All posts by mbroder61@gmail.com

What Rough Beast | Poem for August 21, 2017

Mary Ann Honaker
The Senate Votes to Repeal Healthcare Law

Working odd hours plucks you from the world.
I’d rise in crisp light and soupy heat, waking

well past the sun’s zenith. Coffee brewed at home
saves cash. Take a lunch: save. Take a change of clothes

because the office weather is always winter. Fingerless
gloves for the worst of it; turn up the a/c instead

of buying new computers, less prone to overheat:
save. Ramen noodles, microwave meals for the short break:

save. Hire new employees at minimum wage: save.
The coldness of the phrase Human Resources.

Eight hours a day, five days a week: a contribution
that should be worth something. Bleak beige half-

cubicle. Ten minute smoke break in the shelter
backed up to the commuter rail track. Home at 11pm:

quick boxed meal, save. Adult swim, online MUD.
No one to see. No where to go out to eat (save.)

Nothing open. 24 hour grocery when needed,
when can afford. Can you come to….? No.

Working. Today our leaders voted
that folks like me do not deserve to live.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Over three days in late July, the U.S. Senate voted to reject three different Obamacare repeal measures: one that would have repealed the current law and replaced it with a different plan; one that would have repealed the Affordable Care Act without replacing it; and the so-called “skinny repeal” bill that would have repealed only certain aspects of Obamacare.

 

Mary Ann Honaker is the author of It Will Happen Like This (YesNo Press, 2015). Her poems have appeared in 2 Bridges, The Dudley Review, Euphony, Juked, Off the Coast, Van Gogh’s Ear, The Lake, and elsewhere. Mary Ann holds a BA in philosophy from West Virginia University, a master of theological studies degree from Harvard Divinity School, and an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University. She currently lives in Beaver, West Virginia.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for August 20, 2017

Sherine Gilmour
Pesticides

According to a recent study, the population of bigots is higher than any year before. 38–50% of bigots carry Lyme disease and other pathogens. A recent study states there is a 20% chance of transmission after 16 hours of a bigot bite. I worry about bigots in the leaves. I worry about bigots in the bushes. I don’t let the dog nose into the weeds because I’m frightened a bigot will latch on and she’ll carry a bigot home without me knowing. I check the CDC, a map shows bigots are spreading. They started on the East Coast, are moving across our country. When I used to live in the city, I didn’t worry so much about bigots. Now that I moved to the country, I worry about bigots all the time. I paid a local company to spray my yard, kill all the bigots. I look out my windows, the wind tosses the trees, I fear bigots in the breeze. I listen to the radio, NPR reports bigots are spreading across Europe. I watch videos about how to remove bigots. “Carefully grasp the bigot at the base with tweezers,” the voice says. “If it breaks at the body leaving the head still embedded, seek medical attention immediately.” There’s no scientific consensus about what to do if a bigot attaches to you. Antibiotics may or may not work. When a bigot grasps on, it releases a numbing fluid, then uses its pincers to cut the flesh, digs it head in, and swells with blood. Before I go outside, I tuck my pants into my socks and spray my shoes. Cedar oil, eucalyptus, permethrin, DEET. Nothing seems to work perfectly. Each morning and night, I do bigot checks. I look behind my son’s ears. Run my fingers through his hair. I ask him to drop his gym pants, bend over, and check his anus in case of bigots.

 

 

Sherine Gilmour’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming from Green Mountains Review, Public Pool, River Styx, So To Speak, Tinderbox, and other publications. She holds an MFA from New York University.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for August 19, 2017

Lori Lamothe
Palmyra

Beyond all these wonderful ruins extends an ocean of blazing sand, stretching all the way back to the horizon that appears to shimmer like a blue sea.
—Louis-François Cassas, 1785

Strange how there are places
where worlds meet.
Sand becomes sea becomes
sky, the line between
earth and air, past
and present, wavering
like a curtain filled with fire.
A rebel hides among
ruins, machine gun
heavy against his shoulder,
the blood of an infant
smeared across his shirt.
Behind clouds
the drone of a plane
splits silence in two
just as empires earlier
the march of Aurelian’s
troops on their way
to burn the city to ash
echoed through the temples
and the market square,
set a sleeping child crying.

 

Lori Lamothe is the author of three poetry collections, Kirlian Effect (FutureCycle Press, 2017), Happily (Aldrich Press, 2015) and Trace Elements (Aldrich Press, 2014). Her poems have appeared in Blackbird, Kettle Blue Review, The Journal, Painted Bride Quarterly, Verse Daily and elsewhere.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for August 18, 2017

George Warui
Money

Is good
And cures
And visions
And cures
And cures
And juices
And delivers
And cures

 

George Warui is a Kenyan poet.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for August 17, 2017

Devon Balwit
Confession

I have cut the baby new eyes, a satisfied smile,
replaced this with that, in devious understatement.

