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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

ODE TO TOM HAYDEN (1939-2016)

by Clara B. Jones

To contest the binary is a political act because
Tom was not class-identified—riding Greyhound
To Manhattan with Casey, coming to the party
On the East Side, wearing jeans as young
Revolutionaries honored his plans to change
America The Beautiful after S.D.S. decreed that
Tactics would be decided by participatory vote
And all households would have no fewer than two
Friends from Cuba where macaw vocalizations
Filter through wet leaves, their raspy staccatos
And showy displays overhead—sounds infusing
Darkness between canopy and soil where
Hermaphrodite earthworms live non-binary lives
As soil engineers for microbes and rhizomes as Tom
Engineered comrades revising theories of profit and
Loss—tools of oppression in Braverman's terms.
SNCC a symbol of our will to re-program synapses
While Tom's persona heralded a terra incognita
Of radical outcomes.

Clara B. Jones is a retired scientist, currently practicing poetry in Silver Spring, MD (USA). As a woman of color, she writes about the “performance” of identity, alienation, and power and conducts research on experimental poetry. Clara is author of two chapbooks, and her poems, reviews, essays, and interviews have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous venues.

Monday, October 24, 2016


by Joan Mazza

the Swedish Academy for the Nobel
says of Bob Dylan, who hasn’t acknowledged
his prize for literature or the invitation
to the event. He can be difficult, they say,

as if this is insightful news of his psychology,
as if he’d care what anyone thought about
his need to be alone, hide out. They say
his behavior is unprecedented, forgetting

Jean-Paul Sartre refused the prize, and that
Doris Lessing, returned from shopping
and approached by a reporter with the news,
responded, Oh, Christ! Not delight or prayer.

Were I indiscreet, I’d tell you where he’s
holed up. You sure wouldn’t believe that he’s
here, underground in my basement, playing
cassettes on the stereo so loud my floors

vibrate. He's smoking,  stinking up my entire
house. My cats like him, as does my old dog,
but he doesn’t always come upstairs for meals
I’ve fixed, only shrugs when I ask him

if he wants shrimp or crab. Don’t answer
the phone, he told me as soon as he arrived.
It hardly ever rings, I said, astonished
at his demand, when I recognized him

on my porch and let him in. He parked his
car out back, but there’s no one here to see.
I’m deep in the woods, far from the road.
Today I hear him singing, strumming

his guitar. He says prizes don’t mean a thing.
I ask if I can take a photo before he leaves.
(When is he leaving?) He sticks out
his pouty lip, says, It ain’t me, babe.

Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, seminar leader, and has been a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. Author of six self-help psychology books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam), her poetry has appeared in Rattle, Kestrel, The MacGuffin, Mezzo Cammin, Slipstream, and The Nation. She ran away from the hurricanes of South Florida to be surprised by the earthquakes and tornadoes of rural central Virginia, where she writes poetry and does fabric and paper art.

Sunday, October 23, 2016


by Darrell Petska

My grandson
who is 4
and enamored of
all things "Frozen"

overheard mention
of a gun—
What's a gun?
he wanted to know.

Our hearts ached
as he looked
adult to adult,
awaiting a response.

Darrell Petska writes poetry and fiction within reach of his three grandchildren in southern Wisconsin.

Saturday, October 22, 2016


by Janet E. Aalfs

Throw pillow cover by society6.

She, as you.
She, as I.
Even the one

who stands behind
cheering him on.
Will not, does not, cannot.

All the leaves, every color
and shape, every size,
old ones, young ones, sun-washed,

rain-lashed, turn in the wind.
We see them.
As she as you as I

fluttering, lifting, fall.
Light hidden on the undersides
silver-soft, then gone.

Even the one
who swears he'll fight for her.
Even she.

Would not, did not, could not.
Hear them, so close.
Though the wind in every wave

remembered it, told it, wept.
Tides calm to raging
turned and turned and yet.

The one who smooths his brow
and kisses him to sleep.
Even she.

