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Sunday, January 29, 2023

WHAT THE DOOMSDAY CLOCK SAID

by Howie Good


As of January 24, the Doomsday Clock sits at 90 seconds to midnight. Jamie Christiani /   Bulletin of Atomic Scientists



The chemistry set I got for my 10th birthday came with glass test tubes and small bottles of dry chemicals in jewellike colors, plus a booklet with precise instructions on how to rubberize a hardboiled egg. It was the era of the Space Race. The scientist in the white lab coat held the Cold War rank of cultural spokesperson for progress. We were taught in school to worship science, as thousands of years ago a many-eyed beast with a body like a leopard’s and feet like a bear’s was worshipped. The clock declares it’s now nine seconds to midnight. Down in the street, an addled homeless man waves his arms around while remonstrating with a vicious-looking companion only he can see. 


Howie Good's latest poetry book is Swimming in Oblivion: New and Selected Poems from Redhawk Publications. He co-edits the journal UnLost, dedicated to found poetry.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

"WORSE" THAN RODNEY KING?

by L. Smith




56 baton blows.
6 neck kicks.
5 white officers.
A broken leg. Multiple facial fractures. Bruises. Contusions. Laser gun burns.
Worse than Rodney King?
If only we could ask Rodney King—
King who was jumped with expert-level lack of restraint and professional lack of protocol by five white officers—Koon, Powell, Wind, Briseno, and Solano—
King who was jumped so well and so wildly, with his body writhing with each raging blow, that all semblance of protect and serve faded to black.
And, 32 years post “the-video-that-changed-everything-and-nothing,”
A new video we watch—we waited to watch, sat on edge for its release while it was advertised and hyped up like it was the big fight—a new
video we watch
to rank and to compare
two police beatings
32 years apart
of motorists. Unarmed black men.
King and Nichols, both jumped initiation style by blue-cloaked vigilantes
and folks are watching and analyzing blows like this is the big match up.
Ranking police beatings? 
Is this the pic-a-nic culture of the not too distant south?
 
Worse than Rodney King?
If only we could ask Rodney King—  
Here’s a thought:
Was disciplinary action against the
5 white officers who beat Rodney King
worse than the disciplinary action against the
5 black officers—Haley, Mills, Martin III, Smith, and Bean—who beat Nichols?
5 black officers swiftly dealt with—
dealt with in a way that’s worse than
5 white officers who beat Rodney King—
5 black officers swiftly fired for excessive use of force,
Failing to intervene and
failing to render aid.
 
32 years ago, we had
5 indictments.
5 acquittals.
3 days of violence.
60 people killed.
Thousands injured.
Millions of dollars of property destroyed.
32 years post “the-video-that-changed-everything-and-nothing” we again have
1 unarmed black man
1 traffic stop
5 officers
1 brutal beating
1 unarmed motorist who was not so lucky.
“Rodney King was lucky.”
Was he really, though?
56 baton blows?
6 neck kick?
5 white officers?
A broken leg? Multiple facial fractures? Bruises? Contusions? Laser gun burns?
Constitutional rights violated is luck?
Assault times five is luck?
“Rodney King lived.”
Did he though?
32 years apart from each other, are
2 motorists—unarmed, black men
brutally beaten by
5 officers
while traffic-stopped and the world later watched
and ranked and forgot the
five white acquitted officers—Koon, Powell, Wind, Briseno, and Solano—who jumped Rodney King.
Worse than Rodney King?
If only you could focus on the right scales.


Lynette Smith, a New Orleans native, is a writer, multi-certified, English and master reading teacher, who has freelanced for local newspapers. She has an anthology of poems and prose set to publish spring 2023 that her mother and daughter created space for her to write. She also has begun this blog for writer teachers.

MURDER IN MEMPHIS

by Jean Varda




We all felt it when the
men in uniform
tore him from his car,
threw him on the
pavement pressed his
face into the sidewalk.
We all felt it when they
tased and pepper sprayed
him as he ran for his life.
We all felt it when they
punched kicked and
stomped him.
We all heard him when he
called for his mother,
as he felt his life spiral
away from him
and we heard her
heart break.


Jean Varda's poetry has appeared in The New Verse News, California Quarterly, Evening Street Review, Raven's Perch, and Boston Literary Magazine. She recently published an anthology of her poetry titled: Oracle. She resides in Northern California where she leads writing groups and is writing her memoirs.

