Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Shield of Faith

By Vachel Lindsay

The full moon is the Shield of Faith:
As long as it shall rise,
I know that Mystery comes again,
That Wonder never dies.

I know that Shadow has its place,
That Noon is not our goal,
That Heaven has non-official hours
To soothe and mend the soul;
That witchcraft can be angel-craft
And wizard deeds sublime;
That utmost darkness bears a flower,
Though long the budding-time.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Harlem Hopscotch

One foot down, then hop! It's hot.
Good things for the ones that's got.
Another jump, now to the left.
Everybody for hisself.

In the air, now both feet down.
Since you black, don't stick around.
Food is gone, the rent is due,
Curse and cry and then jump two.

All the people out of work,
Hold for three, then twist and jerk.
Cross the line, they count you out.
That's what hopping's all about.

Both feet flat, the game is done.
They think I lost, I think I won.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


By Claudio Roberto Veale
hands over a hundred dollar bill
after looking at the 20 by 20
with closet, coded entry, mini fridge

thinks now about sleeping in this
perfect box of only one, of the
and the five other guys
with their coded entry
and closets
and perfect single rooms

Claudio Roberto Veale lives with his family in South Texas.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Being Jewish in a Small Town

By Lyn Lifshin

Someone writes kike on
the blackboard and the
"k's" pull thru the
chalk stick in my

plump pale thighs
even after the high
school burns down the
word is written in

the ashes my under
pants elastic snaps
on Main St because
I can't go to

Pilgrim Fellowship
I'm the one Jewish girl
in town but the 4
Cohen brothers

want blond hair
blowing from their
car they don't know
my black braids

smell of almond
I wear my clothes
loose so no one
dreams who I am

will never know
Hebrew keep a
Christmas tree in
my drawer in

the dark my fingers
could be the menorah
that pulls you toward
honey in the snow

Thursday, December 18, 2014

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

By Greg Clugston

2014 White House Press Basement Version

‘Twas the night before Christmas and in the White House,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung in the East Room with care,
Surely an intruder couldn’t make it all the way there!
Candy and sugar plums filled the girls’ dreams,
But for Mrs. Obama it was all leafy greens.
The president was sleeping – he was weary to the bone,
Exhausted from using his pen and his phone.
It had been a “year of action” acting alone,
With Congress stuck in a legislation-free zone.
An immigration crisis hit the southwest border,
Then came the president’s executive order.
Cold War tensions grew amid Putin disdain,
As Russia interfered with a sovereign Ukraine.
When the Islamic State group launched a deadly spree,
POTUS told the New Yorker they were only “JV.”
But brutality spread, causing citizens to flee,
Forcing him to admit “we have no strategy.”
Then Ebola erupted, threatening us from afar,
Prompting panic and the hiring of a high-level czar.
Earnest replaced Carney in a press turnabout,
Holder stepped aside, while Hagel was pushed out.
Polls showed the president falling from good graces,
And Dems kept their distance in November’s tight races.
The mid-terms exacted a Democratic toll,
Giving giddy Republicans Senate control.
Obama treaded carefully on talk of race relations,
As unrest spread from Ferguson all across the nation.
Debate over the budget sparked a year-end fuss,
POTUS and Pelosi were at odds on “cromnibus.”
All of a sudden, there arose such a clatter,
Obama jumped up to see what was the matter.
When, what should appear before his wondering eyes,
But the GOP winner of the Election Day prize.
It was Leader McConnell dropping by for a drink,
“We can work something out,” he said with a wink.
POTUS was dressed in a suit that was tan,
As Mitch wandered over with a bourbon in hand.
As they talked about policy, the discussion grew tense,
When out of the blue, someone jumped over the fence.
Across the North Lawn, he zigged and he zagged,
Eluding dogs and agents, he could not be snagged.
And to the Secret Service, I heard Obama implore:
“Merry Christmas to all! Please lock the front door!”

