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Tuesday, January 23, 2018


by George Salamon

Congressional Republicans: They more or less held their ground when the government shut down after Friday's midnight deadline passed, and in the end, Democrats compromised way more than Republicans to open the government back up. —Amber Phillips, The Washington Post, January 22, 2018. Photo: Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) clink glasses in a toast Monday on Capitol Hill after senators reached an agreement to advance a bill ending government shutdown. (Andrew Harnik/AP via The Washington Post, January 22, 2018)

Since the Reagan revolution
Bulls have been running our lives.
Swearing to uphold the Constitution,
They dance to a Wall Street beat.
Other political animals are squealing,
They march right up to the bulls
Grunting discreetly under their breath:
Let's make a little compromise,
Just a tiny little compromise,
This time on immigration,
So that just a tiny bit of decency dies.
Whenever you seek to banish the
Better aspirations of this nation,
We'll stand up and fight you
Until we make just a tiny little compromise,
So that we can be sure
Just a tiny bit of freedom vanishes,
A tiny bit of equality is thwarted,
A tiny bit of hope is dashed
Until you kill the people's dream.
For which there may be no compromise.

George Salamon remembers helping voters to the polls in Massachusetts to cast their ballots for Adlai Stevenson in 1956. Were those the days?

Monday, January 22, 2018


by Elane Gutterman

“As a woman, I feel it’s my responsibility to be here. Practice the privilege you have. I came from a land where people had to die to vote. Americans can change their history by protesting.”  Awalin Sopan, 33, from Virginia, dressed as a character from The Handmaid’s Tale. Ms. Sopan, originally from Bangladesh, became a United States citizen in 2017. —Photograph by Andrea Bruce for The New York Times

 “Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right.” —Martin Luther King, Memphis, TN, April 3, 1968

Why not let others
Demonstrate, agitate, escalate?

Stretched in yoga, weekend routines we
Equivocate, abdicate, meditate.

We rely on the media and courts to
Investigate, adjudicate, mitigate.

We’re overwhelmed by the acts of the 45th to
Disintegrate, contaminate, perpetrate.

The way his core of supporters
Adulate, gravitate, accommodate.

We’ve grown accustomed to a mind set to
Dominate, fabricate, fulminate.

On MLK day, I heard his speech evoke dogs and firehoses to
Activate, necessitate, consolidate.

At the Women’s March, last Saturday,
I stood my cold ground to demonstrate.

Elane Gutterman is a health researcher and poet, whose poems have appeared in the Kelsey Review, Patterson Literary Review and the US1 Summer Fiction Issue. Living in West Windsor, NJ, she attended the Women's March on New Jersey in Morristown. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018


by Mark Tarren

Image Source: Africa Geographic Magazine

"Shithole' remark by Trump makes global headlines—but it doesn't quite translate” The Guardian, January 13, 2018

The old man sits before
the night sky,
a canopy of tiny crystals.

His grandson seated beside him
this small boy,
a jewel in his ancient shadow.

His wisdom speaks before him
like dust to the stars,
the boy was born
in the land before language
before the tongues of men
where a dune or a palm
was called after a lover
or a neighbour’s house
something loved from the past,
where there was no word for dawn
no words for the moon or the stars
or tears on skin
or eyes on maps

or country,
nothing to lose in translation.

The old man answered the boy’s silence:

I have seen many kings from the west fall,
their thrones crumble
and drift out to sea
the ripples from their empty voices
never reach our shores.

My son, we live in the land without words
this dull ache, this darkness
they call fear
sank into the ground like rain
an age ago
a forgotten song that only sometimes
wails in the winds.

Hate is a roar that was silenced
in the smile lined eyes
of our fathers.

Hunger is a song thief;
we dance in the bounty
of our one shared heart.

The word for our people
was birthed inside your mother
like birdsong,
before you were born,
before there was a word for
the colour of our skin,
before the word for memory,

before she left for The New World.

