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Friday, May 25, 2018


by Jan Steckel

A Border Patrol agent shot and killed a woman who had crossed the border illegally near Laredo, Tex., on Wednesday after the officer came under attack, federal authorities said. —The New York Times, May 24, 2018. Photo: A border fence in Laredo, Tex., not far from where a Border Patrol agent fatally shot a woman on Wednesday who the authorities said had illegally crossed the border. Credit: Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times.

As I walked out on the streets of Rio Bravo,
As I walked out in Rio Bravo one day,
I spied a body all wrapped up in Mylar,
Covered with Mylar, as cold as the clay.

I saw by ICE milling that she was a migrant.
Marta Martinez was filming that day.
Marta Martinez, she held up her cell phone,
Yelled at the agents who murdered the girl.

Why are you maltreating them?
What have they done to you?
You shot that girl, she yelled,
Now she’s lying there dead.

We only tased her, claimed one of the ICE men.
Tased her! snorted Marta. You shot her!
She’s lying there stone cold. She attacked us,
Said the ICE men, with blunt objects.

What blunt objects? demanded Marta,
As the ICE men dragged three campesinos
Out of the trees and into their wagon.
Plastic water bottles? I don’t see any rocks.

They were running from you when you shot,
Cried Marta in anger. She’s somebody’s daughter,
Sister, maybe mother. It’s hard to tell how old
She was with half her face shot off.

Beat the drum slowly and play the fife lowly,
Play the dead march as we carry her along.
Down in the green valley, lay the sod over her.
She was a young migrant they said had done wrong.

Jan Steckel was a Harvard- and Yale-trained pediatrician who took care of Spanish-speaking children until chronic pain persuaded her to change professions to writer, poet and medical editor. She is an activist for bisexual and disability rights who lives in Oakland, California. Her poetry book The Horizontal Poet (Zeitgeist Press, 2011) won a 2012 Lambda Literary Award. Her fiction chapbook Mixing Tracks (Gertrude Press, 2009) and poetry chapbook The Underwater Hospital (Zeitgeist Press, 2006) also won awards. Her creative writing has appeared in Scholastic Magazine, Yale Medicine, Bellevue Literary Review, and elsewhere. Her work won the Goodreads Newsletter Poetry Contest, a Zeiser Grant for Women Artists, the Jewel by the Bay Poetry Competition, Triplopia’s Best of the Best competition, and three Pushcart nominations.


by Kathy Dahms Roger

I fully understand the need
for an occasional well-built wall
but when its intent is cruel
and its purpose ludicrous,
I'm incensed and inspired
to submit my own designs.

First, for an easy climb, existing walls
will have ladders installed.
Shorter ones will be made shorter
to allow a quick step-over. Others
will receive functional stiles.

In the desert, each wall will have
a water fountain for cooling off,
drinking, and bathing. There will be
sheltering roofs with signs that read
Welcome! in rainbow colors.
Where there are rivers, there will now
be free ferries to provide safe passage.

My new-style walls, of such artful
materials as stone, brick, or wood
will curve with the earth and have
sturdy foundations. Any studs will be
widely spaced but with no crossbars.
This will allow effortless entry and give
the structures the appearance of open
gates. Some walls will simply be a series
of doors, all unlocked, of course,
that swing in either direction. And some
will be quirky curtains - of shiny beads or
canvas or even tissue for quick disintegration.

All new arrivals will be given
a handshake and a hamburger.

Kathy Dahms Rogers lives and writes in Long Beach, CA.

Thursday, May 24, 2018


by Melissa Balmain


Just yesterday you were my twin:
Together we breathed out and in,
Our souls entwined since time began—it's
Sad we're now on separate planets.

