December 11, 2008

Kaci Elder

Christina Pacosz

Mary Dingee Fillmore

Joan Mazza

Gene Tanta

Gabz Ciofani

Michael Lee Johnson

Peter Goodwin

Encouraging activism and poetry among young people: Jasmine Baumgart

Christina Pacosz

The Mother of Violence

Now I am seeing
the natural blackness
of this world
not only objects
illuminated by light.

How to measure the darkness
lingering beneath the trees –
the imported silk, the native oak –
even as their upper-
most branches

are a green blaze
in the sun.
Remember the iridescent
plumage of the hummingbird
is black

without the light.
Black like a branch
bereft of the life of the living
leaves, charcoal waiting
for the flame.

This is not the time
for debate: which came first –
the light, the dark
but recall how shadow
is at the beginning

before the word.
The vinyl appliqué
a black silhouette
of a hawk
on the window.

A warning for birds
to stay away.
How the shadow
of the predator
troubles the dreams

of its prey.
The swift darkness
of the mongoose
darting across
the blacktop road

on the path
of lava erupting
from the molten void
at the center

of the earth.

In the Garden

“In Baquba a woman and her four children were killed when a bomb went off in a neighbor’s house bringing the ceiling down on the family sleeping in the garden.”

A hot house in Baquba
Only a week after Zarqawi is killed
The stars shining like lanterns
In the night sky
Jasmine scents the air
Figs and tomatoes ripen
In the warm dark

Here in this country I am even now trying to reach this family

A woman and her four children
Buried under bricks and debris
From the ceiling of the bombed-out
Neighbor’s house
It is too late to rescue them
Too late when they closed their eyes to sleep
On pallets near the cucumber and chard

“The Mother of Violence,” first appeared in Kritya April 2007

"In the Garden” first published in Downgo Sun, March 2007

Christina Pacosz has been writing most of her life. Her most recent book of poetry is Greatest Hits, 1975-2001, Pudding House, 2002. (A by invitation only series.)

(author retains copyright)

Gabz Ciofani

Funk the War 2008, a political sestina

We walk heatedly with clenched fists.
Pushing through intersections
we proudly display our picket signs.
Disregarding our individuality for the greater sake of unity
we create human chains
to barricade ourselves on the streets of DC.

Our voices ring through the streets of DC
together we raise our fists
to protest your war, and using human chains
we enclose our demonstration inside an intersection
and wait as your eyes adjust to our idea of unity
reacting to the words on our picket signs.

Onward we march, raising high the picket signs
stopping traffic on the streets of DC.
As someone clicks 'play', we all dance in unity
in the spirit of change, we raise our clenched fists.
A success at each claimed intersection,
riot police struggling to break our human chains.

They wrap yellow tape around our chains
and reporters photograph our picket signs
the cops fully block off the intersection
while we demonstrate on the streets of DC
responding to the megaphone with raised fists
we show them that democracy looks a lot like unity.

For the greater sake of change, we stand united
willing to be taken by police in chains
but not without a fight- we refuse to lower our fists
or drop our picket signs
because we can be seen out of every window in DC
and they can't clear all of us from this intersection.

We continue to rush inside each intersection
and 20 students bring desks and hold hands in unity
with strength in our numbers on the streets of DC
we stand, surrounding the students in human chains
chanting for this war's end with raised picket signs
not even the pouring rain can stop us from raising our fists.

On the streets of DC, we dance inside intersections
Fists firmly raised for the sake of unity.
Chained to desks we wait, waving our picket signs.

Gabz Ciofani is a junior English major currently attending Kent State university. She writes for Kent State's largest magazine, The Burr, and will be editor-in-chief of Kent State's literary magazine, Luna Negra, this upcoming spring. She wrote this poem upon attending a protest in Washington DC this past April because of the impact the protest had on her. She loves experimenting with different forms in her writing and aspires to be an established poet before she dies.

(author retains copyright)

Mary Dingee Fillmore

Still (1604-2009)

You are still hunting moose
and making drums
from its hide.
You are still teaching whites
how to heal with alder and herbs
we crush as we walk.
You sing friendship songs,
paddle your birch canoe out
to greet the new Tall Ships so
like Champlain's.

We've stopped calling you savage
but still keep you reserved.
Now we want back
everything we tried to steal,
everything we lost.
Just read this poem:
we are still thieves.

Two Airports

1968, Dayton, Ohio, Departure

the woman's splotched and red with soggy sobs
...... he, in uniform, can't wait
...... ...... for this to be over
...... ...... ...... already he's starched the pink baby howls too

I marched and marched
against this and still they are this couple tearing
...... apart perhaps for good
...... ...... here is this baby
...... ...... ...... turning red

2008, Burlington, Vermont, Arrival

you, a teenager, wince on the stairs,
....your cane shaking, a torn crimson line
...... stitched from ankle to knee

it's midnight, I wonder why the lounge is full,
...... then everybody claps, uniforms encircle you
...... ...... but your eyes are only weary

we tried again
to keep you home...... at peace
instead we sent you off to kill
...... to rip open your leg that may never
...... ...... heal, and who knows
...... what you did...... there

least of all...... you

Mary Dingee Fillmore earned her M.F.A. at Vermont College after a twenty-five year career in organizational development and a hidden life as a writer. Her poetry about the Holocaust in the Netherlands and other subjects has appeared in Upstreet, Pearl, Diner, Westview, Main Street Rag, Pinyon and Blueline among other venues. She won the Poetry Grand Prize in the 2007 Tallgrass Writers' Guild Contest, and is a winner of the 2006 Iowa Source contest. Her essay, "Freeing the Hidden Camp," won Honorable Mention from The Journal (Ohio State University) in 2008.

(author retains copyright)

Jasmine Baumgart Encouraging Activism and Writing among young people.

link to:


Joan Mazza

Wearing Khaki

On a plane to Atlanta, two in Khaki, new matching backpacks,
pants tucked into tan boots with pristine laces. I mistake both
for boys with their flat chests and clean faces. The light skinned one
has plaited hair in corn rows, a little knot of braid at the base

of her skull. Her hands, clean and unscarred. The other one,
dark skin shining in eastern light on this morning flight, dimples
each time he speaks to her, earphones down around his neck.

For more than a year, I have had no TV reception,
refuse the dazed and limping images.

I look again, find them sleeping, identical CD players
on their knees, arms crossed on their chests, American flag
stitched above the pocket on their right sleeve. They breathe
steady and deep as we fly at 30,000 feet.

Numbers for the Week

This morning, it was twenty-eight degrees. I photographed
red oak leaves rimed with frost. I made chicken soup, canned
ten pint jars in the pressure cooker at fifteen pounds of pressure
for seventy-five minutes. On the stump near the compost pile,
I left the skin of fourteen chicken thighs for crows and woodpeckers.

Two suicide bombers killed fifty-one people in an Iraqi market.
Twenty-seven men waiting for work in Baghdad were killed
by another suicide bomber. They knew the risks, but needed work.
Three Americans died when an improvised explosive device
detonated at a checkpoint. Three others were seriously wounded.

