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Tuesday, August 04, 2015


by Howard Winn

My jeans were made in Mexico,
my shirt in Malaysia,
my shoes in China.
Socks were made in South Korea
and my jacket in Sri Lanka
although my underwear
remains anonymous
or perhaps I just missed
the country of origin
on some paper tag
that I threw away unthinkingly.
However it is clear that
my clothing is international
even if I am not and
I wonder what the now
unemployed workers of
my country are doing
with their spare time
and whether they will
vote Republican in
the next election when
pointless social issues
obscure the economic ones.

Howard Winn’s fiction and poetry, has been published recently by such journals as Dalhousie Review, Taj Mahal Review (India), The Long Story,  Cold Mountain Review, Antigonish Review, New Verse News, Chaffin Review, Thin Air Literary Journal, and Whirlwind. His B. A. is from Vassar College. He has an M.A. in Creative Writing from Stanford University. His doctoral work was done at N. Y. U. He has been a social worker in California and currently is a faculty member of SUNY as Professor of English.

Monday, August 03, 2015


by Megan Collins

I’ll admit I did it, too—loved a lion
I’d never heard of until he was dead.
Scrolling through photographs, I fell
for his amber eyes. I even noted how—
in some poses—he seemed as benign
as my golden retriever, asleep at my feet.
When I read of the arrow in this lion’s side,
the forty hours he suffered, I felt my throat
stiffen like cooling wax, felt my eyes
sting as if exposed to flame.

For days, I said his name—Cecil, Cecil—
but I had to Google the woman (Sandra!)
who died in a jail cell, who’d been dragged
from her car, pulled by her collar like a dog.
I loved her, then, too—how she fought
in ways I’ve never had to, how her smile
in photographs made me want to smile back.
Her laughter, I imagined, would sound like a song.

But—how easy it is to love a victim.
How easy to love what’s already gone.

Megan Collins holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Boston University. She teaches creative writing and literature in Connecticut, and is also an editor of 3Elements Review. Her work has appeared in many journals, including Compose, Linebreak, Rattle, Spillway, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal. 

Sunday, August 02, 2015


by Jen Hinton

Template source:

I donno.
I need a little more information
about this lion first.

What did he do
to make the Poacher shoot him?

Did he look the Poacher in the eye
and roar,
causing him to fear for his life?

After he was shot with a crossbow,
and began bleeding out,

why did he run away?
What did he have to hide?

Perhaps he had some weed
in his system?

And where did he get that fancy mane?
Did he steal it?

My advice to all lions would be this:
Get jobs, start paying taxes;
Take care of your cubs;
Clean up your habitats.

Start showing a little more respect
for authority.

Next time a Poacher approaches you,
remember he might be having a bad day.

He paid 50,000 of his hard-earned money
to shoot you. Stop hassling him.

Stop being a lion.

Try being a lamb.

Jen Hinton is a writer and college administrator living in Chicago, IL. Her previous TheNewVerse.News poem "Something for Harvey" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Saturday, August 01, 2015


by James Penha

A one-and-a-half year-old Palestinian infant was burned to death and three of his family members were seriously wounded late Thursday night after a house was set on fire in the village of Douma, near Nablus. According to reports, settlers were those who set the house on fire after targeting it with firebombs and graffiti. The Israeli military called the attack "Jewish terror," while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials echoed the claim, vehemently condemning the attack. —Haaretz, July 31, 2015

Ali Saad Daobasa (2014-2015)
In Peace

Ali had no GPS round his neck;
only the noose of the occupied.
Ali had no Oxford foundation,
only the ardent love of his family.

Ali had no arrow plunged into his heart,
no time even to scramble before he was killed;
only the shrill, demented firebombs of terror,
shouts of revenge and an invisible Messiah.

As the death of a lion is the pall
of all who allow the endangered
to die in powders prescribed for profits,
the ashes of a Palestinian baby settle
on this earth too silently before those who take
in the name of parties, apartheid,
and passing prophets.

James Penha edits TheNewVerse.News.

Friday, July 31, 2015


(for Cecil of Zimbabwe)
by Carolyn Gregory

This is the last known photograph of Cecil the lion (bottom) taken by Brent Stapelkamp before he was killed by the American dentist. Cecil is pictured with Jericho, a male lion who it is feared could kill the cubs of the pride fathered by Cecil. Source: White Wolf Pack.