Janet E. Aalfs, poet laureate emeritus of Northampton, MA, 7th degree black belt, Jian Mei Internal Arts branch chief instructor, and founder/ director of Lotus Peace Arts at Valley Women's Martial Arts, has been teaching and performing weavings of poetry and movement arts locally, nationally, and internationally for 40 years. Her writing has been widely published, and her most recent book of poems is Bird of a Thousand Eyes, Levellers Press.

Friday, October 21, 2016


a found poem by Dale Wisely


Putin would rather have
a puppet as president. 

No puppet, no puppet.

And it's pretty clear --

You're the puppet.
It's pretty clear you won't admit —

No, you're the puppet.


For the clue schoolyard retort
you can find ten possible solutions. 

Schoolyard retort with 4 letters
Schoolyard retort with 5 letters
Schoolyard retort with 6 letters

Sources: Transcript of 3rd Clinton-Trump debate; Crossword Solutions Dictionary.

Dale Wisely edits Right Hand Pointing, One Sentence Poems, and White Knuckle Chapbooks.

Thursday, October 20, 2016


John Guzlowski's writing has appeared in Rattle, North American Review, Ontario Review, Nimrod,, and many other journals and reviews.  Garrison Keillor read his poem "What My Father Believed" on The Writers Almanac. Guzlowski's 5th book of poems Echoes of Tattered Tongues was a highlighted book in this year's Publishers Weekly Poetry Month issue. 


(Black Wednesday)

by Thor Bacon 

So is the baker guilty, too,
who baked the loaves
served at the Last Supper?

Am I also tinged
if I sell diamond earrings
to an adulterer?

And, if I stay quiet,
not sure what to say exactly —
am I party to the flames and rubble?

The election will solve nothing.
Still, we have to vote.
Still, we have to ask each other, "Why?"

And today, Wednesday the 19th, I hear
shouting and weeping down the crowded caminos
of my virgin's heart.

Thor Bacon is an American poet whose work has appeared most recently online at International Times, and in print with The Aurorean.  He resides in Michigan, working as a goldsmith.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


by George Held

Image source: Christian Science Monitor

The ending becomes clearer,
The fire and ice of catastrophe,
Ecological collapse or nuclear
Dystrophy striking Earth’s
Set for the last time on its human stage,
“The End” dissolving on its screen . . .
The exits are closed
While the Harvest Moon
Looks indifferently down.

George Held, a frequent contributor to TheNewVerse.News, has a new poetry collection Bleak Splendor (Muddy River Books, 2016).


by Carol Dorf

Some years ask, "Which side are you on?"
You might answer, "I'm on the side of the bees,
and the waters rising against the coastal shores."
You listen to a debate, and wonder, "Have I been
clear. Or I'm ok about reading dystopias, but
don't think I live in one, and don't want to find
myself there." I'm on the side of the kindergarten
children who tumble together on the rug, eager
for a story, after eating school lunches portioned
onto small trays. I'm on the side of the whales
who need quiet to hear each other calling across
the sea. And I'm on the side of the fat women,
and the crips, and every contractor who wanted
to be paid. "Which side are you on?" is
the refrain, while the future echoes on the screen.

Carol Dorf's chapbook Theory Headed Dragon is available through Finishing Line Press. Her poetry has been published in Glint, Slipstream, Spillway, Sin Fronteras, Antiphon, Composite, About Place, The Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, Scientific American, Maintenant, OVS Best of Indie Lit New England, and elsewhere. She is poetry editor of Talking Writing and teaches mathematics.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


by George Salamon

"In West Palm Beach on Thursday. reporters covering Mr. Trump returned to a table reserved for the press to find a sign bearing a swastika and the word 'MEDIA' scrawled on it, Jim Acosta. a senior CNN White House correspondent reported." The New York Times, October 13, 2016

The media is Jew-infested
And so is our global elite.
We cheer our next leader
Who'll de-jewvenate our state
And make it great again.
Fellow Americans, this is the drill:
Let's keep the foreskin growing,
With each of us holding his own,
And save our land from being overrun
By mongrel generations.

George Salamon is having less and less fun by the day following the 2016 presidential campaign in St. Louis, MO.

Monday, October 17, 2016


by LouAnn Shepard Muhm

I mention Eric Garner.

