E ROUSER: Alison Clockwise Cat
RAD-ASS REVIEWER: Cindy Hochman
FEATURED FEMME THIS ISSUE: Lana
RESIDENT VERSIFIER: Felino Soriano
RESIDENT PURR-SIFIER: Soleil
RESIDENT HISS-IFIER: Quetzal
Making the Democrats Green With Envy
(AKA Why I Loathe Hillary and Support Jill
Stein (AKA Where I Alienate Many Clockwise Cat
Readers (So Be It) ) )
"The story starts with genocide,
slavery, those terrorized;
Families, cultures torn apart,
this ugly truth only the start.
And it's a white washed pact,
the founding act,
revolution or contract?
To subjugate, to torture, to abuse,
for the few."
Over the weekend (a month ago now), I saw the punk band, Anti-Flag, at The Wrecking
Ball Fest, held at the legendary music venue, the Masquerade, which is being forced to
move due to, in the caustic words of Deerhunter's Bradford Cox, "venture capitalism."
The song, "Fabled World," particularly gripped me for its fiercely anti-imperialist lyrics,
and so I quote them throughout this episode of the Editor’s Scratching Post, as they
complement the thrust of my rant.
Our "fabled" world is a neo-fascist/neo-liberal nightmare. The two ideologies are
ultimately intertwined, even if their connotations are subtly distinctive. And we have the
Democrats to thank for edging the country more toward the right. OBVIOUSLY the GOP
is a nasty entity, but it's the Democrats who are (ostensibly) responsible for counteracting
the audacious authoritarianism of the GOP, bringing it more to the center, so that then the
Democrats can inhabit the true left, rather than the faux left, as they have been doing for
It was Bill Clinton who forced the Democrats further right. Jimmy Carter and JFK before
that enacted some right-wing policies, to be sure, and even FDR, iconic New Deal
visionary that he was, was totalitarian in his institution of the Japanese interment camps.
But it was Bill Clinton who, for example, is nearly single-handedly responsible for the
mass incarceration of blacks.
"Lock up mass incarcerate,
the new Jim Crow, the new slave trade;
If Doctor King were here today,
he'd fight for much more than a dream."
Clinton enacted legislation that made it far easier to target black criminals, fulfilling the
wet dreams of bigoted Republicans everywhere. According to Michelle Alexander,
author of the must-read article "Why Hillary Clinton Does Not Deserve the Black Vote,"
Bill Clinton actually "presided over the largest increase in federal and state prison
inmates of any president in American history."
And he did this via imposition of far harsher penalties for crack cocaine, the preferred
drug of blacks, than for powder cocaine, the preferred drug of whites, as well as
unabashedly signing a $30 billion crime bill that engendered new capital crimes, urged
life sentences for three-time offenders, and created a $16 billion budget for state prison
and police force expansions. As Alexander writes, "When Clinton left office in 2001, the
United States had the highest rate of incarceration in the world. Prison admissions for
drug offenses reached a level in 2000 for African Americans more than 26 times the level
And Hillary, as first lady, not only supported Bill, but she aggressively touted his policies
in language that was chilling for its thinly veiled racist overtones ("super-predators,"
Furthermore, even though mainstream history tells a different, distorted story,
unemployment rates for African Americans was actually quite high during the Clinton
years. Many blacks were incarcerated at the time of the reporting, which gave a deluded
picture of the true statistics.
"We live in a fabled world,
where the poor and the weak,
are pawns for profit's sake."
Clinton also oversaw a mass dismantling of the federal welfare system, and again, Hillary
was a vocal backer of this disastrous program. Indeed, Clinton cut public welfare
spending by a staggering $54 billion. Is it any coincidence that, as Alexander grimly
notes, "Extreme poverty doubled to 1.5 million in the decade and a half after the law was
"And you should go sign up,
join the fight,
the rich sleep while you kill tonight;
Love thy enemy as thyself,
as you carpet bomb him to hell."
And Hillary Clinton's transgressions don't stop at her brash bolstering of her husband's
policies. As Secretary of State, Hillary promoted a foreign policy program that was
devastating for countries like Honduras, where a far-right government reigns, and Libya,
where Hillary aggressively backed a regime-coup in which Gaddafi was overthrown.
Both scenarios have led to dire consequences for the people of those countries. Ukraine
and Syria suffered similar tragic fates under Secretary Clinton's vile influence.
"We live in a fabled world,
a corpocratic killing field;
where fascist profits are a lock”
Furthermore, Secretary Clinton lobbied relentlessly for mega-corporations like
ExxonMobil, GE, Wal-Mart, Boeing, who then oh-so-coincidentally poured money into
the Clinton Foundation coffers. Clinton, in fact, is well-known for her courting and
coddling of corporations, and in fact is the darling of fascist freaks like the Koch
So yeah. I am not a fan of the Clintons, and to be perfectly clear and blunt, it was the
Clintons who actually opened my eyes to how scammy and shammy the Democratic
Party was and is.
It's for these reasons and many, many more that Hillary Clinton does not have my
support, and that the Green Party does. The Green Party is what the Democrats are
supposed to be: Progressively for the people, not for profiteering.
Not to mention that nauseatingly, the Democratic National Convention was rigged
against Bernie, a far better, more robust candidate to defeat the terror that is Trump. Not
only was massive vote fraud perpetuated during the primaries by the Democrats in places
like California and New York (and many other states), but a disinformation campaign
against Bernie was pushed by the Dems, as revealed in the e-mails leaked just before the
It's not feminist to rig a campaign and claim you got there on your own merits.
Would it be awesome to have a female president? But of course! And Jill Stein would
make a fabulous president: she's smart, she's gutsy, and most importantly, she's a genuine
PROGRESSIVE, the real deal, not some fake-bacon imitation corporation-coddling
It's one thing (as I have repeatedly said to anyone who will listen and not clog their ears
in denial like the whiny Democrats they are) to vote for Hillary strategically to defeat
Tyrant Trump, but it's entirely another to actually defend her or champion her policies.
Her abhorrent record is splattered all over the internet for any naysaying nincompoop to
see, so there's really no excuse for anyone who actually cares about our world to justify
her actions in any way. She and Bill are sleaze incarnated, and that's fact.
Even more abhorrent are Democrats who try to bully and shame Jill Stein supporters into
voting for Hillary. They spout nonsense about the Green Party, flat-out lies about Jill
Stein concocted by the Democratic propaganda machine (for the record, Stein is PR0-
VACCINATION), and menacingly taunt Green Partiers with the insipid line, "A vote for
Jill Stein is a vote for Trump."
Um, no, it's not. A vote for Jill Stein is a vote for...drumroll...JILL STEIN. It's not our
fault the stupid idiotic electoral college gets in the way of a true democratic election
process. If Dem supporters want someone to scapegoat, blame the Democrats and
Republicans for maintaining the electoral college system, which schemes to suppress
third party candidates. No other western power is this ridiculously regressive when it
comes to elections. So stop, I say to Hillary-Dems, STOP, scapegoating someone like Jill
Stein, whom you'd otherwise support if it weren't for the anachronistic electoral college
that BOTH parties strategize to maintain.
Hillary must, after all, earn votes; she is not entitled to them. There is no guarantee that
Jill Stein supporters would vote for Hillary in the event of a Green Party vacuum. It's up
to the Democrats to run candidates that people trust, so as to gain favor with the
electorate. As it is, people are defecting left and right from the Democratic Party, and
with solid reason. The latest fiasco of blatantly shoving that great galvanizer, Bernie
Sanders, under the campaign bus, has pried open many a blind eye to what exactly is
going on within their once-cherished party.
“We live in a fabled world
We live in a fabled world,
These times can break you,
these times can leave you,
Will I vote for Hillary if it looks like Georgia, traditionally a red state, will become a
swing state? Who knows? But, I repeat, I will not be BULLIED and SHAMED into
voting for her. Such tactics on the part of Democratic supporters are pathetic.
Besides, ultimately the vitriol toward Jill Stein supporters is massively misplaced. The
hostility should be directed toward the Democrats for running an absolute sham of a
campaign, for corporatizing the hell out of their party, and running the worst possible
candidate against Trump. The pugnacious attitudes should be funneled toward the
stubborn and rigid electoral college, whose existence is enthusiastically nurtured by both
Democrats and Republicans. The righteous indignation should be flung toward everyone
in politics EXCEPT the Green Party, who has a right to exist, a right to challenge the
dastardly duopoly, and who has the purest progressive platform this side of UtopiaLand.
Suck on that, suckaz.
Garden of Rain (Le Jardin de Pluie) by Mike
Reviewed by Marianne Szlyk
In his most recent collection of poems, D.C.-area poet Mike Maggio continues his
exploration of free verse. This journey begins with “I’ve Forgotten Who I Am,” a
dreamlike, four-page narrative of the speaker’s journey from “quaint shops/[where he]
rummage[s] through abandoned bric-a-brac” to hunger to homelessness to wartime to
political dissidence. The narrative reflects his engagement with politics and
multiculturalism, developing concerns raised in his earlier chapbook Oranges from
Palestine (1996) and his satirical novel The Wizard and the White House (2014).
Beginning at home as the speaker searches through old photographs, the journey soon
expands to scenes that may be in this country or elsewhere, perhaps even within the poet.
However, more importantly for this collection, it initiates a search for intimacy as
Maggio attempts to engage with the photographs, a homeless man, a woman who feeds
the hungry, partisans who have just won a war, and a young boy who “leads [the poet]
across the wasteland/to a wayfaring tree.”
Many of the works in this collection rework the topic of intimacy, starting with the
second poem, “The Prison of St. Desire” that portrays lovers as prisoners. Indeed,
Maggio’s “Ode to Spring” addresses the season as a reluctant lover whose “slender
tongue/ [could] spark a bit of warmth/between these snow-white cheeks.” “You Really
Don’t Love Me” hovers between the possibility of addressing a long-time partner or
perhaps a country whose processed food, TV, and schools show its lack of love for the
speaker. A later poem, “You Came Running,” takes the form of a more straightforward
address to a woman, “a bouquet of roses redolent with wonder/. . ./on that drizzly, drowsy
summer day.” This poem contains an intriguing interlude of formatting worthy of e.e.
cummings, in which syllables drift down the page.
“Brownies” reintroduces Maggio’s social concerns as the woman whose overtures the
speaker rejects is poor, perhaps disabled, and, ultimately, homeless. Years later,
reflecting on her, the speaker recognizes how “the taste of [her] brownies/ continues to
taunt [his] tongue” and how this relationship has shaped him. The reader, in turn,
recognizes the rigor of Maggio’s search for intimacy. It is not simply a plunge into a
warm, scented bath or a gooey chocolate caramel sundae. Instead, the search continues
in fits and starts, encompassing both proximity and distance and lasting the entire length
of the book.
The search for intimacy continues through all three sections of Garden of Rain. The first,
Reflection, begins with “I’ve Forgotten Who I Am” and engages most fully with a
partner, ending with the startling “You Don’t Really Love Me.” It is probably the most
personal section as the poems’ speakers negotiate the dance of intimacy with unnamed
partners. The second, Shadow, is more concrete, bringing the reader to specific locations
such as Vineland Avenue and Los Angeles. Even when places are not named, the details
in these poems ground them. “You Came Running” and “Brownies” belong to this
section. The latter poem, interestingly, is juxtaposed with “LA Central Library,” which is
about waiting with the homeless (or unhoused) for free wireless. The third, A Ghost in
the Garden, transforms the search yet again. This section returns the speaker to the
journey that began with “I’ve Forgotten Who I Am”’s narrative.
Tellingly, though, this collection does not end with “He Came to the Desert,” a more
detached and detailed account of a mystical journey, but with “The Birds Begin at Four.”
