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What Rough Beast | Poem for March 27, 2017

Tricia Knoll
Portland’s ICE Center As the Crow Flies

Less than two miles from the horse-race track
where the Japanese reported first for detention.

Less than two miles from my home,
a rain tapping on umbrellas, clutches

of old men and women from churches,
watch the line of golden people

wait in the chill to be called in for processing,
a huge glass and steel building too crowded

with people to hold them all. More women
than men, babes in arms with blankets

over their heads, strollers and toddlers.
Fear over documents tucked in folders.

Black-tinted ICE vans pull through the metal
gates, disappear as twenty-foot gates clang down.

Through front doors, ICE agents with guns and pepper spray
monitor metal detectors, guide the people to remove shoes,

sit on a bench, be swallowed up with the paperwork
of documents, residency, translation, apprehension.

After an hour, a small woman with a brave smile exits.
She may stay six months more. The witnesses applaud.

A man here for twenty years has never been called in
before to be processed, to be pinpointed

where he is and what he is doing working
for the County. He seems less afraid than a little girl

with braids who burrows into her mother’s skirt.
This cold queue waits for processing, a cannery word

that once meant Oregon berries, salmon, and green beans.
Now it means people. Processed people. Who live here

not far from all their people who matter.

 

Tricia Knoll‘s poetry collections are Ocean’s Laughter (Aldrich Press, 2015) and Urban Wild (Finishing Line Press, 2014). Her work has appeared in dozens of journals nationally and internationally and has earned five Pushcart nominations.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for March 26, 2017

Frederick Pollack
Rush Hour

Does lesser evil envy greater?
The question raises others:
can evil imagine anything
without immediately claiming it?
It is the evil themselves
who dispute these issues, mimicking
reason on their commute
across the fragile ornamental bridge
they claim is six-lane highway
from the old town to the older town
(both fetid slums said to be
exploding with new construction).
The alleys of the older town
wind into sewerless hills. Up there
in a shrine somewhere is the diamond rose
they worship, basis of the currency.
At dawn, as they cross
beneath exhausted blue-green sky
(purest air in the world!), someone bold
cries from the bank; and at night,
as they filter back, an illicit flashlight
briefly reveals the unblinking
insectile look they call innocence.
It is unsuccessfully modeled
on that of a captive, blinded, bound,
they drop when no one’s looking
into the noble river, a stony creek
that flows as impotently as critique.

 

Frederick Pollack is the author the book-length narrative poems The Adventure (Story Line Press, 1986) and Happiness (Story Line Press, 1998) as well as the poetry collection A Poverty of Words (Prolific Press, 2015). His collection Landscape with Mutant is forthcoming from Smokestack Books in 2018. His poems have appeared in numerous journals including Salmagundi, Main Street Rag, BlazeVox, Mudlark, OccuPoetry, and Triggerfish.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for March 25, 2017

Keli Osborn
Remainders

Last night’s apparent host clink-clinks green
and amber bottles to a fat bin in the bleary zone
of stained fences, bicycle parts, thin yards dotted
by plastic cups that will never decay.

His college bookstore sells T-shirts, soy latté-to-go.
Double-doors open to ear buds and USB cables, packets
of salty peanuts: vestibule of untidy stacks, yellow stickers
slapping spines of fiction, history, surplus science.

In the inky stream of graffiti, disruption isn’t the red
slash through a president’s name or inscrutable marks
on utility boxes. What demands pause is a bland wall
anointed: “No such thing as a life that’s better than yours.”

[Lyric: J. Cole, Love Yourz (2014 Forest Hills Drive)]

 

Keli Osborn‘s poems have appeared in Timberline Review, The Fourth River, San Pedro River Review, KYSO, The Quotable, Folio, and other journals, as well as in the anthologies The Absence of Something Specified (CreateSpace, 2016), All We Can Hold: Poems of Motherhood ( Sage Hill Press, 2016), Dona Nobis Pacem (Lane Literary Guild, 2006) and How to Love Everything (CreateSpace, 2015). She lives and writes in Eugene, Oregon, where she co-coordinates the Windfall Reading Series and work with community organizations.