BINGE-WATCHING

by Daniel Romo




For Tyre
 
 
While viewing the reality show in which contestants
make knives from piles of metal, I think of the latest
 
group of police officers posing as contestants on their
own reality show where they compete by beating and
 
hammering out their victims, not to create an edge
sharp enough to slice through water bottles and sugar
 
cane, but to see which cop can deliver a kill shot of
their own. At the end of round one, the blades are
 
presented to the judges and whoever created the blade
that needs the most correction is eliminated, while in
 
round one, the cop on the scene that shows the most
acts of compassion is gone. In round two, handles are
 
added for grasping and the creator of the knife that
hurts the hand while being wielded is sent home and
 
in round two, the man in blue who tries to grip his
colleague into submission after repeated body blows
 
to the victim is asked not to return to the division.
The final round consists of the forgers returning
 
home to replicate a sword or ax or other weapon used
in battle by an extinct civilization. Upon returning to
 
the stage and after being tested and evaluated to see
who made the most accurate and devastatingly brutal
 
replica, the winner is selected and awarded $10,000,
while the winning police officer is determined by who
 
gets the most media coverage and who abused their
authority in the worst way all while finding the most
 
innocent man to kill.


Daniel Romo's latest book is Bum Knees and Grieving Sunsets (Flowersong Press 2023)

AGAINST THE DAILY NEWS

by Tom Bauer




Who raised these people to use sticks against
their fellow human beings and neighbors?
Who taught the stick to join a team and fight,
to bruise life and chase the lie of honor?

Who made these sticks and guns the tools of men?
Who tells them they have enemies to fight?
Who tells them to hit and kill their neighbors?
Who tells the lies that form the fighting teams?

Who gives them guns and laws to do these things?
Who tells them they can kill people on the streets?
Which of We The People will own their part?
Which leader? Voter? Parent? Teacher? Judge?
The enterslainment of the day? Who will
own that they, that We, have sanctioned these things?


Tom Bauer lives and works in Montreal.

WATCH THE VIDEO

by George Held


Screenshot of the video of the murder of Tyre Nichols.


For Rodney King
 
 
After Memphis, what more can we ask video
to do? After Tyre Nichols, what more
can it confirm? About barbarity,
good ol’ American barbarity? 

The Nazis had nothing on us when it
comes to barbarity. Just look at
the video and see those black men in
uniform dishing out murderous mayhem,
 
killing Tyre as surely as pink-cheeked
SS troopers brutally murdered an old Slav
or a Jew. Yes, these assassins, blond or black,
and legitimized by uniform, carry out
the will of the culture, brutalize the despised
while we, mute, wait to watch the video.

 
George Held occasionally contributes to The NVN and has poems now in Ultimate Reality and Jerry Jazz Magazine.

A GRIM FAIRY TALE

by Lynn White


Dozens of asylum-seeking children have been kidnapped by gangs from a Brighton [UK] hotel run by the Home Office in a pattern apparently being repeated across the south coast, an Observer investigation can reveal. A whistleblower, who works for Home Office contractor Mitie, and child protection sources describe children being abducted off the street outside the hotel and bundled into cars. “Children are literally being picked up from outside the building, disappearing and not being found. They’re being taken from the street by traffickers,” said the source. —The Observer, January 21, 2023 PHOTO: Hove, where unaccompanied asylum-seeking children have been abducted, according to a contractor working for the Home Office. Credit: Andy Hall/The Observer


When I was a child 
my mother told me 
that Never Never Land
Is where the lost children go,
those who can’t find their way home.
My mother told me that
they stay children for ever
and can play all day long.

It sounds like a fairy tale
and perhaps 
that’s where these children have gone,
stepped into a fairy tale
or perhaps
they’ve been taken into one
by a monster
straight out of Grimm.

And now they wait.

And there’ll be others
waiting.
Waiting,
for someone to find them.

Perhaps they’ll put up a sign
hoping someone will see.
And they’ll sit by the sign
waiting for rescue,
waiting for the fairy tale ending
that can never come.


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, January 27, 2023

ANSWERING THE PHONE WHEN DEATH CALLS

by Jerrice J. Baptiste 


Angry demonstrators have roared through the streets of Haiti’s capital, blocking roads and shooting guns into the air to protest a slew of killings of police officers by Haitian gangs over the last week. Haitian news outlet Le Nouvelliste reported that angry scenes erupted in several neighbourhoods of Port-au-Prince on Thursday, and barricades of burning tyres were erected in the centre of the city.  Aljazeera, January 26, 2023. Photo: A man gestures by a barricade of flaming tires during a police demonstration in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 26, 2023. Officers were protesting after a gang attack the day before on a police station in Liancourt left several officers dead. —VOA, January 26, 2023



Dedicated to all of my family in Haiti


"I'm going to lose my life," he screams.
Gunshots in rounds, mind on
a roller coaster ride, vibrating bees
disturbed on a hot day in june
except it's january 26, 2023. Bullets

wake up, shake up my eardrum.
Like a conductor gives the cue,
his quaking voice in my ear rises,

his instrument, a steady shriek,
final end to a symphony.
"Everyone's shot around me" he yells.

