28 February 2009

Judi Brannan Armbruster

Howard Good

Angela Consolo Mankiewicz

Paul A. Toth

Judi Brannan Armbruster

I Fought Too

I fought the hands of men
off my too young body

I fought
Catcalls and wolf whistles
and persistent attempts at groping
my pubescent self.

I fought
Leers of older men and con men
As a divorced single parent.

I have always fought
Sexism and racism
Unjust wars
And so much more.

As a woman I learned
to fight just to be
Where is there honor for me?

Not one word this Memorial Day
For Freedom Fighters, Peace Protestors
Any of many Civil Rights Workers.
Or millions of incest survivors.

We have Veterans Day,
to honor War deaths.
Isn't it time we had
A Memorial for the REST?


I am a 60-year-old married mother of one. As a disabled RN, I returned to my Tribal homeland and began writing again after nearly three decades.
My last ten years are about my return "home," the cultural shock and the celebration of Nature's healing powers.

(author retains copyright)


Howard Good


It’s music written for prodigious instruments
not yet invented, and which the violinists

rehearse even so, but without the conductor,
who keeps to his dressing room beneath the stage,

searching the phone book for the address
of the Commissariat of Devastated Regions.

All week long, surly drunks have handed out flyers
on the corner announcing tonight’s performance,

rumored to feature nightmares that were chained
in the basement for years and fed on table scraps.

Now, as the orchestra tunes up, animal-like grunts
pour into the street from the high, dark windows

of the concert hall, and the few people passing
at this late hour, their eyes on the ground, quicken

their steps toward home.


We were crawling on our bellies
for the shelter of the pine trees.
I saw a woman I knew, a neighbor,

stand up and shout into the sky,
"You bastards, there are
innocent people down here."

A plane dove toward her,
and I could see the pilot, his face.
I’ll never forget his horrible goggles.

Later, as we were returning from the woods,
an old farmer came out to the field
and poked her in the side with his shoe.


Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of six poetry chapbooks, most recently Tomorrowland (2008) from Achilles Chapbooks. He has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize and twice for the Best of the Net anthology.

(author retains copyright)


Angela Consolo Mankiewicz

Considering “Empire”*

Warm, always warm
every day, warm
not hot, never hot, warm
everyday, warm
every night

A bird, not an eagle
dozes on a railing,
a suspended railing
in danger of melting
into the smoky milk
of a triumphal arch

while smaller beings
too new to remember cold
poke, scamp about in yellow light,
and plot.

*Watercolor by Kaplan


I was transplanted to Los Angeles, kicking and screaming, from Brooklyn, New York as a teenager. In another life, I was a systems development manager for a division of Xerox. Today, with some luck and a lot of work, I’ve been able to manage without a day job.

A brief literary bio:

My newest chapbooks, AN EYE, was published 2006 by Pecan Grove Press; AS IF, came out last year as a Little Red Book from Lummox Press.

My childrens' stories, THE GRUMMEL BOOK, were recently reissued year on CD by SHOOFLY.

Currently, I am collaborating on a 1-act chamber opera.

Publications include: Blind Man's Rainbow, Sketchbook, PRESA, Re)Verb, Chiron Review, Hawaii Review, ESC!, Comstock Review, Butcher Block, Pemmican, Outsider Writers, The Temple, Slipstream, Istanbul Literary Review .

(author retains copyright)


Paul A. Toth

Bath Time

We take the bad night roads to get there,
highways to be avoided.
We watch the news, turn it off,
erase death with bars of soap,
all the while hearing sounds,
splashing, laughing,
funeral drummers making rounds.

We consider life's unwanted things.
Mothers answering telephone rings.

"He is gone."
Gone from earth
and all its terror,
underground, under flag;

The water in the baby's tub
is a liquid body bag.

No washing unborn children
of insurgents, military men,
all manner of parents not to be
in the catacombed, wasp-stung memory.

Unborn children, prone to war,
consider what they missed:
Envy and pity in equal degrees:
how beautiful, unclean.