This meditation on a woman completes the journey begun with the collection’s first poem
and its “search like Janus/ for one last burning door.” In ”The Birds Begin at Four,” an
intriguingly designed piece, the speaker is alone with this woman at the end of his
journey, yet they also commune with nature, with not only the early morning birds but
also a nearby brook and poppies in moonlight. The poet’s use of repetition adds to this
poem, turning details and phrases into refrains and conveying the couple’s closeness and
unwillingness to part.
On every page of this collection, Mike Maggio makes the poet’s search for intimacy
worth reading. He uses detail judiciously, avoiding what may seem random or limiting
while still grounding poems in worlds that we can comprehend. Furthermore, these
worlds contain politics, religion, and social concerns as well as the search for intimacy,
all of which inform our world as well as depending on each other. The search for
intimacy is an important thread in this collection, binding together geographically
dispersed experiences to create a compelling narrative of a poet during the prime of his
The Charter School Swindle – Selling
Segregation to Blacks and Latinos
Segregation now! Higher suspension rates for black students! Lower quality schools for Latinos!
These may sound like the campaign cries of George Wallace or Ross Barnett. But this isn’t the
1960s and it isn’t Alabama or Mississippi. These are the cries of modern day charter school
advocates – or they could be.
School choice boosters rarely if ever couch their support in these terms, but when touting charter
schools over traditional public schools, this is exactly what they’re advocating. According to the
Civil Right Project at UCLA, “The charter school movement has been a major political success,
but it has been a civil rights failure.”
It’s choice over equity. Advocates have become so blinded by the idea of choice that they can’t
see the poor quality of what’s being offered.
Because charter schools DO increase segregation. They DO suspend children of color at higher
rates than traditional public schools. And they DO achieve academic outcomes for their students
that are generally either comparable to traditional public schools or – in many cases – much
In Brown vs. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is Unconstitutional to have
“separate but equal” schools because when they’re separate, they’re rarely equal. Having two
parallel systems of education makes it too easy to provide more resources to some kids and less to
others. Who would have ever thought that some minority parents would actually choose this
outcome, themselves, for their own children!?
After Bloody Sunday, Freedom Rides, bus boycotts and countless other battles, a portion of
minority people today somehow want more segregation!?
It’s hard to determine the extent of this odd phenomena. Charter advocates flood money into
traditional civil rights organizations that until yesterday opposed school privatization. Meanwhile
they hold up any examples of minority support as if it were the whole story. However, it is
undeniable that large minority populations still oppose their school systems being charterized.
It’s especially troubling for civil rights advocates because black and brown charter supporters
have been sold on an idea that could accurately be labeled Jim Crow. And they don’t even seem
to know it. The reason is two-fold: (1) the success of privatization propaganda and (2) the erosion
of our public school system.
Charter schools are big business. Many of them are managed by huge corporations for a profit.
They are run at taxpayer expense with little to no oversight. As you might expect, this often
results in multi-million dollar financial scandals and worse outcomes for students. But these facts
have not fazed some of the public. Propagandists know how to sell people on things that are bad
for them: Fast food, miracle cures and charter schools.
They’ve marketed corporate McSchools as if these were mostly charitable institutions founded
for the sole purpose of making children’s lives better. Meanwhile, funds that might actually help
kids learn are funneled to hedge fund mangers and investors: Schools don’t open yet tax money
disappears. Student services are reduced below that offered at comparable neighborhood public
schools. Charter students are expelled for low test scores or special needs. Yet the public still
buys the glossy full-color advertisement without bothering about the small print.
One thing corporate education reformers have over advocates of traditional public schools is their
willingness to talk about race. They clothe their arguments in the terms of the Civil Rights
movement. They talk about having high expectations for children of color. They talk about
closing the achievement gap. They talk about understanding the needs of minority children.
It’s all bullshit. Their “high expectations” are really just an excuse for treating brown and black
kids as if they weren’t human. They put these children under intense pressure, berating them for
wrong answers and kicking them out if they don’t perform.
Yet the academic results produced at charter schools are often less than stellar. Sometimes they’re
downright abysmal. Instead of addressing the fundamental inequalities inherent in the
achievement gap – economically and culturally biased high stakes testing, shoddy and
developmentally inappropriate academic standards, etc. – they reinforce that status quo. It’s like
instead of fighting a prohibition against sitting in the back of the bus, they berate black folks for
not enjoying the ride.
I’m sorry. But when it comes to understanding the needs of black and Latino kids, I refuse to
believe children of color need a second-class education system. (Just as I refuse to believe Teach
for America’s claim that all black kids really need are less experienced, less educated and less
committed teacher trainees.)
Perhaps if traditional public schools actually addressed these issues head on, privatizers wouldn’t
appear to be saviors. There are real problems faced by children of color in our school systems.
They have real needs that most of our schools – charter, traditional, private or parochial – just are
not meeting. But while charter schools pay lip service to the problems without fixing them and in
fact often making them worse, public schools pretend these problems don’t exist in the first place.
No wonder some minority parents choose charter schools. At least there they get the illusion that
someone cares about their needs. In fact, privatizers couldn’t sell their substandard products if it
weren’t for what we’ve allowed to happen to our traditional public schools. Segregation is made
worse in charter schools, but it is also prevalent at our traditional public schools – though often to
a lesser degree.
We have allowed traditional public schools to be largely segregated based on parental income.
We have schools for poor kids and schools for rich kids. Thus, we have schools for black kids and
schools for white kids. And guess which ones are well-funded and which go lacking?
This is what people are really talking about when they mention “failing schools.” They pretend as
if the teachers are failing, the principals are failing, the democratic process, itself, is failing. In
reality, it is our state and federal lawmakers who are failing. They have failed to provide equitable
resources that our nation’s children need.
Schools cost money. If you don’t provide the funding necessary to properly educate children, you
will get an inferior result. Meanwhile, pundits play with numbers and make false comparisons to
hide this basic fact – we aren’t providing all kids with the resources they need to succeed. Rich
kids have enough. Poor kids don’t. But we look at national averages, add in unfunded legal
mandates and pretend that tells the whole story.
How does this happen? Segregation. In fact, we’re allowing segregation of place to determine
segregation of school. Instead of counteracting an unfair status quo, we’re letting the way things
are today determine how things will be tomorrow.
Fact: people of different ethnicities tend to cluster together, like with like. Part of this is because
people tend to self-segregate with people around whom they feel most comfortable. However,
this is also a function of social planning. Banks tend to shy away from giving loans to families of
color who want to move into white neighborhoods. Moreover, white homeowners are often
reluctant to sell to families of color. The result is an America made up of black neighborhoods
and white neighborhoods.
In organizing our public schools we could try to overcome these differences, but instead we
amplify them. In many states we insist that schools be funded based on local property taxes. So
poor brown and black people who happen to live clustered together get poorly funded schools for
their kids. And rich white folks who live together in their gated communities get well-funded
schools for their progeny.
Is it any wonder then that some people of color buy into the charter school lie? They’re offered
the choice between an obviously under-resourced public school or a glossy new charter school
that actually offers them less. But they don’t see that far. They’re tired of the indifference behind
traditional public school funding and opt to try something different. Unfortunately, it’s just
another lie and a more pernicious one for several reasons.
First, charter schools take an already segregated population and make it worse. Second, they
weaken the already stumbling traditional public schools by siphoning off their dwindling funding.
And finally, they obscure the fact that it’s often the same policymakers who champion charters
that are responsible for eroding public schools in the first place.
People of color would be much better served by sticking with their traditional public schools and
fighting to make them better. For all their faults, traditional public schools often provide a better
quality education. They have more resources and less flexibility to take away those resources.
They have more well-trained and experienced staff. And since they serve a more diverse
population, they offer the chance for people of similar economic backgrounds but diverse cultures
to join together in common cause.
Dividing people makes them weaker politically. When people band together, they have power.
They can fight more effectively for what they deserve. Perhaps this is the greatest problem with
charter schools – they destroy communities and rob neighborhoods of the collective power that is
their due. In many areas of the country, communities of color know this. Ask them in New
Orleans what they think of their all-charter school district. Ask them in Chicago what they think
of the city’s plan to close public schools and turn them into charters. Ask them in Philadelphia or
any urban district taken over by the state.
They’ll tell you straight out how privatized education is cultural sabotage. They’ll tell you how
it’s the new colonialism, another element of the new Jim Crow. They’ll tell you how important it
is to fight for our system of public schools.
And when privatizers and propagandists try to paint all communities of color as if they support
charter schools, these folks will loudly cry foul. They aren’t buying the snake oil. The rest of us
need to step up and help those who have been swindled to see the truth. Likewise we need to
recognize their truth – that the struggle for civil rights is ongoing.
Because we can’t win the fight against privatization without them. And they can’t win the fight
for equality without us.We need each other. Public school advocates need to recognize it’s not all
about testing, Common Core and privatization. We can’t be so afraid to talk about race. We need
to recognize that racism is not an unnecessary distraction, it’s at the center of our struggle.
We need communities of color. We need our black and brown brothers and sisters. Because only
together shall we all overcome this madness.
Editor’s note: This article is reprinted with permission from Stephen Singer at
More than Marble By Kathrine Yets
He says your body
was chiseled from marble,
but you know better.
You won’t crack so easy.
You aren’t one of The Three Graces.
Euphrosyne isn’t you.
But to him you’re imprisoned within
He says to you
while he fucks you in the mirror,
Look, you are beautiful,
and pulls your hair tie out.
He don’t know what the mirror
He don’t know.
You know your lips
ain’t just for kissing.
Your hands do more than touch.
There’s a Muse inside that body
holdin’ a chisel.
TWO POEMS by Jeff Bagato
Egg Raid on Midtown
flying too low
over the proverbial
henhouse in a biplane—
clucking of orgasmic
a TV-type impulse
overtakes pilot cocker
spaniel, a hound
much known for his derring
do, & his doo wop
he also sings
now back to swooping
down so low, an easy
target as hens
pelt him with rotten
eggs his soft paws
catch nice ‘n’ easy
‘til he has several dozen—
for a drop,
which comes up quick
in the first national bank he sees—
an edifice of miming
in its own stink
like cocking his leg on a
holy hydrant he
lets go all eggs at
splat splat splat
times ten, at
sulphur like an army of demon
turds in a desert storm,
translucent goo & yellow
massive sheets of
glass & tired faces
watching their liberation fade
as just another illusion of
Just to Be a Hobo
just to be a
a thick sycamore gnarled in winter,
giant knot holes, galls &
against the sky
or with the sky,
the will of trees
let alone the lady in plaid
pajama pants & thick glasses
throwing peanuts to squirrels
the creator, the god,
the medium—the dimension
above all others,
a breeze becomes
the universe is just
piled with other rocks,
filling some dark shithole
time the master,
ordering mass &
gravity & the laws
the conqueror, the devourer
come down to earth
as Death with a pendulum
striking like a scythe,
& the hobo
trips or ducks
or wrangles another smoke,
another heel up’n
to the asteroids,
to the stars
Author bio: Jeff Bagato is a writer, musician and street artist living near Washington, DC. Some
of his poetry has appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Chiron Review, Shattered Wig Review, and local
journals. He has published three books of poetry: And the Trillions, Spells of Coming Day, and
Latest Headlines. He has also published several novels, including The Toothpick Fairy and
Computing Angels. Jeff has recently started blogging about his writing and publishing at
Do touchy touchy apologies gratify us?
By Gerard Sarnat
I shared a stale cot with a Russian in Yalta.
Caught in the clouds of her badminton net,
tiring of tetchy metrosexy Buddhist sweat,
this yutz considered throwing in the towel
until he was met with less tasty discomfort
of a forearm shiver which comeuppance
originates from a sage Jew who growled,
G-d gave you rustics no right to punch wives.