All day, he walks beside me,
his long bones slower indoors,
his gold sheen growing rich
with brown and yellow
walking past my fans.

All his life, he has taught sons
how to hunt in the savannah,
crouching and leaping
behind tall grass,
how to go for the jugular
and to strip the meat,
bringing it home to feed the family.

He has shared ancient stories
of his grandfather, the cave lion
living by his teeth and strength
five hundred thousand years ago.
Regal and triumphant,
he haunts me now.


The dentist was bored
with his life of drilling and filling,
tired of his other trophies.

Africa called him back,
the roaring and howling of animals
luring him from suburbia,
pulling him away from snow
and malpractice.

One or two gunshots would be enough
to take down a great predator,
more satisfying than implants
and root canals,

a souvenir for the wall,
his ruff all groomed, the eyes
replaced with yellow glass.


Shoot him with a bow and arrow,
finish him off with guns.
Make sure it's done
so the skin can be harvested
and turned into a rug.
Be sure to wield a heavy axe
to take off his head.

We want to put it on
its lacquered wall mount.
It will look fine
near the yellow afghans and throws,
terrific in our rec room.

When the fire overtakes our woods
and timber falls asunder,
when the lion calls out
his wolves and bobcats
to tear down this house of plunder,

we will not understand
the voodoo medicine big cats call
nor the end of trophies
and bragging rights
nature makes due.

Carolyn Gregory has published poems and music reviews in American Poetry Review, Cutthroat, Main Street Rag, Wilderness House Literary Review, Ygdrasil, Seattle Review. Her first and second books were published by Windmill Editions in Florida.

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Photograph of Cecil taken by Brent Stapelkamp before the lion was killed by the American dentist in July 2015. Source: White Wolf Pack.      Anne Graue is a poet and writing instructor living in New York. Her poems appear in Ginosko Literary Journal, The Westchester Review, The 5-2 Crime Poetry Weekly,  American Tanka,  and The New Verse News.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


by David Pring-Mill

After nearly seven decades in Wyoming, for much of that time facing heartbreak, discrimination and even physical violence, the cross-dresser has finally decided to leave the Cowboy State. Sissy Goodwin, who was profiled in the Los Angeles Times in 2013 for his insistence, despite an often-macho Western ethic, to lead the life he chooses -- as a man who prefers to dress in women's clothing -- is retiring in May from his job as a college science instructor in Casper. He and his wife, Vickie, are moving to the Portland, Ore., area, where they plan to buy a small farm and raise goats and chickens. —Los Angeles Times, April 4, 2015. Photo: Sissy Goodwin, seen here in 2013, has decided to leave Wyoming for Oregon. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Black air was wrapped ’round in elegant gown.
Consistent blare revealed proclivity.
Darkly dress augmented ignited crown.
Sounds spiraled and dimmed with activity.
Buildings trumpeted their presence at skies.
Stars could not outshine the cemented queen ―
Despite fires bright and wide as babies’ eyes,
none could adorn the head of gaudy sheen.
People strode and strutted in worshipped styles.
A woman skipped and wore a tie-dye shirt.
Colors rambunctiously splashed on textiles.
The woman and a man began to flirt.
Bodies blended into the fair city.
Winds whistled out a whimsical ditty.

In cracked sidewalk, an empty square remained,
filled with fluffed, deprived, and struggling grasses,
in place of the tall tree it once contained.
Tattered papers flew from college classes
as our light pollution masked over stars.
I saw a weeping form, drenched in darkness.
I squinted, for assumption often jars.
The edge of coned light revealed, in starkness,
A curled up cross-dresser, badly beaten,
bruises swelling a face now black and blue.
I cried, “Justice strike each twisted cretin!
I’ll call for help! What have they done to you?”
He said, “They loathe their own hidden weakness,
and attack those few who walk with meekness.”

I offered a hand and helped him to stand.
He said, “Fists will never defeat the soul,
destroy a concept, or bear true command.”
He patted my back and resumed his stroll.
I noticed a church that seemed grandiose.
It summoned an ingrained, quiet respect
fed to me in youth in dogmatic dose.
The old church stood as a sacred object
revered more than other bricks and mortars,
for the innate value of a symbol
may lift buildings from shapes to high quarters.
Apt symbol could aggrandize a thimble!
I yelled, “Why should man strive for salvation,
with evil sewn into all creation?”