Mark Tarren is a poet and writer based in Queensland, Australia. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in various literary journals  including TheNewVerse.News, The Blue Nib, Poets Reading The News, Street Light Press and Spillwords Press.

Saturday, January 20, 2018


by Matthew Ford

It must have been a Tuesday when
the grey-haired white farmer emerged from his large, expensive home
far north of Herndon
but after a quick glance at the damage
he turned around
and went back
straight to the laundry room
where his Guatemalan maid leaves the dirty laundry
he grabbed an old towel and went back out
to his big white Ford F-250
to wipe the ash off the windshield
that had accumulated from the nearby fire then
he jumped in, switched on Rush Limbaugh
and drove to the gas station coffee shop
where he and his friends gather to
talk politics, condemn “illegal aliens,” and the liberal swine
in Sacramento that shut off their water supply.
they all agree
the drought is fake news
and the border wall was necessary . . . yesterday
high taxes in California are correlated to the
mass of illegals that eat up the social services
but do not pay taxes
they all sing in unison until
the one in the white F-250 stands up to take a call
from his labor contractor—“pay-droh”
who tells him the van is arriving out to the melons in Mendota
so he salutes his gang
and heads to the westside to deliver paychecks
to the workers with fake social security numbers
who worked 70 hours last week without overtime pay
and in Spanish, discussed the tax deductions
at the bottom of their pay stubs
on his way out
he stopped at the next field over
to switch on the valve—flooding it.

Matthew Ford is a PhD student studying Latin American History at Stony Brook University in Long Island, New York. He is originally from California's central valley.

Friday, January 19, 2018


by Edmund Conti

Jim Morin, Morin Toons Syndicate via The Denver Post

According to the latest poll,
It’s all there on the table—
Right beside his taco bowl—
His genius? It is stable.

We all can see how smart he is
As far as we are able.
Just watch him do his daily biz.
His genius. It is stable.

He likes to watch TV all day
Especially on cable.
To see what Fox and Friends all say.
His genius. It is stable.

He is the hottest president.
Reminds us of Clark Gable.
Smart and handsome is this gent.
His genius. It is stable.

The news you hear of course is Fake.
Some Democratic fable.
Don’t listen to them bellyache.
His genius. It is stable.

Edmund Conti is not your normal genius.

Thursday, January 18, 2018


by Sister Lou Ella Hickman

Storm-damaged Rockport, Texas homes are seen in this Sunday, Aug. 25, 2017 aerial photo. Mortgage delinquency rates soared in September and October in many of the coastal and other cities flooded by Harvey, including Houston, Beaumont and Corpus Christi, according to new data from real estate analytics company CoreLogic. —San Antonio Express-News, January 15, 2018

of course, there will be long, massive work
for big names like
houston and miami    however rubble
is also rubble in the dots of towns
with their downed trees and power lines
roofs sheared off   walls that caved
these are the invisible ones living between and around bigness
dots of towns in a litany of counties
               that lost schools, citrus groves, hole in the wall cafes
               that didn’t make the news
               the question now
               will the police officers, librarians, butchers, teachers and bakers  go elsewhere
               or will they like some of the volunteer firemen decide to stay
               after all, this is where we grew up
               our children were born
               and where we go to church
               the dots of town must dig deep
               among the rubble for their just reason for staying

Sister Lou Ella Hickman is a poet, writer, and spiritual director. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines such as First Things, Emmanuel, Third Wednesday, and TheNewVerse.News. Her first book of poetry was entitled she: robed and wordless. Sister Lou Ella lives 45 minutes from Rockport, Texas, one of the small towns devastated by Hurricane Harvey that may never recover.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


by Wilda Morris

Eleven Guantánamo inmates are challenging their indefinite detention in the US military camp in Cuba on grounds that Donald Trump’s defiant pledge to keep all remaining detainees permanently locked up is fuelled by hostility towards Muslims. . . . Some of the petitioners in the new filing have themselves been held on the Cuban base almost since the beginning; others have been detained for 10 years. None of them has ever been charged, and all know that unless the courts intervene they could remain in their cells until they die. In a memorable phrase, they say that ‘the aura of forever hangs heavier than ever.’” Pictured: The entrance of the US prison at Guantánamo Bay. Photograph by John Moore/Getty Images —The Guardian, January 11, 2018