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Today, March 25, is the birthday of Michael Broder, founding publisher of Indolent Books. As a special birthday present to Michael, please consider supporting the mission and work of Indolent Books by making a tax-deductible contribution to Indolent Arts Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity.

 

What Rough Beast | Poem for March 24, 2017

Holly Burdorff
What Iz Politix?

A plump red strawberry resting lightly on my lips
: iz this politix?
Me to students, saying (I am afraid of this President)
: iz that one politix? Two?
How so when my yawning womb’s up for grabz?
How so when I, when I last moved
from one greengrass to another greengrass
in this country, I gave up many rights
and human comforts:
(not enough docs for your partz in these partz)
(ok)
(also keep your mouth shut ‘n’ your knees too)
(ok).
And why iz my pussy always politix.
Never the men with the cocks.
Always seemed politix was: allocate reve-
nue incentivize (this way!) (no
this way!) et cetera blah blah,
NOT (spray the rivers with oil) (fuck the poor)
(shake DC haphazzo till it vomitz fascism).
To say NO to this iz, suddenly, politix.
None of this was politix for a really long time:
some thingz were just rights,
other thingz were just wrongs.
Lately I’m looking for our line
in the sand but the sand
iz full of head-shaped holes.
BREAKING: Facts are now a politix.
My x’s and z’s are here to make a why.
Addendum, my heart iz BREAKING.
Addendum, nothing stranger than a heart.

 

Holly Burdorff‘s work appears in recent or forthcoming issues of Quarterly West, Duende, and The Common. She is a VIDA volunteer and recently served as art & design editor for volume 43 of Black Warrior Review.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for March 23, 2017

Mary B. Moore
At the American Café, Fall 2016

I idolize our waitress
who witnesses it all
but asks anyway for orders
under the clouds redolent
with the unwept I meant
to speak but can’t.
The downtown bus
sighs open as she turns away,
and bearded man steps down.
Fatigued, bereted, he’s
stink and roll-eye,
and speaks in tongues,
and arms up, handles
the snakes of air.
Cameras like cyclopses
eye him, perched
on light poles.
They phone us in on film.
But she whose fan I am––
Demeter Hera Diane––
brings me wine, pink
like optimism’s lens.
Eye of the Swan,
it’s called, a poeticism
no doubt. I’d be kind
as Diane to canny man
if only stink were not his aura.
I raise my glass to him
and blink. The camera doesn’t.

 

Mary B. Moore is the author of Flicker (Broadkill River Press, 2016), winner of the Dogfish Head Poetry Award; the chapbook Eating the Light (Sable Books, 2016 ); and the poetry collection The Book of Snow (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 1998). New  poems are forthcoming in the Georgia Review, Poem/Memoir/Story, Unsplendid, Still the Journal, and the anthology Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods: Fiction and Poetry from West Virginia (Vandalia Press, 2017). She is professor emerita of poetry and Renaissance literature at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for March 22, 2017

Gregory Luce
Bricks

Oh to be 18 again
and with a supply of bricks
so many windows
reflecting the glare
of that sick orange
sun if I can’t pull
clouds across them
then even double glazing
won’t be enough
to mute the sweet
music of shattering
glass.

 

Gregory Luce is the author of Signs of Small Grace (Pudding House Publications, 2010), Drinking Weather (Finishing Line Press, 2011), Memory and Desire (Sweatshoppe Publications, 2013), and Tile (Finishing Line, 2016). His poems have appeared in numerous journals and in the anthologies Living in Storms (Eastern Washington University Press, 2008), Bigger Than They Appear (Accents Publishing, 2011), and Unrequited (CreateSpace 2016) and Candlesticks and Daggers (CreateSpace, 2016). Retired from the National Geographic Society, he lives in Arlington, VA. and works as an instructor for Writopia Lab.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for March 21, 2017

Noah Stetzer
Overheard

It’s okay because I exaggerate
too and say things that I don’t mean, I joke
all the time and it doesn’t mean a thing

I mean most of what I say, I mean you
can take me at my word, cause honesty
you know I mean is what’s been missing all

along and joking’s just for laughs I mean
there’s no harm or nothing I mean a joke’s
a joke because it’s true but when I joke

I mean it’s just to make you laugh, we’re all
friends here of course and all in on the joke
I mean funny is funny and if you

laugh well then I guess we’re good—so see he’s
just like me and there’s nothing wrong with me.