I ran, renouncing all bewitchery,
spotted the hurt man’s ensanguined shirt, cried,
“How do you mitigate the misery?”
and watched as he calmly turned and replied,
“Although they were determined to hurt me,
only I can determine that effect;
their scheme crumbles if I do not agree
to receive shame they sought to redirect.”
I said, “Such men should not be in our streets.”
He said, “The span of those men’s lives and deeds
dwindles compared to the breadth of love’s feats.
Love has conquered the earth, and love precedes
and follows us all, and though fear may spread,
there is not an inch that love cannot tread.”

I stood sedated in humility.
He walked away, spiritually unharmed,
but then I felt new incivility,
and thought, “Lord, though your world leaves victims charmed,
are we, the makers of dense light clusters
on shadowed continental designs,
meant to be morality adjusters?
What are the semantics of dreamlike signs?
Are you the artist and we the artwork,
capable of launching revolution?
Am I a self-possessed statue with quirks,
who now must seek formal absolution?
Is every deviation a mistake,
or a miracle to which we awake?”

A bus bustled, with interior lit.
The metal tube emitted grinding puffs.
Night air still had a nip that gently bit.
Fluorescents and neon caught sights like cuffs.
The bulbs blackened, though they tried to expose,
for clarity is sharp in sheer absence.
When fists strike and pummel faces in blows,
the matter of people lacks shape or sense ―
The darkness is real, rife with purity.
Should absence and steel containers compete,
I’d consider star-lit obscurity,
if not deep void, where silence and peace meet.
People shuffled on the bus, sat, and leaned,
and above in trees, the hidden birds preened.

David Pring-Mill is a writer and award-winning filmmaker. His poems have been published in Poetry Quarterly, Boston Literary Magazine, Crack the Spine, Eunoia Review, Page & Spine, Songs of Eretz Poetry Review, and East Coast Literary Review. He is also author of the poetry book Age of the Appliance. @davesaidso

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


by Janice D. Soderling

Here I am, back home in the land of the free and the brave
where fewer are free and many required to have courage.
A rainy morning, the bus backs out from its slot,
the driver honks like a steamship captain leaving the dock.
Across the aisle is a thirty-something pretending to be a kid,
his belly hanging over red bermuda shorts, his dirty red
dunks on the seat. He swerves through excuses. "Forget it,"
he says, "forget it." Every politico wears a flag pin and the Court
says corporations are persons, and the war on poverty mystically
became a war on the poor. The trendiest Wall is domestic.
A red state is not a reference to Russia, but to a Republican bastion.
When the wall fell in Berlin, protest poetry plunged out of fashion.
That was way back in 1986, Sandinista, Khomeini, arms for hostages,
Ollie the supporting actor, Ron the Baddest crying in the backwaters,
preparing the political way. That was the year of Iran-Contra.
Who remembers? Who these days can find Nicaragua
on the map let alone spell it? Can that fat man-boy, barking
into his cell phone at his mom? That selfsame year Mr. Gorbachev
released Irina Ratushinskaya from a long prison sentence
handed down for poetry-writing addiction. Who remembers?
In prison Irina suffered multiple concussions and US poets took notice.
Now jail concussions are as commonplace as tear gas and tasers.
Who remembers that the Court declared abortion was a fundamental right
Martin Luther King got a federal holiday
Who will rescue the dignity of snitched autopsy reports declaimed as poetry
at academic forums? I am home again, home again, where something honestly
important has been forgotten, torn down, jettisoned, jerry-built,
abandoned, collapsing around our ears. The bus enters the freeway:
again so much hate in the air, the American nightmare, waves of banker gain,
and marginal difference between tabloid TV and election campaigns
because bad cooks are spaciously in control and the biggest political party
these days is the party of non-voters. Who reads poetry anyway,
and what was that black woman's name, the one found dead in her cell,
that Illinois academic pulled over in Texas for an improper lane change?

Janice D. Soderling is a frequent contributor to The New Verse News.