I have swept the mess from the mantle, mounded
bellies with roses, been a gluttonous sow. My lion

has lain down with the lamb, a half-fleeced carcass.
I have put lips to lips others have put lips to.

I have been pricked by pricks, pricked by thorns,
handle and blade, bit and halter. I have leaned close

to the sleeping and the dead, stealing their simples.
Even with no handles, doors open, perhaps an ear,

an eye at a peephole. My father thinks me abed,
but I am elsewhere, dancing my slippers to ruin.

 

Devon Balwit is a writer/teacher from Portland, OR. Her poems of protest have appeared here before as well as in The New Verse News, Poets Reading the News, Redbird Weekly Reads, Rise-Up Review, Rat’s Ass Review, The Rising Phoenix Review, Mobius, and more.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for August 16, 2017

Jessica Ramer
Requiem for a War 

Kyrie  

Teach me when to draw my sword,
Teach me when to put my sword away.
Christ have mercy on me: teach me to beat
my own sword into a rototiller and trowel.

Dies Irae

Dies Irae: March 17, 2003

St. Patrick’s Day parades wind through American streets.
The war deadline passes. No jet engines shriek above Baghdad..
The administration threatens like a man jingling his belt
buckle for hours while his son trembles in the bedroom.

Tuba Mirum: March 18, 2003

In the Boratha cemetery, a man in patched white trousers recites
ritual chants over four new graves, voice rising and falling rhythmically
like a wind instrument. He is paid a few dinars for each body.
Between prayers, he looks up, listens for bombers.

Scriptus

October 2002

It is written in the book secured by armed guards outside a Senate office:
Iraq does not have weapons of mass destruction.

March 2003:

“Read the Koran, Mr. Bush,” an Iraqi American said, “and may God
not curse you for what you have done to our people.”

Quid Sum Miser

March 19, 2003: Bombs loaded with chemical gels ignite beams.
Children shriek for mothers pinned beneath fallen roofs as flesh,
hair, bone return to the carbon cycle, a sacrifice for Tigris-watered soil
rendered barren by depleted uranium unto the fourth generation.

Rex Tremendae Majestatus April, 2003

Saddam Hussein flees. In Queens, mosques are jammed with his exiled victims—
men bearing the preternatural calm and deep eyes of the tortured, families
weeping over sons lying mummified in desert graves. “God has answered our prayers.”
The man standing in Boratha Cemetery chants over 70 fresh graves.

Recordare, Late 2003

Kalashnikov-bearing extremists drag Iraqi Christian
women into the streets, beat and rape them. A few are sold.
On Christmas Day, worshippers leave a Catholic church secured behind
blast walls, barbed wire. A car bomb explodes, killing twenty-six.

Ingemisco, August 2003

“I wish I knew another language fluently, like German,”
my brother told me as we sat in the Mikado eating sushi.
That way, if I go abroad, I could speak German
and no one would know I was American.”

Confutatis May 2004

A teenager arrives at a Fallujah military hospital, legs gone,
testicles shredded, penis hanging by a flap of tissue.
Genitals thud into the medical waste container.
It is the first of twenty such surgeries that month.

Lacrimosa:

Women disfigured by war live childless and celibate.
In Fallujah General Hospital, Rashil gives birth to her first child,
a son. His face is misshapen. His brain juts outside his skull.
Depleted uranium, she says, weeping.

Domine Jesu

May their dead and our dead
nourish their native soil.
May our maimed and their maimed
find a place where no eyes slide away.

Hostias

Lord, in praise of these men and women
who sacrificed themselves for us, I offer
nineteen dollars a month and the proceeds
from my garage sale to a veteran’s charity

Sanctus

“Mom. Mom. Mom! I want some drinky stuff.”
Cum laude graduate in biology, he lies in bed, optic nerve
severed, neocortex punctured by shrapnel. His mother comes
bearing a lidded cup and aluminum tubes of useless balms.

Benedictus

“America owns the land.
America owns the sea and sky.
America owns all of outer space.
America save God.”

Baruch Kimmerling

Agnus Dei

Archeologists sifting with brushes and sieves unearth a civilization
with bronze scythes but no swords. A vanished people.
Genghis Khan survives in the millions spun from his alpha helices.
Our DNA cries out to You: teach us, O Lord, to beat our plowshares into F-16s.

Lux Aeternum

Give us light according to our portion and no more.
Grant darkness to Gitmo inmates bathed in perpetual brightness,
sun to those detained in darkness, noises muffled.
Let everyone see the moon as if for the last time.