Author bio: Gerard Sarnat is the author of four critically-acclaimed collections:
HOMELESS CHRONICLES from Abraham to Burning Man (2010), Disputes (2012),
17s (2014) and Melting The Ice King (2016).Work from Ice King was accepted by over
seventy magazines, including Gargoyle and Lowestoft Chronicle, and featured in Songs
of Eretz Poetry Review, Avocet: A Journal of Nature Poems, LEVELER, tNY,
StepAway, Bywords and Floor Plan. For Huffington Post and other reviews, reading
dates, publications, interviews and more, visit Gerard Sarnat.com. Go to Amazon to find
Gerry’s books plus Editorial and Customer Reviews. Harvard and Stanford educated,
Gerry’s worked in jails as a physician, built and staffed clinics for the marginalized, been
a CEO of healthcare organizations and Stanford Medical School professor. Married since
1969, he and his wife have three children and three grandkids.
He’s Crazy Everybody
By Andrea Wyatt
He’s crazy everybody said
But I loved your talk, faster and faster and faster, your
fluttering Benzedrine eyes, not able to settle,
never settling on anything,
your eyes flitting from side to side like moths, like flies on meat;
He’s crazy everybody said
But I loved how you spoke French, fast, smoky, your French accent,
like Belmondo, or Godard,
even though you were from Westminster, Maryland;
I loved that you were in Paris in ’68,
your thin shoulders moving up and down
accentuating your babble, babble, babble,
as you described the French police, the battles in the streets,
smoke from your gauloises bleus filling up our basement room,
you couldn’t stay in bed more than an hour or two,
even sleeping, you twitched like a hound
dreaming of a hunt, your hands were cold and you never wanted to eat
which was ok, we had no kitchen and you drank cup after cup of instant expresso
that you made with bathroom tap water;
He’s crazy everybody said
but they never heard you recite poetry,
declaim poetry in English and French, in your, yes, filthy beret, cracked black sunglasses
and extra long silk scarf I think you stole, sitting cross-legged on our mattress;
they never heard you rant about failure and loss of nerve,
about grief and how it never ends, about Les Fleurs du mal and Le Bateau ivre,
about Jean Genet, who Simone de Beauvoir called
her thug of genius and suddenly the Bennies or whatever it was wore off
and it was almost dawn and you slumped against me
and I slid down quietly so you would not wake
and I held you in my arms and buried my face
in your grimy, tousled hair and slept.
Author bio: Andrea Wyatt is the author of three poetry collections and co-editor of
Selected Poems by Larry Eigner, Collected Poems by Max Douglas, and The Brooklyn
Reader. Her work has appeared or will in Copperfield Review, Gargoyle and Gravel. She
is the associate editor of By&By poetry journa.
Two poems by Eva Skrande
Author bio: Eva Skrande was born in Havana, Cuba and grew up in Miami. She earned a
B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College, an M.F.A. from Iowa, and a Ph.D. in Creative
Writing from the University of Houston. Her poems have appeared in Clockwise Cat,
Prick of the Spindle, Cortland Review, the American Poetry Review, American Voice,
Iowa Review, Ploughshares, and the Alaska Quarterly, among others. Her first book, My
Mother's Cuba, was selected by Andrew Hudgins for the River City Poetry Series. Her
chapbook, the Gates of the Somnambulist was published by Jeanne Duval Editions. She
lives in Houston, Texas.
Once a stone was my home
like a small earth or language.
There was an emerald for the sea,
valleys for songs, and summer
for prayer. Two birds
evened out my shoulders.
Two butterflies were all I knew
of wisdom. The darkness
was a bouquet of shadows
lit up now and then by stars
who loved beggars and refugees.
In the center, a small fire
led old flowers home. All their hopes
rested on one little fire
trying to make up for the sins
of its cousins: angry boats,
all exits into fire.
To scatter the seeds of destiny
in the land of refugees, beside the opening of tents
To forgive the history that tries to lessen us--
bills and debts and the hunger of poor boats--
eneath the eaves of luminous Mondays
Wherever the once-extinct play the piano
alongside the archaeology of mornings
O gospels that are the envy of wind
circling the lips of asphodels
O soliloquies succumbing to the knees of dusk
daffodils whose voices move the moon
toward the dancers on your light-swept brow
and the eternity that effervesces there
to the tune of a thousand roses
breathing your name.
An Animated Sojourn (Movie Review)
By Alison Ross
The animated feature, "The Boy and the World" is a flamboyantly kaleidoscopic trip
across time and space; in some ways it feels otherworldly, even though its concerns are
grounded in this very world. The basic story is that a boy's father leaves home, and the
boy sets off to find him. Along the way, the boy has various encounters that deepen his
understanding of the world around him. The movie does not shy from highlighting the
horrors of modern society (wage slavery and the like), and yet it does so in a palatable
way that also does not diminish the impact of these terrible truths. But as sumptuous as
the imagery is - and it's a full-on feast to saturate the senses - it does threaten to subsume
the plot, with its overwhelming emphasis on variegated styles of animation. The music is
the most balanced element in the production; wending its way through the narrative is a
minimalistic soundtrack of one very linear flute tune that evokes the music native to
Brazil, the film's country of origin. The serpentine song acts almost as a guide to the boy
on his sojourn, and it serves to anchor him when the mysteries of the world elude him.
The Divine Comedy (for Donald Trump)
by Patricia Carragon
You wear many masks,
sit like a flag-waving jester—
throw tacos and spitballs
as we act out our lives.
We’re your deplorable jokers,
Mother Earth wife-beaters.
We repeat our mistakes—
use different methods
to kill off each candidate.
As the wreaking ball
crosses the stage,
you and your punch line
can’t find the exit.
Author bio: Patricia Carragon’s recent publications include The Avocet, Bear Creek
Haiku, Clockwise Cat, First Literary Review-East, Panoply, poeticdiversity, The Yellow
Chair Review, among others. She is the author of Journey to the Center of My
Mind (Rogue Scholars Press, 2005) and Urban Haiku and More (Fierce Grace Press,
2010). Patricia hosts Brownstone Poets and is the editor-in-chief of its annual anthology.
Shes an executive Editor for Home Planet News Online.
TWO collages By Oscar Varona
Artist bio: Oscar Varona is a writer and a collagist from Madrid, Spain. Influenced by
transgressive narrative styles and little conventional, he published his first book of stories,
“Tremolo” in 2003. Has written several novels and some of his stories have been included in
various international journals: The New Yinzer, (USA, 2009), Mondo Kronheca
Literature (Argentina, 2009), Metazen, (Canada, 2010), Ascent Aspirations, (USA, 2014),
Argonautas (Spain, 2014) and Groenlandia (Spain, 2009 and 2010). Coordinator and editor of
the cultural journal Delirio, in its ten numbers (2009-2012). He combines his poems, dialogues
and stories with his own artistic creations, mainly collages and illustrations. You can find more of
his work here http://oscarvarona.com/
by Daniel Thompson
half moon pendant
swinging below its everpresent
morning star, one unit of light
glittering atop each wave
throws a net across its face,
spinning yarns as long as
ocean currents, hauled in
dripping with fish
sweat of brine
casting doubt over ocean sway
everywhere a way in
ten o’clock gradient climbing towards
zenith peak midnight resisting
the whole tug of seasons and tides
all shorelines are like
seashells are alike, sun says
‘nothing that is known to man is unknown to me,
no foreign land’.
soul oil lighting the way
catching sleep between the swells
keeping one eye open for land
while the continents move farther apart.
Usually one can say
that the land stays in the same place
but for him, an island of a man
it’s not always that way.
Out of a desultory nod
the tide deposits him somewhere
along the new shoreline
Author bio: Daniel’s poetry is reminiscent of Black Mountain and New York school
poets with a tone of Romanticism and Metaphysics, the night to his day work of novel
writing. Exploring themes and images more freely and naturally than the conventions of
fiction generally allow, letting form and language guide the content rather than the
content guiding the language. Daniel has an M.F.A. from the University of Victoria and
has been published in a range of literary magazines. He is a reader and contributor to the
Tongues of Fire reading series and has written several books, all currently seeking
High Noon, Texan Badlands.
By John Doyle
The whole town
edges to one side,
blistered light squeezing its frigid day.
In silent depths of space
wind tickles gorse,
where killers sharpen knives, tutoring runaway boys
eyeballing their own ghosts,
running home to ma with teary-eyed tales;
tales to tell that made hair stand up -
filling time wheat specters took
to make dust-embalmed shadows. We must
find a moment's rest from the sun,
denim jacket drifter,
boy who peers around to
spin the roulette wheel once more,
the tin-coffin beans
the frying pan, and coyotes afoot
Author bio: John Doyle is a gastronaut and astronaut, venture capitalist, tennis coach,
international commodities broker, and collector of northern hemisphere wines, with a
penchant for Spanish red. Based in County Kildare Ireland, he opened his first private
detective agency in 1952, and now has branches across the globe including new offices in
San Marino, Bhutan, and that part of Iceland with the tropical beach in it. He is also
world champion bullshitter 5 years consecutively.
Through a Glass DARKLY By Gary Beck
Author bio: Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director, and as an art
dealer when he couldn’t make a living in theater. He has 11 published chapbooks. His
poetry collections include: Days of Destruction (Skive Press), Expectations (Rogue
Scholars Press). Dawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways,
Displays (Winter Goose Publishing). Fault Lines, Perceptions, Tremors and Perturbations
will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. Conditioned Response (Nazar Look).
Resonance (Dreaming Big Press). His novels include: Extreme Change (Cogwheel Press)
Acts of Defiance (Artema Press). Flawed Connections (Black Rose Writing). Call to
Valor will be published by Gnome on Pigs Productions. His short story collection, A
Glimpse of Youth (Sweatshoppe Publications). Now I Accuse and other stories will be
published by Winter Goose Publishing. His original plays and translations of Moliere,
Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway. His poetry, fiction and
essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines. He currently lives in New York
Twelve Dreams for Carl:!A Play-Poem!
By Derek Owens
ALL THE ANIMALS IN THE WORLD (played by third graders) stand in a meadow
making grazing noises.
Enter UNDULATING GREAT HORNED SNAKE MACHINE suspended by wires,
flicking ANIMALS with its tongues. ANIMALS do exaggerated death scenes, don ghost
FOUR-EYED GOD takes his position on the birthing table. ALL THE ANIMALS IN
THE WORLD crawl out from under him casting off ghost robes while punching fists into
the air going "boo-ya" and "that’s what I’m talking about!” etc.
Children ascend to heaven on backs of ROBOTS. Once in the celestial balcony they put
on hippie costumes and do fake African dances. MILKY WAY descends (contraption of
wire, cloth strips, marshmallows, pipe cleaners). Balcony collapses, kids falling to
mattresses below, crying and whatnot. VEGETABLE ANGELS arrive and harass kids
back to health with GOOD DEEDS.
DREAMER (played by “dying girl”) exits the caves escorted by bats and is assaulted by
MINIATURE HORDE OF ANIMALS. DREAMER’S fear grows causing HORDE to
inflate to the size of Thanksgiving Day parade balloons with crudely painted scary faces
(V's over eyes, pointy teeth). Overcome, DREAMER gets eaten by a skunk or turtle.
Enter FAMOUSE MOUSE holding placards out of sync with his soliloquy. Midway
through his rant WORMS SNAKES AND FISHES played by mothers in black-light body
paint surround MOUSE.
Animated cartoon of FAMOUS MOUSE projected onto a sheet hung on the wall. The
hole in his side expands into a tunnel that WORMS SNAKES AND FISHES drive
through in their little cars.
