By Gregg Shapiro
Monday, June 13, 2022
Monday, April 4, 2022
By Gary Beck
making me even more nervous,
since no one is distancing.
The nurse takes my temperature,
allows me to stay.
I look suspiciously at other patients.
They are here for sports injuries
but I don’t trust anyone
in a time of pandemic.
Finally I see the doctor
who is detached, impersonal.
He treats my ankle,
gives me a shot
of I don’t know what.
Says goodbye. Leaves.
The nurse bandages me.
I rinse my hands with disinfectant,
walk home on crowded streets
and hope I didn’t contract
a fatal disease.
Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director and worked as an art dealer when he couldn't earn a living in the theater. He has also been a tennis pro, a ditch digger and a salvage diver. 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 and his published books include 32 poetry collections, 13 novels, 3 short story collections, 1 collection of essays and 3 books of plays. Gary lives in New York City.
Tuesday, February 1, 2022
Looky here, America
What you done done -
Let things drift
Until the riots come.
Now your policemen
Let your mobs run free.
I reckon you don’t care
Nothing about me.
You tell me that hitler
Is a mighty bad man.
I guess he took lessons
From the ku klux klan.
You tell me mussolini’s
Got an evil heart
Well, it mus-a-been in Beaumont
That he had his start -
Cause everything that hitler
And Mussolini do,
Negroes get the same
Treatment from you.
You jim crowed me
Before hitler rose to power -
And you’re STILL jim crowing me
Right now, this very hour.
Yet you say we’re fighting
Then why don’t democracy
I ask you this question
Cause I want to know
How long I got to fight
BOTH HITLER – AND JIM CROW
Tuesday, January 25, 2022
By Sharon Lopez Mooney
body out to sea into the maw of deep currents?
Tuesday, November 30, 2021
The ends remember
they have cowlicks,
curling, some up, some
under. There’s no limit
Baking in the Age of the Coronavirus
The dough had a mind
of its own. It was bread
all right, but it was going
to rise on its own terms.
With no yeast to be had
each baker, solo at home,
had to improvise.
Monday, November 29, 2021
Although Tía Miriam boasted she discovered
at least half-a-dozen uses for peanut butter—
topping for guava shells in syrup,
butter substitute for Cuban toast,
hair conditioner and relaxer—
Mamá never knew what to make
of the monthly five-pound jars
handed out by the immigration department
until my friend, Jeff, mentioned jelly.
There was always pork though,
for every birthday and wedding,
whole ones on Christmas and New Year's Eves,
even on Thanksgiving Day—pork,
fried, broiled or crispy skin roasted—
as well as cauldrons of black beans,
fried plantain chips and yuca con mojito.
These items required a special visit
to Antonio's Mercado on the corner of 8th street
where men in guayaberas stood in senate
blaming Kennedy for everything—"Ese hijo de puta!"
the bile of Cuban coffee and cigar residue
filling the creases of their wrinkled lips;
clinging to one another's lies of lost wealth,
ashamed and empty as hollow trees.
By seven I had grown suspicious—we were still here.
Overheard conversations about returning
had grown wistful and less frequent.
I spoke English; my parents didn't.
We didn't live in a two story house
with a maid or a wood panel station wagon
nor vacation camping in Colorado.
None of the girls had hair of gold;
none of my brothers or cousins
were named Greg, Peter, or Marcia;
we were not the Brady Bunch.
None of the black and white characters
on Donna Reed or on Dick Van Dyke Show
were named Guadalupe, Lázaro, or Mercedes.
Patty Duke's family wasn't like us either—
they didn't have pork on Thanksgiving,
they ate turkey with cranberry sauce;
they didn't have yuca, they had yams
like the dittos of Pilgrims I colored in class.
A week before Thanksgiving
I explained to my abuelita
about the Indians and the Mayflower,
how Lincoln set the slaves free;
I explained to my parents about
the purple mountain's majesty,
"one if by land, two if by sea"
the cherry tree, the tea party,
the amber waves of grain,
the "masses yearning to be free"
liberty and justice for all, until
finally they agreed:
this Thanksgiving we would have turkey,
as well as pork.