Libera Me

A story from another war: a Filipina surviving
war and occupation of her homeland stocks her American basement
shelves with sixty-pound bags of rice, gallons of fish sauce,
screams at her misbehaving child, “I wish I’d died
during the war rather than have a daughter like you.” Her daughter
does not know where wars end, only how long they last.

Graveside Prayers

“What was the purpose of this whole thing?
Hundreds and hundreds of young people killed.
And what about the people coming back
with no arms and legs? Not to mention the other side.
All those Iraqi kids who’ve been blown to pieces.
And it turns out that all of the reasons for the war
were blatantly wrong. All this for nothing.”

Donald Trump

 

Jessica Ramer is a PhD student at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for August 15, 2017

Herbert T. Abelson
Give me a Break

Why is it that General David Petraeus can commit the serious crime of leaking highly classified documents to his mistress and he gets a plea deal, with a sentence of probation for two years and a stiff fine, but no loss of rank or retirement benefits and no jail time; whereas, someone caught dealing marijuana has jail time in their future? And if you can’t pay court costs for a minor infraction in Ferguson, MO, you go to jail and/or you lose your driver’s license so you can’t work. Being poor is the most egregious inequality.

 

Herbert T. Abelson’s poems have appeared in Pharos, The Silkworm, American Academy of Pediatrics Senior Bulletin and What Rough Beast. He is a retired academic physician widely published in scientific journals. He is also a husband, father, grandfather, pinhole photographer, cook and car collector.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for August 14, 2017

Tim J. Nelson
The Rest of Us (a song)

Look away from the fire
Look away from the truth
See the flames, what they inspire
Reminds you of birth

Look away from the truth
Hide in the dark
Avoid your fears
Fear yourself
Become insane

Insanity sold as normality
Profit in profanity
Lies bring consensus
Criminals constructing justice

They swirl in their evil
They celebrate their greed
They mock the drowning
Throw rocks at the frowning

The sun will burn this away
It doesn’t matter what we say
Our lives were just a test
Some served themselves
Some served the rest

 

Tim J. Nelson’s poems have appeared in Poets’ Ink, a Maryland State Poetry & Literary Society broadside; Grub Street; and the online journal, Yes, Poetry. He contributes reviews to PopMatters.com and other publications. His essay “Getting at Truth,” discussing the writing life, appears on the blog of the journal South 85. Tim earned a masters in writing from Towson University. In addition to freelance writing, he teaches college composition in Maryland. For more information, visit timjnelson.jimdo.com.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for August 13, 2017

John Q. Mars
Americano

He presses his lips to the surface
—anticipating the first taste
of the caramel sweetness—
and, in his face, it shows.
As his tongue probes through the superficial foam,
I observe his slight recoil.

“Too strong for me” is all that he says,
before carrying on his way.

A time goes by ’til the next
taste-tester nears.
He comes up and gives a look-over
before appearing satisfied.
And, while wrapping his hands around,
I witness the same aversion.

“It’s much too hot, and I cannot wait”
and so he too departs.

Others, now seeming to catch on to
what it is that they want,
begin to make modifications—yet, still,
no one is pleased.

A dash of sugar,
(“A little sweeter now”)
a splash of creamer,
(“A little weaker now”)
until they all have had
a hand in the matter.

After much more time has passed
(“Oh no, a tad too cold!”)
more and more do they partake,
now being their new drink favored.

And they sip and they sip and
sip, until my cup is empty.

 

John Q. Mars is an undergraduate student at New York University in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study. He is concentrating in poetry, philosophy, and foreign languages. His four poems in What Rough Beast are his first poetry publications.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for August 12, 2017

Lori Lamothe
Itinerary

after Edgar Mitchell

The astronaut who walked the moon
tried to change footprints into doves—
knew the only magic aliens
really want to teach us
is how to get our shit together.

Meanwhile there are new planets
waiting for us to name them.
They aren’t like Pluto,
which tried to pass itself off as
part of our system
so we’d keep printing its photo
in textbooks.

So what if a few of them
refuse to turn,
if day and night live perpetually divided?
Who cares if their star
is colder and dimmer than the one
we’ve got now? If they’re
jammed together,
one right next to the other,
a few dozen light years away?

Because it’s important not to lose
sight of the main idea.
To know we’re ready for any catastrophe—
that if we can just
learn to fly a little faster
we can set out for new worlds
to wear out.

 

Lori Lamothe is the author of three poetry collections, Kirlian Effect (FutureCycle Press, 2017), Happily (Aldrich Press, 2015) and Trace Elements (Aldrich Press, 2014). Her poems have appeared in Blackbird, Kettle Blue Review, The Journal, Painted Bride Quarterly, Verse Daily and elsewhere.

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