This poem previously appeared in Time magazine. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

TOP SECRET //████████// NOFORN

By Brian Turner

What are we to do after the white noise,
after the wallings, the rough takedowns
and deprivations of sleep, nudity, rectal
rehydration and rectally infused feedings,
the President’s daily briefings, learned
helplessness, the outsourced psychology
conducted in secret detention facilities,
black sites and gray sites redacted
in one country after another?
And what are we to think of █████,
the redactions of our times, the missing
videotapes, nasogastric tubes and mock
executions, those shackled to the wall
and given buckets for human waste,
the hoods, the restraints, the syllabi
of CIA interrogation training courses,
the statements about how the program
could provide “█████████████”?
I went about my life. I stood in line
and ordered coffee when it was my turn
to consider the “acceptable lower ambient
temperatures,” the ███████████,
the reduced caloric intake, the continual series
of near drownings, being awake for 180 hours,
the conditions in COBALT, BLACK, and VIOLET
like ██████████████████,
like something I don’t have to think about.
I once carried a weapon and kicked in doors,
put men in prison with the words I wrote down,
with a nation sewn into the flag on my shoulder.
I can hear the men howling from their chains
and wreckage, no matter how much is █████,
They are calling across the world, calling to America.

This poem originally appeared in The Guardian. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Eating Poetry

By Mark Strand
Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.

The librarian does not believe what she sees.
Her eyes are sad
and she walks with her hands in her dress.

The poems are gone.
The light is dim.
The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.

Their eyeballs roll,
their blond legs burn like brush.
The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.

She does not understand.
When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
she screams.

I am a new man.
I snarl at her and bark.
I romp with joy in the bookish dark.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Working Class Hero

By John Lennon

As soon as you're born they make you feel small
By giving you no time instead of it all
'Til the pain is so big you feel nothing at all

A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
They hate you if you're clever and they despise a fool
'Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules

A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

When they've tortured and scared you for 20 odd years
Then they expect you to pick a career
When you can't really function, you're so full of fear

A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

Keep you doped with religion, and sex, and T.V.
And you think you're so clever and classless and free
But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see

A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

There's room at the top they are telling you still
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
If you want to be like the folks on the hill

A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

If you want to be a hero well just follow me
If you want to be a hero well just follow me

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Eight Ball

By Claudia Emerson

It was fifty cents a game
          beneath exhausted ceiling fans,
the smoke’s old spiral. Hooded lights
          burned distant, dull. I was tired, but you
insisted on one more, so I chalked
          the cue—the bored blue—broke, scratched.
It was always possible
          for you to run the table, leave me
nothing. But I recall the easy
          shot you missed, and then the way
we both studied, circling—keeping
          what you had left me between us.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Bring Them Back!

By Lisa King

i want to wash myself clean in the blood of saints
the unknown martyrs
the innocent young
i want to swim in their blood and piss
to show them that i am not afraid
of the bodily fluids
that have become the poison of my generation

i would roll in semen of a thousand dead brothers
i will tongue kiss a million prostitutes
drawing the last drop of saliva from behind rotting teeth
i will suck the blood out of the syringes of every dusty junkie
i would stitch my skin onto all the quilts
that stretch from here to washington d.c.

just to hear sylvester sing again
to see a new mapplethorpe photo
to watch arthur ashe march in the streets
with haitian refugees
to know steven lawrence's laugh
as we lift a six-pack from a party

to bring back rock hudson
so he can piss on ronald reagan
and make that motherfucker remember
that he is personally responsible
for the deaths of tens of thousands

to bring back liberace
so he can shove a crystal candelabrum up george bush's ass
until that bastard screams
i'm racist and homophobic
and that's why i did nothing about AIDS

i would do all this and more
just to slam the door on this insidious disease
so i can stop
watching my friends die
so bigots disguised as religious leaders will stop
claiming to know the truth about AIDS

the truth about AIDS is
if jesus were here today his blood would be tainted
and you would call him
jerry falwell
you would call him
pat robertson
you would both try to raise money
to buy the nails