Paul A. Toth lives in Florida. His first novel, "Fizz," and its successor, "Fishnet," are available now, with "Finale" due in July of 2009. His poetry has been featured by The Potomac, Nth Position, Piker Press, Arabesques Review, and others. See www.netpt.tv for more information.

(author retains copyright)


14 February 2009

Chris Brandt

Martin Willitts, Jr

Margo Berdeshevsky

Khadijah Queen

Chris Brandt



...........(on being arrested and held for "exercising free speech" in the Supreme Court, January 11, 2008,

............in defense of the right of the Guantanamo detainees to habeas corpus.)

............Be a literalist of the imagination. The concrete is most poetic.
............- Lawrence Ferlinghetti

A slurry of portland, aggregate and water
laid over reinforcing bars and cured, can bear loads
of at least three thousand pounds per square inch.
Thirteen men in this ten-thousand-square-inch cell
make up together one twenty-thousandth
of its minimum load-bearing capacity.
Three-quarter-inch steel bars welded to steel plates
make up the door that slams shut.
An open steel toilet takes one corner,
a narrow steel bench one wall. No food no water.
Concrete and steel are very hard.
Fatigue brings sleep but when we wake
we've no idea how long. No window,
no clock, no time. The lights are never off.

Very well, let us be concrete literalists
of imagination. Let us imagine
the gravitational pull of concrete –
dense mass pulling our bodies into itself,
let us imagine our bones turning into concrete
our backs to steel. Let us imagine
we are each alone, enclosed
by concrete, steel, light. Let us
imagine the light is visible only
sometimes along the bottom edge of a black hood.
Let us imagine our names have been

Chris Brandt is a writer and political activist. Also a translator, carpenter, furniture designer, theatre worker. He teaches poetry at Fordham University. His poems and essays have been published in magazines, journals, and anthologies, including Off the Cuffs: Poetry by and About the Police (Soft Skull, edited by Jackie Sheeler); Lateral (Barcelona); El signo del gorrion (Valladolid); Liqueur 44 (Paris); La Jornada (Mexico); Phati'tude, Appearances; The Unbearables; National Poetry Magazine of the Lower East Side and the anthology Crimes of the Beats. His translations of Cuban fiction have been published in The New Yorker and by Seven Stories Press, and his translations of two volumes of Carmen Valle's poetry by the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña. Seven Stories published hi s translation of Clara Nieto's Masters of War, a history of U.S. interventions in Latin America. Translations of contemporary Cuban poetry will be included in a University of California Berkeley anthology to be published in 2009.

(author retains copyright)

Martin Willitts, Jr

America Asks About Justice

The world creeps along and we judged for 8 years
without moral authority,
like we were transporting bananas through fields of bones.
And we dare to ask about Justice.

Some church stating good intentions sends Bibles to cure AIDS.
Someone points out we must save the innocent
by bombing them for weapons they never had.
We stretch lazy across borders and ask about Justice.
The hypocrisy is packaged like corn flakes.

We made men stand naked on a small wavering box,
blindfolded as Lady Justice, a noose around their necks,
threatening to kick the box from out of under them
like we were haggling over the price of gasoline.
This is the Justice we hand out like purple thumbs.

We justify our actions like we justify someone else's poverty.
We do not investigate the infected mold of FEMA trailers.
We do not investigate contaminated food given to the School Lunches.
But we allow fraud to exist in non-bid contracts to War contractor
who build things that fail the soldiers.
Justice is a smirking recruitment poster.

We would rather teach children about values
from a book written by a man who was arrested
after violating three of those values.
This is justice.
We bring justice like bombing raids.
When enough damage is done,
there will be final assessments
of the success or failure
although the end result does not matter.
Justice will be served on a platter like empty collection plates.

If you ask me about justice we have offered these eight years,
will I have an answer that matters?
Will justice come to take me away for speaking?

Martin Willitts Jr's recent poems appeared in Blue Fifth, Bent Pin, Glass, Flutter, Coal Hill Review, New Verse news, The Centrifugal Eye, Quiddity, Autumn Sky Poetry, and Sea Stories. His tenth chapbook is "Garden of French Horns" (Pudding House Publications, 2008) ad his second full-length book "Hummingbird" is forthcoming from March Street Press.