In preparation for a contest, I revised two poems about my dead
parents and walked up to the mailbox to send them before the deadline.
A flock of about sixty vultures posed in oaks and sweet gum
for fifty photos with my new camera and telephoto lens.
Inside a hunter’s blind, I waited for an hour, hoping to see a hawk.

In search of insurgents, three houses were invaded in Afghanistan.
Four women and eight children died, including two infants.
The army is investigating. The bodies of ten beheaded men
were discovered in Baghdad. They were tortured before being shot.

I took Michi to the groomer at seven-thirty, drove to a yard sale,
bought two paperback novels for snowy days. At Food Lion,
bought whipped cream and the ingredients for thirty-two
chocolate brownies. At one, the groomer called to say Michi was ready.

Carl Shumaker from Bridgeport, Connecticut was killed in Iraq. His death
marks 2900 Americans dead. His family says he was sweet and funny,
loved by all. He was twenty-six, leaves a wife and two-year old daughter.
Completing his third tour of duty, he was to be home for Christmas.
His best friend is recovering after losing one arm and one leg.

I changed sheets, vacuumed six bookshelves in the guestroom,
drafted three new poems, washed five loads of laundry, hung clothes
on a rack instead of using the dryer. I mended the seam on my quilt
and put out two clean towels in each of three bathrooms.

Violence in Iraq is up twenty-two per cent since the summer.
This week, the DOW was up 138 points.

[published in Winter Sky, winter 2007 and Skyline Review, January 2008;
and nominated for a Pushcart Prize 2007]

Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, certified sex therapist, writing coach and seminar leader. She is the author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Perigee/Penguin). Her work has appeared in Potomac Review, Möbius, Permafrost, Writer's Digest Magazine, Playgirl, The Writer, and Writer's Journal. She’s now a full-time poet in rural central Virginia.

(author retains copyright)

Gene Tanta


back you go to the handle-side of the knife blood-brother
braid of hair to spell in water hissing out in blue cords
bugle calls to maiden tongues blaze
boundary deviled in book-learning
brag of such roughshod beauty coiling out of bombers

gaga war is a story about Armistice Day gaff
greathearted do not cry to change the TV channel gay
grinning war isn't all goodbye-kisses
grief the war over what'll I ware gaiter
gravedigger rainfall against my skin gloss
grenade war stories take to their heels heading for the hills glowing
grizzle the war over who shall I kiss glottis
greatness I shall kiss strangers the day the war ends glisten

ornamental you search for the shoelace caught in a pulse oh
orator beneath the death-bringing flowers oh
opaque rainstorm blackened onlookers oh
out and out a last embrace between scorched mattresses oh
of tutors and favored pupils oh
ours 12 acetylene torches on Babylon express oh
ornate tornado blinding the patrolman with debris oh
or else the fuselage is burning oh
orbits in pit waste orbits in coal waste oh
outfits the body of my son outfits the body of his guard dog oh

Born in Timisoara, Romania in 1974, Gene Tanta immigrated to Chicago in 1984 with family at the age of 10. He earned his MFA in Poetry from the Iowa's Writers' Workshop in 2000. He translates contemporary Romanian poetry. His publications include: EPOCH, Ploughshares, Circumference Magazine, Exquisite Corpse, Watchword, Columbia Poetry Review, The Laurel Review (forthcoming) and two collaborative poems with Reginald Shepherd anthologized in Saints of Hysteria: A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry. Currently, he is a doctoral candidate in Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee where he also serves as Art Director for Cream City Review.

(author retains copyright)

Kaci Elder



I lean towards earth,
Overfilled baskets hug my shoulders.
Between Guadalupe's rounded belly and Pedro's whistles,
My fingers pick coffee on the finca,
Owned by a company that plays jingles for the rich
To make them drink more.
Five cordobas a pound. Nothing.
Mi familia never hears jingles in the fields.
We hear our history, sung by my Mami
Under rising moons.
Mami's fingers pick beans while her tongue grows stories
Of la granja, our farm, kidnapped by cousins of the great dictator.
She speaks, and I imagine.....chickens..... rows of white beans..... laughter.


Our people rise: peasants, teachers, forgotten warriors
Fool the ruler by pretending to sleep
While he roams, steals, rapes and hoards.
They wake,
Knock him from his tower.

I come from the fields- a carrier of books, not beans,
To teach the poorest to read. By bus,
I go to San Martin, a forest village filled
With the original landowners: Sumus, Miskitos, Mayagnas.
We read manure-stained books over long nights
With tortillas, café y arroz.


One morning Miguel disappears.
Guadalupe bleeds from her leg,
Whispers circle the village.
Men with guns, who knew them?
Five men taken,
And three bodies by the river.
Somebody found a hand.

Then Pedro is disappeared.
The Hernandez family, all taken.


We whisper in fear of men
Given machetes and machine guns
By the North,
Who fears us.

Nights grow small and long again.
I imagine..... chickens..... rows of white beans..... laughter.

This poem was inspired by the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua

An actor, poet and fair-trade coffee drinker, Kaci Elder is learning the long, slow lesson that black lines--magically assembled into letters then words then indented messages on the page--can subtly shift consciousness and the way we see each other. This gives her hope. She manages a hostel in Redwood National Park with her muses, Ryan her husband and Rory her son.

(author retains copyright)

Peter D. Goodwin


The diplomats deliberate:

another crises
another catastrophe
but here
in this same clean room
across this same polished table
they discuss logistics
and money
and food
and who will do what
this time
and who did what
last time
as they have in the past
and will do again
the routine smothering
any urgency
any sense of history
all the particulars
refined into the same
smooth empty language
of crises management
their eyes deliberately turned away
from another image
of the dead scattered
across a desolate landscape
another image
of shattered shapes sheltered
under industrial flotsam
of cardboard, tin, plastic
populations displaced, lost in despair
with yet another image
of another starving child
its face faceless
with flies and mites mingling
on its hollow cheeks
and settling inside
its nostrils and its eyes.

Peter Godwin taught at University in Thailand, elementary school in England, secondary school in America, worked as a playwright in New York, and now writes poetry in Maryland. His poetry can be found in Rattle, Scribble, Luminosity, Delaware Poetry Review, Bent Pin, Twisted Tongue, and others…

(author retains copyright)

Michael Lee Johnson

Harvest Time

A Métis Indian lady, drunk,
hands blanketed over as in prayer,
over a large brown fruit basket
naked of fruit, no vine, no vineyard
inside¾approaches the Edmonton,
Alberta adoption agency.
There're only spirit gods
inside her empty purse.

Inside, an infant,
refrained from life,
with a fruity wine sap apple
wedged like a teaspoon
of autumn sun
inside it's mouth;
a shallow pool of tears start
to mount in native blue eyes.
Snuffling, the mother offers
a slim smile, turns away.
She slithers voyeuristically
through near slum streets,
and alleyways,
looking for drinking buddies
to share a hefty pint
of applejack wine.(author retains copyright)

Michael Lee Johnson is a poet and freelance writer from Itasca, Illinois. He has been published in USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Scotland, Turkey, Fiji, Nigeria, Algeria, Africa, India, United Kingdom, Republic of Sierra Leone, Israel, Nepal, Thailand, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Finland, and Poland internet radio. Michael Lee Johnson has been published in more than 280 different publications worldwide.