All the usual tropes are in attendance.

This was not his only arrest, is in the front row,
wondering when we will get back to
what matters: graded things, things with points.
Her anxiety manifests in demands for rubrics
and in her bouncing leg, her rolling eyes.
She does things right, has no mercy
for digression, for mistake.
She will go home tonight and listen
to her brother and her father fight,
each so disappointed in the other’s

Next to her sits if he hadn’t been doing anything wrong
nothing would have happened to him,
fingering the cross she wears,
this Catholic girl who wants to be a nun
but likes a boy in class. It pains me
to watch her clumsy, unsuccessful bids.
The war inside her is constant
and unrelenting, but she has the naïve
trust in the world that so few
sixteen-year-old girls have anymore.
It’s hard not to envy her,
harder not to cringe against
the ways her knowledge may come.

Everybody knows not to talk back
to a police officer no matter what
is headed for the military, and
I can feel him wondering
what he would do:
chokehold or no chokehold,
chokehold or no chokehold,
can feel the adrenaline jolting him
at the thought, graduation
only two months away
and everything so suddenly looming.

It’s sad, but I don’t see how
that makes it OK to riot
keeps looking at his phone,
waiting for his girl to text him
from the math class three doors down,
waiting for her to tell him
where they can go later to fuck,
waiting for her to confirm that they will
again today, after practice, as they do
whenever they can, because they can
and because they are young
and because it is new
and all-consuming.

Maybe there’s a lot of racism
in other places, but
I just don’t see it here
has a hard time sitting in the desk
at six-foot-two, and wonders
how long he can lift
in the weight room after school
and still get his chores done before dark.

Meanwhile, just last year two people
in this class called me nigger
slides down in her chair,
trying to disappear out of this
conversation that is focused on her
without being focused on her,
as so many conversations have been

and stop asking me if I live on the rez
remains silent as always,
pulls the hood of his sweatshirt
further down his forehead,
turns his music

LouAnn Shepard Muhm is a poet and teacher from northern Minnesota. Her poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies, and she was a finalist for the Creekwalker Poetry Prize  and the Late Blooms Postcard Series.  Muhm is a two-time recipient of the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant in Poetry and has been awarded scholarships from the Key West Literary Seminar, Vermont Studio Center, and Sierra Nevada College. Her chapbook Dear Immovable was published in 2006 by Pudding House Press, and her full-length poetry collection Breaking the Glass (Loonfeather Press, 2008) was a finalist for the Midwest Book Award in Poetry.  Muhm holds a Master of Fine Arts in poetry from Sierra Nevada College, and was recently granted an 18-month Artist's Fellowship by the Region 2 Arts Council of Minnesota.


by Phyllis Wax

A responding officer [in El Cajon, California] fatally shot Mr. [Alfred] Olango after he pulled an object from his pocket, the police said. On Wednesday night, the police identified the object as a vape smoking device with a silvery cylinder the police said “was pointed toward the officer.” —The New York Times, September 28, 2016

We’ve done a good job
keeping them apart –
segregated schools,
segregated housing.
No wonder each looks
at the other as the other.
No wonder they fear
each other.  No wonder
the finger pulls the trigger                
so easily

Social issues are a major focus of Milwaukee poet Phyllis Wax.  Among the anthologies and journals her work has appeared in are Portside, TheNewVerse.News, Surreal Poetics, Ars Medica, Naugatuck River Review, Your Daily Poem, Star 82 Review. When she’s not writing you might find her escorting at a local abortion clinic.  She can be reached at poetwax38[at]

Sunday, October 16, 2016


by Jay Sizemore

Image source: Daily Mail, September 3, 2016

How beautiful must the world be
to make me stop and notice
I am a narcissist?
I’m so far away from the plains,
the rolling weeds and sagebrush,
dirt-dry plateaus cracked like ancient faces.
I’m so far away from open fields
stretched equidistant to every inch
of the empty and aubergine horizon;
the sky seems endless as a child’s imagination,
white puffy clouds like floating castles
turning purple and gray along the dust bowl rim,
with rain shaft ropes tethering those
mountainous zeppelins to the Earth.