Monday, July 27, 2015


by David Chorlton

“This was slow and methodical,” [Bobby] Jindal said [of the Lafayette, LA movie theater shootings]. “It was barbaric.” The Republican governor, who is a candidate for the 2016 presidential nomination, was pressed on whether he should reconsider certain gun-control measures in the wake of the tragedy. He said now was “not the time” to discuss policy. —The Guardian, July 25th, 2015; file photo of Jindal at another time.

Remembering the shooter in a dark space
it all comes back in slow motion

but never slow enough
to be prevented. You might say

it was mysterious, the way the bullets
found random targets. All that remains

is to talk until no-one feels the pain,
as politics like poetry becomes

the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings:
it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.

David Chorlton grew up in England, in a time when Westerns were the favored theme in TV entertainment, never anticipating that he would one day live in Arizona, as he has since 1978. His poetry has appeared widely, and FutureCycle published his Selected Poems in 2014.

Sunday, July 26, 2015


by William Aarnes

Since the legislatures,
in cahoots with the NRA,

governors, presidents, and courts
have interfered with our right

to peacefully assemble,
I now venture out

no further than the garden
and the mailbox.

I have everything delivered,
stream my entertainment,

practice my faith online,
And, since I can request

ballots from home,
I vote absentee.

William Aarnes lives in South Carolina.

Saturday, July 25, 2015


by Max Gutmann

"What are your genetics, sir?"    
--Ben Shapiro to Ms. Zoey Tur on Dr. Drew on Call July 16, 2015

To refer to Ms. Tur
With a “sir,” I aver,
Is a scurrilous slur
We should learn to deter.

You infer it's a blur?
That the burden's on her
To insure, as it were,
That her herness is pure?

Use the term she'd prefer,
Not the grrr of a cur.
It's like cursing, I'm sure.
Be a person; defer.

Why be churlish? What fer?
You would certainly err
If you were to refer
To Ms. Tur with a “sir.”

Max Gutmann has contributed to Light Quarterly and other publications.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


The following is a found poem created by the Editor of TheNewVerse.News from the words of Sandra Bland (according to a HuffPost transcript prepared by Ryan Grim with Matt Ramos and Dhyana Taylor from the dash cam video) as spoken to Texas state trooper Brian Encinia and, later, a female officer, after Encinia stopped Sandra Bland's car on July 10. Sandra Bland was later found dead in a Waller County, Texas jail cell.

Sandra Bland

Got here just
on you. This
is your job.
                             on you. What
do you want
me to do?
I am.
                             I really am.
I feel
like it’s crap what
getting a ticket for.
I was
getting out of your way.
You were speeding up,
tailing me,
so I move over and you stop me.
So yeah,
I am
a little irritated., but
that doesn’t stop you
from giving me
a ticket.
You asked me
what was wrong,
now I told you.
So now

in my car.
Why do I have to
put out my cigarette?"
I don't have to step
out of my car. Why
am I . . .  No, you

don't have the right. No, you
                                                  don't have the right. You
                                                                                             don’t have the right. No, you
                                                  don’t have the right
to do this.

I refuse

to talk to you other than
to identify myself.

I am

getting removed
for failure to signal?

And I'm

calling my lawyer.
you're going to
yank me
out of the car?
alright. Let’s do this.
Don't touch me!
                             Don't touch me.
                                                          Don't touch me!

not under arrest.
                                                 don't have the right
to take me
out of the car


under arrest?
For what?
                For what?
                                For what?
am I

apprehended? You’re trying
to give me a ticket
for failure . . .


am I

apprehended? You just
opened my—

So you're threatening
to drag me out
of my own car?
And then . . .


                                  For a failure to signal?
You're doing all this
                                  for a failure to signal?

Right. Yeah,
let's take this to court.
do this.
                                  For a failure to signal? Yup,
                                  for a failure to signal!


not on the phone.
I have a right
to record. This
is my property.


for a fucking failure to signal.
Y’all are interesting.
                                    Very interesting.
You feelin’
good about yourself?
                                  You feelin’
                                  good about yourself?
                                                                     For a failure to signal,
you feel real
good about yourself
don’t you?
                                  you feel
                                  good about yourself
                                  don’t you?


am I

being arrested?

can’t you . . .


