January 23rd


Monica Raymond

Jean Copeland

Christina Pacosz

James Gage

Chris Crittenden

Lesléa Newman

Nathan Moore

Peter D. Goodwin

Monica Raymond



The dinner was delicious, fresh greens, and reds,
And yellows, produce of the season due,
And fish from the nearby sea; and there were also
Ashes to be eaten, and dirt to drink.

David Ferry

You’re welcome to say whatever it is you think
about what we have to offer you today.
We’ve got some ashes to eat and dirt to drink.

Fellows, I beg you, do not make a stink.
We had to eat one of those yesterday.
You’re welcome to say whatever it is you think.

"This stuff's not drinkable! You need a shrink!"
Great! Keep those comments coming. Just please stay.
There's lots of ashes to eat and dirt to drink.

No, this is not some culinary kink!
It’s more profound than that in every way.
You’re welcome to say whatever it is you think.

I now quote Lewis Carroll with a wink:
“jam yesterday, jam tomorrow, but never jam today…”
Today it’s ashes to eat and dirt to drink.

A toast to whatever’s on our plates. Ca-chink!
This repast is not going to go away.
You’re welcome to say whatever it is you think.
But we’ve got ashes to eat and dirt to drink.

"Ashes and Dirt," is a riff on some lines from a poem by the Massachusetts poet, David Ferry, who taught for many years at Wellesley College and has published many respected translations of canonical works.

Monica Raymond is a poet and playwright long based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, currently relocating to the Twin Cities. Her work has been published most recently in the Colorado Review and online at qarrtsiuluni.com. She was the Nadya Aisenberg Fellow in Poetry at the Writers Room of Boston and a 2008 Massachusetts Cultural Council Finalist in poetry.

(author retains copyright)

Jean Copeland


Proposition 8

Voters banned gay marriage
in California—52% don’t
like it, so nobody should.

Will Proposition 9 ban
halter tops, low-hanging
pants or Mohawk haircuts?

Then Proposition 10 can
ban you from letting your kids
eat French fries, stay up late.

Proposition 11 might ban you
from dating non-Christians,
anyone who flouts convention.

Surely Proposition 12 should
ban Harry Potter, all books
with references to dark arts.

What if Proposition 13 bans you
from speaking out about what
you believe is wrong or right?

What unique, untraditional
quality of yours is slated for
the next referendum? How
will everyone vote then?

Jean Copeland is a Connecticut poet whose work has appeared in Blue Unicorn, Caduceus, NEBO: A Literary Journal, Connecticut River Review, Main Channel Voices, and Folio. She is also a published lesbian fiction writer.

(author retains copyright)

Chris Crittenden


Abused Child

dented rock, long since crushed,
posing as a vertebra for attention,
admiring those

who have spines.

kids want to kick it
because they can;
yet it would thank any touch,
having waited forever—

unable to release but craving rest,
almost insane from watching
the same thing,

like being in a chair too long.

ice and petals
frolick across the calendar,
but none budge that false stare

of something that seems more—
yet hard and crippled,
not like a wheel on a tricycle,


the rock wants moss
to hug it like a blanket
and grow warm.

Chris Crittenden is a quirky hermit living on the edge of Maine. He recently had a poem anthologized by Arsenic Lobster, and was nominated for the Best of the Net Award by The Rose & Thorn.

(author retains copyright)

Nathan Moore



Let's lose our shirts, toss
jeans in the trees, bare feet
and roll
across the painted path where
footprints are forbidden.

We've waited hours while
management sifts papers. Let's
do each other favors, forgo
permission for our gifts. As
the bosses bark and the pens
hiss, we'll slip quietly out of the

office. Officially reason is crazy.
We know real reason, our mouths
were made for it. That mouth is
power, made to name streets, yell
at locks, bite lips.

Their machine flails in a howling
fit. Let's whisper reasonable things
over it like "food not starvation."
We'll know we've won when
a billion whispers make the
building tip.

We'll trip on freedom. We'll make
a mess. Go ahead, tap the shell.
Press thumbs on both sides of the
fracture and pull. Let the glob of
water and sunlight roll out. Smear
it on your hands, feel it web your
fingers, wet wrists.

Break, be broken, know the swing,
the shielding fist. We'll list the crimes,
label the lies we've heard and
prepare for reaction's rage at the
honest word.

Nathan Moore is a father of three, a poet and a painter. He spent seven years working full time in a photograph factory while getting an undergraduate degree in English literature at Clarion University in Clarion, Pennsylvania, then spent the next six years working on a master's degree and Ph.D. in English at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. In 2000 he found The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry and left the academy.

(author retains copyright)

Lesléa Newman


13 Ways of Looking at 9/11


First thought:
This is not good
for the Jews.
Second thought:
This is not good
for the lesbians.
Third thought:
this is not good
for me.


