA

by Daniel Lurie


More than a week after four University of Idaho students were stabbed to death in a house near campus, the police chief leading the investigation said on Sunday that the police had not been able to answer many of the crime’s most pressing questions, such as how the victims’ roommates were not awakened during the overnight killings or where the killer might be now. The few details that have been uncovered have only deepened the mystery of a crime that has unnerved students and residents in the college town of Moscow, Idaho, and left victims’ families trying to help piece together what happened. Photo: Friends and community members celebrated the victims’ lives during a candlelight vigil in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, on Wednesday. Rajah Bose for The New York Times, November 21, 2022
Credi


You never trusted easy/when you first got here/every night you’d push a couch/ 
in front of the door/a dark cloud hangs/over an emptying/Moscow like quarantine/
you haven’t slept in 3 days/the faces of the 4 victims/a constant rolodex/
a handful of years younger than you/same age as your students/you hope/
they get home/after you canceled classes/you have nowhere else/to go/
over a phone call/your mother tells you to buy wood/for the ground floor windows/
all the stores are sold out/your friend Beck was struck/while on her bike/months ago/
drivers still floored it through town/this moment is a cardinal/ 
in a field of snow/you haven’t been there/but you know there’s a bouquet/
resting against a stone slab/an unrested abode/wrapped in yellow/
police tape/no one deserves to lose/their lives/the suspect still/
at large/fills every corner/every room/the eyes you won’t meet/
on the street/the shadow outside/your loved ones/homes/


Daniel Lurie is a Jewish, rural writer from Roundup, Montana. He attended Montana State University Billings, where he received his bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communications. He is currently in his second year at the University of Idaho, pursuing an MFA in poetry. Daniel is passionate about the environment, human rights, rural life, and conceptualizing grief. He is the Poetry Editor for Fugue. His work has appeared in The Palouse Review, FeverDream, The Rook, Sidewalk Poetry, and most recently in Moscow’s Third Street Gallery. 

Monday, November 21, 2022

THE GREAT AMERICAN AMISH POWER TRIP

by James Schwartz 


Now, some Amish across northern Ohio find themselves clashing with a new state law designed to reduce accidents and enhance traffic safety by requiring flashing yellow lights on Amish buggies and other animal-drawn vehicles. …officers have been issuing citations, and some Amish have been summonsed into courts across northern Ohio on minor misdemeanor charges punishable by a roughly $150 fine. In Ashland County, some Amish are citing their religious beliefs and have told a judge they don't plan to obey the law and that "paying a fine is not an option." —The Daily Record, November 18, 2022


Memories of Monarch butterflies amid spring songs, clover flowers behind the old weatherbeaten shed, the Gregorian-esque voices in praise, the harmonies to heaven, the crisp white shirts, stark black pants & dresses, descendants of martyred interpretations, heretics of our own making, motherless rebels inter-bred in a defiant democracy. We will not guard the Holy Father. We hustle our humble wares amid warfare, bloody handed Bishops playing God, #AmishTikTok survivors. The sinful government wants to lower the body count. Ohio Bishops flex, above the law, statistics be damned, warning signs on dark roads & lost harmonies to the Lord. 


James Schwartz is a poet & author of various poetry collections including The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America (Kindle, 2011), Punatic (Writing Knights Press, 2019) & most recently Motor City Mix, Sunset in Rome (Alien Buddha Press, 2022). He resides in Detroit, Michigan.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

CLUB Q

by Peter Witt


A vigil was held at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church. Credit: Daniel Brenner for The New York Times, November 20, 2022


Patrons Subdued Gunman Who Killed at Least 5 at Colorado Club: The authorities credited people inside the gay nightclub in Colorado Springs with stopping the gunman, who police say opened fire with a long rifle just before midnight. More than two dozen were injured.  —The New York Times, November 20, 2022


Club Q, a supposed safe space
where people can let their hair down
or wig it up, where go-go dancers
and drag queens rule, where bartenders
in scanty attired serve tame and not
so tame drinks to similarly minded
customers, a place rife for hate
by people threatened by the idea of
individuality, where people
go to hang out, to feel secure,
without the fear of physical harm,
where in an instant, all changed
when harm walked through the door.
 
Now Sunday festivities are off,
no planned drag brunch, with drink specials
and drag show followed by an evening
Transgender Day of Remembrance
for all those killed or attacked in the U.S.
and around the world…an irony considering
Saturday’s murderous events.
 
Instead, sometime in the days ahead,
the LGBTQA+ community and their supporters
will gather to add the names of all the victims
of a wanton shooter in Colorado Springs.
Some politicians will tweet and send notes
of support, while some will remain silent
and in the days ahead whip up more fear
and loathing with statements about
the biblical repulsiveness of gay marriage,
how drag queens are polluting the minds
of young children during library readings,
and books about LGBTQA+ identity
should be removed from school libraries.
 
On Thursday Club Q planned a Friendsgiving
Dinner, which if held, will turn into
an evening of tears, stories, and hugs
to celebrate those lost and wounded.


Peter Witt is a Texas poet, a frequent contributor to The New Verse News and other online poetry web-based publications.

OUR PUSHCART PRIZE NOMINEES



“Table For One” 
by Bonnie Proudfoot
Published February 15, 2022
 
“Kyiv/San Francisco” 
by Susan Gubernat 
Published March 1, 2022
 
“Before I Knew Adam Had Died” 
by Susan Vespoli 
Published March 20, 2022

“Territory”
by David Chorlton
Published August 12, 2022

“New Fossils” 
by Dustin Michael
Published September 23, 2022

“Crystal Ball” 
by Laura Rodley
Published November 11, 2022