Peter D. Goodwin


The diplomats deliberate

The diplomats deliberate:
another crises
another catastrophe
but here
in this same clean room
across this same polished table
they discuss logistics
and money
and food
and who will do what
this time
and who did what
last time
as they have in the past
and will do again
the routine smothering
any urgency
any sense of history
all the particulars
refined into the same
smooth empty language
of crises management
their eyes deliberately turned away
from another image
of the dead scattered
across a desolate landscape
another image
of shattered shapes sheltered
under industrial flotsam
of cardboard, tin, plastic
populations displaced, lost in despair
with yet another image
of another starving child
its face....faceless
with flies and mites mingling
on its hollow cheeks
and settling inside
its nostrils and its eyes.

Peter Goodwin taught at University in Thailand, an elementary school in England, and a secondary school in America. He also worked as a playwright in New York, and now writes poetry in Maryland. His poetry can be found in Rattle, Scribble, Luminosity, Delaware Poetry Review, Bent Pin, Twisted Tongue, and other journals.


Jeff Fearnside...................................Adam Byrn Tritt

Charles P. Ries.................................Dorine Jennette

Danielle Maggio
...............................Diane Elayne Dees

Emmanuel V. Dumlao......................Joannie Kervran Stangeland

Allene Rasmussen Nichols...............Naomi Benaron

Stacia Fleegal................................... Richard Downing

Donald Harbour................................Niels Hav

J.R. Solonche....................................Gary Beck

Tovli Simiryan...................................F.I. Goldhaber .

Ann Cefola.........................................Marian Kaplun Shapiro

Nannett Raymon Rivera....................Lisa Suhair Majaj

Michelle Tandoc Pichereau ...............Rick Mobbs

Larissa Shmailo audio
: Exorcism


Lisa Suhair Majaj


(Beit Hanoun, November 2006)

A technical failure, terrible accident, unfortunate
event....necessary but regrettable....we had
to take action....there was no choice

Excuses pile up like body parts (gaping yellow-toothed
jaw separated from its head, neck slit open below the absent
chin, burned torso flaking like singed paper, brain spilling
from a broken child-size skull, severed hand still grasping).

Parts don’t make a whole.
Aid workers collecting heads and hands from the street in black
garbage bags lay out decapitated bodies on silver morgue trays, stack
appendages beside them like missing puzzle pieces, then go home
and hold their heads in their hands.

Maybe they pray for amnesia. Maybe they search
for answers: how many hands it takes to staunch a wound that won’t
stop bleeding, how to remember the dream of an ordinary
life. Can a headless handless body cradle a child, greet
a neighbor, plant an orchard, plow a field, sign a peace treaty?

Some of the dead kept their heads. One young mother lies
waxen, holding two children in rigid embrace, slumbering portrait
belied by the blood smearing their cheeks - infant’s mouth
slightly open, as if dreaming of a breast, the warm flow
of milk; tousle-haired girl-child turning in death’s dream,
echo of her mother’s pallid beauty.

Part of this has been screamed a million
times. Part of it will never be heard. Part of it
reflects like quiet light off the streams of untreated sewage
and pools of shimmering blood in Gaza lanes.
Part of it hides behind headlines where this shard
of the story will never be told.

First published in International Feminist Journal of Politics, Volume 9, Issue 3, 2007.

A Few Reasons to Oppose the War

because wind soughs in the branches of trees
like blood sighing through veins

because in each country there are songs
huddled like wet-feathered birds

because our bodies are soft and easily harmed
and destruction is a way of dying, not living

because we are so utterly human
and so prone to grief

because even though the news has nothing new to say
and keeps on saying it
NO still fights its way into the world

because for every bomb that is readied
a baby nestles into her mother
latches onto a nipple beaded with milk

because the tulips have waited all winter
in the cold dark earth

because each morning the wildflowers outside my window
raise their yellow faces to the sun

because we are all, each one of us,
in love with the light

(first published in self-published chapbook These Words)


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(author retains copyright)

J.R. Solonche



Over the Nahr a Bared refugee camp in Tripoli,
rises a column of black smoke.
It looks like a palm tree,
A palm tree with a black trunk and black palm leaves and black palm fruit.
It is graceful, and it looks like a black palm tree swaying in the wind.
Beneath its roots is a house.
Beneath the house is a child.
The house was destroyed by a shell from a tank.
The child was destroyed by her house.
The column of black smoke is her memorial.
The tank planted this graceful black palm tree as her memorial.
The length of the child’s life was two years long.
The length of the memorial’s life was twenty seconds long.
That was her memorial: ten seconds for each year of the child’s life.

J.R. Solonche is co-author (with wife Joan Siegel) of PEACH GIRL: POEMS FOR A CHINESE DAUGHTER (Grayson Books). His work has appeared in many magazines, journals and anthologies. He teaches at Orange County Community College in Middletown, New York.


(author retains copyright)

Danielle Maggio

Man Moves On

With a stretch of his neck he no longer sees hunger,
The grumbling of brown belly's becomes softer and softer,
The flies on dry skin become smaller and smaller,
And as a Mother weeps, a Man moves on

Placing fingers in his ears he no longer hears rushing waters,
The old voice of jazz trumpets becomes clearer and clearer,
The parades in the streets becomes louder and louder,
And as a city falls, a Man moves on

Plugging his nose he no longer smells the stink of bombs,
The skin eating smoke becomes thinner and thinner,
The innocent killed become fewer and fewer,
And as a leader declares war, a Man moves on

Taking a step back he no longer feels the heat of flames,
The stench of burning flesh becomes sweeter and sweeter,
The innocence stolen from women becomes gentler and gentler,
And as a sacrifice is made, a Man moves on

With a stretch of his neck he no longer sees hunger,
The grumbling of brown belly's becomes softer and softer,
The flies on dry skin become smaller and smaller,
And as the images remain, a Man moves on.

Tired Poem

We've traveled to foreign land before
Wiping salty sweat from the eyes that will witness faithless crimes
and the ears that will hear innocent screams
and the fingers that with one bend will end lives

We've invaded these homes before
Arriving in helicopters to play the Domino game
and leaving in them, back to the states to have your loved ones look over you
in a wooden box

We've cried these tears before
Letting go of our sons and daughters yet again with hope there is truth
in the recruiting officers promises, while loosing a minute of sleep for every life lost because of them

We've swallowed these lies before
Attaching ourselves to the media's strings and becoming a chorus of puppets
who won't speak out, finding silence especially hard when My Lai Massacre-like events are reported

We've used these excuses before
Explaining that Communism will indeed spread and terrorists will in fact
bomb again, keeping the nation on Red alert to birth fear and hatred that is necessary for war

We've fought this war before
Our nation has again been divided, no longer by Hawks and Doves but simply the Cruel and the Peaceful
As smiles and nakedness once acted as protest, we now join together to walk with our banners and raise up our signs

and Dylan's question fails to be answered
for the cannon balls still fly
people still die
and until that wind blows on through our Administration
we will continue to oppose war
because we've sung that song before.