Melissa Balmain is the Editor of Light, a journal of comic verse. Her poetry collection Walking In on People (winner of the Able Muse Book Award), is often assumed by online shoppers to be some kind of porn.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018


by George Held

unless you have spoken out
in church or synagogue
or demonstrated in the streets
against your own fascist regime
as it squelches one civil right
after another

I know, as long as the sheriffs
concentrate on the Muslims
and the blacks and the Latinx
we can calmly complain among ourselves
about the increasing nastiness
and aggression

as the Other is whisked off
to prison and to the camps
now being built in the pine barrens
beyond the view of the casual
observer of all the nastiness
and aggression

and besides, it’ll be more peaceful
for a while, as long as we keep
resistance to ourselves and act
the part of loyal citizens—we know
the primacy of loyalty today—in
ignoring nastiness

have you calculated like an actuary
how long it will be before they
invade your house at 2 AM
and drag you before your cousin
the magistrate for arraignment
as a traitor

anyhow, it won’t be too long
unless you keep your mouth shut
and switch from Rachel to Hannity
at 9 PM and wear a handsome
red ball cap that says Keep America

Oh, yes, and never criticize a Nazi.

George Held, a longtime contributor to TheNewVerse.News, writes from New York. His twentieth collection is Dog Hill Poems (Seattle, 2017).

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


by j.lewis

thoughts and prayers
get in the way so often now
it's hard to know when to think
and when to pray, or think about praying
or pray about thinking
as if the mere voicing
of the thoughtless prayer
or the prayerless thought
could make anything at all
better than bleeding kids

bleeding kids, kids bleating
parkland comes to mind
as the survivors don't just think
and don't just pray
but stand and challenge aloud
the bleating politicians
who thoughtlessly offer
through hypocritical lips
a silent prayer that they will not
have to stand up, stand against
their donors, take a stand
and watch the campaign coffers bleed

bleeding coffers, coffins bearing
faces bled white against white satin pillows
as if the pain of separation from life
could be soothed by the softness
smoothed by the softly falling tears
tears that tear apart the future
the past, the present as though
thoughts and prayers were knives
hurled against a wall of inaction
politics—inaction in action

guns in action, bolt action
action figures, police reaction
but not until the blood has spilled
thoughts, prayers, blood spilling
every day, every classroom

classes, classes, we all fall down

j.lewis is a Nurse Practitioner who has seen far too much violence in his lifetime to be quiet in the face of the disgrace of unchecked gun deaths in America.


by Jennifer Hernandez

The fire alarm sounds sixth hour
buzz-shriek pierces all senses
vibrates bones and deep tissue

prep period almost over
pile of papers nearly graded
end-of-year vocab tests
never enough time

new batch of students in ten minutes
eighth graders
mentally checked out weeks ago
this sure won’t help

but better during prep
than with a room full of kids
pinballing off the walls
bursting through the doors

one breath of spring air
and they’ll be lost
frolicking in the grass
picking dandelions

No, better to be on prep
to walk out with teachers
who ask, Did you hear
there was another shooting?

not locked in our classrooms
lights off
voices silent
huddled in corners

I can’t help thinking
about the shooters
who pulled fire alarms
lured their targets outward

outside now
we move forward
scan the perimeter
for anything suspicious

anyone running
any prone bodies
pools of blood

Jennifer Hernandez lives in Minnesota where she teaches middle school and writes poetry, flash, and creative non-fiction. Much of her recent writing has been colored by her distress at the dangerous nonsense that appears in her daily news feed. She is marching with her pen. Her work appears in such publications as TheNewVerse.News, Rise Up Review, Tuck Magazine and Writers Resist. She is working on  a chapbook of hybrid writing on teaching as a political act.

Monday, May 21, 2018


by Harold Oberman

It’s days like this
When I’m glad I’m not
Britain’s Poet Laureate.
Appointed by the monarch,
Expected to write verse
About significant national occasions,
There’d be an expectation I’d have to write about this.
Oh Lord
And Ladies,
Commoners and Kings,
Take me to the Tower.