Abuelita prepared the poor fowl
as if committing an act of treason,
faking her enthusiasm for my sake.
Mamà set a frozen pumpkin pie in the oven
and prepared candied yams following instructions
I translated from the marshmallow bag.
The table was arrayed with gladiolus,
the plattered turkey loomed at the center
on plastic silver from Woolworths.
Everyone sat in green velvet chairs
we had upholstered with clear vinyl,
except Tío Carlos and Toti, seated
in the folding chairs from the Salvation Army.
I uttered a bilingual blessing
and the turkey was passed around
like a game of Russian Roulette.
"DRY", Tío Berto complained, and proceeded
to drown the lean slices with pork fat drippings
and cranberry jelly—"esa mierda roja," he called it.
Faces fell when Mamá presented her ochre pie—
pumpkin was a home remedy for ulcers, not a dessert.
Tía María made three rounds of Cuban coffee
then Abuelo and Pepe cleared the living room furniture,
put on a Celia Cruz LP and the entire family
began to merengue over the linoleum of our apartment,
sweating rum and coffee until they remembered—
it was 1970 and 46 degrees—
After repositioning the furniture,
an appropriate darkness filled the room.
Tío Berto was the last to leave.
Tuesday, October 19, 2021
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.
Monday, October 18, 2021
By Marilynn Carter
around the world
rich and poor as equals
Joined all as ONE
searching to reclaim
normalcy, health, freedom
Silence fills the air
a siren or passing car
echoing on the wind
You have a name
I cannot, will not
speak your name
fuel its power
Despite your ferociousness
responders tirelessly work
we turn inwards
becomes new norm
Masked and gloved
breath from life
those you touch
Many forced to leave
far to soon
some without family goodbyes
overworked healthcare workers
til last breath
little pieces of self
fill in emotions
Earth, shuddered, shifting
for way to long
Appreciation for Mother Nature and ourselves
healing now begins
We see, feel, smell, know
the earth and us
together experience transformation
our true selves unearthed
Mother Earth adjusts
Springtime virus dissipating
bringing us together again
filling us up with
Love of Life
We are forever recreated and changed!
Saturday, September 4, 2021
By Maed Rill Monte
affirms her reminders and
you leave unkissed —
some twenty years?
Your face is darkened
by the rooftop rising
caught in the sun,
after a burst of foliage,
the dead, yellow leaves
wedded into nipa roof,
spiderwebs and fly carrion.
I see the inner child, tense
beneath the face mask,
the face shield, and
the fatherly features.
He's upset today's another
no-play day. There are
mouths to feed,
bills to pay,
and a world
he conceded to.
This poem was first published in Too Well Away.
Friday, September 3, 2021
your buns in to keep them warm. Not a brood
hen you can slip duck eggs under.
Not the purse holding the coins of your
descendants till you spend them in wars.
Not a bank where your genes gather interest
and interesting mutations in the tainted
rain, any more than you are.
You plant corn and you harvest
it to eat or sell. You put the lamb
in the pasture to fatten and haul it in to
butcher for chops. You slice the mountain
in two for a road and gouge the high plains
for coal and the waters run muddy for
miles and years. Fish die but you do not
call them yours unless you wished to eat them.
Now you legislate mineral rights in a woman.
You lay claim to her pastures for grazing,
fields for growing babies like iceberg
lettuce. You value children so dearly
that none ever go hungry, none weep
with no one to tend them when mothers
work, none lack fresh fruit,
none chew lead or cough to death and your
orphanages are empty. Every noon the best
restaurants serve poor children steaks.
At this moment at nine o'clock a partera
is performing a table top abortion on an
unwed mother in Texas who can't get
Medicaid any longer. In five days she will die
of tetanus and her little daughter will cry
and be taken away. Next door a husband
and wife are sticking pins in the son
they did not want. They will explain
for hours how wicked he is,
how he wants discipline.
