16 October 2011

Peter Baxter

Julie Beckham

Paul Hellweg

Howie Good

Irène Mathieu

Abrafo Shanti

Scott Owens

Peter Baxter

The Merchants of Menace

The quality of mercy is not strained.
It drops as the gentle rain from heaven
upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesses him that gives and him that takes.
The mightiest within the mightiest; it becomes
the banker better than his yacht, houses and credit cards.

Or his interceptor that shows the force of his financial power,
the attribute to awe and respect,
wherein doth sit the want and fears of presidents.
But mercy is above, all the interest paid;
it is enthroned in the hearts of rulers;
it is an attribute of God himself;
and earthly power doth then show like God's
when mercy seasons payments made

Today the Bankers got their pound of flesh,
Taken without a drop of their debtors blood
By trickery and stealth they sold a bond anew
Conditioning that only the bankers on forfeit would be paid
Today their massive bonuses just keep on rolling in
Thanks to discarding rules that friendly politicians gave

The few over the many have once again prevailed
Taking the food from mouths of babes never leaving just a scrap
So the world does bleed and people to riot make
Named and shamed by the media clapping all in glee
Whilst the bankers continue in golden silent anonymity
Their selfish genes now do in confidence grow
Sneering at the masses all suffering down below
But altruistic genes will in their children grow.

Peter Baxter lives in Brighton.

(author retains copyright)


Julie Beckham

Unmaking Adam

Adam did it well,
there are names
all over this planet,
names inscribed,
signed into books,
onto baseballs and checks
and paintings, names that
move and shape and hide
what is really there;
these names, they are
(in all cases) stage names--
Hitler, Ghandi,Madonna--
they are brands,
they are made so you
can be found and held,
so that you will
a size that is catchable;
do not let a word be
all you mean;
do not let it
make you (it has already!);
it is one costume only,
one purple sheet and
feather hat,
one leader, believer, dancer;
Christ was not Christ,
nor do you live on a line,
or through another's body,
in a mouth or mind;
be as large and bright as you are
in every direction,
(not just left to right
or right to left)
be that which precedes names,
that which blinded Adam
through the trees
and made him mute

Julie Beckham's fiction has been published in Ottawa Arts Review, Grimm Magazine, and Boston Literary Magazine. She has also been short listed for the 2009 Fish Short Story Prize and has received an Honorable Mention in the Glimmer Train 2009 Very Short Fiction Competition. She has an MA in Comparative Literature from the University of Georgia is currently based in London.

(author retains copyright)


Paul Hellweg

Prey for War

To endure war
is only
if you come out
not too badly
at the other
but to endure
simply in order to
there is
to lose,
that has been
and still is
the unfortunate
of countless millions,
and there will never be peace
as long as
those martyred souls
fail to haunt
all our dreams.

Acknowledgment: Modeled after Bukowski’s “her only son”

On a Battlefield the Flies Don’t Care Who Wins

On a battlefield the flies don’t care who wins,
nor do worms and maggots,
nor does the ground
eagerly waiting to receive
blood and tissue and fat and bone,
assuming, of course, that your side has lost.
Victors get to carry away their dead,
and their flies are left
to fend for themselves,
c'est la vie.

Acknowledgment: Title from William Stafford

Paul Hellweg is a member of both Veterans for Peace and Vietnam Veterans Against the War. He has had over one hundred poems published since his debut in 2009. He won the 2009 Coatlism Press full-length poetry book contest, and he has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. For more, please see: www.paulhellweg.com

(author retains copyright)


Howie Good

Word Problem

If 1,800 of our soldiers
went into battle,
and only 400 survived,
how many clawed the grass
before they died?

(Please show all your work.)

Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of the full-length poetry collections Lovesick (Press Americana, 2009), Heart With a Dirty Windshield (BeWrite Books, 2010), and Everything Reminds Me of Me (Desperanto, 2011).

(author retains copyright)


Irène Mathieu

the tenth eleventh

it’s twelve in the morning
of the tenth eleventh
since it happened.
september, that is.

the breaking, I’m speaking.
I mean the mountains,
when they dissolved into
dusty shadows at our feet,
powdered into lungs like
the fog of bone sand in
the air in a place the world
would have otherwise
forgotten. it used to be quiet
in our valley, masha’Allah,
just the granddaughters growing
their small curls, and the
grandfathers growing old with
the smoke of pipes and stories.

I mean the windows,
when they hemorrhaged,
bodies like blood cells
flowing onto the sidewalk,
the city in screams,
the big apple cored. it used to
be proud in our city, God bless,
but fear has crept among us,
lies on its flat belly beneath
the subways and hisses,
sends its spawn streaming
to all counties in our country.
we used to talk about the
melting pot, but now we never
mention the cauldron in
which we are slowly boiling.

