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Monday, May 21, 2018

LOOKING FOR GOOD NEWS

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.

STORYBOOK WEDDING

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

IVANKA IN JERUSALEM

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

MUSINGS ON A LINE BY REDD FOXX

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

BLIGHT

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.

SWAMP CREATURE

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

WE BECAME FRAGMENTS

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. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

OUTCAST

a rhupunt
by Elizabeth Spencer Spragins





A Palestinian demonstrator with a slingshot is seen during a protest. CREDIT: Mohammed Salem, The Washington Post, May 14, 2018. “  Israeli forces killed 58 Palestinians at the boundary fence with Gaza on Monday, local health officials said, a level of bloodshed not seen since the most violent days of Israel’s 2014 war in the territory.” —The Washington Post, May 14, 2018.


When dreams draw near
And specters leer
I face my fear
And call the crone.

By night she stands
On sun-scorched sands.
With folded hands,
She weeps alone

For wasted lives
Cut short by knives
Where hatred thrives
On blood and bone.

I search her face
For signs of grace.
“Show me the place;
I will atone.”

She bows her head.
“To mourn your dead
You must break bread
On mount of stone

With open palm.
Present the balm
Of peaceful psalm
Where thorns have grown

On Dome of Rock.
You must unlock
The hearts you mock
In undertone.

You must unwrite
All deeds of spite
As Sarah might
Had she but known.”

Resolve holds strong
Till evensong.
I right no wrong—
Good will has flown.


Elizabeth Spencer Spragins is a writer, poet, and editor who taught in community colleges for more than a decade. Her tanka and bardic verse in the Celtic style have been published in England, Scotland, Canada, Indonesia, and the United States. An avid swimmer and an enthusiastic fiber artist, she currently lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA.

Monday, May 14, 2018

I'M GOING TO HAVE TO ASK YOU TO LEAVE

by Carol Parris Krauss




Napping in a Yale dorm common room
Lolade Sinyonbala working on papers
I’m going to have to ask you to leave
Three prom shoppers at St. Louis Nordstrom Rack
We don’t have your size
I’m going to have to ask you to leave
Unloading suitcase at California vacation Airbnb
10-4 burglary in process
I’m going to have to ask you to leave
Native Americans on Colorado State University tour
0.6% Native Americans, 2.3%  Blacks attend
I’m going to have to ask you to leave
Other golfers exist beside Tiger ?
Grandview Golf Club
I’m going to have to ask you to leave
Coffee, black, no cream
$1.00 for your Starbucks trouble
I’m going to have to ask you to leave
Representative Maxine Waters
May 5, 2018
I do not yield. Not one second to you.
Not one second.




Carol Parris Krauss resides in the Tidewater Region of Virginia. She teaches English at Lakeland High. In her free time she enjoys cats and college football. She is a Clemson University graduate. Her work can be found in online and print magazines such as Storysouth, Eunoia Review, and The South Carolina Review.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

BIDDING ON PICASSO

by Alejandro Escudé


Pablo Picasso's "Fillette à la corbeille fleurie"
Credit: Courtesy Christie's via CNN.
Christie's sale of a Picasso nude for $115 million
kick-started what some experts have been
calling "the sale of the century"—over 1,000
works of art and fine objects from the
storied collection of the late David and Peggy
Rockefeller. On Tuesday night, the first of
three auctions in New York achieved
a total sale of $646 million for works
from the 19th and 20th centuries. —CNN, May 9, 2018
The girl stares out beyond
an audience of paddles;
she balances herself

on a rose-colored floor;
she weeps for the adults
bidding on her body, seeping
in and out of the walls.

Her hair, uncombed. Her face
reveals a fatherless expression,
and she clutches flowers
that cannot replace
her mother’s coldness.

How much for that basket?
How much for the red towel
one cannot see?

Her eyes, slits of woe,
do not open enough
to fully ever love again.

Bought, she hangs on an avenue
of shallow breaths, inside
a house within
a thousand houses.


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.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

THE BODY POLITIC

by John J. Brugaletta



How all dissensions strip the body politic

and cast each virtue into festered stench.