Painted mothers amorously wrestle FAMOUS MOUSE to floor and conduct their
business. From the melee MOUSE rises transformed into A SUIT and launches into a
song mourning the absence of tails.
DREAMER in bed, burlap bags for blankets. As she falls sleep THE DREAM OF THE
DREAMER unfurls in silk banners overhead.
Members of the audience retrieve cards taped under their seats and follow the
instructions, yelling "focus! focus!" with mock impatience. Stagehands and technicians
circulate throughout the auditorium pretending to fix things.
The landscape is revealed to be a DROP OF WATER viewed through a microscope.
EMISSARIES (played by teachers long in the tooth) swoop out on butler cords, Tarzanlike.
Twigs and string fall out of their pajamas catching in the hair of those below.
Spotlight on BAD BOY in the clock tower, squatting like a gargoyle, leering into the
square below at tourists relaxing around the fountain.
He’s pulling walnut-sized balls of mud from a sack and winging them side-arm at the
tourists. At first he can’t hit for shit but his accuracy improves rapidly: daubs smack
passersby on their faces.
Each struck tourist morphs into a WEREWOLF, changing behavior accordingly. BAD
BOY laughs as the population turns feral. A clay bust of BAD BOY floats to the surface
of the fountain, laughs back.
Late night hijinks down by the reservoir: TEENAGERS, played by themselves, acting out
From the woods stumbles DRUNKEN QUEEN, robes hanging in shreds due to attacks
by wild beasts. She walks into the water, drowns herself, emerges renewed, strolling
around pods of TEENAGERS who are too preoccupied with the mechanics of their
couplings to notice her. In her wake snow begins to fall.
A municipality establishes itself on top of ANT HILL (played by America). Festival
time, culminating in "log roll competition": couples locked in embrace pushed down
grassy slopes. At the base they are beset upon by ANTS. Their cries awaken DREAMER
who, in her own panic, stumbles into a swift-moving river encircling the anthill like a
The river grows twelve copies of DREAMER which emerge to ride the ants like horses,
taming them and bringing stability back to the community.
A family reunion: DREAMER and her choir lounging on the moon. But the legs of their
lawn chairs sink into the chalky effluent and DREAMER and company descend into hell.
On the way down they pass tableaux by turns marvelous and ghastly.
Once in hell CHILDREN (played by themselves and dressed as tulips) taunt DREAMER
The audience is woken by THE DREAM OF THE DREAMER, a mirrored disco ball of
colossal proportions releasing vapors of questionable content.
Clouds blossom in the auditorium. DREAMER’s in her rowboat, center stage. A hot air
balloon weighted with shrunken heads and carrying ASSASSIN floats down to
DREAMER. ASSASSIN cuts DREAMER'S throat releasing red ribbons. Switches places
with DREAMER, cuts loose the heads, and DREAMER rises into the clouds. ASSASSIN
Inside THE DREAM OF THE DREAMER: PESTILENCE, in opaline veils, dances in a
ballet studio in front of a wall mirror, her reflection played by DREAMER.
The dance turns salacious: birds emerge from DREAMER'S skin, covering her
completely until DREAMER is all bird.
Enter GNATS, played by DREAMER'S four minds. They swarm, filling the entirety of
the stage, mingling with and eventually obliterating THE FIRMAMENT (played by third
graders, faces peering through holes cut in black backdrop).
STAR (a randomly selected member of the audience) is forced through slit in THE
FIRMAMENT, tumbles out and sinks into DREAMER'S belly. Flutes and whistles etc.,
bottle rockets, curtain.
Author bio: Derek Owens teaches at St. John’s University in New York, where he also
directs the Institute for Writing Studies. Information on his artwork, writing, and teaching
can be found at derekowens.net.
!"##$%& BY NELLY SANCHEZ
ARTIST STATEMENT: Surrealism inspires me because this movement smashed the
rules of classical art and looked past the mundane to dreams and the unconscious. The
images I use for my collages come from women's magazines. The world depicted in those
pages is very interesting: sophisticated, shiny, politically correct, yet tyrannical. I like to
deform those images, that perfection, to create my own world. Beneath the superficiality,
dreams grow wild.”
Derrie!re la vitre
Julie Can’t Ruin the Coathangers (Music Reviews of Julie
Ruin and the Coathangers)
by Alison Ross
When you haven't yet "taken" to a favorite band's latest release, chances are, the new
songs will gel with you if you see the band live. At least, that's been my experience more
often than not. For that reason, and many others, I am glad I saw The Julie Ruin at the
Wrecking Ball Fest 2016. Whereas on the studio album of "Hit Reset" the new songs felt
lackluster, and a pale mimicry of the smashing debut, live the songs rang vivid.
Too, the visual of the band performing the songs provided dynamic resonance. Suddenly,
"Hit Reset" sounded fresh and original rather than a blurry mirror of the previous, more
immediately arresting release, "Run Fast." Singer and punk icon Kathleen Hannah's zigzaggy
dance moves bring feisty fun and her fierce feminist tirades ("We're not here to
suck your dick just because you are in a band;" "A reviewer once told me that at 30, I was
too old for punk; 17 years later I am still proving him wrong") slash through the
patriarchal straitjacket, invigorating an audience hungry for aggressive anti-misogynist
Of course, by now this review has devolved into more of a commentary about Julie
Ruin's live show rather than the new album, but suffice it to say that from here forward, I
will be able to listen to "Hit Reset" with renewed enthusiasm. Songs like the scorching
opener (also the title song) which Hannah declares is about her abusive father, set the
tone for a collection of tunes that offer searing critiques of the naively sexist (see "Mr. So
and So") as well as the blatantly sexist (see "Be Nice"). Of course, to counterbalance the
heavy mood, Hannah also displays an aching vulnerability on a track paying homage to
her mother, "Calverton." The band's playful melding of new wave and punk, along with
Hannah's little girl sing-songy voice that easily bends into a menacing howl, make The
Julie Ruin essential listening.
I've never had a nosebleed, at least as far as I recall (on the cusp of 50,
memory atrophy is more and more my reality). But I have always found
nosebleeds inexplicably intriguing; there's some sort of perverse allure about
a sanguine liquid seeping from one's nostrils. It seems so wrong, and yet it
also seems kinda cool.
The Coathangers have also always been kind of "wrongly cool." They are
absurdistly offbeat, cutsey-girly, and rowdily punk, all at once. What can I
say? Sassy, savvy contradictions are far more appealing than homogenous
mundanity. "Nosebleed Weekend," the band's 5th album in their ten-year
tenure, coalesces all of their colliding contrasts into a tight, neat package. In
some sense, it's too neat, and too tight.
After all, the Coathangers are at their zig-zaggy zenith when they are slightly
sloppy. Of course, "Nosebleed Weekend" was obviously produced with the
mindset of radiating toward a larger audience. So, here, the band's frayed
edges - that sonic equivalent of hole-riddled denim cut-offs - have been
trimmed back a bit, and the sound tailored toward listeners who might
gravitate toward punk, and yet would be put off by a too-rough, too-jagged
Granted, that's oxymoronic, because punk is meant to be rough and
jagged. Too, the shrieky-girl vocals have been muted, and the voices
rendered less distinctive. To some, this would prove an asset, but to my ears,
it's a deficit. The whole point of the Coathangers is their high-pitched
screeches that pinch eardrums and yet manage to evoke tough and tender
Again, it's that collusion of incongruities that make the Coathangers who
they are. This is not to say the album is without its merits: It's still uniquely
THEM, with slow burners, and intense screeds, and even their signature
savage silliness on display via "Squeaki Tikki," replete with piercing dog toy
Indeed, the last album, "Larceny and Lace," had taken the menacing side of
the band so far that I had wondered whether the Dada-esque playfulness
would ever return. Thankfully, it has, proving that the Coathangers will
always put feisty fun - in the form of a nosebleed weekend, maybe? - first.
BRAINWASH By Lindsay McLeod
A surgical sneeze against
these outrageous borders
of plastic apathy, a
staggering helicopter course
about the invisible helmet
of my congested clone.
And though the blade prevails
in dancing repair of my
patchwork hypocrisy, it
reveals no tailored baby
surfacing in moonlight
but a punishing mass of
struggling shrink wrapped
in a mumbling trolley.
The following man emerges
anew in anxious envy to find
with cemented certainty
that a poor story deplores
a mobile dream.
Author bio: Lindsay McLeod trips over the horizon every morning. He has won some
prizes and awards and stuff for poetry and short fiction and published his first coauthored
poetry collection, My Almost Heart, in 2015. He currently writes on the sandy
Southern edge of the world, where he watches the sea and the sky wrestle for supremacy
at his letterbox. He prefers to support the underdog. It is presently an each way bet.
Forgive Me Mr. Trump
By Sergio Ortiz
/ I will not shake your hand
you are not my friend / I
cannot welcome you / no one from your party
is welcomed / .
I want you to say you’re sorry / we are not
rapists (or slobs or dogs or pigs) / we only flee / injustice
I have my hammer. I have tears. I have a backbone.
The only thing / I am giving you / is my
disapproval. I’ll turn my back
and walk away now.
Author bio: Sergio A. Ortiz is the founding editor of Undertow Tanka Review. His
collections of Tanka, For the Men to Come (2014), and From Life to Life (2014) were
released by Amazon. He’s a two-time Pushcart nominee and a four time Best of the Web
nominee. His poems have been published in over four hundred journals and
Book Review: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
By Beverley Catlett
While McMurphy laughs. . . . Because he knows you have to laugh at the things that hurt
you just to keep yourself in balance, just to keep the world from running you plumb crazy.
He knows there’s a painful side; he knows my thumb smarts and that his girlfriend has a
bruised breast and the doctor is losing his glasses, but he won’t let the pain blot out the
humor any more’n he’ll let the humor blot out the pain (Kesey, 250)
Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: it’s the story of an insane asylum
run by the mercilessly tyrannical Nurse Ratched and a crew of obedient coworkers who
together medicate, electrocute, and lobotomize their patients into oblivion. More
importantly, it’s a story about freedom, friendship, democracy, and the restoration of the
individual voice in the face of an institution that seeks to oppress it. In a brilliantly
original microcosmic rendering of American society as the iconoclastic novelist
understood it, Kesey lampoons the irony of life in a country founded upon freedom
wherein free speech and democracy seemed increasingly ineffectual and obsolete. The
ward becomes the dark yet unforgettably original setting for a tale of otherwise
illimitable symbolic proportions. Kesey’s message is as defiant and boundless as is the
charisma of his unseemly hero. It is through the incredibly vivid and intuitive first-person
narrative of the deaf and dumb Chief Bromden (who isn’t actually deaf and dumb – but
does it matter?) that Kesey guides us into a setting wherein he delivers a story that strikes
an emotional chord you’ll be surprised any piece of fiction could possibly reach. One
Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is one of the most dysfunctional, sublimely beautiful
tragedies of modern American literature.
Randall McMurphy is a notorious, gambling conman who feigns insanity to avert
serving time on a work farm to which he was originally sentenced for statutory rape. He’s
also got a knack for humor that leaves his readers and fellow patients in stitches, and a
determination to retain the liberties he loves most in the face of life-threatening odds. As
he proves in his instigation of a full-blown rebellion against a nurse with the power to rob
him of his mind and his life, McMurphy is a mortal with the spirit of a martyr. He is a
hero of epic proportions, and is arguably the most selfless, touchingly compassionate,
charismatically lovable character of his literary era. The moral ambiguity of his past is as
disposable within the larger context of the novel as are our initial prejudices and
inclinations to distrust our paranoid, seemingly delusional narrator along with the rest of
the Acutes on the ward. Some of the men are truly insane; others were committed for
trivial crimes or abnormalities and have since been effectively brainwashed to believe
that they are insane. None of these distinctions matter: these are men with a right to live
and a need for a leader to bring them “out of the fog”, one by one.