Danielle Maggio is a twenty year old Liberal Arts & Science major concentrating in Psychology, Creative Writing and Religion at Hofstra University. Originally from Pittsburgh Danielle wrote poetry for The NewPeople, a publication of the Thomas Merton Center, reporting on the issues of war, poverty, racism and oppression. She also wrote a one-act play, The Best Minds of Their Generation, which was performed at The Pittsburgh City Theatre's Young Playwrights Festival in Fall 2005. Drawing from Beat, Buddhist and musical influences Danielle expresses her freedom through written word and hopes to one day influence others to raise their voices.

(author retains copyright)

Marian Kaplun Shapiro

link to


Ann Cefola


Open Season

I plead with pine trees. Cry
like the day my grandmother was gone.

Can’t stamp the cramp out of my left foot
or forget the black truck outside the neon diner,

the cross-eyed man’s mistake:
that we were rurals who rejoice in another’s kill.

Look in the back. There’s a big bear he’s shot!

If I were native, I’d chant the stilled ragged breath
below the silver rim into heaven.

How not to hate the marksman or dull-witted man who wanders away?
Oh what do the Buddhists say? Om mani padme hum.

There must be a great bear who gathers the wounded into whole.
I’ve often looked for her but even the night sky has a hunter.

Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Ursa in the backbed:

Find your sure path, as I have,
in the dark and limitless spaces between stars.

Ann Cefola is the author of
Sugaring (Dancing Girl Press) and the translation Hence this cradle (Seismicity Editions). A 2007 Witter Bynner Poetry Translation Residency recipient, she also received the 2001 Robert Penn Warren Award judged by John Ashbery. .

(author retains copyright)

Tovli Simiryan

The Day Papa Surrendered His Passport

for Haim ben Ben-Tzion who survived Stalin’s gulags and lived to pray with a strong voice in America

i like the small letters
they chose to type our names.
they’re self sufficient,
wise, and make speech crow
with the high pitched
fervor of abandonment.

i want to decide what’s safe;
pretend stalin stored water
with an inner wisdom seldom murderous;
dislodging dirt beneath fingernails
as an act of good hygiene
the afternoon he forgot to
lock prison doors.

i want to endure, finish last,
learn new adjectives
for what grows indigenous
even in sand.
i’ll give my money to strangers
and imagine the names
of their children twenty years later.

i want to move through the world
like a holy beggar;
pack my own sandwich,
quote sounds rebbenu whispered
while swaying in prayer:
begging to give; not receive.

i want to return,
when the seeds of patience
blossom into reality;
spit-out the old language,
cause russia to swallow my accent
or pretend she’ll miss me
if I crawl through too many windows.

i want to exchange your blank stare
for a relief map;
one soviets molded from cotton bed sheets,
while sleeping late on monday mornings
instead of planning for work,
besarabian fabric and orchards.

I want to watch you hide dreams
inside poems that read slowly,
as though a light rain of words
establishes prominence,
sounding—g-d forbid—
like a damned herd of camels
lost in the desert.

Tovli Simiryan is an award-winning writer living in West Virginia with her husband, Yosif. The family came to America as refugees from the former Soviet Union (Moldova) in 1992. Ms. Simiryan’s short stories, essays and poetry have appeared in a variety of publications. She has published two books of poetry. Ruach of the Elders—Spiritual Teachings of the Silent, a collection of stories will be marketed by HDM-Publishers in 2009.

Haim ben Ben Zion “Pappa”—1908-1995

Pappa was one of many—a simple man
who believed in hard work and survival.
Most of his life was spent avoiding war.
He survived the Holocaust only to be
imprisoned in Stalin’s work camps and
gulags. He was one of the few to
return to his beloved Moldova and spent
years avoiding war and hatred. In 1992,
following Perestroika, the family left for
America where he lived in peace for
three years.

To read more about Pappa visit:

(author retains copyright)

Gary Beck

Homo Homini Lupus

In the lowlands of Mozambique

a new technology of war,

the child soldier, swept Africa

and later the rest of the world.

The immature killing machines

sliced their way through the villages

bringing fire and destruction

to the innocent in their path.

For the warlords seeking plunder

children were the perfect weapon,

fearless and manipulable

and the most important reason,

they came in an endless supply


Once the young killers were unleashed

on the local population,

who were only considered prey,

they murdered relentlessly,

never concerned with hearts and minds,

not needing popular support,

just approval from their masters

for carrying out their orders,

to inflict bloody massacres

on the targets they selected.

These were not hallowed warriors

respected by those they protected.

For them there will be no parades.

No trumpets will sing their praises.

If they are even remembered,

it will be with pity or hate.

Gary Beck's poetry has appeared in dozens of literary magazines. His chapbook, 'Remembrance' was published by Origami Press, 'The Conquest of Somalia', was published by Cervena Barva Press. A collection of poems 'Days of Destruction' is being published by Skive Press. His recent fiction has been published in numerous literary magazines. His plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes, and Sophocles have been produced Off-Broadway.

(author retains copyright)

Richard Downing

Brian Avery’s Face

.... Human shield, Jenin, ........ April 5, 2003

Our faces become us.

When they change – collisions with windshields,
...............................burns of varying degrees,
...............................attacks by animals armed with tooth or gun – we change.
It’s simple really:
Those who see us.... change us.
We have become .... different.
(Why did he want to be a human shield in the first place?)

So you say I will be careful to keep the face
I’ve got. I will keep my eyes straight
ahead, know what’s coming directly toward me. But what’s not direct can
........bounce.... off
the intended target.

Brian Avery was struck in the face – an apparent ricochet bullet from an Israeli
armoured vehicle, officals said. It must have first struck something in one of his hands,
which were both raised
................his head. Yes,
that would explain his wounds,
........ the person he’s become.

More information about Brian Avery is here.

Richard Downing's bio/recent poetry publications/contests: The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Award Winner of New Delta Review’s Matt Clark Poetry Prize Tacenda – featured poet, Potomac Review, and the anthologies Hunger Enough: Living Spiritually in a Consumer Society and The Dire Elegies Nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Co-founder of the Florida Peace Action Network, PhD in English

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Joannie Kervran Stangeland

Ali, Unable to Leave the Bakery

I remember stirring yesterday’s ashes,
lighting the new fire for the day’s work.
I remember the warmth from the ovens,
the smell of yeast,
the dust of flour on my palms.

This was the taste of my mornings,
my sons working beside me.
The neighborhood came for bread—
young wives with their gossip,
Abdul who lost a leg
in the war against Iran—
and for old Rasha, we left a loaf
out back, as though we forgot it there.

I remember the heat like it was yesterday,
but I smell burning, the sear
of bullets in my flesh,
the singe of screams,
fire licking at the clay.

How long has it been?
Now I am less than ashes,
yet I sift through the ashes,
try to forget the heat, the smell,
the taste of bread and fear,
the way to breathe.

After You Go, How Can You Get Back?

War is so unjust and ugly that all who wage it must try
to stifle the voice of conscience within themselves

......................................................................—Leo Tolstoy

A woman sits by the road for a heart beat,
three beats, a full minute of pulse
while the stream of people seeps by.