                                   am I

                                   being arrested?

don’t you tell me
that part?

will you not tell me
w     h     a     t     ‘     s           g     o     i     n     g          on     ?

not complying
‘cause you just pulled me
out of my car.
Are you
kidding me? This
is some bull . . .
'Cause you know this
straight bullshit. And you're
full of shit.                 Full of straight shit.
That's all y’all are
is some straight scared cops.
South Carolina
got y’all bitch asses
scared. That’s
all it is.
Fucking scared          of a female.
I was trying
to sign
the fucking ticket --   whatever.
Are you fucking
serious? Oh
I can’t wait
'til we go to court.
O     o     h
can’t wait.
cannot wait
'til we go to court.
                                     I can’t wait.
                                                               Oh I can’t wait!
You want me
to sit down now?
are you going to throw me to the floor?

That would make you feel better
about yourself?
                                                              Nah that would make you feel better
                                                              about yourself.

That would make you feel real good wouldn't it?

Pussy ass.
                  Fucking pussy.
                                                              For a failure to signal
                                                              you’re doing all of this.
In little ass
Praire View,
My God they must have ...

I’m getting a --
for what?           For what?
I’m getting a warning
for what?           For what!?
Well you just pointed me
over there! Get
your mind right.

O      o      h
I swear
on my life,
y'all are some
pussies. A pussy-ass
for a fucking signal you’re
gonna take me to jail.
                                                     For a fucking ticket. What
                                                     a pussy. What
                                                     a pussy. You’re about
to break my fucking wrist!


You keep moving
me, goddammit.

Don't touch me.
                                                      Fucking pussy  --
                                                                                                     for a traffic ticket.
You asked me
what was wrong!
Do I feel
like I have anything
on me?                                          This a fucking maxi dress.
                                                                                                     This a maxi dress.
                                                      Fucking assholes. You’re
about to break my wrist. Can you
stop? You’re about to fucking
break my wrist! Stop!!!          
                                                      For a fucking traffic ticket,
                                                                                                      you are such a pussy.
You are
such a pussy.
For                                                 a traffic signal!
Don’t it make you feel
real good
don’t it? A female
                                                      for a traffic ticket.
Don’t it make you feel
good Officer Encinia? You're
a real man now.

I got
epilepsy, you motherfucker.



Make you feel real
good for a female. Y'all
strong, y'all real

can’t go
anywhere with
your fucking
in my

Whatever,                           whatever.

If I could,                            I can't.

                                            I can't even
                                                                                      fucking feel my arms.

                                            I can't . . .

You just
slammed my head into
       the ground and you
                                      do not even care ...

                                             I can't
                                                                                     even                                              hear.

He slammed my
fucking head
into the ground.

the hell.
All of this                               for a traffic signal.
I swear to God.
All of this                               for a traffic signal.

Thank you for recording!
Thank you!                            For a traffic signal --
slam me
into the ground and
I hope
feel good

And No
you didn't.
                                                 You didn't see
it . . .


Wednesday, July 22, 2015


by Tracey Gratch

A Russian court has convicted poet and teacher Alexander Byvshev of ‘inciting enmity’ and sentenced him to 300 hours of community service, confiscated his computer and prohibited him from working as a school teacher for two years.  His ‘crime’ – the poem ‘To Ukrainian Patriots’ in which he expresses his opposition to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and suggests Ukrainians should ensure that not one inch of Crimea is handed “to Putin’s chekists”.  —Human Rights in Ukraine (KHPG), July 14, 2015

The storefront windows dim with filth and soot.
Cyrillic, signs hold sway and hang above
the wooden-blocks paving the streets in rot.

In nineteen-twenty-one the husband's shot –
The committee puts its strangle-hold on nearly
everything the others wrote, and thought.

Damp fire-wood and famine, typhus rages
in darkened spaces – their words, to memory,
then burned.  An apartment bare, but for the language,

whispered in the cold rail cars which pass
beneath the towers. Outside a prison's gate,
in the crowd she waits to see her son, for hours.

Here, a crimson-history is wrought:
"Can you describe this?"  She said, "I can."  She thought.

Author’s note: Alexander Byvshev’s situation is reminiscent of the plight of other Russian poets, including Anna Achmatova, (whom the poem is about) in post-revolutionary Russia, when Achmatova's work was officially stifled, though it continued to circulate in secret (samizdat), her work hidden passed and read in the gulags. With the conviction of Alexander Byvshev it seems that Russia is returning to the practice of censoring  and persecuting its writers for their political views. 