 

Noah Stetzer is the author of Because I Can See Needing a Knife (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2016). His work has appeared in various journals including Bellevue Literary Review, Nimrod, Green Mountains Review, Chelsea Street Station, and as part of the HIV Here & Now project. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Noah now lives in the Washington, DC area and can be found online at noahstetzer.com.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for March 20, 2017

Kristin Davis
Red not pink

is a hand print on skin
I’ll give you something to cry about!
I learn to be cheerful
and compliant,

a capillary that rives in my eyes
you’re overreacting
I hold my breath
instead of speaking,

a bitten lip that twitches
your ass is hot in those pants
I pick up the pace
dress differently next time,

a flush that rises on my neck
I know you’re in there!
I tense behind a door
to deny consent,

skin that swells around each little wound
does your husband know
you’re driving the good car?!
insult subordinate to a good laugh.

It is the color of negative ink
eighty cents on the dollar
being spoken over
and overlooked,

the color of heart
just what is it you do all day?
quiet care and keep
noticed when absent,

the color of blood
coming out of her wherever
of indignity, of solidarity
of the shirt I wore yesterday.

 

Kristin Davis marks her first poetry publication with this poem. In her former life as a journalist she has published a book and hundreds of magazine articles in financial and popular media.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for March 19, 2017

Arjun Rajendran
Painless

I fill out forms. The cabin crew walks down aisles serving
one final round of anti-depressants.

We’ve entered the airspace of a country dangerously low
on the Happiness Index.

If you’re normal, you get to take one pill.
If you’re like me, someone whose legs haven’t stopped trembling

in over a decade,

you get a hug and syrup— just so you don’t start sobbing
soon as the plane touches down.

An officer examines my documents, checks the validity
of my suicide-prevention kit against a database.

Everyone bids for deals on euthanasia these days. The most popular
ones come with wifi, and are advertised as being painless;

though you who left me widowed should know there’s no such thing.

But I hear more than jet lag: my neighbor, punctually up
at 3 am with a noose, and her will, always unraveled

by the Dalmatian’s barks.

 

Arjun Rajendran‘s second collection of poems, The Cosmonaut in Hergé’s Rocket, is forthcoming from Paperwall Publications in April 2017. His poems have appeared in Strange Horizons, Berfrois, Caesura, Star*Line and The Bombay Literary Magazine, among others. Anthologies include Eclectica Magazine’s Best of Poetry (Eclectica Publishing, 2016), and 40 Under 40: An Anthology of Post-Globalization Poetry.(Paperwall Media, 2016).

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What Rough Beast | Poem for March 18, 2017

Suzanne Osborne
ABCs of Politics

Accountability is this year’s prime
Buzz word, but by what hopeful
Calculus does that
Denote any serious, public
Engagement with truth-telling?
Facts are thin on the
Ground, pointed questions elicit
Harrumphs that anyone can
Interpret any old way, making a
Joke of the whole effort to
Know who did what when, or to
Link personal gain to professional
Misdeeds. Was a donor’s son given a
No-show job? Oh, no, he was seen in the
Office on June 3rd for at least 20 minutes.
Public trust, never robust, has perished.
Questionable deals are swept under the
Rug, wrongdoing denied with a
Smirk. Caught with your hand in the
Till? No prob, just say you’re checking
Up on the accountants, no need to
Verify further, my friends,
Wink, wink. The peasants don’t need
X-ray vision to see the pols partying on their
Yachts. It’s clear the chances for change are
Zero.

 

Suzanne Osborne‘s work has appeared most recently in Front Range Review, District Lit, and The Healing Muse. After an early career in theater, a stint in academia, and many years as a legal secretary, she now lives in Queens and write poetry.