I mean the fig trees,
the fire trucks, the orphans,
the droughts, the body bags,
the bomb-scarred walls,
the ashes, the incantations,
the wails, the vows,
the grit, the shrapnel,
the questions, the infernos,
the boots, the burkas,
the machine guns, the blankets,
the goats, the flags,
the mothers, the winds,
the granddaughters,
the grandfathers,
the smoke,
the stories.

it’s the tenth eleventh at twelve.
the memory in death
asks us to live
God willing,
the eleventh eleventh
will be a less broken


there is freedom even in
oppressive cigarette smoke.
in this part of Europe they toss
ashes like laughs;
powder keg suspended in
an Adriatic embrace.
the time is taut;
their faces drawn.
the call to prayer
echoes from minarets
and it sets her wings alight;
but those lips behind their clouds
of smoke draw in, feverish,
hear the bombs again.
allahu akbar cry the mosques,
and she agrees, but her
price for this magic was an
airline ticket; they paid in
Srebrenica bombs.

border control

his deepest fear was stagnation,
un-movimiento that can capture only

a Haitian born a mountain range away
from Port-au-Prince, Dominican

dulce pooling everywhere but in
the barracks of bateyes.

so for fear he exchanged lunches
for bus trips to Santo Domingo,

where he could certify belonging
with a passport, a ticket to motion

and permission to stay in the
only place he’d ever been.

what do you offer at checkpoints,
outstretch with trembling hands like

one of five daily prayers to
machines guns that make a steel fence?

some passports are etched in
Gazan gazes, refusals to blink,

or the cuneiform on weathered palms
like Rosetta stones of veins and skin.

where I live border control means
brown control: keep the dark-eyed out,

the babies bred into cartels and the
Aztecs’ ancestors who still live under

the Cortes curse confined to Ciudad Juarez,
where women are becoming an

endangered species. if the brown make it
past marble-eyed khakis and are caught

driving, shopping, loving, or learning,
ask them for a passport. if they don’t

speak English, handcuff them –
that’s border control.

Irène Mathieu is a writer and aspiring physician/human rights advocate/global health policy-maker/community organizer from Virginia. She currently attends Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Previous publications include writings in The Lindenwood Review, The Caribbean Writer, Muzzle Magazine, Damselfly Press, Magnapoets, 34th Parallel, and Haven Magazine. She was a finalist in the Jane’s Press Stories Foundation’s 2010 poetry contest, and her photography and a painting have also appeared in print, in 34th Parallel, The Meadowland Review, and Hinchas de Poesía.

(author retains copyright)


Abrafo Shanti

Orc Occupies Wall St.

In the foaming,
fermenting, and simmering pot of the diamond-stud district
Orc enters New York
Walks up, walks down
Wall St.
Waves of sentience crossing bridges, stopping traffic

Orc has entered New York

And echoing from the curling red lips of Brother West,
(the same color of all blood-laden lips)

"Don't be afraid to say 'revolution.'"

America is fainting
the citizens of New York
close their books and lock their diamond chests
as the human jewels in the crowd

"America, change the transistor in your heart and breast!"

America, America
is fainting,
like a blade of grass
from green to yellow to brown
in winter dusk and ivory surround
and the descent of the sun

masters of ecstasy call us forward and back
the Arab Spring to a Continental fall

"Don't be afraid to say 'revolution'!"

The world must stand still
for the eyes of the world to see its body

Traffic must stop

You are the eye that scans the glittering globe
a witness of body and mind
to wails and pains in the shattered earlobe
and thus
you are the lips to proclaim
the wrongs and writhes of conscience
the deafening screams of thunderous wails
the rhythms of earthen sights gone unseen
beneath the glare of capital's sheen
all life is holy,
life ought to delight in life

How do we bring back the sun?

I teach Philosophy at a university in America. The impetus for this poem emerged in me as a response to what I see happening right now as interpreted through the writings of William Blake.

(author retains copyright)


Scott Owens

Nightmare Haiku

without a cold war
those who feed on fear learn which
buttons they can push

giving in to fear
we all become weapons
of mass destruction

what hasn't been justified
by necessity

policy insures
an unfettered flow of dead
dismembered, displaced

instead of dollars
and cents when the gas pump rolls
faces of the dead

come to liberate
mission accomplished we leave
many thousand gone

ten years past
still such dependence
on vengeance

dangerous to say
America is just

Recipient of awards from the Academy of American Poets and the Pushcart Prize Anthology, Scott Owens is the author of 8 collections of poetry and over 900 published poems in journals including Georgia Review, North American Review, Chattahoochee Review, Southern Poetry Review, and Poetry East among others. He is the founder of Poetry Hickory, editor of Wild Goose Poetry Review and 234, and vice president of the Poetry Council of NC. He teaches at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, NC .

(author retains copyright)