We are all born of woman, in the rose
of the womb we suckled our mother's blood
and every baby born has a right to love
like a seedling to sun. Every baby born
unloved, unwanted, is a bill that will come
due in twenty years with interest, an anger
that must find a target, a pain that will
beget pain. A decade downstream a child
screams, a woman falls, a synagogue is torched,
a firing squad is summoned, a button
is pushed and the world burns.
I will choose what enters me, what becomes
of my flesh. Without choice, no politics,
no ethics lives. I am not your cornfield,
not your uranium mine, not your calf
for fattening, not your cow for milking.
You may not use me as your factory.
Priests and legislators do not hold shares
in my womb or my mind.
This is my body. If I give it to you
I want it back. My life
is a non-negotiable demand.
Monday, June 7, 2021
Carl “Papa” Palmer of Old Mill Road in Ridgeway, Virginia, lives in University Place, Washington. He is retired from the military and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) enjoying life as “Papa” to his grand descendants and being a Franciscan Hospice volunteer.
Friday, May 21, 2021
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real s---hole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Colonizers write about flowers.
I tell you about children throwing rocks at Israeli tanks
seconds before becoming daisies.
I want to be like those poets who care about the moon.
Palestinians don’t see the moon from jail cells and prisons.
It’s so beautiful, the moon.
They’re so beautiful, the flowers.
I pick flowers for my dead father when I’m sad.
He watches Al Jazeera all day.
I wish Jessica would stop texting me Happy Ramadan.
I know I’m American because when I walk into a room something dies.
Metaphors about death are for poets who think ghosts care about sound.
When I die, I promise to haunt you forever.
One day, I’ll write about the flowers like we own them.
Thursday, May 6, 2021
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
A boy told me
if he roller-skated fast enough
his loneliness couldn't catch up to him,
the best reason I ever heard
for trying to be a champion.
What I wonder tonight
pedaling hard down King William Street
is if it translates to bicycles.
A victory! To leave your loneliness
panting behind you on some street corner
while you float free into a cloud of sudden azaleas,
pink petals that have never felt loneliness,
no matter how slowly they fell.
Tuesday, May 4, 2021
This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Monday, May 3, 2021
Say the moon becomes an icy pit.
Say the sweet-gum tree is petrified.
Say the sun's a foul black tire fire.
Say the owl's eyes are pinpricks.
Say the raccoon's a hot tar stain.
Say the shirt's plastic ditch-litter.
Say the kitchen's a cow's corpse.
Say we never get to see it: bright
future, stuck like a bum star, never
coming close, never dazzling.
Say we never meet her. Never him.
Say we spend our last moments staring
at each other, hands knotted together,
clutching the dog, watching the sky burn.
Say, It doesn't matter. Say, That would be
enough. Say you'd still want this: us alive,
right here, feeling lucky.
Sunday, May 2, 2021
Saturday, May 1, 2021
The Soul has Bandaged moments –
When too appalled to stir –
She feels some ghastly Fright come up
And stop to look at her –
Salute her, with long fingers –
Caress her freezing hair –
Sip, Goblin, from the very lips
The Lover – hovered – o’er –
Unworthy, that a thought so mean
Accost a Theme – so – fair –
The soul has moments of escape –
When bursting all the doors –
She dances like a Bomb, abroad,
And swings opon the Hours,
As do the Bee – delirious borne –
Long Dungeoned from his Rose –
Touch Liberty – then know no more,
But Noon, and Paradise –
The Soul’s retaken moments –
When, Felon led along,
With shackles on the plumed feet,
And staples, in the song,
The Horror welcomes her, again,
These, are not brayed of Tongue –
Thursday, April 8, 2021
How we made love in the memorial forest for the Shoah dead
and we remembered only ourselves from the night before!
The forest did the remembering for us and gave us leave to love.
You remember how we threw off our clothes in the madness of desire:
The outer garments flew like heavy birds to the branches of the trees,
and the underwear remained on the forest floor
clinging to the springy briars of the thorny burnet, like snakeskins.
And our shoes stood nearby, mouths open in psalms of praise.