Tracey Gratch lives in Quincy, MA with her husband and their four children. Her poems have appeared in  publications including Mezzo Cammin,  The Literary Bohemian, The Flea, Annals of Internal Medicine, Boston Literary Magazine,  The New Verse News and The Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine. Her poem, "Strong Woman" is included in the American College of Physicians, On Being A Doctor, Volume 4.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


by Susanne Braham

Susanne Braham writes if and when the moment moves her. Several of her poems have been printed in two anthologies about widowhood, and another on getting old is forthcoming online.

Monday, July 20, 2015


by Michael Mark

That empty calorie confection
can lick my 12 hour factory job.
She can take the tip of her tongue
and taste the lonely dark of 3AM
alarms to get to the donut shop,
to mix the batter, to bake the donuts,
spread the icing that she licked and
did not buy. So another customer
tasted her spit. She can suck my middle-
class mortgage. And laugh because I’m
the sucker who has to work two jobs
to pay for it. I can’t walk away. She
can show up at a donut shop and bitch
about America’s obesity issues with all
the sincerity of imitation whipped cream.
She can eat her disgusting words on camera
in front of fat America. She can slip
her tongue in her dessert dancer of a boyfriend
then slide it over the sugary icing and leave
it tasting of arrogance, of pure meanness. That
customer who brought those donuts home
had to wonder why they stunk of revulsion. “I
asked for Boston Cream and got Rude Insolent
Post Teen.” She can flip that tongue so that simple,
happy, rainbow sprinkles smack of stupidity and
selfishness. That tongue can sell out stadiums.
And she can lie with that tongue that she really,
truly, honestly loves what the camera caught her
saying she hates. She can climb to #1 with that tongue.
And the rest of us, we can take a bite of what she leaves
us and pray for a little taste of forgiveness.

Michael Mark is a hospice volunteer and long distance walker. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Gargoyle Magazine, Lost Coast Review, Rattle, Ray’s Road Review, Spillway, Tar River Poetry, Sugar House Review, and other nice places. His poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015


by Luisa A. Igloria

San Pedro Huamelula, Mexico


that I do
not take
these vows
To wed ‘s
a serious
fraught  with
more than
what’s fleeting:
thrashing of
limbs and tails
in the nuptial
bed, as the whole
town erupts
in a chorus
of bells and
takes skill
and  just
the right
amount of
I’ll swing
you round
the plaza
in a dance
meant to
cajole your
and the gifts
of a year’s
good fishing
in our nets,
tax I pay for
your watery


Dear mortal
your human
wife and child
have dressed me
in a trousseau:
lace underskirt
and a coronet
of small white
flowers; and for
good measure,
a round of duct
tape fastening
my jaws. I do
not, technically,
therefore, give
my consent
but play along,
though I obey
a different
my world,
chance is not
a thing to be
It prowls
the shallows,
small as
a passing
other times
it breaks
the surface
just because
it can, maw
to the sun,
teeth brighter
than a dowry
of diadems.

Luisa A. Igloria’s most recent publication credits include Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014) and Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014).

Saturday, July 18, 2015


by Geoffrey A. Landis

Image source: New Horizons Spacecraft Displays Pluto’s Big Heart

Geoffrey A. Landis is a scientist, a science fiction writer, and a poet. As a science fiction writer, he's written over fifty short stories and one novel, which have appeared in over 20 languages.  As a poet, he has written numerous poems, and has a new collection, The Book of Whimsy, coming out at the end of July.  As a scientist, he works at NASA John Glenn Research Center on exploring Mars and developing new technology for space. 

Friday, July 17, 2015


by James Croteau

Along the Mississippi Delta. Image source: My American Odyssey

Only low beams lit the road
as my parents drove Highway 61
from Memphis through Clarksdale
to Cleveland with civil rights marches
all around us. I never knew
it's not a delta at all, no mouth
until further south. It's all alluvial

plain, this place of my birth. Grandpa
disembarked in Baltimore's harbor
in 1921, moved south when
cotton was still king but
he never planted. Instead he owned
a five and dime on Main Street
in Cleveland. I was proud
to help clerk. Sometimes he'd aim
squinted eyes my way, talk the Italian
he taught me “follow that N-word."