           “ . . . And good-bye to you, old Rights-of-Man.”
                  ~ Billy in Billy Budd by Herman Melville

Hello to paying men of questionable truth to bring in suspects.
Hello to assuming men guilty without evidence
Good-bye, old Rights of Man

Hello to ice water baths, sleep deprivation, threat dogs
Hello to solitary confinement and mocking of religion
Good-by, old Geneva Conventions

Hello to hours in stress positions, temperature extremes
Hello to sexual abuse, rectal rehydration, waterboarding
Good-by to you, old Rights of Man

Hello to the US using medieval torture techniques
Hello to the US adapting techniques from the Nazi camps
Good-by, old Geneva conventions

Hello to holding prisoners indefinitely without trial
Hello to holding prisoners decades after deeming them innocent
Good-bye to you, old Rights-of-Man

Wilda Morris is a widely published, award-winning poet. She is a past-president of the Illinois State Poetry Society, Workshop Chairperson of Poets & Patrons of Chicago, and Chair of the Stevens Poetry Manuscript Competition of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. Wilda Morris's Poetry Challenge provides an online contest for other poets each month.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


by Tricia Knoll

Iraqis in the area where a double suicide bombing killed more than 20 people in central Baghdad on January 15, 2018, the second such attack in the Iraqi capital in three days. —Sabah Arar/AFP/Getty Images via The Washington Post, January 15, 2018

Eighteen women in black
at Friday lunch hour.
A silent witness circle,
like spokes at the edges
of a gristing wheel,
a protest of the 2003 bombing
of Baghdad.

My black umbrella shed
March’s bluster rains.
Chill fists plunged into pockets
of a black trench coat.
Black tights wrapped my legs
against sideways winds
buffeting the women’s side
of Portland’s Lownsdale Square.

When asked, we handed out
slips of paper.
Do not let this war
go on and on and on.


Antigone wore night’s
cloak to bury her brother.
Israeli women in black
called out their army’s evil.
Black evening gowns
sweep the red carpet,
black power-suits
throw open the doors
of Congress.
The women speak.

We hear because
we already knew.
This must not
go on and on and on.

Never retire
your witness clothes.
Need never vanishes.

Tricia Knoll is an Oregon poet who participated in many Women in Black silent witnesses in Portland in 2013. Her book How I Learned to Be White is coming out from Antrim House in 2018.

Monday, January 15, 2018


by Gilbert Allen

Slavery in America began when the first African slaves were brought to the North American colony of Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619, to aid in the production of such lucrative crops as tobacco.

Four hundred years ago, we needed you.
Turn Air Force One into a time machine.
Bless colonists with your enlightened views.
Four hundred years ago, we needed you
to end this chain migration’s witches’ brew
before it started. Be our go-between!
Four hundred years ago, we needed you.
Turn Air Force One into a time machine.

Gilbert Allen lives in Travelers Rest, South Carolina. His most recent books are Catma and The Final Days of Great American Shopping.

Sunday, January 14, 2018


by Gail White

Cartoon by Peter Kuper for The New Yorker.

Why don’t we get more immigrants from Norway?
All winter long they never see the sun.
But their health care’s taken care of
And they’re not, that I’m aware of,
Very likely to be murdered with a gun.

What is it with these ignorant Norwegians?
Don’t they want what all Americans receive?
But they love the smorgasbords
And the mountains and the fjords,
And on top of that, they get parental leave.