The novel is an emotional rollercoaster; though it gives its readers considerable
repose in moments of laughter and joy (most memorably on a fishing trip where our hero
leads his twelve haphazard disciples out to sea), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest will,
as we and McMurphy have known all along, end in tragedy. Kesey creates an idol, only
to rob him of a beautiful mind. The redemption of euthanasia bestowed upon a vegetative
McMurphy by his mentee and hard-earned friend barely seems to suffice for the
redemption McMurphy has bestowed upon his ward and upon his readership. Cuckoo’s
Nest will make you laugh; it will make you cry. It will inspire and enrage you.
McMurphy’s death will paralyze you like the loss of a best friend. But the tears his death
will inevitably conjure are the least we owe McMurphy for blessing us with his life; they
are the least we owe Kesey for creating a realistic figure with an imperfect past to whom
we can aspire and relate, who we wish we knew and could laugh with, who we wish we
could bring to life. McMurphy is immortalized and his death is hardly terminal – perhaps
it is the truncation of the ineffable beauty his life provides that makes the novel’s
conclusion so emotionally ravaging. Whatever it is, we wouldn’t trade the glimpse Kesey
gives us into that beauty – that dysfunctional, indescribable beauty - for any price.
McMurphy’s is a lesson of Biblical proportions; it is the creation of a new Christ figure
for a new generation who needed and continues to need an idol who isn’t perfect, and that
makes McMurphy all the more deserving of the worship he commands. One Flew Over
the Cuckoo’s Nest is a lesson in freedom and idolatry; it’s a tough one, but it’s a lesson
that everyone needs to hear.
Author bio: Beverly Catlett is a 22-year old recent graduate of Sewanee: The University
of the South, a tiny liberal arts college on a mountain in Tennessee, where she received a
BA Honors in English and the Andrew Nelson Lytle Prize for Excellence in English and
Southern Studies. She is an incoming first year English MA student in Georgetown
University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She is originally from Richmond,
VA, though she was born and spent the early portions of her childhood in NYC. She
attended the Yale Writer's Conference this summer. She is currently struggling to write a
memoir. She just got finished with an 85-page thesis on madness as a literary trope and
the madman as a prophetic figure, a harbinger of truth to an environment permeated by
lunacy and delusion, that is dealt with in Hamlet, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,
Catch-22, and in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, as well as in the theories of
Then a Switch by Dennis Wheeler
Then a switch is thrown
all the lights go dark and the dull
roar turns to an ocean of noise
and you ride the waves
dancing on, and your feet hurt but you don't feel it.
because this is the moment and this moment
always the same
But lighters turned to LED's and the magic's gone out of the world.
can't light no j with an iphone.
it’s all incense and fog machines and fakery and damn it
nothing is the same at all.
Where’s Lemmy? Ziggy? Or Scotty Weiland?
Lucille is cryin’ for her man, and
I saw a ghost at a corner in Winslow, Arizona.
I'd make a sandwich sign sayin'
The gods are dead. The gods are dead.
the gods are dead....
can't light no j with an iphone.
maybe there's an app for that.
Author bio: Dennis Wheeler has been writing poetry, singing songs, and trying to be a
decent person for a little while now, and thought that it may be time to submit some of
his work to others. In his 34 years on this planet, he’s experienced more than a few hard
times, none of which really need to be enumerated here. He mentions this because so
much of his work comes from his experiences.
ARTWORk BY Unitas Quick
Artist bio: Unitas Quick is a self-contained recording artist, singer/songwriter and visual
POWER MADE US SWOON, by Brynn Saito
(Red Hen Press, 2016)
Reviewer: Cindy Hochman
What works is singing
from the cave of the self
—“Stone on Watch at Dawn,” Brynn Saito
Poet Brynn Saito employs a powerful strategy for coming to grips with some of
the more overwhelming trials of life by starting off with the set-up for a joke: Woman
Warrior walks into a bar … but it soon becomes apparent that this is merely a buffer for
the true subtext of the poems; no Happy Hour at this bar, but, rather, a place where “the
earth is a traffic of broken hearts.” Woman Warrior wanders intermittently through these
poems, her footprints heavy with history’s injustices, love and fear of the land, accidental
ghosts, and a sense of God watching over us. Drawn from the perspective of her
Japanese/Korean heritage, along with a proud eye on the shattering glass ceiling, despite
her initial bravado, Woman Warrior’s biggest strength is her vulnerability—and, for
Saito, there’s a bravery in that.
No history of suicide or insomnia
in my family Histories
of bottles fermenting blues
No history of oil or industry
in my family
History of luck and guns
in my family scribbled in dust
a-promise. I begin like an agent
to get it all down
“Getting it all down” is, of course, a poet’s mission and duty (so take up the pen,
press it to the veins), but doing so often means opening up the veins of the past, both
generic and genetic (How does a family learn to fly / like that? How do they know / the
best seasons for leaving?), so this poet gives herself permission to spin toward a less
tragic outcome (You are young again / Your father has not gone to the bar tonight / You
do not have to find him / You do not have to call around / asking for him / You’re a girlspark
firefly). The poems depict a dual desire to remember and a desperate need to forget,
as well as a purposeful altering of memory (how I believe what I can’t remember). But
there is just so much happy rewriting a poet can do, and just so much trauma a woman
warrior can push away. In “Theory of Knowledge,” a series of six short, vivid vignettes,
Saito recounts several grisly scenes: an accident in which a child dies in the middle of the
road; a drunk driver overturning a van and hitting Grandmother, “shattering her face
bones”; another accident involving the poet and her boyfriend, spinning on black ice and
“swallowing 8-balls of fear”; and the recollection of an ancient uncle as “the ghost no one
cries for.” It is no wonder, then, that by the sixth snapshot-scenario, the poet’s
imagination spirits her
off to Paris, where “I’ll think about the stories but I’ll feel them differently. Place them
like quilt patches across my chest and weave them strategically around my body for
warmth … the new testament telling me I’m fine.”
Woman Warrior is thinking about justice.
The moon out
and climbing the sky
reminding her of the slow light of progress …
river of women—women loving men
men loving bottled love
love like a cradle of needles—
mending, mending, mending.
Amid this “river of women” are elegies to two trailblazing female warrior-poets,
Muriel Rukeyser and Adrienne Rich (you tended the earth with your unquiet rage /
waiting for rain the way some women wait / for a man’s dry fist to stop its music / against
the oak door). And, yet, for all their female-centric leanings, the poems bestow equal
reverence on a Male Warrior, Saito’s heroic father (my father’s sudden grip clawing my
left arm so I wouldn’t fall into the glass), whose daughter “wished on lightning she could
be that strong,” while acknowledging that “Camp made Dad unpredictable.”
Displorations in the Desert
Tuesday, late October. We wake at 5a.m. to drive to the Manzanar National
Historic Site—my mother, my father, and I …
In Manzanar, from 1942–1945, the U.S. Government incarcerated approximately
10,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry.
541 babies were born during the wartime incarceration.
In the wake of this, it seems apt that the poet uses stone and ash as metaphors: a
hardened façade co-existing with frailty. Despite having coined the term “disploration”
(exploring despair), Saito claims to be “worn and tired of their histories,” but as a poetdocumentarian,
she cannot deny what has preceded her. By the final poems, “Woman
Warrior” is denoted by only the initials “W.W.” (which, in this context, a keen reader
could just as easily visualize as the acronym for “World War,” along with all the horrors
associated with it), and it is clear that the power that makes Saito swoon is endurance and
survival, making it all the more interesting that, in the end, the girl who once “fought her
way out with words” craves silence.
W.W. On How To Be Free
Go to the ends of the earth / girl / go like a leopard chasing her longing /
go like the grasses grown and cut and blowing / over the valley by autumn
fire-winds / Go away from the valley / girl / go to the city / Go like a fighter
/ with gold ore precision / with penny-like pain / with plenty of power
Brynn Saito reminds us that sometimes there is power in memory, but even more so in
silence. Like ash. Like stones.
Two poems by Tim Lewis
Author bio: Tim Lewis is a fourth year student at Occidental College in Los Angeles;
majoring in Critical Theory and Social Justice, Tim is passionate about finding the
organic moments where Continental philosophy can clarify and/or positively effect the
social justice issues of the present. In his time as the lead student editor/managing editor
of CTSJ: Journal of Undergraduate Research, Tim has published three volumes of CTSJ-
- cementing its place as the national standard bearer in its field.
Sonic Girl (Book Review) by Alison Ross
Sonic Youth has always played music that is rhythmically asymmetrical, so it's fitting
that bassist and singer Kim Gordon's memoir, Girl in a Band, also has that asymmetrical
quality. It's not only that the book is organized in an offbeat, quasi-linear fashion, but that
the details Gordon chooses to focus on, especially early on, are sometimes unexpected,
and don't seem to fit the narrative until much later, when you realize that she was simply
setting up the scenario to discuss in more depth her days with Sonic Youth. For she
needed to lay the groundwork - her beginnings in NY and LA, her family life, her artistic
influences, and so on - in order to more cogently describe her time with her legendary
band, and dissect the dissolution of her legendary marriage with frontman Thurston
The best parts of the book, of course, are those that hone in on the vivid and diverse
albums of Sonic Youth - the milieu in which they were created, and the mindsets which
helped craft them. The hardest parts to read, and that feel somewhat forced, are the pages
where she rants against Thurston. Her feelings of rage are understandable, to be sure - he
did, after all, cheat on her, and they have a daughter together - but her tone has a mildly
disingenuous flavor, as though she felt obliged to confront the situation, but wasn't
exactly comfortable doing so. Who could blame her?
Sonic Youth, of course, is known for its charming collage of cacophonous forces - its
disparate sonic clashes that somehow coalesce into an euphonious, if noisy, whole.
Gordon's memoir, though asymmetrical in its telling, is far from being "noisy," and
instead exists as the quietly fierce document of alternative rock's reigning queen, as she
attempts to make sense of the messy story of being a girl in a pioneering band, married to
the singer whose shocking lapses sundered everything.
Invest In Children!(SATIRE) !
By Martin H. Levninson
Many Americans believe the job of educating children should be shifted to
the private sector to save money and to provide better instruction to children. A
number of localities have already begun to move in this direction and scores of
others are considering the notion. There’s clearly dough to be made in school
privatization and for those interested in getting in on this racket here are a few
ideas on the subject.
The first thing you’ll need to do is to hire some teachers and that shouldn’t
be a problem if the hiring bar is set at the right level. The level I recommend is
anybody who has attended school. This will provide a hiring pool of nearly
everyone in the country. If you want to be more expansive, offer the job to anyone
with a pulse.
In terms of salary, I suggest using the following formula: add the number of
years a person has attended school to the person’s age, divide by the square root of
four, subtract from the number of fish there are in the sea, and multiply by 1. The
result will be a negative integer, which means your employees will have to pay
you for the privilege of working. If they object to this arrangement offer them fifty
cents an hour above the federal minimum wage and if they still complain look for
other people. (Consider recruiting illegal aliens. There are lots of Illegals who
would jump at a chance to take a teaching position and work at the wages you’re
Next you’ll need some students. A good tactic for attracting learners is to
pay them, and you won’t have to pay them much since they’re getting nothing
from the public schools. But make sure you pay them less than their teachers
ecause if you don’t the teachers will quit and enroll as students in your school.
Also, since the kids are being paid, don’t hire custodial staff. Have the children
clean the school as part of their stipend.