Feet in flight, heart dodges left right left 
No boulders in city of Port-au-Prince.
"This might be my last day." His voice quakes.

Low hum follows the phone's sudden click. 
Heart drops with conductor's hands.
No hole to hide in the bear's den.

Silence.
Silence.


Author’s note: My uncle Roodly was almost killed yesterday. I wrote this poem about the events that happened in Haiti yesterday.

  
Editor’s noteRoodly Laurore’s poem “Ayiti,” translated from Haitian Kreyòl by Jerrrice J. Baptiste, appeared in The New Verse News, October 13, 2022.


Jerrice J. Baptiste is an author of eight books and a poet in residence at the Prattsville Art Center & Residency in NY.  She is extensively published in journals and magazines. She has been nominated as  Best of The Net by Blue Stem for  2022.

ART OF THE QUESTION

by Dick Altman


Art created by Shutterstock AI image generator in response to "Art of the Question."


Alarmed by A.I. Chatbots, Universities Start Revamping How They Teach: With the rise of the popular new chatbot ChatGPT, colleges are restructuring some courses and taking preventive measures. —The New York Times, January 16, 2023


Disclaimer: ChatGPT inspired
but did not write this poem. And
what if it did?  What, at bottom,
are we afraid of—that a machine
might outthink us? From childhood,
I thrilled to science fiction evolving
into science fact.  Bring on the
machines!
 
If Socrates were alive today,
I can hear him ask, “Why spend life
trying to find answers,
when life’s key may lie
in finding the right questions?”
 
The best leaders, I often think,
posit the best questions.
 
Ask the right question, I’d tell
my peers, and you may find
exactly the answer we’ve all been
probing/struggling for.
 
As AI’s narrative powers grow,
exponentially/computationally,
we need to learn how best
to feed its appetite.
 
Think about your day and mine—
think about the river of questions
that ebb and flow through life’s
continuum.
 
Rarely do we ponder the process
that instinctively—or so it seems—
lets us arrive at decisions that
guide home/work/play/passion.
 
One could argue—and I’d agree—
all conscious life thrives, or fails,
on the quality of its questions.
 
Perhaps we have reached the age
to turn education on its head—
to teach our young "The Art
of the Question". 
 
So that apps like ChatGPT
can learn, in turn, to grind out
answers worthy of our curiosity
and explorations.
 
Think of it as a new educational
dawn.
 
I say let’s welcome, not fear,
the rising binary sun
of a Socratic Age reborn.
 
Or as Hamlet might have
prophetically put it:
 
To ask... 
 
To answer... 
 
That is the question


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 forthcoming first volume of The New Mexico Anthology of Poetry to be published by the New Mexico Museum Press.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

OUR QUONDAM COMPANIONS PERSIST

by Jonathan Yungkans


Of my country and of my family I 
have little to say that hasn’t been either
rent or splattered upon. Bone fragments and dots 
of brain create paisley Rorschach patterns in
 
the fabric of my conscience. Let’s allot the 
dappled cotton skein to drape figures gone
more statue than statuesque. Children, how you 
bleed. You shape garnet- and wine-colored mud pies
 
and smear them against your faces and clothes 
to blend with earth, ashes to ashes, bullets
to dust, all the pretty bodies going down.


Author’s note: Title taken from the poem “The Handshake, the Cough, the Kiss” by John Ashbery in the collection A Worldly Country.


Jonathan Yungkans juggles writing and photography with work as an in-home health-care provider, fueled by copious amounts of coffee, while finding time for the occasional deep breath. His second poetry chapbook Beneath a Glazed Shimmer was published by Tebot Bach in 2021.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

PLEASE

by William Aarnes




poetry makes nothing happen 
          —W.H. Auden 
 
poetry is never really part of anything 
          —John Koethe 
 
It can kill a man. 
          —Wallace Stevens 
 
                         It is difficult
to get the news from poems
          yet men die miserably every day
                                            for lack
of what is found there. 
          —William Carlos Williams 
 

Of course, there are other ways 
to kill—a knee pressed down 
on a neck; a quick, hard shove 
 
off a subway platform; a swerve 
onto a sidewalk; a brick 
dropped from a roof; the slow, 
 
sure work of something tasteless 
stirred into a sauce; a knife  
stuck through a partner’s heart... 
 