In a room without corners,
a man signs another document.
Ink flows easily across the heavy page.
The pen feels smooth in his fingers.

A bird song is picked up
on an afternoon wind, carried past
husks of burned-out cars, charred trees,
earth stained by the residues of life
and dying.

The young foreign men
and women swallow themselves.
The hooded men swallow themselves.
The officials wipe their palms
and swallow themselves.
An acrid taste, the fear lingers
in their hollow mouths.

Their eyes, empty—
chests, empty—
minds clicking like tiny clocks,
hands flapping like crows.

The people on the road keep moving,
the woman one
with the current.

Joannie Kervran Stangeland’s chapbook Weathered Steps was published by Rose Alley Press. A Steady Longing for Flight won the Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award. More recently, her work has appeared in Pinyon and The Cape Rock and on the New Verse News and The Smoking Poet websites.

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Naomi Benaron


Before I left Kigali

I went to the Genocide Memorial

to buy a purple bracelet

It was just before a grenade

exploded at the entrance

killing a policeman

My friends and I might

have passed the man

who tossed it –

I might have even waved

muraho through the window

at the moment our paths crossed

I said goodbye to my friends

and got on the plane

before any of us knew

The bracelet says

Never Again

It goes well with my green one

that says Darfur: Not on My Watch

But it is on my watch

And it is Again

and Again
............................ and Again.

Naomi Benaron’s short story collection, Love Letters from a Fat Man won the 2006 G. S. Sharat Chandra Prize for fiction. Her novel was short-listed for the 2008 Bellwether Prize. Her poetry has appeared in Cutthroat Journal and Flashquake. She writes, teaches, and protests in Tucson Arizona.

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Emmanuel V. Dumlao



the wind
yearns for the wings
of colorful kites, for the laughter
that used to roll over the clouds
and hills.

no, not even the crows
dare disturb
this hallowed playground
of helicopters and bombs.


a kite lay tattered
on the broken rib of a hill,
waiting for the touch
of those children
whose fingers now embrace
......the triggers

that skew their smiles
and numb their minds.


in this land of plenty
the grass don't grow green
...... no more:

a mass of spreading gray,
heavy with the sulphuric
dust of hell – the grass.

on their leaves cling
no beads of dew
only blots of blood
...... crying

'we are your brothers.'

Prof. Emmanuel V. Dumlao, 46 years old, teaches Philippine Literature and Creative Writing at the Universtiy of the Philippines Los Baños. He is a member of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) where he worked as human rights educator from 1990 to 1998. An organization of grassroots and professionals, TFDP has been in the forefront of human rights struggle in the Philippines since it was established in 1974. Prof. Dumlao is also a member of bukalsining and Artist Club Philippines. Both of these organizations aim to promote humant rights through arts and literature. At present, he is taking up his PhD in Creative Writing in Filipino at the Universtiy of the Philippines Diliman.

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F.I. Goldhaber

Consumer Temple

Welcome to the warehouse, temple

of consumer excess. Fill your carts

with ten-pound boxes of sugar

cereal, hundred-pound bags of flour.

Batteries by the dozens; soap

in ten-gallon jugs too big to lift.

Enough food fills the shelves to feed

a small country, but it parades out

the doors for the SUVs to

swallow while shoppers waddle through the

exit sucking in pizza, ice

cream, and hot dogs too big for their buns.

“Consumer Temple” appears in F.I. Goldhaber's second poetry book, Pairs of Poems published by Uncial Press. F.I. has written professionally for more than a quarter century and has won a number of awards for her fiction and poetry. She has had short stories, novelettes, poems, news stories, feature articles, editorial columns, and reviews published in magazines, e-zines, newspapers, and anthologies as well as two erotica novels published under another name.

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Donald Harbour

Shi Tao

Shi Tao your thoughts are as water,
They will always find a way out.
Your suppression is a cotton gag,
Soon to rot and disintegrate.
Despot leaders and jailers all die,
Their passing the cleansing of stain.
Their trial against your humanity,
Rust on the steel of human rights.
History's repressive governments,
All of them are footnotes in time.
The poets, the writers, the teachers,
Their words the soil of expression,
They pay the price for our freedom.
Your penned words etched on paper,
A killing field of social injustice.
The world's authoritarians fear this,
Their minions the truth eradicators.
Shi Tao, unlike you they are fools,
They never learn the pen's strength,
The weight of your written words.
They cannot dismiss freedom's voice,
For your brothers and sisters speak.
Your indignity poison to the corrupt,
The gall that spills over black deeds.
Nothing exists forever except,
The verdant fields of knowledge.
The poetry of your life, Shi Tao.

Donald Harbour lives in Maumelle, Arkansas where he is an Environmental Code Enforcement Officer. He spends much of his time in the forest of the area from which he draws inspiration for his writing. His prose and poetry have been published in numerous newspapers and magazines nationally. He is a member of the Poet's Roundtable of Arkansas and presents his poetry on his website The Poetry Tree

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Adam Byrn Tritt


Jesus Christ went to prison today.
He was resurrected outside Washington DC
And immediately attended an antiwar rally.

Jesus finally appeared and
When they took him away,
Fox News didn’t know what to do.

So they pulled the story

And ran one instead
About a celebrity who forgot
To put her pants on.

Tritt—"Adamus"—is an award-winning poet whose work has appeared in a number of books and magazines you’ve never heard of, and is well known for numerous children’s works you haven’t read. He’s a frequent guest in elementary school classrooms where he can be found surrounded by children begging him to read Bud the Spud just one more time. He was so self-conscious after his first attempt at a poetry reading that he next read his work at a clothing-optional fundraiser. (“Once you’ve read your own poetry in public, naked, you have nothing else to fear.”) Tritt has a bunch of academic degrees, lots of initials after his name, manages to hold a responsible job teaching your children (with his clothes on), and lives in Palm Bay, Florida, with his wife, daughter, son, and a ridiculously large alligator, all under a very big tree.

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Nanette Rayman Rivera

we will speak

in this city spilling
over with cockroaches and rules, the smell

...................of blackmold and riverteeth
...................surpasses the free fragrance of speech

in a world written on a tripwire,
see the lonely, the misplaced, the impecunious

...................writhing to be heard. grounded in a raintight
...................vat, they will rise one day and break

the sound barrier. they will corral the cronies
into small peripheries, move 'em out- rawhide. now they are drowning. and I one of them, trying to breathe

my lungs into poetry. Is silence a coda for madness?
validation something for the birds? somewhere

...................beyond sound, beyond this overcurrent, overload,
...................megaohmmeter, we will speak. all those

fallen away buttons, opening bodies.