(author retains copyright)

Margo Berdeshevsky




Again the cradle, the bough breaks, the cradle
quiet, while lions wear their war weeds, bury silence,
quiet, while a child in stains screams — everything,

everything here smells like the gas!
her propeller hands like trapped rabbits, twitching,

my hair,......my mouth,......my breasts —look!
her tiny fingers try

cracking......the bough,......collapsing......the cradle—
look! my grandmother's bracelets all buried

Look, no face!.....Look, it's morning.
Look, it's God.....In Gaza.

Bandwagons lined for each abject word—
where wheels don't stop exploded infants' fists,

mother-skulls lost, lost mornings—

Brave holy land war.
Bright. Sun-split.

Where the bough has killed its cradle.

Bright. Sun-lit ash.

Its inexcusable shroud, rocking.


They swept the dead like loosened crumbs from their fingertips.
Claws, curled. Brushed the dust, swallowed handfuls, hungry.

Invented noise— in all that silence.


An egg in her tiny right hand, blinded, angel-child, she—was what was left of what had finished. Small-winged cataract, not much more. Killed

cradles and skins and old men and kissing —all stopped. Egg in her sweaty small right
hand. That hatchling meant for morning. Morning meant for saving. Or yet another prophet.

—Prove it.


She stole an egg
from the beast's bed — reeking, heaving nest builder.
Stepped blind, like vengeance. A cinder, empty eyed.
Hovered like a cloud of summer wasps.
Shifted like a gaunt lighthouse into
promise across all slaughter.
Reached. — Held it.

What emerged bit her. What cracked its shell
licked her. What emerged, wanted her.

—To do it all again.


It didn't happen that way. She held the egg she'd stolen from God's nest and He whispered to her: good riddance to it and to you. See if you can do any better with this one.

I tried and I'm tired of making eggs. Believe you stole it if that makes you feel brave or
dangerous. Blessings. He showed his teeth.

It never— mattered, which came first, the God, or the mother, or the egg. Go ahead, my good thief. Go ahead, my bad angel. Bless. Happy morning. She held the warm oval.

Held the breaking, mottled, hot ellipse. Couldn't remember — why. — Breathed it. Waited to feel a nervous thin-skinned thrum. One heartbeat.

She held it for such a long winter.

Hyacinths were blooming in January. Snows froze them, washed them. Still, she held it.

Her eye, like the promise she finally remembered, — but from whom? — on a sparrow.

( for Gaza/ January 2009 )

Margo Berdeshevsky has published a poetry collection, But a Passage in Wilderness (Sheep Meadow Press, 2008), and two books are forthcoming: a novel, Vagrant (Red Hen Press), and a volume of illustrated short tales, Beautiful Soon Enough (Fiction Collective Two) recipient of the FC2 Ronald Sukenick/American Book Review Innovative Fiction Prize. Other honors include the Robert H. Winner Award from the Poetry Society of America. Her writing has appeared in AGNI, The Southern Review, The Kenyon Review, New Letters, Poetry International, Poetry Daily, Nimrod, Siècle 21, Rattapallax, and elsewhere. A Tsunami Notebook of her documentary photographs and poems—made after work at a survivors' clinic in Aceh, Sumatra, in spring 2005—can be seen online. Berdeshevsky currently lives in Paris.

(author retains copyright)


Khadijah Queen


A crowd of children, their darkened eyes
shh mesmerized
behind gray lids,
and wrapped in shrouds

of flags, or yellow tarps, or gauze,
or arms, and shhh
mother, father,
carpet bombers,

they are sleeping, shh first two, then
shh two dozen
sleeping, hundreds
of hungry beds.

Khadijah Queen is a multidisciplinary artist and writer. Her first book of poetry, Conduit, was published in 2008 under the Black Goat imprint of Akashic Books (NY), and her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times. She is currently a graduate fellow in studio art at the University of South Florida. Her website is at http://www.imagesound.tk/.

(author retains copyright)