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What Rough Beast | Poem for January 12, 2018

Devon Balwit
The Force Needed to Escape Orbit

…the bridegroom arrives
Lord of the mirrors!
It is himself he guides

In among these silk
Screens, these rustling appurtenances.
—Sylvia Plath

You’ve met
his ilk, the type
who asks questions

only he
can answer,
you, an ear,

a megaphone, a pump
to inflate
the limp cock

of self-regard.
Respond or don’t,
it’s the same

to him. All
he needs is a mute
cliff for an echo.

Move,
and you will see
him turn,

heliotropic,
seeking a new face
for his heat.

To watch him
spin about so
staggers.

 

Devon Balwit is a writer/teacher from Portland, Oregon. Her poems of protest have appeared previously in What Rough Beast as well as in The New Verse News, Poets Reading the News, RattleRedbird 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 January 11, 2018

Kris Beaver
Summary of The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

The alien, tall, polite, handsome, bright—
a nifty catch in the fifties
with nuclear destruction in sight,
especially for a war widow with a pre-teen son.
She needed a spouse who got things done,
someone better than the lousy fiancé
she’d been betting on. Problem was
this alien’s mission excluded love and marriage.
He’d been sent to do what must be done—
save the universe by destroying Earth.
That’s why his traveling dome honed in on D.C.
landing near a manly stone monument for
maximum visibility.
To save their homeland from invasion,
troops and tanks surrounded his ship. Still,
the alien stepped out, came down the ramp,
held forth a life-saving gift and was shot.
Of course. The army doesn’t horse around.
That’s when a metallic Frankenstein appeared,
a gigantic interstellar officer with more than enough
super-power to destroy the galaxy. It began
vaporizing weapons left and right. Citizens, too
frightened to move watched in awe, saw the injured
alien command the monster: Stop! Don’t kill them
off just yet. Give me a chance to detect if they’re
worth saving.
So the robot closed its laser-eyes and
stood still while the alien familiarized himself
with the neighborhood. He met the widow, her son
and an Einstieny scientist who thought humankind needed
proof the alien meant business. That’s when the alien
taught Earth a lesson by turning power off world-wide.
This shook folks up enough to listen. He warned leaders
of impending doom if they didn’t learn to get along,
then took off into space, leaving the impulsive
human race to work things out. But we know they just
continued living life as one long, egocentric vacation.
An issue also addressed in the Book of Revelation.

 

Kris Beaver’s poems have appeared in ERGO: The Bumbershoot Literary Magazine and Spindrift, among other journals. She holds a BA in English from Whitman College (where she twice received the Delta Gamma Creative Writing Award) and an MEd from Lesley University. Recently retired after a long career as an elementary school teacher, she has returned to writing poetry. [The classic Indolent Books career path, by the way. —The Editor.]

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What Rough Beast | Poem for January 10, 2018

Tricia Marcella Cimera
Politico Dream at the End of 2017

I’m crouched over
like an animal, drinking
from a stream, & I see
Steve Bannon’s ruined
face reflected back at me.
I’m filled with cunning;
I lift my head, a low growl
coming from my throat.
People smell like stupid
weak rabbits. I smile with
sharp yellow teeth.
Then I turn back into me:
a middle-aged woman,
polite, who never says shit.
Until now. I lift my head &
howl.

 

Tricia Marcella Cimera’s work has appeared in the Buddhist Poetry Review and the Origami Poems Project among other publications. Her poem “The Stag” won first place honors in College of DuPage’s 2017 Writers Read: Emerging Voices contest. Tricia lives with her husband and family of animals in St. Charles, Illinois, near the Fox River.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for January 9, 2018

Sarah Stern
The Madmen

There’s always another part of the story
we don’t know. The cardinal’s red by the birdfeeder
just before the starlings scatter.
The small snow drifts mounting up
the trees. My parents’ French.

My own bold
declarations before the crowd of madmen.
It happened last night between or in a dream.
I stood up in a long dress
took a deep breath and started to speak

about the story we don’t know.
The madmen knocked on the ground
with their sticks. I waited until they stopped.
And started to speak again,
full-throated. They began beating on the ground again.