How beautiful must the world be
to make me care about the future
my children will live to see?
Some hold onto hope like eagle feathers
in their hands, have seen the stars
through a portal of smoke
cloaked in a buffalo’s hide.
They have stood for centuries
at the edge of a graveyard,
watching the white man dig more holes.

How beautiful must the world be
to make me want to live here
inside its nebular womb?
With every breath, the timeline of existence
shrinks backward one step.
In my heart, I could wear a headdress,
I could smell the burnt leaves
wafting like spirits around my skull,
like voices turned to ashes
swirling and sticking to my tongue.
I could sing songs around the fire
in a language I never learned.

How beautiful must the world be
that I shut off these engines of dinosaur teeth,
that I throw my hardhat to the ground
and climb down from my mechanical cage,
that I brush the crushed grit from my jeans
and embrace the joyful tears
streaming down my face
with so many arms around me,
welcoming me home like a long lost son,
turning to stand in line
against something as intangible as time?

How beautiful must the world be
that I admit I’ve always been wrong
about everything I’ve ever believed?
This world must be beautiful,
with its birds, its light-flickered murmurations,
its ponds with surfaces kissed
by hungry fish mouths catching flies.
It’s a beauty that never asks to be observed,
and that is just what makes it
so irreplaceable.

Jay Sizemore was born blue, raised by wolves, and learned to write by translating howls. He doesn't regret his wisdom teeth. He thanks you for your concern. His work can be found here or there, mostly there.

Saturday, October 15, 2016


by Susan McLean

Ah, distinctly I remember it was early in November
when the hearth-fire’s dying ember cast dark shadows on the floor.
As dry leaves went whirling, flying, suddenly I heard a sighing
as of someone softly crying, “Let me in! Unlock your door.”
Only this and nothing more.

Had she come again? I wondered.  As the storm clouds flashed and thundered,
in the throes of hope I blundered, flinging wide my chamber door.
But the vision I confronted was not her for whom I hunted.
Grief arrived and joy was blunted: through that doorway I deplore,
hope would enter nevermore.

Like a ghastly apparition on a grim and solemn mission,
an unnerving politician pushed his way into the room,
and I had the premonition that his access code to fission
soon would cause our demolition. Like a specter from the tomb,
in he came: the Trump of Doom.

Susan McLean is an English professor at Southwest Minnesota State University.  Her books of poetry are The Best Disguise and The Whetstone Misses the Knife.  She has also translated over 500 satirical poems of the Latin poet Martial, published as Selected Epigrams by the University of Wisconsin Press.  Her light verse has often appeared in Light and Lighten Up Online.

Friday, October 14, 2016


by Megan Merchant

“Perhaps Trump is the ultimate gift to feminists: a grabber and bragger who has focused the world’s attention on the outrages women quietly endure on a chronic basis without notice. And perhaps we can now see the mid-90s response to Bill Clinton’s own accusers — subdued or defensive among liberals on account of his women-friendly politics — as a near miss of an opportunity, a cultural shift that could have built on the momentum of Anita Hill, but never did. The stories emerging about Trump, as well as his own words, could give women a new way of seeing their own experiences with sexual assault going forward — as part of a pattern of male behavior that has been noted, flagged and loudly denigrated.” —Susan, Dominus, The New York Times, October 13, 2016

There is a story that begins with a father
giving his son a bag of nails and instructions

to pound one into the fence with each flare of anger
and at first, there were more than three dozen,

then two, then a single day without a slip.
The son was proud, said “Dad, look.”

He nodded, continued “Now, for each day
you stay calm, pull a nail. What do you see ?”

A fence with scars.

And some in our country will say that’s
where the light gets through, or you won’t notice

if we build the fence bigger,
or the holes are there—get over it,

but the CDC has recorded that one in every five
women in our country is raped,

and that’s only what’s reported, their kits neatly
packaged, sit on a shelf, twenty deep to a bin.

The room stuffed with scars and swabs.
The nail hammered in, torn out.

And what if I told you that almost half
were before age eighteen. But numbers blur.

