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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.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018


by Howard Winn

the land birthed in the 21st Century
where the apparent leaders from
the top on down are actually owned
by the secret sacred holy brothers
who possess the private country
of their name and where multiple
businesses destroy the air one breathes
and the food one consumes
inside the borders of this private
domain which only appears to
be the land of the free for
ordinary folk do not have access
to anything but phony facts
while honest science is ridiculed
and simulated scientists are easily
purchased and mock billionaires
are ready to make believe to run
the country and hold their positions
enriching themselves by the day
as long as they follow
orders and take the money

Howard Winn's work, both short fiction and poetry has been published in Dalhousie Review, The Long Story, Galway Review, Antigonish Review, Chaffin Review, Evansville Review, 3288 Review, Straylight Literary Magazine, and Blueline.  His B. A. is from Vassar College. His M.A. is from the Stanford University Writing Program. His doctoral work was done at N.Y.U. He is Professor of English at SUNY.

Monday, January 08, 2018


by Pepper Trail

When the police surrounded a house in Wichita, Kan., late Thursday, they expected to find a gunman who told a 911 dispatcher that he was holding his mother and brother at gunpoint after shooting his father in the head. But no crime had been committed at that house, and the man who would be fatally shot by an officer moments later was not the person who had called. The suspected caller, who was arrested on Friday and has a history of making false police reports, was actually about 1,300 miles away, in Los Angeles. Both the Wichita police and the man in the house were pawns in a hoax called “swatting,” in which people report made-up crimes in hopes of creating a spectacle and getting a SWAT team deployed. —The New York Times, December 31, 2017. Photo: An image from body-camera footage showing the fatal shooting of Andrew Finch, 28, by a Wichita police officer in the swatting hoax. —Wichita Police Department

I do not want
            do not want to live

in a country where it is possible
for the digitally demented to phone in
            an order
            for a police murder

and where the SWAT
the Special Weapons And Tactics team

            drives to the arbitrary house
surrounds it
            orders the confused and peaceable
man to come out
            of his quiet home
            with his hands up
and when he does not
                        or does not
quickly and obediently enough
            they shoot him


For this to be a thing that happens
            that happens again

how many layers of disconnection,
            of inhumanity
            of reflexive violence

must be laid down, deposited like ash
must settle upon us
take on our forms as we ourselves
            trapped inside, suffocate, die
            decompose, and leave behind nothing

but the shells of the human beings we were
            our arms outflung
            our eyes wide with terror
            our mouths twisted open
crying out, struck dumb

Pepper Trail is a conservation biologist, poet, and photographer living in Ashland, Oregon. His poems have appeared in Rattle, Atlanta Review, Spillway, Kyoto Journal, Pedestal, and other publications, and have been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net Awards. His collection, Cascade-Siskiyou, was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award in Poetry.

Sunday, January 07, 2018


by Deirdre Fagan

When you are 13 and poor,
even Taco Bell has an allure.

The Monte Carlo that held us

had a sheepskin bench seat.

Its soft cover like a fitted sheet
curving its corners like a cloud.

Seatbelts weren’t worn in 1983;

no need for slits to let safety peer in.

“Come closer and you can steer,” you said.

Nearly half my current size, no breasts,
thighs the width of my current calves—

I leaned full-bodied into the drive

eyes on the road, mouth watering,

drive-thru beckoning.

(What is there to taking a young girl?)

Deirdre Fagan is a widow, wife, and mother of two who has published poetry, fiction, and nonfiction in Amaryllis, Eunoia Review, and Poetry Breakfast, among others.  She is also the author of Critical Companion to Robert Frost and has published a number of critical essays. Fagan teaches literature and writing at Ferris State University where she is also the Coordinator of Creative Writing.  

Saturday, January 06, 2018


by Gil Fagiani

Juanito stands with his back to the counter,
customers shouting out their orders,
his apron spotted with ketchup, mayonnaise,
mustard, arms and hands a blur of motion.
On his left, he layers a turkey and Swiss hero,
in front, he plasters tuna salad on a roll
with lettuce and tomato, on his right, he flips
a Spanish omelet, spinning to tear off sheets
of wax paper, tin foil, snapping open a brown bag.

Gil Fagiani is a translator, essayist, short story writer, and poet. His latest book is Logos (Guernica Editions, 2015). Fagiani co-hosts the Italian American Writers’ Association’s monthly readings in Manhattan and is a founding member of the Vito Marcantonio Forum. In 2014, he was the subject of a New York Times article by David Gonzalez, “A Poet Mines Memories of Drug Addiction.”

Friday, January 05, 2018


by Skaidrite Stelzer

most of us do what we can
if we believe we can do it
if someone has not whispered in our ears
that the world is too cruel
a world that will kill us (it’s true)
yet we must move against the snow banks
dig deeper than we believe
a moose in a snowbank
that in summer would throw us
trampled in grass
now knows we are animal
surviving all of us
as best we can

Skaidrite Stelzer lives and writes in Toledo, Ohio. Growing up as a post-war refugee and displaced person, she feels connected to the world and other stray planets. Her poetry has been published in Fourth River, Eclipse, Glass, Baltimore Review, and many other literary journals as well as TheNewVerse.News.