There are loads of ways to conserve on food costs. The best way is to have
parents pack meals for their kids. If this is not practical, have the children grow
vegetables and raise beef cattle in the schoolyard. Don’t bother with a school
cafeteria. Have the students and teachers eat in the classrooms. This will provide
an opportunity for them to bond with each other and you won’t have to employ
To save on textbook costs, instruct students to download free educational
material on the Internet when they go home each night. If parents insist their
children receive textbooks do not buy new ones. Purchase them used at
As far as student transportation, ask the parents to bring their kids to
school. In cases where this is not possible have bicycles available for transport and
rent them to the youngsters. Children too young to bike can be picked up by older
students and placed in the baskets of their bicycles. And here’s a bonus: because
biking is such great exercise you won’t need phys. ed. instructors.
Your students will probably have to take standardized tests and your
success, and theirs, will be determined by how well they do on these exams. To
ensure everyone’s chances of succeeding, order the teachers to teach to the tests
and it they are allowed to grade the exams instruct them to change incorrect
answers to correct ones to make sure the scores are high. Tell your educators that
if they haven’t taught the students well enough so that the kids could achieve good
marks on their own, they owe this form of extra help to the children.
Like any private enterprise, there’s always a chance you won’t make it in
the education biz. If that happens do not despair. Your students can always go
back to the public schools and your teachers, if you hired the group I suggested,
can find work in the agricultural field. The important thing is you gave it a try.
You tried to make a buck off the kids, you tried to rip off your staff, and you tried
to scam the system. The robber barons of the nineteenth century would have
envied your efforts to make a profit from education and I’m sure the robber barons
around today would feel the same way. Besides, there are plenty of other ways to
make money. For instance, privatizing the military. I know a great place where
you can buy secondhand weapons and ammunition for a song.
Author bio: Martin H. Levinson is a member of the Authors Guild, National Book
Critics Circle, and the book review editor for ETC: A Review of General Semantics. He
has published nine books and numerous articles and poems in various publications. He
holds a PhD from NYU and lives in Forest Hills, New York.
ART BY JACOB RUSSELL
Two poems by Saira Viola
Anonymous Masses in the Guise of King Dada
I am the book jacket of the automatic
The starling quip of the unconscious
The phonetic parlance of sound
The bobbing tail of Rapunzel the squirrel
The breath of a million workers without labour
A Kubin nightmare
The crowbar to convention
A top hat and flysheet
A sonnet of anarchy
A red roar
An underground skyscraper
A single , feeble street urchin
A bombtastic blitz of claws teeth and tongue
A half smoked cigarette
A broken pen
An unfinished jigsaw
A neo Bolshevik
The egg of an eagle
The bones of Caspar, Melchoir and Balthazar
A painted echo
A pink cockatoo
A collage of indifference
Jacque Vache’s goblet of wine
A dance of solidarity
Soupault’s shirt sleeves
Max’s antizymic pictopic
Man Ray’s star
A stuffed dummy in a shopping cart
An old potato on a lavatory chain
A breakfast canvas of weed and marmalade
25 cans of packaged crap
Duchamp’s piss pot
The side slap of rebellion is the garden gnome,
the oppressive chintz of poodle thrones ,
open purses and closed set minds
buy rebel souls dime , after dime , after dime
He woke up in a green sweat
by his side a girl and a gimp mask
she had strawberry crush curls kissing the pillow
and flutter boo lashes fanning
her soft, porcelain face
his mind strangled by intimacy
purple melancholy drowning the room
and satan's veil pickling his tongue
he flipped her on her side
her back ridged
with vermillion hand prints
sock puppet blue
his ashy tears
roil her anesthetised form
has become today’s fetor
a magnum opus of squalid glory.
/0%(1.!2,13!Saira Viola : fiction ball buster, poet, song lyricist and creator of sonic
scatterscript . Widely published on both sides of the Atlantic. Viola's work focuses on
the lives of the disenfranchised, the marginalized, the collaterally damaged, and the rebel
spirits who glitter the cosmos. Publications include: International Times, Dissident Voice,
Tuck, Underground Books, Gonzo Today , The Poetry Times, Artvilla, The Canon
Mouth, Dead Snakes, BecauseEileen, Red Fez, Public Reading Rooms, Stop the War
Coalition, Boy Sl Push, In Between Hangovers, The Kitchen Poet ,Zarph, Literary
The Perpetual DECLINE of Western
Ascendency of PUNK-Dystopia
By Alison Ross
Let's face it: Western "civilization" has always been in decline. In particular, the U.S. was
founded on genocide and slavery, and to this day perpetuates a program of imperialistic bullying,
so one cannot very easily make a rational argument for the purity of the country.
Imagine, however - for fun! - what the founding fathers might have thought about punk rock - the
ultimate protest against a society in incessant decline. Sure, there have always been means to defy
corrupt governments - marches, riots, boycotts, coups, and so on - but punk as sonic dissent is a
relatively new and novel approach.
For regressive reactionaries, punk rock would not simply be a harbinger of a society in decline, it
would be what is actually wrong with society. But for the more incisively insightful among us,
punk rock would clearly signal that society is what is wrong with society, and punk emerged as a
Of course, that's the implicit thesis of Penelope Spheeris' (recently reissued) documentary
dissertation, "The Decline of Western Civilization." Punk was the canary in the coalmine, the
cacophonous tirade that ranted against an unscrupulous establishment and foreshadowed further
Late 1970s and early 1980s LA bands like the Germs, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Fear and X,
whether consciously or not, existed as the anarchic antithesis of a mock-normal society, one
which pretended to be well-adjusted but was ultimately steeped in psychosis. Bigotry, greed and
violence were the tenets that reigned and gave tumultuous birth to punk rockers, around whom
coalesced a movement of mangled mirth and marvelous madness.
The first disc in Spheeris' much-vaunted trilogy captures these punk bands just as they were
gaining notoriety - and thus were at their zenith of raw vigor. It's especially rewarding to witness
the ragged intensity of the Germs as their star was beginning to rise - all the while painfully
aware, of course, that Darby Crash would soon crash and burn, like his prophetic namesake. Too,
it's fascinating to observe the band members of the legendary X in their early element, playing
their own beatnik incarnation of punk, and partying in feral fashion. And, of course, there are the
kids who imbue the scene with Meaning, as they flail about chaotically to the crass rhythms and
crude screechings of the punk provocateurs. And let's not forget the charismatic "light bulb kids"
whose nascent nihilism is sharply undercut by their adorable youth.
Fast forward to the third disc. (Yes, I am implying that you can skip "Decline II" - "The Metal
Years." Watch it, but after you have seen the first and third. It really doesn't fit the narrative, and
the title is a misnomer, to boot. Most of the bands in it are more "glam" and "hair metal" in
nature, and most have not crafted enduring, influential music like those in the first disc. Too, the
metal music and scene is more hedonistic, a glorying in capitalistic excess - the apex of a
corroded system, whereas punk (real punk) was a rebellion against that. The disc is only worth
watching to witness the meandering mumblings and inept cooking of Ozzy Osbourne.)
For it is the third disc which evokes the most pathos, and shows how the raucous punk scene of
the 70s had crystallized, by the late 90s, into something even more existentially charged, owing to
a sadistic sociopolitical landscape where poverty had become pervasive and the beatific-seeming
family unit had devolved into a child-abusing entity.
Because, you see, by the time the third disc in the "Decline" series was made (1997-1998),
Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton had colluded to erode the rights of the people and quash the
few democratic ideals that had managed to pierce through to an otherwise quasi-democratic
country. So by the late 1990s, "gutter punks" in LA had become common, and Spheeris aimed to
capture the disconcerting phenomenon.
It turns out, of course, that contrary to popular perception, which held that these punks were antisocial
slackers, these kids were actually products of horrifically abusive home environments.
They were drawn to the punk scene because the music gave vicious voice to a sub-culture of
Unlike in the first "Decline," which focuses mainly on the music and somewhat tangentially on
the fans, the third "Decline" focuses largely on the plight of the "gutter punks," while the music
retreats a bit in the background. We do get to know bands such as Naked Aggression, Final
Conflict, and The Resistance, but it's the punk fans themselves who tear holes into our hearts.
Squid, Spoon, Troll - these kids are such a complex mix of tough and tender. Just beneath their
street swagger are squishy sweet souls.
If first film in the "Decline" series is subversive for its daring to capture the shocking social
phenomenon of punk rock in the late 1970s and early 1980s - one that would prompt notorious
LA Police Chief Daryl Gates to attempt to ban screenings of it - then the third one is subversive
for the opposite reason. Spheeris is expected to merely continue her thread of showcasing
emerging, somewhat disturbing bands, but she doesn't. Halfway through shooting, she realized
that the real story for the third "Decline" lay not in the modernized incarnation of punk, but rather
in the distressing conditions of those who populated the surrounding scene. Perhaps fans of the
original two "Decline" movies were disappointed in this decision. Perhaps the director's difficulty
in getting funding for the third "Decline" was based on a presumption was that no one would
want to see a bunch of smelly freak-kids who should just get out of the gutter, clean up, and get a
The economic situation in the United States has surely decayed since the last "Decline" was
made, and one can still see groups of vagabond punk kids with their bulky piercings, filthencrusted
t-shits, scrolls of tattoos, and hater-stomping combat boots, hanging out in large urban
centers at gas stations or in alleyways. Indeed, one can see many more homeless people in
general, thanks to unaffordable housing, lack of jobs, defunding of mental health and drug rehab
programs, and so on.
In "Decline of Western Civilization III," Spheeris doesn't merely paint a sympathetic portrait of
homeless youth; she has produced one of the most compellingly compassionate documentaries
ever made, one that shames anyone who has ever callously dismissed homeless kids as mere
"gutter punks" not deserving of our humanity. That Spheeris later became a foster parent to some
of these hapless youth just proves she wears her heart safety-pinned onto her leather jacket, in
solidarity with her subjects.
PLANE OF THOUGHT
BY Lily Tierney
She acquired knowledge
that led to understanding.
Nothing made sense
visuals constantly changed
their form and direction.
A solid bled into a liquid
blood was everywhere
this was a sign of life
on a planet without
dimensions bending light
into our psyche.
Nothing was real.
Author bio: Lily Tierney resides in Florida. Her work has appeared in Dead Snakes, Full
of Crow, Calvary Cross, and Harbinger Asylum.
By Chani Zwibel
Dear Chief Deity,
It is 1989.
Ziggurats go up. Youths who are not yet old wail.
(I am five. I have Go-Dog-Go.)
The birth rate equals the death rate.
A gentle breeze at the highest point
Burns to the touch.
(Its flower, yuppie, is just as relevant!)
It’s 1989. Let’s build a snow house. A proper igloo. The child here will ignite our fire at
dusk. Do not yowl.
The clown keeps a roller-bearing root, and also tends a domesticated ox.
In this clime, you can’t be too careful.
Zombies zigzag through zigzag papers and get zonked with enthusiasm.
They love the Sauce.
What is Sauce?
Yummy, perhaps, but without zip or ginger.
Taste the dark stripes of the horse.
Energy, pep, guaranteed.
I hear rejoicing.
An abortion. An abstinence.
Constellations circle the belt.
At this angularity, the dirigible
Has no breath.
Zeus has no zip code.
WORK-A-DAY VISIONS AT THE GROCERY
My coworker has drawn
A little doodle man
Reading a little doodle newspaper
Placed just so
In the empty business card holder
So he looks like a tiny, two dimensional being
Sitting on a bench
Waiting for a bus.
A slow day, no customers,
My bored hands shift
The paper figure to the keyboard.
The newspaper reader
His right foot on Power
His left on Wake Up
His hidden, paper genitals swing over Sleep.
The newspaper reader, tiny scrap-paper-doodle-man, peers up with round black eyes.