—but guns are so easy to have  
on hand they’ve help us fall  
into the habit of reaching for them 
 
to win lost arguments  
or end marriages or conclude 
our own lives by aimless firing 
 
into crowds.  Having guns around, 
has moved us to elect whoever  
will pass and keep in force  
 
permissive laws meant to insure  
we’ll need guns to defend each other  
from gunfire.   
 
                       So can someone  
 
please post the poem everyone 
(even readers who prefer 
firing guns to reading)  
 
will want to share with friends  
because the poem’s so compelling  
about how we need justices 
 
who think laws must meet 
standards suggested by the phrase  
“well regulated militia” 
 
and (in a brilliant burst  
of well-targeted words)    
about how it’s criminal  
 
not to make crimes committed  
with guns the responsibility  
of not only the culprits but also  
 
the weapons’ makers and dealers? 
 
Please, someone, that poem.  
 
Stop me from buying a gun. 


William Aarnes lives in New York.

THE WATER COOLER

by Melanie Choukas-Bradley


Blood stains and a small section of police tape show the scene where multiple people were injured following an overnight shooting at the Dior Bar & Lounge in Baton Rouge, La., on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023. Credit: Michael Johnson/AP


Gather round the water cooler
For the latest on the latest mass shooting
How many dead, how many critical
 
Let’s put our heads together and get the facts
Where the wounded hid, how many rounds
What the cops did and didn’t do
 
The victims have our thoughts and prayers
They have our attention
We are talking about it, talking and talking
 
Until talk turns to the next one
 
 
Melanie Choukas-Bradley is a naturalist and award-winning author of seven nature books, including City of Trees, A Year in Rock Creek Park, Finding Solace at Theodore Roosevelt Island, and The Joy of Forest Bathing. She began writing poetry during the pandemic and has had many poems published by Beate Sigriddaughter’s Writing in a Woman’s Voice. The site has featured several of her poems during the past year, including “How to Silence a Woman,” and “If I have loved you,” both of which won “Moon Prizes.” Melanie grew up in Vermont wandering the woods and fields and has never stopped wandering.  She leads nature and history field trips for Smithsonian Associates, the US Botanic Garden, the Nature Conservancy, Politics & Prose Bookstore, and many other organizations in the Washington, DC area.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

CLEAR DEMANDS

by Indran Amirthanayagam





Police ran an armored carrier
into the gate of San Marcos
University, then charged
by the hundreds to rouse
students from sleep and
hound them into courtyards
arresting dozens upon

dozens. For what? For
allowing peasants to sleep
on the grounds while
in the city, to express
their right to protest, to say
no to the hard and clumsy-
handed, new, unelected

leader, to ask for
the dictator Fujimori
constitution to be
discarded then rewritten,
to ask for jobs and
seeds after the ravages
of the pandemic.


Indran Amirthanayagam is the translator of Origami: Selected Poems of Manuel Ulacia (Dialogos Books)Ten Thousand Steps Against the Tyrant (BroadstoneBooks) is the newest collection of Indran's own poems. Recently published is Blue Window (Ventana Azul), translated by Jennifer Rathbun.(Dialogos Books). In 2020, Indran produced a “world" record by publishing three new poetry books written in three languages: The Migrant States (Hanging Loose Press, New York), Sur l'île nostalgique (L’Harmattan, Paris) and Lírica a tiempo (Mesa Redonda, Lima). He writes in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Haitian Creole and has twenty poetry books as well as a music album Rankont Dout. He edits The Beltway Poetry Quarterly and helps curate Ablucionistas. He won the Paterson Prize and received fellowships from The Foundation for the Contemporary Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, US/Mexico Fund For Culture, and the MacDowell Colony. He hosts the Poetry Channel on YouTube and publishes poetry books with Sara Cahill Marron at Beltway Editions.

Monday, January 23, 2023

THE SUPREME ABORTION

by Lavinia Kumar 




Supreme Court says it can’t determine who leaked draft Dobbs opinion. 
The Washington Post, January 20, 2023


No one

Confessed or squealed

The babe was dripped, not leaked.

Did the French letter have a hole?

Don’t tell.

 

In Court,

No leak of Roe—

No trust in settled law.

Was the IUD aborted?

Don’t tell.

 

The pill’s

Bitter poison

Sure to gag young women.

The law’s cold still-birth not controlled?

Don’t tell.



Lavinia Kumar’s latest book is Spirited American Women: Early Writers, Artists, & Activistsvery short prose of near 90 amazing women writers, poets, publishers, painters, artists, abolitionists, early suffragettes, and activists.