You think there can’t be that many, say hysteria,
drama, revenge, lying bitch.

So I ask, where does anger go ? If not packaged
in bullets and bombs, it stews in the mouth,

tingles down to hands. Drugs, rubs, robs.
Leaves holes.

Have you ever noticed the way women
walk in the dark ? Arms crossed over breasts,

clutching her body, because it is a thing that
can be taken.

If you are willing to listen,
you will learn the language of trauma.

A gospel of mirrors
and a man with a mouth full of nails

claiming words don’t matter. But they do.

Stories come into being to save lives.
To warn others from danger.

Anyone who has survived will tell you,

the human responsibility is to do more
than just listen.

Megan Merchant is mostly forthcoming. She is the author of two full-length poetry collections: Gravel Ghosts (Glass Lyre Press) The Dark’s Humming (Winner of the 2015 Lyrebird Prize, Glass Lyre Press, forthcoming 2017); four chapbooks and a forthcoming children’s book with Philomel Books. She lives in the tall pines of Prescott, Arizona.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


by Daniel D'Arezzo

An American warship stationed off the coast of Yemen fired cruise missiles on Thursday at radar installations that the Pentagon said had been used by Yemeni insurgents to target another American warship [ in two missile attacks in the last four days. The American strikes were the first direct attack by the United States against Yemen’s Houthi rebels, members of an indigenous Shiite group with loose connections to Iran who are fighting the Yemeni government. The strikes were approved by President Obama, said Peter Cook, the Pentagon spokesman, who warned of more to come if American ships were fired upon again. —The New York Times, October 12, 2016. Photo: The United States destroyer Mason in the Gulf of Oman in September. Pentagon officials say Yemeni rebels have fired on the ship twice in four days. Credit Blake Midnight/U.S. Navy via The New York Times.

I stubbed
my toe
in the dark.
I’ve done it
before, on
one chair or
another, oh,
about a
million times.

It hurts.
You’d think
I’d learn
and turn
the light
on, but
I don’t.
That’s what
I’ve learned.

Daniel D'Arezzo is a retired publishing executive who lives in Buenos Aires with his husband, Rafael Cerezo. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


by Janet Leahy

Sandhill cranes prance the fields
of the Necedah Wildlife Refuge.
They relentlessly clear their throats.
Is this an attempt to find a softer song
to replace the rough ratcheting
that is their call—an attempt to fine-tune
the echo chambers in long necks
to find a kinder music for sky travel.

It is fall of 2016
politics of the season reverberates
with ratcheting calls.
The election draws near
there is no gentle music
air waves guzzle with discordant
degrading language.
Sandhill cranes whisk away,

we rush out to cast an early ballot.

Janet Leahy‘s poems have been published in print and online journals.  Most recently her poems have won second place and honorable mention in the 2016 People and Ideas Poetry Contest.  She has published two collections of poetry, The Storm, Poems of War, Iraq, and Not My Mother’s Classroom

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


by Siham Karami

France has announced it will ask the international criminal court to investigate possible war crimes committed in Syria's Aleppo. Rebel-held eastern Aleppo city, besieged since early September, has been the focus of an intense aerial bombardment campaign by Russian and Syrian fighter jets. For their part, anti-government fighters are trying to break the siege and connect with other rebel-held territories to the west of Aleppo, Syria's second city. "We do not agree with what Russia is doing, bombarding Aleppo. France is committed as never before to saving the population of Aleppo," Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French foreign minister, told France's Inter radio on Monday. —Al Jazeera, October 11, 2016. Image source: Reuters via Al Jazeera.

Aleppo wakes to brute victory nonsense,
another corpse called dawn, pale scar of incense.

This week this family had but stones to eat,
and played with rubble. For Syria? Bashar's two cents.

Put a plan in place. They'll kill food convoys.
Outlaw love. Throw feathers, tar on sense.

Dear Russia, count the children killed for one stuffed scarecrow.
What could your heart, dead now, live for or sense?

They wash up on the shores of everywhere
in waves of family—keep out!!—each pair of eyes, ignored, dissents.

Rag-tag fighters with their cobbled guns
blew the superpower's mind to lower sense.