Author bio: Chani Zwibel is a graduate of Agnes Scott College, a poet, wife and dogmom
who was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but now dwells in Marietta,
Georgia. She is a member of The Southern Collective Experience, and poetry editor for
The Blue Mountain Review. Her poetry has been featured on Dante’s Old South on NPR
WUTC Chattanooga, May 29, 2016 and August 3, 2016.
By Edwin L. Young, PhD
To those who think that they are ‘nuts’ for bothering themselves with assailing the
establishment over beers with friends. To the more activist minded who think they may
be ‘nuts’ for thinking they could make a dent in the armor of the mammoth militaryindustrial
complex, their political collaborators, and their unwitting cadre of academic
I am just poking a little fun with a little irony since, however small your protestations
may be and however insignificant they may seem to you, you sound eminently sane to
me. I have the deepest reverence for people who dare look for the truth, who have the
willingness and strength to think, and, above all, who dare to say their piece in whatever
forum they choose.
Thinking is an art known only to a very few. Peculiarly, I speculate that few
philosophers, experts in logic, and even few scientists, truly think. They must make a
living and must try to get tenure. They study, learn, memorize, analyze constrained by the
harnesses of their disciplines, and explore within the confines of the small arenas of their
disciplines, but they do not use their imagination as they think; they do not examine their
hypotheses, theories, or the conventions of their academic domain. Academic freedom is
such a befuddled myth! They must submit articles that will be approved by the defense
department that awards them grants or academic journal review boards who check for
adherence to the narrowly acceptable research trend du jour or for political correctness.
They do not examine their domain from levels of perspectives that outsiders might take.
They are like the justice system that is so bound by precedent that they cannot
incorporate the findings and perspectives of science or the implications of the radically
changed contexts and crises of the modern world.
As such, philosophers, scientists, those in the justice system, and other professionals have
no idea how irrelevant they are to the world’s current crises and how utterly absurd and
devoid of significance for the non-professional world are the results of the practice of
their occupations. They would never in a million years think that the manner in which
they are practicing their professions and their disciplines in effect means that they are
actually functioning as enablers of those corrupt corporate, military, and political
destroyers and exploiters of the rest of the world’s population and the earth.
In a documentary about Robert Oppenheimer, he is confronted by an FBI interrogator
who questions him because Oppenheimer had loosely associated with an anti nuclear
bomb organization. Horrors! Oppenheimer was virtually speechless listening to the
babbling ethical madness of the super patriot FBI man. That was during the McCarthy
era. Remember "Good Night and Good Luck" (2005 with George Clooney and David
Strathham) and "Guilty by Suspicion" (1991 with Robert De Niro). Do we watch but not
‘see’? Do we go to such things to be titillated and leave our minds and hearts at home?
Do we walk out and merely share our yeahs and boos with our companions?
The movie industry falls in the category of "they know not what they do" to quote Jesus’
last words. They join with the philosophers, scientists, and academics and professionals
of all stripes as lemmings leading the rest of world in a violent rush over the cliffs of
devastating insanity of power. The movie industry smoothes the path for the masses to
follow over the cliff by presenting violence in such a seductive way and by promoting
war films in such a way that shows war being so glorious, honorable, and manly. Then, of
course, joining up is irresistible. Our young men, and now women, are bound to say, "Let
me go over the cliff too, please!" They ‘all’, brilliant intellectuals and naïve youth
together, are perfect stooges for the military-industrial complex.
I could go on bellowing from my cyber soapbox albeit to the selective deafness of the
mindlessly meandering sheep occupying the churches, universities, halls of justice and
government, and treadmills and wastelands of the corporate world but, now, I may seem
like the one who is "Nuts"!
Well, they say when you think everyone else is crazy, it may be you who are nuts! What
a convenient way to silence lonely voices of the self-doubting whistle-blowers.
Solution (Letter to
By Alison Ross
Dear Representative Lewis, Senator Vincent Fort, and Councilman
I have been a homeless advocate for 20-plus years. I have never experienced
homelessness myself, nor am I likely to. At the same time, I am mindful of the fact that
any one of us could conceivably become homeless.
My passion for advocating for homeless people grows out of a strong sense of social
justice, and a nagging conscience.
I am reaching out to you three because I feel a kinship with you all in this way:
Representative John Lewis, for your indefatigable support for civil rights, past and
present; Senator Vincent Fort, for your brave efforts on behalf of poor people; and
Councilman Kwanza Hall, for your admirable sponsorship of the people living in the
Boulevard projects, with your Year of Boulevard initiative.
I have recently been reading about Salt Lake City's and Utah's virtual erasure of chronic
homelessness through a housing subsidy program:
The way that we deal with homelessness in Atlanta is abysmal, as I hope you will agree.
As you know, the main causes of homelessness include a lack of jobs and of well-paying
jobs, a dearth of affordable housing, and poorly-funded mental health and addiction rehab
programs. Other contributors to homelessness include being war veterans, being victims
of domestic abuse, having untreated disabilities, and having criminal records.
Through no fault of their own (owing to the aforementioned causes), people fall into
homelessness, and instead of helping them, the city shames them. Atlanta does not have
plentiful or adequate shelters to assist the staggering amount of homeless in the city. And
then when, because of this lack of shelter, homeless people - many elderly, most of them
black - congregate in parks and sleep under bridges, the city brutally evicts them, often
discarding their belongings, psychologically and verbally abusing them, and breaking
down what little spirit they still cling to. Is this the reputation we really want Atlanta to
It seems to me we could implement something close to what Salt Lake City has done.
As the above linked article points out, chronically homeless people are the most
challenging to re-assimilate into society. They use the most public resources, end up
frequently in jail, and are often hospitalized.
But if, as in Utah (where the governor is considered conservative), Atlanta establishes a
house for each chronically homeless person, then offers each person counseling services,
they might better be able to re-absorb into society. And it certainly would save costs for
the city in the long run.
Imagine battling the freezing cold or suffocating in the staggering heat on a daily basis.
Imagine having to urinate and defecate outside, in public view - or urinate or defecate on
yourself. Imagine being on the verge of starvation constantly. Imagine being denigrated
and belittled by a callous public - all because our city, which has enough wealth to deal
with the problem, refuses to.
A city that deals humanely with homelessness attracts tourism and business and evolves
into a world-class city - not one that is mocked, but rather one that is a model for other
cities. One that is a beacon of compassion for all its citizens.
For the homeless in Atlanta are citizens of Atlanta. WE are the homeless, and they are
Homelessness is one of the great scourges of our time, and can be eradicated or at the
very least, humanely handled so that all people have access to their natural civil rights.
Is the City of Atlanta willing to look into this idea, or at the very least, propose long-term
solutions, ones that are more durable and meaningful than simply building more shelters?
I am willing to do what I can with this, but I am not in public office - I am an advocate,
clamoring for change.
I look forward to hearing from you.
COLLAGE BY BOB HEMAN
NATION OF NATE: A DONGPO PORK
By Nathaniel S. Rounds
At the end of Dynamometer, Rounds writes:
“If we assume that your mind is made up of toxic substances that stagnate inside a soft
skull, then you cannot recognize nor demonstrate common courtesy. In short: You are
completely bereft of character. Nevertheless, you’ll forget all about it once you snooze in
front of the television tonight with a big bowl of pretzels on your lap.”
This, I do believe, encapsulates Nathaniel Rounds’ philosophy of poetry: Cut to the core
of things using outrageous humor and outlandish insights. Disorient people, but also
ground them in the here and now – and always compel them not only to see the absurdity
of life, but to touch it, and taste it as well.
--Alison Ross, Editor and Publisher of Clockwise Cat
Editor’s note: Please peruse and order this book from either Fowlpox Press
(fowlpoxpress.yolasite.com) or Clockwise Cat (www.clockwisecat.com)
BY BOB HEMAN
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THREE IMAGES BY IRENE KORONAS
ROLLER DERBY BIRD
ALFONSO IS MY PET DUCK
DANCE WITH ME OR ELSE
Artist bio: Irene Koronas is the author of 7 collections of poetry and collaborative
writing including heshe egregore (with Daniel Y. Harris, Éditions du Cygne, 2016),
Turtle Grass (Muddy River Books, 2014), Emily Dickinson (Propaganda Press, 2010) and
Self Portrait Drawn From Many (Ibbetson Street Press, 2007). Some of her poetry,
experimental writing and visual arts have been published in Clarion, Counterexample
Poetics, Divine Dirt, E·ratio, experiential-experimental-literature, Lynx, Lummox,
Of\with, Pop Art, Right Hand Pointing, Presa, The Seventh Quarry Magazine,
Spreadhead, Stride and Unblog. She has exhibited her visual art at the Tokyo Art
Museum Japan, the Henri IV Gallery, the Ponce Art Gallery, Gallery at Bentley College
and the M & M Gallery. She is the Managing Editor of X-Peri, http://xperi.blogspot.com/.
AUTHOR BIO: A Pushcart nominee, Lana Bella is an author
of two chapbooks, Under My Dark (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2016) and
Adagio (Finishing Line Press, forthcoming), has had poetry and fiction
featured with over 270 journals, 2River, California Quarterly, Chiron
Review, Columbia Journal, Poetry Salzburg Review, San Pedro River
Review, The Hamilton Stone Review, The Writing Disorder, Third
Wednesday, Tipton Poetry Journal, Yes Poetry, and elsewhere, among
others. She resides in the US and the coastal town of Nha Trang, Vietnam,
where she is a mom of two far-too-clever-frolicsome imps. She can be
contacted at: https://www.facebook.com/Lana-Bella-789916711141831/
EDITOR’S NOTE: Lana Bella’s poetry struck my sensibilities in a most
urgent way. Her poems are luxuriously lyrical, mingling nature symbolism
with tantalizing eros. She has a gift for weaving tangible imagery into the
most eloquent phrasing. Her words ache with nostalgia, but in the most
sublime way, erasing the stark pain and replacing it with swooning
DEAR SUKI: LETTER V FOR VERMOUTH
Dear Suki: Caffè Roberto Cavalli, Italy,
July 13th, to be so easy in your body,
the rose-chill Negroni careened its way
tempering everything but me. There
was an ache and stirring of skin pressed
into the orchestra of summertide's light
coat; the evening was warming up, finely
veined gold on your blossom mouth
chasing the neatly dressed vermouth. I
emerged from your fingers' caress fluent
in spices, and gin and orange slice on
the rocks; breaths digested the balms of
budding fig and cherry like sublimity
professed. Muffled traffic moved with ease
between wisps of gossips everywhere
and around us, while your gaze flecked
with the wildflowers of my heart's tangles,
casting free old relics which would become
any shape the slick-bitten night desired.
as long and drawn as anchor
released to axle-line,
your gangly form escaped
the whispering ash,
flickered smooth and lean
along the lip of the sea--
aqua satin eyes held mystics
in foam, fingers pulled on
weight of secret things,
confident in the strength of
your wrists as they held sharp
on a measure of embrace--
this knowing, sculled instinct,
withheld a moment longer,
until at last, you turned red
immersed in your grit of
wanderlust--and in the distant,
autumn wisteria festooned
with fog, scoured the ocean for
an erstwhile equivalent of self--
The blond is not smiling.
Her slender hands
snake down my sides like
two pale-throated pelicans
sweeping the landscape
of fidelity. Her penscript
a curious river returns
over the spine in an atonal
symphony palpating on
telegraph line. But I cannot
turn back, for only
daring souls build trust
on barrier islands, whereas
I grow weak and sail away
remembering the caresses
I'd failed to hold in
the choreography of her
hidden curves and tartness
near. Now, she is a moving
target, a concentric point
of red, tracing the crescent
of my iced blue veins
with her danse macabre.