"It's the longest stretch of straight road
east of the Great River," my dad
always said as he drove, low beams
to avoid blinding the oncoming
drivers like us. We got used to not seeing
anything beyond the white

cotton by the side of the road.
Living legacies are often at the periphery
of the privileged. Even amid
outcries at the murders in the streets
and the churches, we whites miss
the lay of the land by
low beaming our questions--
Was the officer following policy?
Was the shooter mentally ill?
Isn't the KKK really to blame?

But I've been lucky, my eyes
have been pried apart by
a few good people. I see some
beyond the well-meant
intentions in front of my face.

The fertile flatness was freely
brought by the floods of the Yazoo
and Mississippi, then it was stolen
and exploited--Indian removal, slavery,
sharecropping, Jim Crow de jure

and de facto, this history's alive and
denied. If I high beam my heart
I can see that I could have been
Darren Wilson, even Dylann Roof.
I learn how the land of my birth
really lies, only when I can feel
the white of my finger placed
everyday on the trigger of the gun

I was given on the day I was born.

James M. Croteau lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan with his partner of 28 years, Darryl, and their two Labrador retrievers. Jim grew up gay and Catholic in the southern United States and loved his mother very much. He has had poems published in Hoot: a Postcard review of {mini} poetry and proseThe New Verse News, and Right Hand Pointing. He has a series of poems upcoming in April 2014 in Assaracus: A Journal of Gay Poetry.


by Max Gutmann

A group of Confederate flag supporters gathered near the Oklahoma high school where President Obama is scheduled to speak Wednesday afternoon, claiming that the flag represents heritage–not racism.“We’re not gonna stand down from our heritage. You know, this flag’s not racist. And I know a lot of people think it is, but it’s really not. It’s just a southern thing, that’s it,” Trey Johnson told KFOR. Johnson drove three hours from Texas to join the protest.   —BUZZPO July 15, 2015; Photo by Steven Romo / Twitter

When I welcome you, it's the intent
That's important. If you get all bent
Out of shape with offense,
Then you ain't got good sense;
What you heard ain't the thing that I meant.

Ain't that sensible? Then let's agree:
As your host, I am perfectly free
To display one long digit
And call you an idjit,
'Cause those are endearments to me.

Max Gutmann has contributed to The American Drivel Review and other publications.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


by Sarah Frances Moran

Image source: The Military Diet

For breakfast I have a piece of toast with peanut butter.
My stomach grumbles 4 hours later.

For lunch I have crackers, cheese and an apple.
I drink one liter of water. I think, I might waste away
on this diet.

At dinner I have a portion of fish with two sides
of vegetables.
I cringe at the way the kitchen smells like someone passed gas
as the broccoli warms up.
I’m grumpy because I want a beer.
I’m grumpy because I want something more filling.

Three hours later as I lay in bed
My stomach begins making noises like an asteroid
has landed in the pit of it
and everything inside is on fire.
I think I’m dying.
I decide to eat whatever the fuck I want in the morning.

In the seconds while I dramaticize my hunger pains
6 people die.

The science of hunger is felt by 1 billion people.
I am not actually one of these people.

I’m sure one of these people lives in the same city as me.
I decide gluttony really is a sin.
More so than the popular sins in the news these days.

When I get up in the morning,
I do not eat whatever I want.

On my drive to work,
two grackles fight over left over something in the
middle of the road.
It is a fierce battle that nearly gets one of them hit by an
on-coming car.
My on-coming car.

I am hungry. My stomach turns.
I will not die fighting over food,

but I should concede to battle a hunger
larger than my small belly.

Small as a fist.

1 billion people won’t eat a fist full of food today.
Grackles fight over crumbs in the road.
6 people will die every minute because they have nothing to eat.
Our world is overflowing with tragedy…

but my largest tragedy
is I won’t get a beer today
I will not drink a beer today
I cannot drink a beer today

and I think I’m going to die.

Sarah Frances Moran is a stick-a-love-poem-in-your-back-pocket kind of poet. She thinks Chihuahuas should rule the world and prefers their company to people 90% of the time. Her work has most recently been published or is upcoming in Maudlin House, Blackheart Magazine, Red Fez and The Bitchin' Kitsch. She is Editor/Founder of Yellow Chair Review.