Why do I sometimes wish I were Norwegian?
Am I really quite as socialist as that?
Yes, the dream that I aspire to
Is to sit beside the fire to
Caress my own Norwegian forest cat.

Gail White is a formalist poet with work in many journals, including Measure, Light, First Things, and Hudson Review. She is a two-time winner of the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award. Her latest book Catechism was published in 2016 by White Violet Press.

Saturday, January 13, 2018


by Maurine Meleck

Nobody wants to read a poem about shitholes.
I will be called a fake poet, a charlatan,
an impostor trying to imitate real life.
Nevertheless, when nature calls we must
answer its whistle, its plea, its song.
Years ago, backpacking through Europe,
I was able to use the real shitholes
at the youth hostels I frequented,
holes in the ground where one actually
dumps one's shit.  Perhaps that conjures
up foul odors or visions of shit and miss
on your white sneakers.  It looks nothing
like a gold-plated toilet at the Ritz
with a self flushing mechanism or smell
like a stroll through a flowered nature trail.
Never underestimate a true shithole
as it can be hidden beneath a garden of roses,
but all you have to do is kick away the dirt.

Maurine Meleck has published poetry in numerous journals and anthologies including Luna Negra, Calliope, and Oasis.  Her poems appeared in The Southern Poetry Anthology: Volume 1, South Carolina.  She authored a chapter of poetry titled "Song of Sweetwater" in the book Revolutionary Grandparents.  She lives in Florida with her autistic grandson, whom she has raised.

Friday, January 12, 2018


by Terese Coe 

Image from boingboing

After Emily Dickinson

I’m nobody and, as for you,
I frankly cannot construe
how you manage to think mere contempt
could possibly make you exempt
from being a nobody too.

Terese Coe’s poems and translations have appeared in 32 Poems, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Cincinnati Review, New American Writing, Ploughshares, Poetry, Threepenny Review, Agenda, The Moth, New Walk Magazine, New Writing Scotland, Poetry Review, the TLS, The Stinging Fly, and many other publications and anthologies. Her latest collection Shot Silk was nominated for The Poets Prize of 2017.

Thursday, January 11, 2018


by George Salamon

President Trump speaks at the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual convention in Nashville, Tenn. on Monday. Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images via NPR

"Farmers are the president's people," Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in an interview with Morning Edition on Monday. "These are the people that elected the president. The president knows that. These are the people the president cares about. And he wants them to enjoy the American Dream just like all the people in the cities." Farm income has suffered in recent years from sagging commodity prices. Net farm income in 2017 was up modestly from the previous year, but still only about half what it was in 2013. —NPR, January 8, 2018

It's too soon to bury the old American Dream,
Riding wobbly in the saddle of our minds.
Put there by the founding fathers,
It grew into the million-dollar salesman
Of Wall Street's enormous con,
The nation's permanent floating crap game
Of wealth and power and fame.
The dream infected our people's soul,
Crushed their spirit, played with their hearts.
It immersed us in flush darkness,
Acquiring new horizons every might,
Yet gaining new followers every day.
It gave us under-educated leaders
Emerging from ivy-covered breeding grounds.
It left no space for nobler visions,
For women who know, for children who care.
It governs our minds through men with no vision at all,
Men with the temperament of their attire,
The stern-browed suits of the old American Dream.

George Salamon watches the pursuit of the American Dream from the heartland in St. Louis, MO.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


by Cindy Hochman

It’s a pit of vipers, I tell you.
Too much excrement, even for my species.
If only I had human language I could maybe write a book.
Flies and Fury.
Lordy Lordy Lordy of the Flies.
Someone open a window—I’ve gotta get the heck out of here.

Cindy Hochman is the president of "100 Proof" Copyediting Services and the editor-in-chief of the online poetry journal First Literary Review-East. She reviews books for Pedestal magazine, Clockwise Cat, Home Planet News, and others. Her latest chapbook is Habeas Corpus from Glass Lyre Press.