I’m content to be
The self-appointed
Poet Laureate Of My House
And write about
Significant occasions there:

How the AC clicked on for the first time all Spring
Filled the upstairs bedroom with cold air
Soon confused by the ceiling fan
Into a current or eddy or breeze
That stirred the blank pages of this pad Into a rustling call for a blue pen;

How a random bee somehow got inside again,
Buzzed against the window pane until it dropped
Onto the inside sill, exhausted and wing-broken
From, I guess, its quest to get back to the hive
To produce honey or such, or to mate,

Or to meet the Queen.

Harold Oberman is the Poet Laureate of 25-d Montagu Street.  He likes pomp, but not necessarily circumstance or monarchy.


by Joan Mazza

Three days of steady rain, power flickers
off and on, pond overflowing. Flooded roads
and mud slides where trees are taken down
for another pipeline. Another school shooting

with ten dead. In Cuba a plane crashes. Over
one hundred dead. Lava ignites houses, cars
in a Hawaii subdivision. The acrid air is ash
and smells like rotten eggs. Bad news

headlines can flip you into a downward spiral.
I’m not prone to depression, not inclined
to expect the worst. The universe seems
eager to test optimists with an overdose

of cruel reality, reminds us we’re getting
old and no one is exempt from diminishment.
For now, I can read the news. Forgive me
for this day of shallowness, for enjoying excess,

the waste of resources on flowers, fancy hats,
buglers and British troops marching in full regalia.
I don’t care how much it costs. We need
a lift, a smile. We need to believe in love

stories, that one woman can defy predictions
of her limits, can become a princess, if not
queen. No one has to give her away. She’s
a grownup, can walk herself down the aisle.

Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, seminar leader, and has twice been a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. She is the author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam), and her poetry has appeared in Rattle, Off the Coast, Kestrel, Slipstream, American Journal of Nursing, The MacGuffin, Mezzo Cammin, and The Nation.


by Alejandro Escudé

Two young dollar signs
hitched at St. George’s Chapel

and the dollar signs drive off
in a vintage Jaguar convertible.

Super-Mouth pronounces
it faithfully; she says

it’s romantic. But there’s nothing
romantic about dollar signs.

The dollar signs
must fulfill new roles,

Duchess and Duke—and they
sure do know it.

Dollar signs construe
all things under the sun.

The day pristine, the river
flowing, a victor’s history.

Super-Mouth drinks the flowers.
Super-Mouth weeps.

People of Great Britain rejoice!
Dollar signs vow

to cart the monarchy into
the future. Baby dollar signs

hover in the air. The moats
empty, the Queen hears

the jangling of ice cubes
in her rosé. She scans

the new couple, sparkling
like the crown jewels.

Alejandro Escudé published his first full-length collection of poems My Earthbound Eye in September 2013. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis and teaches high school English. Originally from Argentina, Alejandro lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

Sunday, May 20, 2018


by Jeremy Thelbert Bryant

I can’t breathe as Ivanka’s white teeth flash grin
can’t erase the whites of dead child’s open eyes
can’t forget the beautiful young man with smoke stains
can’t unsee the blurred body dropping from a bullet strike, slow
                like an elegant dancer
can’t ignore the men with kid slingshots shooting into fog

There’s Ivanka, men before her who believe in a god,
there’s cameras and applause
Elsewhere, there is death

Jeremy Thelbert Bryant is a poet and a writer of creative nonfiction. He is a graduate of the low residency MFA program at West Virginia Wesleyan College. When he is not teaching English, he is burning incense, listening to music, drinking coffee, and writing. His work may be found in Pikeville Review and Prism. He finds inspiration in the red of cardinals, in the honesty of Frida Kahlo’s artwork, and in the frankness of Tori Amos’ lyrics.

Saturday, May 19, 2018


two triolets
by Julie Steiner

"Trump finally calls Waffle House hero." —Los Angeles Times, May 14, 2018

"'I'm Not A Hero,' Says James Shaw Jr., Acclaimed As Hero Of Waffle House Attack." —NPR, April 23, 2018

"Trump on Florida shooting: 'I really believe I'd run in there, even if I didn't have a weapon.’" —CNN, February 26, 2018

Heroes ain’t born—they’re cornered.
They say, “I wasn’t brave!
I had no choice,” when honored.
Heroes ain’t born—they’re cornered.
What accolades they’ve garnered,
they claim they don’t deserve.
Heroes ain’t born—they’re cornered.
They say, “I wasn’t brave.”