Nanette Rayman Rivera, two-time Pushcart Nominee for non-fiction and poetry, is the author of the poetry collection, Project: Butterflies by Foothills Publishing and the chapbook, alegrias, by Lopside Press. She is the first winner of the Glass Woman Prize for non-fiction and has poetry on Best of the Net 2007. Her story, Puhi Paka, was best of issue in Greensilk Journal. Other publications include The Worcester Review, Carousel, Carve, The Berkeley Fiction Review, ditch, Prick of the Spindle, The Wilderness Review, Pebble Lake Review, Mannequin Envy, Dirty Napkin, MiPOesias, Pedestal, Lily, Wheelhouse, Stirring, Snow Monkey, Wicked Alice, Tipton Poetry Journal, Dragonfire, Arsenic Lobster, Three Candles, Velvet Avalanche Anthology, The Pittsburgh Quarterly, Red River Review, Flashquake, A Little Poetry, DMQ Review, Her Circle, grasslimb, Barnwood, and Chantarelle's Notebook. Upcoming: The Blue Jew Yorker. She is shopping her memoir around to agents, a true story of what really goes on in the New York City's homeless, welfare, food stamp and public housing system. She graduated from The New School University.

(author retains copyright)

Rick Mobbs


Sigh, child, and sink into the world you know.
Let butterflies appear in snow.
So what, if the rains come back to Nicaragua?
They always do. Would you add your wishes
to the weight of ignorance
that presses down upon the world?
I don't think so. There's work to do.

You stand inside a world that moves on wooden wheels
and as you watch the chirping cart
roll across the concrete cobbles,
a child up-ends a bucket,
and wears it on his head, and laughs for you.
Can you remember, and paint that laughter?

And those trucks that died beside the road
and all those tools that proved so useless.
The way he threw them down and hiked the mile,
and then on top of that, the extra mile
to walk along with you.
Can you paint those colors, too?

Try to find the spirit that inhabits an abandoned truck,
and you'll have found the trick to universal language.
We know that face, that truck, that walk.
Just like we all spot the places
where the city keeps her secrets safe
and where the forest ties the secret love-knots in her braids.

Listen, it's good you burn the candles
for the children of the dawn,
and all the men and women
laboring in Chinese prisons;
it's good you recognize that we are one.
But what did Broadus say about the meantime?

Crack the word and drop its contents on the frying pan,
and listen to your mornings start to sizzle.
Think about that old black man who took the time,
(before he left to do his dying)
to send you north to find your father and your son.

You brought them home. Paint that.
You'll find the recognition that you want inside your bones.
And who knows, friend, who knows?
You may find your brush has known the grip of other men,
and other women. Their hands will lead your hands, if you will let them.

The rains will come. The hurricanes, the liquid eyes
of thirsty, starving, children. Will these things change
for all your writing, all your painting?
Perhaps the best that we can do is celebrate, and honor them.
Ask the dancer. What he knows is he must spin and spin and spin,
and after that he has to practice spinning.

Don't think you are the first to wonder at the questions.
That's why we came. Feel sadness when you lose your friend,
and you may truly wish to die if you should lose your lover,
or your children. We are mated to illusions real as frying pans,
as eating. Grief is spelled out in our bones
and we are issued names to lose, at the beginning.

Didn't Broadus tell you? I think he must be grinning.
You didn't know he died? You have missed a thousand things
I would have shared, but gave up trying.
Now, the time has rolled around again.
I revise my gift and place it on the table as my offering.

In the meantime I build shrines, and travel.
I talk to cats and listen for their names.
I bear witness to small miracles of pleasure and of pain
and sketch them out, and write them down in long-hand.
I charge the little world I know with color,
I store milagros on computer.
One day, I'll meet the spinning dancer who can dance them.

For now I watch the river run.
I work, and do these meantime things.
Paris and New York? It's you I am committed to.
The children begging in the streets of Rio, the kids in Guatemala
huffing fumes and solvents, people running for their lives,
and all the cats and dogs we lose…

The way that politicians try to eat our children…
even as they promise us our safety, even as they promise us
our freedom, and the nightmares that daily feed upon us,
breathe and eat us, one by one.

The bridges that collapse beneath the best and worst,
that do not hold the weight of love,
that do not hold the weight of hope.
And the sleep which brings relief from these assaults,
and brings relief from their amazing weight,
or we should truly die from grief. This is the raw material
of our meantime. This is where our art comes from.

My words are marked, and handed down from trees.
What should I eat? Should I wear leather?
Should I buy this thing if it was made in China?
Plastic, or paper? How much does it matter?

I have a small gift to offer: I would see you dressed in rose petals,
sprays of hyacinth, lavender and lilac, covered with mother-of-pearl,
with diamonds, with the painted shells of almonds.

I would brush your skin with feathers, with starlight, with small pebbles.
And I would see your daughter learn to dance, unashamed, entirely naked,
across the universe, the seas, and stars and flowers.

Because the gift of the heart is one gift, it's breath one breath,
its word one word. It speaks with one tongue,
in one language, one idiom.
And love sits on her throne. She seats herself, and listens.
She is easy with the world. She relieves us of our burdens.

a little note of explanation... I wrote this upon the passing of my friend, Broadus Evans, from AIDS, just before the medicines that would have saved his life were introduced. He was a long-time activist in the African-American community in Wilmington, NC. He was an educator, counselor, a concert pianist and an activist in the gay and recovery communities there. He was valedictorian of his Williston High School class, the designated Black high school in the city. He graduated in the 1950's (?) but he was not allowed the honor of speaking to his class at graduation because he was already "out" as a gay young African- American male. This, in the South, in the '50's was no small thing. He also made his own clothes and sometimes wore a black cape. When I met him he scared the daylights out of me. I am grateful to him for a lot of reasons, one of them being that in a very short while he also started to shake the homophobia out of me. He was an interesting and wonderful, beautiful man, and I still miss his friendship. My wife and I named our son after him.

Rick Mobbs

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Charles P. Ries


You told me dark truths
We drank our beer
Lit up on acid
Crossing Death Valley
In a cherry red “69 mustang.

You were a parody, a melody of
covert and apparent things.

The Mojave’s red dust suited you,
made you opaque and revealed you
to be obvious.

You loved the stifling heat and
felt comfort close to brimstone.

Red blood shot eyes,
White t-shirt,
Blue jeans.

An American patriot with the stars
and stripEs tattooed on your fat white ass.

Comet with a devils tail.

Young Republican.

Undercover agent corrupting a flower child.

Charles P. Ries lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His narrative poems, short stories, interviews and poetry reviews have appeared in over two hundred print and electronic publications. He has received four Pushcart Prize nominations for his writing. He is the author of THE FATHERS WE FIND, a novel based on memory and five books of poetry — the most recent entitled, The Last Time which was released by The Moon Press & Publishing. He is the poetry editor for Word Riot . He is on the board of the Woodland Pattern Bookstore and a member of the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission. But most of all he is a founding member of the Lake Shore Surf Club, the oldest fresh water surfing club on the Great Lakes.

(author retains copyright)

Diane Elayne Dees

The Truth About Kudzu

When you're passing through the South,
the sight of kudzu overwhelms;
Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina
all protected from erosion.

The sight of kudzu overwhelms,
wrapping around the trees and walls--
all protected from erosion--
devouring columns on the courthouse.

Wrapping around the trees and walls,
clinging stubbornly to the past,
devouring columns on the courthouse
until justice fades from view.

Clinging stubbornly to the past,
choking all the other growth
until justice fades from view;
it spreads at an alarming rate.