I waited, started once more, strange words
came out of me. The madmen were still,
almost for the first time.
The air nestled in on itself.
I stretched my arms out and evaporated.

Shimmering in water light,
I woke up fully flesh again—
a fish of sorts, new fins and scales,
a tail too, red mouth—
all me in this early hour.

 

Sarah Stern is the author of But Today Is Different (Wipf and Stock, 2014) and Another Word for Love (Finishing Line Press, 2011). Her poems have appeared in The American Dream, The Man Who Ate His Book: The Best of Ducts.org, Epiphany, Freefall, New Verse NewsVerse Daily, The Woven Table Press, and previously on What Rough Beast, among other journals. She is a five-time winner of the Bronx Council on the Arts’ BRIO Poetry Award. You can see more of her work at sarahstern.me.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for January 8, 2018

Leslie Morris
Minecraft Pantoum for August 2017

I crave safety in Kevlar skin.
Emerald assassins conceal and carry.
I search for the logic of skeleton mobs
by tracing the skin guides back in time.

Emerald assassins conceal and carry.
Shills of revisionist overlays.
I trace the skin guides back in time
to villains with skin of pixeled gold.

Shills of revisionist overlays,
those pigmen mine stagecraft for state.
The villain’s skin is pixeled gold
the gold is pyrite burning to sulfur.

The pigmen mine stagecraft for state.
How different is wrong from evil?
Their gold is pyrite burning to sulfur.
The lingering potion clouds my view.

How different is wrong from evil?
Is it the intent or the lack of remorse?
The lingering potion clouds my view.
Survival mode is just a click away

Is it the intent or the lack of remorse?
Grab bag skins are five for a dollar.
Survival mode is just a click away
as melee bombs shatter resolution.

Grab bag skins are five for a dollar.
I need a cheat engine to feel compassion
while melee bombs shatter resolution.
All our lovely textures render rage.

I need a cheat engine to feel compassion.
as I search for the logic of skeleton mobs.
Our lovely textures now render rage
and I feel no safety in Kevlar skin.

 

Leslie Morris’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Borderlands, The Texas Observer and other journals. She works as a speech/language therapist in the Austin public schools.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for January 7, 2018

Soraya Shalforoosh
Haiku Sequence

“Anger can be power”
The Clash has helped
Election Day results, fuck
No justice tonight

“I Fought the Law”
I thought was Clash song
Originally written
by Sonny Curtis

“Anger can be power”
Keeps me from Crying
We will stay angry and fight
Anger is power

“In these days of evil presidentes
Yes these are the days
We elected Evil Joe
We need Combat Rock

“Kick over the wall ’cause government’s to fall / How can you refuse it?”
Wants to build a wall
New evil President said
“Kick it over” Joe

Rage Against the Machine
Reforming to Rage
Trumps electoral college
Red state rage of dumb

“Anger is an Energy”
Johnny famously
Preached against apartheid
John Rawls theory, sung

Omarosa said “Every Critic, Every Detractor, Will Have To Bow Down To Prez Trump”
Trent Reznor sang it
“I’d rather die than give
you control” fuck Trump

“No you can’t take that away from me”
Black is his soul, God
money grabs pussy, terror
Can’t kill our souls

“No you can’t take that away from me”
Mouth, giant O hole
He will get what he deserves
One day he will serve?

Punk, you saved me
From Suburban Existence
Now Fucking Trump, OI!

Donald Dump
Cut the NEA?
No art? Yoko Ono SCREAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
In your ear, all night

 

Soraya Shalforoosh is the author of This Version of Earth (Barrow Street, 2014). She has been a featured poet in the Journal of the Academy of American Poets Emerging Poet Series, and has had poems and reviews in Black Earth Institute, Apogee Journal, Taos Journal, Barrow Street, Lumina Journal, Skanky Possum, and Marlboro Review, among others. She hold an MFA in Creative Writing from the New School and as an undergraduate at Clark University won the Prentiss Cheney Hoyt Poetry award. She has been a guest poet at William Paterson University in New Jersey, Berkeley College in New York, San Jose State University and a guest speaker at the American Embassy in Algeria.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for January 6, 2018

Sang Yun Jee
Midnight Ride

The headlights shine
off countless blades of grass
the flecks of orange
like sparks from a bonfire
or gleaming monarch butterflies
whose deep, charred orange colors
die away in flecks
of gold.