DEAR SUKI: NUMBER THIRTY-FOUR
Dear Suki: Eluwene Place, Maui,
I felt your weight slumped gently
on the mat floor, stitching grease
to cello-soft airfoil of lost requiem.
From this distance, the low beam
of kerosene lamp moved garments
of viola Bach's Prelude and moon
hewing at curious angles, tectonic
plates of the briny hung on tumid
waves. Fingers pinched in sweat
and ached the length of ghostly air
with manic shadows hugging my
chest, offering nothing but stirring
of something ravenous without. Yet,
I lingered, caught on the irritants of
memory, bobbing, weaving, hurling
in economy of lines for the deep red
crinoline of your form, in quiescent
tense so otherworldly from still wind.
GRANITE EYES THAT COAXED MY SKY TO
Her paradisiacal past
as grades of gunshots
carved my chest,
with its freight
of brackish molds.
Granite eyes studied me
like the storm
the rock-ribbed walls
of a mountain,
that coaxed my sky to rain.
Mercurial as a lullaby revealed in
a patch of raw, all at once
you couldn't find me, eyes hurled
into the majestic space of empty,
fingers yawned through agitation of
night like a serpentine army.
This sensation of being the only ghost
in our house tossed me about
like a bevy of weeds in storm,
paper-boats in tempest, unforgiving
as the cold brethren sea.
So of course I was moved to sway
to the strokes of your loneliness,
drawing the pales of a hand against
a lock of onyx hair, kindled with
faint dusting of metronome's spindly
stems, so light barely a flutter was
stirred on your chiffon sleeve.
for the rest of June,
he has convinced that
rainbow was what
gave me the idea to knit
on tight sweaters, and
with the tips of his fingers,
he traced the spirals
of roses in the twinkles of
their brilliant red, thick
with briers of summer
peals, before long,
I watched him sniffed
the myriad blooms,
gnawed off a stem
BY BILL WOLAK
Beyond the Spell of the Senses
The Metallurgist's Bioluminescent Mirror
.%,?%!2,13!Bill Wolak is a poet, photographer, and collage artist. He has
just published his twelfth book of poetry entitled Love Opens the Hands
with Nirala Press. His collages have been published in over a hundred
magazines including: The Annual, Peculiar Mormyrid, Danse Macabre,
Dirty Chai, Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, Lost Coast Review, Mad
Swirl, Otis Nebula, and Horror Sleaze Trash. Recently, he was a featured
poet at The Mihai Eminescu International Poetry Festival in Craiova,
Romania. Mr. Wolak teaches Creative Writing at William Paterson
University in New Jersey.
Collage undresses the darkness with a mirror’s secret undertow. It’s a dance
done on burning kites while dreaming at the speed of light. Expectant as
nakedness, collage is a door that surfaces in the shipwreck of your
sleep. It’s a caress with the irresistible softness of a slipknot in a velvet
blindfold. At its best, like poetry, collage is a moan just beyond delirium.
I make collages out of all kinds of materials. Most are made out of paper
engravings. Many collages are digitally generated or enhanced.
Poetry by Peter Davidson
Author bio: PT Davidson is originally from New Zealand, although he has spent the past 25
years livingabroad in Japan, the UK, Turkey and the UAE. His poetry has appeared in Otoliths,
BlazeVOX, streetcake, After the Pause, Sein und Werden, Futures Trading, Snorkel, Clockwise
Cat, Tip of the Knife, foam:e and Your One Phone Call.
LET’S GET SURREAL:
By ALISON ROSS
FEMME IMAGINATION (BOOK REVIEW)
It's shameful enough that women's voices were severely marginalized in the Beat Poetry
scene, although the book, The Women of the Beats (which I reviewed in a past issue -
look it up), did wonders to rectify that. But for women to be marginalized in the
Surrealist scene is unconscionable, since Surrealism was founded as a revolt against the
tyranny of war and extreme societal orthodoxy. Literary political revolts should logically
and exuberantly embrace women's voices, not relegate them to secondary status, or
exclude them altogether.
To counter the popular narrative that the Surrealists have marginalized female
contributions, however, Penelope Rosemont, editor of Surrealist Women: An
International Anthology, and herself a part of the modern-day Surrealist scene, pushes the
thesis that the original Surrealists, as well current Surrealists, unlike most literary
movements, have actually vaunted women's voices. To prove her point, Rosemont's book
features 98 prominent female Surrealists from around the world (Peru, Switzerland,
Egypt, France, Iran, and the United States are just a few of the variegated countries
represented), and details the ways in which women have copiously contributed to the
movement - through publications, exhibitions, salon participation, and so forth. Each
feature also showcases samples of Surrealist women's poetry, polemics, scholarly articles,
essay excerpts, visuals - or a combination thereof.
It's a startling document of just how integral women were - and are - to the Surrealist
revolt, and how subversive it was (and is) that women were and are at the forefront of the
movement. Rosemont convincingly makes the case that it is not the Surrealist movement
itself that has excluded women - it has been subsequent anthologies about the Surrealists
that have squeezed them out, making it seem as though the movement as a whole is
Just some of the revelations from this titanic tome (at 516 pages, which encompasses a
juicy and extensive bibliography) range from better-knowns such as Denise Levy, Nadja,
Joyce Mansour, Frida Kahlo, and Toyen, to lesser-knowns such as Anneliese Hager,
Haifa Zangana, Nancy Joyce Peters, Blanca Varela, Eva Sulzer. These are authors whose
work not only merits deeper delving, but who should be just as frequently and
aggressively celebrated and quoted as their male counterparts.
Indeed, here are just a few savory quotes from the essays and poems within:
"Surrealism most emphatically does not signify unreality, or a denial of the real, or a
refusal to accept reality. In insists, rather, on more reality, a higher reality." (Penelope
"What made Surrealism different is that more and more women kept joining it, expanding
it, and changing it, and that the men in it changed too (or dropped out)." (Penelope
"One rainy day, a little mushroom emerged and immediately took himself to be an
umbrella" (Laurence Iche)
"I am in the rain, with black writing. I am in the night with strange hands" (Sonia Sekula)
"I was sitting in my room. A butterfly comes in through the open window and lights on
the wall opposite me. Its wings are painted with a nocturnal landscape: flanked by two
ridges of hillsides, covered by those broad virgin Alaskan forests, a solitary road plunges
into the distance; there's a single deserted house near a crossroads whose signpost wears
only the motto: Life for Rent." (Eva Sulzer)
"Out of the stony jungle grows a cold order - blossoms and decays. Its blue ashes blanket
the streets. I stand and wait - the city rolls by but the blue lies immobile and stares at me.
Does it speak to me? I listen in vain but hesitate simply to climb across it." (Anneliese
"Always familiar, for me surrealism is life itself. Why? Because true life has nothing to
do with what has insidiously been sanctioned by the repressive powers of mortality,
religion, and law. Powers whose end is nothing less than the enslavement of the majority
for the profit of a minority of impostors animated by terrorism of all kinds: churches,
philosophies, ideologies, politics, all representing enslavement or death (which are one
and the same thing). Surrealism is the conscious attempt to restore humanity's true
capacity to be and to desire without moral or physical constraint through unlimited
exercise of the imagination." (Marianne Von Hirtum)
"The hand of the wind's own lover caresses the face of the absent one." (Alejandra
"I will tell you with flowers (why not?)/I will tell you here or elsewhere/I will tell you
that elsewhere or here/I will tell you that the key wants to go home" (Isabel Meyrelles)
"Say it/and peel off that gray iguana skin mask/Say it/and clean out your cockpit of
intoxicated spiders/Say it/and leave it splattered on mortuary of a moon" (Jayne Cortez)
It enrages me, and should enrage anyone who cares about gender equilibrium in literary
and artistic representation, that anthologies centering on Surrealism have often criminally
excluded such vibrant voices of the verse and visual arts. We have Rosemont to profusely
thank for painstakingly proving that we females are the original gangstas of Surrealism.
For the impetus of wild imaginings surely began - and persists - with women.
SANGUINE STORIES (CHAPBOOK
by Alison Ross
I will be brutally honest: I love being a woman, but hate being bloody. Every month, the
sticky sanguine liquid pours forth relentlessly, and unless I want to squish around in a
pool of crimson goo, I must stem the mad red tide with manmade plugs. This means
walking around with a cotton phallus stuck up my vagina for several days; it's not as
pleasant as it sounds, though it could be worse. And of course, there are the attendant
cramps, bloating, and psychotic mood vacillations, but hey - we're veering off course.
The point is, I do not find periods fun. I am not ashamed of them by any means, but this
mandatory monthly molting of the uterine lining is messy and inconvenient, not to
mention pricy. How many boxes of tampons and pads, how many ruined pair of
underwear, how many washings of stained clothing, how many bottles of Motrin, how
many rolls of toilet paper, how many Kleenex, can one girl go through and still be able to
afford a place to live? It boggles the brain.
Somehow, Jenuine Poetess, in her tome, Bloodstories: A Cycle of 28 Poems, is able to
make the menses monster less, well, monstrous. Indeed, she uses the menstrual event as a
jumping off point to narrate tales of injustice, and as a metaphor and motif for our shared
stories of suffering. Bloodshed is our common thread; history is littered with the corpses
of the oppressed, and such horrors persist to this day. Jenuine Poetess wants us to hear
these stories, as many of them involve females, and she wants us to reflect in particular
on the female experience.
This is not to say that the all the poems are true narratives; some are more meditative,
and not all relate explicitly to oppression. Some, even, have a delightful simplicity, at
least in style, as in, [womanhood]: "Instead/of a/brave beautiful beginning/it/was the
terrifying/end/of the remnants/of her innocence."
This haunting tone wends its way through most of the pieces; rarely are we given space to
breathe (and with good reason). Suicide ("it was the first time I felt anything in so long"),
endless violence ("This poem cannot stop bullets/this page will not shield a bomb blast"),
mistreatment of black youth ('I will never know/the kind of fear/that is deep in the bones
of my Black kindred"), educational brainwashing ("they are unteaching our children/with
hollowed out imposters") - these are just some of the themes deftly, compassionately,
indignantly explored in "Bloodstories."
But there is levity: The more intriguing verses relate to the author's love of writing, her
wonder at having a period and being female, and sometimes, twining the two. [vandall]
manages this fusion well: "It is an endless wonder/what confessions poets murmur/in the
deeps of night/...blood oaths and bloodstories seeping into sheets/...Poetry was
here./scrawled on the walls of our wombs."
Or, how about [born], where Poetess writes: "Poetry hemorrhages from my gaping
flesh/...the eviscerated substance of my thrashing and thriving."
If this cycle of 28 poems has a centerpiece - and a few pieces do compete for that title - it
should be [lifeblood], where Poetess yearns for warm communion with other women: "I
long for the old/rituals of sabbatical/of sisters gathering every 28 days/...giving and
receiving bloodstories/affirming womanhood/cycling together/...in
As I enjoy these last years of uterine bloodletting (peri-menopause at least bestows the
gift of erratic periods), I feel more validated in my bloodsuffering than I have ever felt.
Nearly 50 years of being a woman, and about 37 years of menustration frustration, and
yet only now do I feel a certain blood-bond with my fellow female travelers. Thank you,
Bloodstories, though, is for everyone who cares about injustice: "it is a collective wail/a
chorus of voices." Of course, it is specifically an homage to women, because: "it is our
howling outrage/a ghostly/ghastly/rasping/...we/the creators/life makers/originators of all
things/belonging no where/owning nothing/save two:/our blood/and/our truth."
Bloodstories yield bloodtruths, indeed.
Art by Michael St. Germain
Author bio: St. Germain is wary of logic in art. His studio practice
alternates between orchestrating controlled accidents and piling up
material to bury the past. Like a happy-go-lucky fool, he goes
wherever his intuition leads.