Choking all the other growth
in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina;
it spreads at an alarming rate
when you're passing through the South.

(originally published in HazMat Review)

Deconstructing the Picture

There's Matthew tied to a fence.
Notice the pallor of his waxy skin,
how it accentuates the deep crimson
splattered across the canvas.
The bruises and lacerations
look so real, the limp body
so close to death, but not quite there.
That's James Byrd on the road,
blood the color of jasper,
his head rolling on the shoulder.
Take note of the white space
surrounding Abner Louima;
there is no grieving crowd.
Brandon's eyes are soft and dry,
his shattered body frail and small,
like the bodies of Carole,
Denise, Cynthia and Addie May
in their just-pressed Sunday dresses--
you can see them there,
under the stained glass, where
the face of Jesus used to be.
Those other children, the very little ones,
hide beneath the empty chairs.
See how the chairs appear to float,
how well illusion is used
to portray evil intentions.
Touch the canvas if you want;
get close, observe the density of color,
the dissonance of context, the irony.
Better still--step back and look
at the big picture: It has almost everything
except a bearded man in sandals in a cave.

(originally published in Out of Line)

Diane Elayne Dees has published poetry, fiction and nonfiction in many journals. For five years, she published the progressive blog, The Dees Diversion, and she also blogged for a long time for the Mother Jones MoJo Blog. Diane currently publishes Women Who Serve, a blog about women's professional tennis.

(author retains copyright)

Dorine Jennette

Notes on Logistics, Scene 10

Ask the boys in the sound booth
for a boom mike over

a screaming woman. Her age
does not matter. Nor her race.

Whether she is pretty
or not or loves her husband

or is already missing an arm.
Whether she will be penned

with the others, or her mother
bent over the plough.

Whether the flame
in the lieutenant's hands

or a button on his coat.
Whether the crops catch.

Whether the smell of the smoke
reminds her or her children of hunger.

Burning Bush in Effigy

For first, it is a fine Revolutionary tradition,
and I a patriot. For second, it will glow.
For "We the people" was authored by an editor--
Gouverneur Morris, to replace a list of states--
and I too believe in hard pruning, and I say
fire is a form of punctuation.
For the Bush spoke, and God ordered "Fire."
For far is the reach of the arm that clears
brush to keep water for grass on a ranch
where a few cattle fill the dry eye of God,
while in strange sand it sets imaginary fires
to call the still, collateral children to real bunkers,
throwing the voice of God down holes
to anoint the babes in arms and the grandfathers,
calling flash fires to scorch in place
the circles of the uncles' open mouths
before the crooked white tiles above the metal rolling tables
upon which women wash the limbs returned,
calling the current of God from the storms of the sky
to the wires of the dungeon earth to speak
in the voice of a dog to a hood, commanding the hood to nod
like an Amarillo oil derrick. The wind of the nodding hood
fans the flames on a ridgeline half a world away,
sunflowers in the fields below curling in the smoke.
From the incandescence of the Bush's straw face,
the falling embers hiss like rain.

Dorine Jennette's poems, essays, and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in journals such as The Journal, Ninth Letter, Coconut, Court Green, Memorious, and the Georgia Review. She earned her PhD at the University of Georgia, and now earns her keep as a copyeditor for university presses. She lives in Davis, California.

(author retains copyright)

Jeff Fearnside

Memo to Potential Donors from a Nongovernmental Organization in a Corrupt Developing Country

The previous minister
built a very nice house
on a small salary. If you want

the current minister to build
a nice house, please
give a grant

to the Ministry of Education.


Sitting in a small cafe in Kazakhstan, watching Turkish TV,
Speaking in broken Russian and eating a decent imitation
of an American cheeseburger (though it tastes like spiced lamb),
I feel strangely at home. The sign outside says “Fast Food” in English,

but, like those you know to get a job here, it’s all relative.
I like this place because it’s not fast, it doesn’t give me diarrhea,
and because the Turkish men wear their hair
a little longer, like me, wear mustaches and even beards

so that I look like them and not an American.
I’m glad that I can’t find American TV here,
that the mumblings of commercials—
that the rumblings of war—are dubbed in other tongues.

Tonight I’m happy to watch the scantily clothed singer
swing her mama mia hips, those hips my bearded brothers
would do handstands for to get a handful of.
Shakira. The remote lies flat on the counter.

This is Address, my new favorite cafe. But which address is my home?
My parents’, though half a lifetime has passed since I lived there?
My brother’s, my stateside contact where all my junk mail goes?
Or the crumbling Soviet-era apartment building I call my own?

Shakira stops shaking. The immobile remote is picked up
and a new channel picked out, first the European CNN, always good
for brushing up on my cricket, rugby and soccer,
then—quickly—a German cooking show,

then back to the Turkish channel Haber,
where a man speaks to a group of serious-faced men.
I enjoy thinking he’s saying, “What the hell
are those Americans doing?” and I’m half-afraid he is.

But I blend in here with my bearded brothers.
Even on the street, I’m often asked if I’m Turkish,
Greek, Indian, Spanish, Italian. I always answer yes.
They don’t ask me for money then

or what I think of the president. I sometimes give
a few coins to the widowed babushki at their makeshift
sidewalk homes, but even when I see their noses
running down their faces, I never give my opinion or advice.

Please don’t bomb Iraq. I met an Iraqi family last summer—
we played soccer together, swam in a glacial lake,
and when our group ran out of water, they gave us theirs
and delicious fresh apricots. They spoke perfect English

and were learning Russian, too. They sounded just like us.
I remember this now amidst shaking hips,
cheeseburgers and half a dozen languages.
I live in the world. Please don’t bomb my home.

Jeff Fearnside lived and worked in Central Asia for four years. His creative work has previously appeared in such journals as Rosebud, Permafrost, and Many Mountains Moving, among others. He is currently a writing instructor and managing editor of the literary journal Alligator Juniper at Prescott College in Prescott, Arizona.

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Stacia Fleegal

The War of All Against All

After Hobbes and a line by Glenn Sheldon

The day before we signed the social contract,

we are all at the anarchists' picnic

trying to figure out why no one

showed up. I bring egg salad sandwiches.

We are all at the anarchists' picnic

to learn Latin—bellum omnium contra omnes.

I showed up with egg salad sandwiches

but they were just smooth, fist-sized stones.

My Latin omits bellum, contra. Omnes

I understand. We can't all agree on

whether they're smooth, fist-sized stones

or bats or bludgers used for beating rebels.

I understand we can't all agree, but

let's at least eat. No (yes)? A food fight, then?

Bats for bludgeoning and beaten rebels

abound in states of nature and of war.

Let's at least eat our words like food, and fight

tomorrow, the day we sign the social contract.

Is it a state of nature or of war?

Who tries to figure it out, and why? No one.

Instruction Manual for a Revolutionist

Don't be afraid of paper cuts or bullet holes,
or people who don't consider these the same.

You carry the cosmos in your eyes and ears.
It is they who should fear you, pilgrim.