Do you recall the weeds that grew?
There used to be
a home for nettles
stinging everywhere
going everywhere
growing as tall as I was.
They were uprooted
and thrown out.

Perhaps if I had seen
the nettles
as butterflies of different hues
then I would
not have killed the nettles
just like that.
But I could not
and now I can not.

 

Sang Yun Jee, otherwise known as Martin, studies in the Philippines as a sophomore in the International School Manila. He wants to use his various experiences to follow the path of English Literature. He is currently the poetry editor for a student-run magazine, The Mckinley Review.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for January 5, 2018

Devon Balwit
Visiting Planet Earth

O I shouldn’t put my finger in that
Auntie, it might bite!
—Sylvia Plath

O I shouldn’t turn on the telly,
not if I were you,

too many mudslides, weepy men
with buried families,

the burned out, the flooded, with
their insides on display,

ladies draped over long coffins,
with balled hankies.

O not the laptop either, dear—
there, you’ll only see

dogs without ears and ribby mares,
bear cubs grabbing

the knees of their jailors, unhappy
hominids hooting

into echo chambers. O not the yard
either, my bean,

the haze is thick today, no breeze,
no butterflies, no songbirds,

not this year, just scavengers,
fighting for scraps.

 

Devon Balwit is a writer/teacher from Portland, Oregon. Her poems of protest have appeared previously in What Rough Beast as well as in The New Verse News, Poets Reading the News, RattleRedbird 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 January 4, 2018

Lisa Alvarez
She Fears: A Villanelle

She fears his mob more than the man
the flag not hers when in their hands
when he is gone, they still will stand

conspiracy converts the land
an anthem stung into command
she fears that mob more than their man

she reads their signs: demand demand
bright torches, chants, night-roaming klans
when he is gone, they will still stand

they have been waiting, like the sands
for a late tide that drowns the land
she fears this mob more than the man

recalling plans of other clans
when candles gently lit the land
When he is gone, still will they stand?

Interrogate the past they brand!
Barricade our hearts, our held hands!
She fears his mob more than their man.
When he is gone, will we still stand?

 

Lisa Alvarez’s poetry and prose have appeared most recently in in Faultline, Huizache, Los Angeles Times, Santa Monica Review, Truthdig, and Zocalo Public Square, as well as in the anthologies Sudden Fiction Latino: Short-Short Stories from the United States and Latin America (W. W. Norton & Company, 2010), edited by Robert Shapard,‎ James Thomas,‎ and Ray Gonzales; and Only Light Can Do That: 100 Post-Election Poems, Stories & Essays.(The Rattling Wall and PEN Center USA, 2017). She earned an MFA in fiction from UC Irvine and has taught creative writing and composition for 25 years at a community college in Orange County.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for January 3, 2018

Marjorie Moorhead
Interloper

Why must Polar Bears
starve
When the fat pig
thrives?

Why can he slash
Bears Ears,
insult Navajo
Code Breakers,
steal our taxes
for the takers?

I saw an opossum on our deck last night.
He doesn’t belong here.
It’s not the normal habitat.
Why did he not fear
me when I went outside
and stomped?

Awkward, homely, and out of place;
nevertheless he claimed territory.
He blatantly transgressed.

 

Marjorie Moorhead‘s poem “Starlight in My Pocket”  appeared in the HIV Here & Now project annual run-up to World AIDS Day in 2017. Her poem “Wandering the Anthropocene” is included in the anthology A Change of Climate (Independently published, 2017) edited by Sam Illingworth and Dan Simpson to benefit the Environmental Justice Foundation. Her poems will appear in the anthologies Birchsong: Poetry Centered in Vermont,  Vol. 2 (Blueline Press, 2018) and in the Opening Windows Fourth Friday Poets collection forthcoming from Hobblebush Press in 2018. Marjorie lives in New Hampshire near the Vermont border.

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