That puffed-up politician
who claims heroic courage
and lack of hesitation—
that puffed-up politician—
has trademarked truth-distortion.
Disgusted, I disparage
that puffed-up politician.
(Who claims heroic courage?)

Julie Steiner rolls her eyes in San Diego, California.

Friday, May 18, 2018


by Katherine Smith

I was born for the same journey as the birds,
the poem about the poem, the pure lyric
of the ovenbird in the wood
calling for a mate to end its solitude
from the top of the American chestnut tree.
I learned to distinguish the American chestnut
from the oak chestnut by the serrated edge,
from the beech by the clasp at the hooked tip.
I learned to recognize my kind by its serrated song.

I step into the woods this morning,
chasing the ovenbird, stepping around a pile
of mating dung beetles. Pure lyric
was once mine. I woke this morning

to fungus on the radio: sixty Palestinians
shot at the border the day the embassy opened
in Jerusalem, the president’s Indonesian resort
paid for by China, and the Russian oil company sold
to Qataris to pay off the president for lifting sanctions.

Pure lyric was once my everyday speech.
The ovenbird calls in the tree canopy
of hickory and oak.
All winter I taught writing
to teenagers from Honduras
now scheduled for deportation.

I’m part of a vast experiment
like the Lego experiment
in which people are given Legos
and told to build, then watch
as their creations are destroyed
while their despair is measured
and recorded for eternity.

I fantasize about what I’d do
if an ICE officer came to the classroom door.
The sweeps never happen
where I can see them.
One by one my students—
Transito, Luis, Fernanda—
will be dropped off at the border
with their English composition skills,
their aspirations and their associates degrees.

Now it’s May and I’m mildly depressed.
Pure lyric hasn’t been my style for twenty years.
The ovenbird calls deliriously from the top
of the American Chestnut tree.

Katherine Smith’s publications include appearances in Poetry, Cincinnati Review, Missouri Review, Ploughshares, Southern Review and many other journals.  Her short fiction has appeared in Fiction International and Gargoyle. Her first book Argument by Design (Washington Writers’ Publishing House) appeared in 2003. Her second book of poems Woman Alone on the Mountain (Iris Press), appeared in 2014. She teaches at Montgomery College in Maryland.


by Howard Winn

Emerging from the slime
accumulated over past time
it rears its frightening head
licking its lips preparatory
to swinging its massive
posterior shaking off the
gunk which never the less
clings as if a growth on
this beast of the slime
out of the past seeking
a future in the muck of
self-satisfaction at being
an organism that knows
without knowing that it
is the future unless we
eradicate it in its present moment
as it rises out of the self-
serving stinking quagmire

Howard Winn has just had a novel Acropolis published by Propertius Press as well as poems in the Pennsylvania Literary Journal and in Evening Street Magazine.

Thursday, May 17, 2018


by Tricia Knoll

The video: a Syrian boy, Ibraheem, says he has seen
everything. We come to believe he has. The bombs and skies
blew one of his legs into shriveled tags. His mother died.
His siblings died. He and his father found a way to Canada.

We became fragments. Let me not usurp what it means
to pivot on crutches that carry his thin leg along with him.
Let me not pretend I have suffered as he has. Let me hope
that over time his life will coalesce. He will feel safe.

The bits and pieces of our fractured world are myriad,
scattered across so many continents and living next door.
In this time we must sew, knit, darn, secure, bind, mend,
link, weave, patch together, perhaps heal.

Tricia Knoll is an Oregon writer whose poetry book How I Learned to Be White (an investigation of how white privilege has impacted her life and how she has come to understand it) is now available from Antrim House.