This is about waiting: watch the dollar fall,
the sun rise, all things certain. In the meantime,

learn a trade. Religion is helpful only
to those who can't do magic, who huff

and puff and gasp, then call it sin. Eat
with gusto. Sit in coffee shops and people-watch,

hear inanities' ease, slow-drip anger—stay
with me, here, I've seen what you'll say

kills, but I've seen it save. Rage can rage on
against age and playing safe, silence and chafed

lips bitten straight. Seek not to build bombs
in these folds, but to change into your kamikaze

cape and be one, or a dragon. Study.
Make love. Memorize the constellations, then

chart new ones with pegs on which to hang
this list, so when you've finished, you can

burn these pages. They'll never think
it was you, pretty decoy: flammable flesh.

Stacia M Fleegal's first collection of poems, Anatomy of a Shape-Shifter, is forthcoming in 2010 by WordTech. She is a graduate of Spalding University's brief-residency MFA in Writing program. In 2007, Finishing Line Press released a chapbook of her poems called A Fling with the Ground. Individual poems have appeared in many journals, most recently Comstock Review, Inkwell, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Minnetonka Review, 42opus, White Pelican Review, and New Verse News, and are forthcoming in Dos Passos Review and the anthology Women. Period.: Women Writing About Menstruation (Spinsters Ink Press, 2008). She is co-founder and managing editor of the online literary journal Blood Lotus, a poetry editor for New Sins Press, and the coordinator of the journals department at the University of Nebraska Press.

(author retains copyright)

Allene Rasmussen Nichols

Silence is not an Option

(For Alexandr Solzhenitsyn)

Your words sliced like jagged ice
from East to West
through cold war temperatures
and government denial

of your gulag.
I remember your voice like drops
of water in monotone on my face
with the sound of distant whips,
and no hope of salvation.

At fourteen, I shrank
from your steel sharpened words
but returned again and again
to the blows and bruises

until I fled
into the cool Illinois afternoon
breathing deliberately
because I could breathe.

The shroud that clung to me
like a spider web
glistening with agonized

still clings.


Allene Rasmussen Nichols lives in Arlington, Texas, where she teaches English at Gateway School. Her poems have been published /Philament/, /Ariel/, /Sylvan Echo/ and other journals and the anthology _Dance the Guns to Silence: 100 Poems for Ken Saro-Wiwa_. Her plays have been produced in California, Dallas, and New York.

(author retains copyright)

Larissa Shmailo

Link to


Niels Hav

You Know - It

It happens that I am suddenly hit by, you know – it -
when we're watching the news with children in the room.
Their serious restlessness at the sight of murder
and the sound of crying condenses
into a big question mark hanging
above my head like an axe
or a dirty cloud.

I switch it off. I attempt to erase
it all, shift the mood. In vain.
Smashing the TV won't do it either.
The truth about the state of the world seeps
in through the walls; the children know,
of course, it's their world –
the only one I have for them.
You can see it in their eyes;
they will not acquit us. Never!
Our jokes are without effect,
cynicism builds minus points.
Each day ever more is piled up
of, you know - it.

Translated by P.K. Brask & Patrick Friesen


Can the world be improved? First we'll have to change
human nature. There's cause for pessimism.
Evil triumphs and hate appears clothed
in religion, or in the latest political uniform.

But it is more difficult yet to give up on the idea
and to resign oneself to the world as it is. So we must
let go of the dream that our descendants will meet
a happier future. Genetic inheritance.

And none of us can imagine killing off our children's
expectations, even if we are ashamed of our own
confusion and ignorance. Joy is such a frail
material, and physical happiness is no crime.

Admitted; I'm groping in the dark. There's a shortage
of words with real validity. Concrete
suggestions or a solid sentence with a foothold.
I cannot offer firm arguments.

But I'm affiliated with the naïve who mosey on
and want the impossible.

Translated by P.K. Brask & Patrick Friesen

Niels Hav is a poet and short story writer, living in Copenhagen with his wife, pianist Christina Bjørkøe. He has travelled widely in Europe, Asia, North and South America. His work has been translated into several languages, including English, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish and Italian. His credits include five volumes of poetry and three short story collections. He's also been the recipient of several national awards. His forthcoming book is an English translation of Here We Are, published by Book Thug.

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Michelle Tandoc Pichereau

If Only Asking Led to Something

Why aren't we storming the streets?
Why aren't we pledging hunger?
Why aren't we sending missives,
waving banners, raining flyers?
Why aren't we crying our eyes out?
Why aren't we pounding our fists?
Why aren't we shouting until our voice
is not just ours, but somebody else's?
Why do we still sleep at night? And why
in these darkest hours do we still tremble
from the prick of a needle, a speck of dust
and not even flinch from the sound of

Michelle Tandoc-Pichereau's work has been published in numerous print and online journals, including Wigleaf's Top 50 Microfiction 2008, The Humanist, and GUD Magazine. She was a finalist in the 2008 Sean O' Faolain Short Story Competition and Smokelong Quarterly's 2008 Kathy Fish Fellowship. Tandoc-Pichereau has lived in Manila and Los Angeles, and currently resides in Bretagne.

(author retains copyright)

The Editors is taking a new direction -

In November 08 we will begin publishing an edited journal of protest poetry.
plans to present powerful poetry that protests injustice and witnesses to
current events. Speak out for human rights (and humans wronged)! The journal will be updated twice monthly and readers can subscribe to receive poems in their readers or by email.

Read Evie Shockley's "call to words".

Please consider submitting your excellently crafted expressions of fury and hope.

See the poet's guidelines for more information. And check out the current call for action.

See you in November!

Evie Schockley

a call to words

—for saw wei

poetry is not the art of silence. . . .but it can

encompass quiet. . . .meditation. . . .the moments when we

attend to breath or thought without speaking

cacophony is only one

end of its spectrum. . . .there are spaces between words

politics is not an art. . . .but politicians do

exercise craft. . . .their media include words. . . .but

also wool. . . .white noise. . . .and wars. . . .they

cough can’t say and can’t do all day and night into our

ears. . . .we’ve forgotten the sound of our own voices

personal lives are our proper domain we’re told. . . .so

explain to me where they lie. . . .what spaces

are private when our rulers use their power to

control our bedrooms and bodies. . . .to clamp down our lips on

every word of potential dissent

people. . . .we must all become poets

each of us must cultivate the difficult art of

articulating personal lives in political terms. . . .we must

create words that drown out the noise of war. . . .poetry must

excavate a space for the silence that is evidence of peace

Evie Shockley
February 20, 2008

The Burmese poet Saw Wei (Saw Wai) was arrested on January 22, 2008 for writing a poem.

Saw Wei is a well-known poet and performer whose philanthropic works include raising funds for AIDS orphans. He took part in the 1988 uprising and has headed a performance group called “White Rainbow”.

His acrostic poem (titled “February the Fourteenth”) stated that General Than Shwe is power-crazed.

For this he was arrested and is being held incommunicado at the Insein Prison, which is known for the use of physical and psychological torture.

According to a report in Mizzima News, Saw Wei’s family was permitted to visit him on the 20. February. His wife reports he is good health, but has not been given a trial date. The journal which published the poem has been permitted to resume publication. (IFEX, Amnesty Int. and PEN have not posted updates yet, please pass on information if you have it.)

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