Even now—especially now
the body has its demands:
the belly cries to be fed.
But food can’t push past
the lump of tears
stuck in my throat
too terrified
to spill from my eyes


The cats, usually so aloof
except at feeding time
stay close
unaware, yet knowing
something heavy
soft and purring
is needed on my lap


Born in Brooklyn
raised on Long Island,
I moved to the East Village
to make my fortune
then fled the city
twenty years ago.
Still, in my heart
I am a New Yorker
so people call,
wanting to connect
wanting it to be their tragedy, too.
“Did you lose anyone?”
they ask, almost hopeful.
I am almost sorry to disappoint them.


The nation is on high alert.
I stock canned goods in the basement,
stash two hundred dollars
under my mattress
thinking, this and a token
will get me a ride on the subway.
Then I remember
where I live
there is no subway


The search dogs get depressed;
there are so few bodies to be found.
One team stages a mock recovery
to boost their dogs’ morale.
A burly firefighter
puts down his gear,
lies down in the rubble
and like a dog, plays dead.
Soon the search dogs start to bark
and wag their tails
and lick his face.
Soon the firefighter rises from the ashes
and slowly walks away


Bags and bags of body parts:
finger, ankle, elbow.
I remember lying in bed with you
looking at our feet sticking up
from under the blankets,
yours so brown and slender,
a perfect size six with ballerina arches;
mine so pale and squat and flat.
We joked about knowing each other in a crowd
solely by our feet.
Now I try to wrap my mind
around the unimaginable:
a knock at the door,
a strange man
brings me your right foot
and I am grateful even for that.


It doesn’t take long
for the newspapers
to quote letters
blaming Israel and the Jews.
It doesn’t take long
for the newspapers
to quote Jerry Falwell
blaming the feminists and the gays.
It doesn’t take long
for me to stop reading
the newspapers.


In my little town
at my little grocery store
a cashier refuses to check out
a woman he calls a “turban head,”
a woman I call a cancer survivor.


It is the longest we have gone
in thirteen years
without making love.
Finally I let you touch me
though I feel like glass
because those who died
will never enjoy
this gift again.
How dare I waste it?


A blank notebook page
an empty computer screen,
What is the point of writing anything?
Then an unbidden email from a fan:
“Thank you for bringing so much
beauty into my heart and the world.”
Tears tumble from my eyes.


I dream a child stands
on the twin towers
of her sturdy legs.
before she disappears
and I am running
across the Brooklyn Bridge,
naked and burning,
my skin falling away
like the Vietnamese girl
in that famous photo.
Everyone I ask for help
asks me, “Are you an Arab
or a Jew?” I tell them,
“I am a human being”
and everyone who hears my answer
vanishes like smoke


On Rosh Hashannah
There is a discussion group at the synagogue.
Our leader says when she first heard,
she was so angry she wanted to kill
somebody—anybody—and everybody
she spoke with felt the same way.
“Is there anyone here
who isn’t furious?” she asks.
I look around the circle,
then slowly raise my hand
like a white flag of surrender.

Lesléa Newman is the author of 55 books for adults and children
including the groundbreaking picture book, HEATHER HAS TWO MOMMIES, the short story collection A LETTER TO HARVEY MILK and the young adult novel, JAILBAIT. She frequently writes about Jewish identity, lesbian identity, and the intersection and collision between the two. She is the Poet Laureate of Northampton, MA and a faculty member of the Stonecoast MFA program at the University of Southern Maine. To learn more about her work, visit www.lesleanewman.com.

(author retains copyright)

James Gage



You can see it in their eyes,
much as you can see any thing
if you look hard enough.

It's not hard for the villagers
who wear the expressions of their ancestors,
long since resolved to the
tenets of progress. Honest in the face of deceit,
through the duplicity
of all that you bring them—lotions and
granola, designer shampoos,
mirrors from the First World laid on a pillow.
They understand the semantics
of charity; they will grant you your pity.

But don’t pity the villagers.
They are blind to your wealth,
your laissez-faire waste.
Because when the scythe blade swings
the machete descends,
you will run from the riverbed parched—

Cortez, reviled, blood sticks to your fingers.


Not this for which I stand:
this madness,
this malevolence of arms,
this single finger thrust into the air.

Brought to the cliff’s edge
we are taught the water’s demise,
but dare not to bear witness
to the foam’s bold coupling
with the broken black shore.
Always this lesson, this
and yet
I continue to want
more from two souls
united by flesh--
a pact between mortals
still scared of the dark.

It is this for which I stand,
for which I continue to dream:
to be mortal and believe,
to learn laughter between screams.

[first published in Powhatan Review, 2004]

Strange Fruit

We refuse to see that we will not see,
and that keeps us safely from guilt.

Ask the station-man, the utility man, the man
in the cell block. Ask the master of the Hummer,
but he won’t recognize either
this need that defines your disorder:
the blight of the first world
that rips flesh from the third.

So drink up your martini
and suck dry the fruit,
slip the noose around the neck of the natives
and strip the bark clean--

thatch hut torched and the naked cheek turned;
reap and then reap and then reap and then burn.

[first published in Out of Line, 2006]

James Gage is a freelance writer and editor who has published poems in Main StreetRag, Inkwell, Northern New England Review, Powhatan Review, The Iconoclast, Out of Line, and others. A lifelong native of Vermont, he is increasingly interested in the Vermont Independence movement.

(author retains copyright)