Is this a stammer of our history
or the corroded end of moral life?


Our garden is unweeded, and the gorge

gives rise to venomed cates and fetid lies.

Where stand the heroes, heroines to salve
our running sores with clean and dauntless truths?


They speak despite the tide of predators

who seek their heads to dangle at our gates.

But still carnations kiss the air with scent,
birds build, the friendly sun still shines.


And still we counter blows unflinchingly.


John J. Brugaletta is professor emeritus of English and comparative literature at California State University, Fullerton, where he edited South Coast Poetry Journal for ten years. He has published over 370 poems in 75 venues and has six collections of his poetry in print, the latest of which is Peripheral Visions (Negative Capability Press, 2017). A seventh volume, Selected Poems, is in press with Future Cycle Press. X.J. Kennedy has called his selected poems "a vital contribution to American poetry."

Friday, May 11, 2018

OLD SOLDIER NOT FADING AWAY

by George Salamon


1987 cartoon by Steve Artley


Oliver North, the disgraced Regan administration staffer turned right-wing commentator who was recently tapped to lead the NRA, is already off to a running start at his new gig—smearing anti-gun activists like the Parkland high school protesters as criminals. —Salon, May 10, 2018


Old soldier Ollie North,
Ronnie's  man for Iran-Contra,
Decorated warrior, but
Disgraced wheeler-dealer
For lying to Congress and
Shredding government docs,
Selling arms to Iran and oppressing
People's rebellion in Nicaragua,
Has risen from the golden ashes
Of television celebrity
To lead the fight for making
America stand, once again,
For guns, guts and glory.
Fi on you, Ollie, but
Hold the Semper.


George Salamon served in the Army's 4th Armored Division where he was initially a sniper in the armored infantry. He's been sniping only verbally since then.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

THE CIRCLE OF DEAD HORSES

by Pamela Stewart


CAMERON, Ariz. -- Off a northern Arizona highway surrounded by pastel-colored desert is one of the starkest examples of drought's grip on the American Southwest: Nearly 200 dead horses surrounded by cracked earth, swirling dust and a ribbon of water that couldn't quench their thirst. Flesh exposed and in various stages of decomposition, the carcasses form a circle around a dry watering hole sunken in the landscape … According to the Navajo Nation, 191 horses died of natural causes. "These animals were searching for water to stay alive. In the process, they unfortunately burrowed themselves into the mud and couldn't escape because they were so weak," Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez said in a statement Thursday. A grim photo posted by the Navajo Nation shows the horses, many of them in mud up to their thighs and even their necks. —CBS/AP, May 6, 2018


Each day they are deepened by dust
soon shrunk to no color.

Once the horses slept standing up.

Oh, the stars say, another circle of dead horses!
Another stillness of horses

that didn’t fall in war with manes
unbraided by fire.

These horses, nine of them, drowned
in cages of dust—oracular drought—
no suction of damp, nothing left
to sip for the blowfly.

Only a hand lifted by the mind’s eye
could smooth a neck, lift towards
the still cloudless sky
to be caught between rage and blessing.

A circle of wild dead horses—chapter one.


Pamela (Jody) Stewart is the author of 6 full-length volumes of poems and a number of chapbooks, the most recent being Just Visiting (Grey Suit Editions, London, 2014). She lives on a farm in western Massachusetts.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

ROYAL MUGS

by S. O. Fasrus


“The monarchy is finished. It was finished a while ago, but they're still making the corpses dance." —Sue Townsend


Royal Mugs with royal mugshots
Royal mugshots on plates
Royal mugshots on keyrings
In bargain store crates—

Royal mugshots on cushions
Royal mugs on your mat
Royal mugshots on face-masks
And endless old tat.

I wonder who’s buying
On this royal shopping spree—
As I’m not big on BS
You can bet it’s not me.


S. O. Fasrus is a Social Research Interviewer and Social Justice Activist,. Recent poems in Culture Matters, Easy Street, and the anthology Poems For Grenfell Tower (Onslaught Press).