A father plants impossible red roses, hears bombers
play Beethoven overhead: a brief soaring sense.

I shoot this arrow to the deaf-mute smoke
rising from the shattered core of innocence.

Siham Karami lives in what was the path of Hurricane Matthew, and survived. Recent work can be found in such places as Measure, The Comstock Review, Sukoon Magazine, Mezzo Cammin, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, The Rotary Dial, Right Hand Pointing, Angle Poetry, Think, and the Ghazal Page

Monday, October 10, 2016


by Orel Protopopescu

Cagle Cartoon

Such a self-destructive talent
is a rarity on earth.
What heroic liquidation
of the gifts of chance and birth!

Could another heir to millions
have corralled the tricky skills
he expressed erecting towers
on fat piles of unpaid bills?

Who raised armies of attorneys
twisting laws to break his fall,
then retreated from his failures
like a Roman leaving Gaul?

Smartly stashing spoils of combat,
filing bankruptcy four times,
he redeemed his reputation
while committing legal crimes.

Such swashbuckling, bold bravado
took him nearly to the peak.
Cheering hordes adored their leader.
How they loved to hear him speak!

But his toxic mouth undid him,
spewing sexist, racist lies,
for what won his nomination
soon conspired  to lose the prize.

And the world gasped in amazement
at this fierce, pig-headed horse,
who could race himself to pasture
while he seemed to run the course.

Orel Protopopescu won the Oberon poetry prize in 2010 and has a commended poem in the 2016 Second Light Live competition, to be published in November. What Remains, her chapbook, appeared in 2011.  Thelonious Mouse, her fourth picture book, won a Crystal Kite, 2012, from SCBWI. A Thousand, Peaks, Poems from China (with Siyu Liu) was selected for the New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen Age list. A Word’s a Bird, her animated, bilingual (English/French) poetry book for iPad, was on SLJ’s list of ten best children’s apps, 2013. Her poetry has appeared in Spoon River Poetry Review, Oberon, Poetry Bay, Light, Lighten Up Online, TheNewVerse.News and other reviews and anthologies. She teaches at the Walt Whitman Birthplace, Huntington Station, New York.

Sunday, October 09, 2016


by David Spicer

I agree: we need to strike with force
and hijack our favorite fetish. Shout
Shit! at our divorce depositions, buy
a bus ticket to Buffalo, Wyoming
with our lawsuit checks. Before we leave,
let’s sing our inner rock songs, wear
rattlesnake skin cowboy boots, and tickle
Heather on her tasseled tits while she’s
corkscrewing an orgasm down the grind pole
in the dank pit of The Holy Moly.
We can steal a bottle of our favorite Korean
champagne, rub it against the sunburned
barmaid’s crotch and tell her the next
round is on her. We’ll film the janitor
in flagrante delicto and crunch her
cauliflower ears, and then raid the fridge
of its last slices of Boston crème pie.
Bug anybody we can, shout horny
come-ons in our black leather
dusters, and then label each other
The Fuck Geeks of Sauerkraut Doom.
Yep, let’s break the rules every chance
we get and feel great about it, let’s be
boys being boys and climb the prettiest
willow we can find and whistle-whisper
to her so sweetly she sighs and swoons
under the mighty, cloud-kissing moon.

David Spicer has had poems in In Between Hangovers,  TheNewVerse.News, Gargoyle, The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares,  Mad Swirl, Reed Magazine, Slim Volume, The Laughing Dog, Easy Street, Ploughshares, Bad Acid Laboratories, Inc., Dead Snakes, and in the anthologies Silent Voices: Recent American Poems on Nature (Ally Press, 1978), Perfect in Their Art: Poems on Boxing From Homer to Ali (Southern Illinois University Press, 2003), and A Galaxy of Starfish: An Anthology of Modern Surrealism (Salo Press, 2016). He has been nominated for a Best of the Net twice and a Pushcart, and is the author of one full-length collection of poems, Everybody Has a Story (St. Luke's Press, 1987), and four chapbooks. He is also the former editor of Raccoon, Outlaw, and Ion Books. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee.