Saturday, December 17, 2016

Protest Series - David H. Rommereim

We are pleased to offer a poem and two thoughtful and timely essays by the Reverend David H. Rommereim as part of our Protest Series.

The poem appears on this page. You can access each essay by clicking on its title, below.

All work Copyright©2016 by David H. Rommereim – All Rights Reserved

“What do you hear?”

David H. Rommereim

What do you hear?
Is it what I said?
Or have you listened
with your, inner voice?

The morning news announced,
‘An election is completed.
We have a new president.
He has begun….’

And what I heard is:
‘A new president has a big gun.’

I guess you know what I hear
about this man.
I hope to listen, then ask,
whether he can holster his guns,
keep his finger off the trigger,
mouth off the spit.

Then he may keep a good job,
with perfect insurance,
and a decent pension.

If he is fired,
he will become
one of millions
who have given up
on the  unemployment line,
and stuck their nose into anger,
spit into slime,
and listen only to the voices
without purpose of those
who, after getting spit on,
replace the batteries of hearing aids,
and look for a chance
to join in the song of the future.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Protest Series - Thom Brucie

“River Run

Thom Brucie

Thaw, river, and unleash spring;
yank deadwood from the banks.
Spill forth and
resurrect all sleeping trees.
Roil your muddy stomach;
replenish the rekindled silt.
Revive the slumbering boulders which
adorn your path,
and enduring no caution,
feed the funnel mouth
of salt sea depth which makes all continents
islands of remote topography;
and shape the same intimacy between humans
as river run to ocean deep.

“The Parable of Faith”

Thom Brucie

Once upon a time, there was a crazy, homeless man with a dirty beard and a cardboard sign which read, "The End Is Near Here." His name was Marty.

Marty considered himself a bit of a political pundit, but no one paid much attention to him.

However, during the election year with its talk of civil cacophony, the Democrats and the Republicans began insisting in public proclamations that freedom was, in fact, a reality, and they sent television reporters to find the stories of real Americans.

One of them found Marty.

"We're trying to tell the stories of real freedom in America," the reporter said. "Won't you tell us yours?"

"Sure," Marty answered.

He coughed to clear his throat. He looked into the camera. Then, quietly, and without undue exaggeration, he told the parable of faith.
They hung the men naked like sausages from poles with ropes tied to their arms and legs, their heads all pointing down toward the dusty soil, and their backs curled against the tension of the ropes. They always killed three at a time under the little tent-bungalow set up in the park so everyone could watch.

At first, the executions were barbarous. Colonel Veritilious, the Colonel, used a machete to hack open a kidney or to cut off a head. Sometimes a body pulled apart at the sudden release of stress, and as body parts fell toward the ground, blood splattered on the observers.

On one occasion in the sweltering evening of a sun-soaked July, he missed the kidney and he cut into the spine of the victim, and the victim claimed to feel nothing. This discovery eventually gave the Colonel the ability to allow men to die without pain. Soon, families of those condemned began to bring the Colonel bribes so that he would utilize his secrets and kill their loved one with the painless death.

Originally, these killings were intended merely to subdue the citizens, to assure their obedience, and, after a time, they became ritual, regarded with a certain amount of sacred mystery. The Colonel even added a well dressed young man as an assistant who carried the machete like a relic in a hardwood sheath wrapped with braided twine made from the string of salt water palm leaves.

The machete was kept so sharp that its slightest touch drew blood.

The Colonel walked behind those hanging from the poles. He would pull the long knife from its sheath. He would slice open the back at the position of the kidney. And then he would administer a slice at the spine, one location, near the number four Lumbar, for a painless, numb, death, another location, near the number three Cervical, for an excruciating, prolonged one.

The painfulness of this second cut was said to be greater than broken bones, burned skin, and the sting of swarming ants combined. Therefore, the Colonel became wealthy from the bribes of families wishing to protect their loved ones from anguish and torment.

Eventually, the Colonel became so skillful that he could remove the machete from its wooden sheath soundlessly, and the knife grew so sharp it could open a human body with no more sound than that of a moth drying its wings.

For this reason silence was imposed during the executions.

Finally, the Colonel became so adept at killing that he could perform this task without even the need for the machete. At his mere gesture, kidneys burst open and spines split. If ever a victim displeased the Colonel, or if the family could not afford his rather expensive fee, he simply touched the wretched victim at the base of the neck which brought on the death of agony.

For a long time the executions were accomplished without incident until it was the turn of a simple-minded shoe cobbler to die. This one claimed that the Colonel found him distasteful because of his poverty, and he claimed that in spite of the fact that his family had paid half the fee for a painless death, all they could afford, the Colonel was nevertheless about to administer the death of agony.

His cries grew louder and louder, breaking the sacred law of silence, and the Colonel, in retribution, did touch the base of his neck, but slightly off-center, so that the cobbler screamed in agony for days. His moans and anguish echoed off the hills and reverberated within the hollows of trees so that even animals trembled in torment.

Finally, on the third day, he died.

This brought a new phenomenon – death by proclamation.

So agonizing was the dying of the young man, so horrible his cries of affliction, so precisely were his screams encoded into the minds of the villagers that now, when the Colonel sends his soldiers to escort the victims to the ropes, the loved ones merely pay the fee to the agents, and the victim voluntarily dies at home within the hour.

When Marty finished the parable, both the interviewer and the photographer, shocked by the tale, stood speechless, while the cameraman, somewhat mesmerized, continued to hold the record button.

Marty shrugged, picked up his sign, and smiled into the still running camera.

Eventually, the reporter rushed the unedited copy to leaders of both the Democratic and the Republican parties. In a rare gesture of authentic bi-partisanship, they ordered Marty jailed.

The reporter led the agents to Marty's homeless home, and they took him to a prison where they tortured him without mercy. They stretched him out on the pain-inducing table allowing the machine to inflict its precise afflictions.

As Marty twisted in agony, he cried out in anguish and in torment.

Yet, those outside who heard the cries could not remember the meaning of the sounds.

Copyright©2016 by Thom Brucie – All Rights Reserved

Friday, December 9, 2016

Protest Series - Sharon Scholl

“Second Thoughts on the Second Amendment”

Sharon Scholl

Not reason – but romance,
power in the palm,
death dancing on the finger tips.

Not sense – but swagger,
street punks wearing menace
like a sport coat,
hunters hoisting bloody fur
above the grisly door to manhood.

Not deliberation – but delight,
the stroking hand gliding down the barrel,
the sensual satisfaction of a smoking bore.

Not study – but status,
the video hero spraying
a fire fan of bullets.

Blind fear – security in a desk drawer.
Blind rage – revenge by fire power.
The shotgun in the truck,
the pistol on the hip.
not reason – but romance.

“The Mute”

Sharon Scholl

She never spoke again
after the rape.

Not from fear, for what worse
might she suffer.

Not for lack of sympathy
for those whose tears and pleading
turned her silence to their despair.

She simply had nothing to say
to a world in which
such things can happen.

“Gathering Petition Signatures”

Sharon Scholl

The elderly I can’t forgive;
how they shuffle up like gray cranes
poisoned on pollution,
how they peruse the proposal
and declare it futile.

Too many defeats, too many
passionate ideals gone to seed.
They care too much about being fooled
to care about being foolish.
Whatever the idea, it will cost too much.

I want to yell at them, SIGN
because you have lost so much,
because you enable the robbery,
because you need to be angry.
Sign because you aren’t dead yet.

Copyright©2016 by Sharon Scholl – All Rights Reserved

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Protest Series - More from J.K. Zimmerman

“The Bad Rappin' of D-Rap Da Donald aka Li'l Hands”

James K. Zimmerman

(as performed live on YouTube
with DJ Micky P and Kellyanne Da Con)

Yo! (beat) Let's go! (beat)
Lemme hear ya say no to Mexico!
Do it, yo! (beat) Go low! (beat)
Lemme hear ya say no to Mexico!

I don't gimme no hugs
to the thugs with the drugs
gonna build me a wall
so straight, so tall
so beautiful! (beat)
so beautiful! (beat)

(beat) Give it up now!
Yo! (beat) Let's go! (beat)
Lemme hear ya say no to Mexico!
C'mon, yo! (beat) Go low! (beat)
Lemme hear ya say no to Mexico!

Make a fist (beat), make a fist! (beat)
Get rid of them Muslim terrorists!
Take 'em down (beat), bomb 'em out (beat)
y'all know every day what I'm talkin' about!

Say yo! (beat) Let's go! (beat)
Lemme hear ya say no to Mexico!
Do it, yo! (beat) Go low! (beat)
Lemme hear ya say no to Mexico!

Put your hands up! (beat)
Put your hands up! (beat)
Put your hands up! (beat)
Put your hands up! (beat)

I can catch any bitch
by the tits or the snatch
I can take it so far 'cause
y'know I'm a star!

Believe it! (beat)
Show me love now! (beat)
Believe it! (beat)
Show me love now! (beat)

An' say yo! (beat) Let's go! (beat)
Lemme hear ya say no to Mexico!
Say yo! (beat) Go low! (beat)
Lemme hear ya say no to Mexico!

Stand up! (beat) Stand up! (beat)
Put the cuffs on Crooked Hillary
'cause she lies (beat), no surprise (beat)
don't give 'er no bail, she be rottin' in jail!

Put your hands up! (beat)
Put your hands up! (beat)
Put your hands up! (beat)
Put your hands up! (beat)

An' say yo! (beat) Let's go! (beat)
Lemme hear ya say no to Mexico!
Do it, yo! (beat) Go low! (beat)
Lemme hear ya say no to Mexico!

Give it up now! (beat)
Give it up! (beat)
Put your hands up (beat)
for America!

Give it up now! (beat)
Give it up! (beat)
Put your hands up (beat)
for America!

(Fade to white)


James K. Zimmerman

they accepted you
with grace in their midst
though your face

was not like theirs, your need
was not like theirs, and with you

they prayed for an hour
or more, ‘til the dark

in your heart opened up
their blood flowing free

and the walls cried out
with every shot, the pews

crumpled in pain, the street
wept red in the gutter

it was all of us
dying, we were all
of us dying, all of us

dying last night

Copyright©2016 by James K. Zimmerman – All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Protest Series - Lauren Coe

“do not tell me to smile”

Lauren Coe

locker room talk.
boys will be boys.
but it was just a joke.
you’re so pretty when you smile.

his words are far away but i can feel them inside
coursing through my inner organs 
my throat my chest my veins my heart.
you’re so pretty when you smile. 

his words are the finger that punctures me
the organ that penetrates my quietest moments
the blade that scrapes the wound
you’re so pretty when you smile. 

but i am not surprised by his words. 
they are deeply held beliefs 
they are the religion that feeds our society.
and from his pulpit he will continue to preach

but unlike the first time, the second time,
the third time, the last time
he will not speak over me. 
i will not abide by the predatory sermon.

i will play the nastiest hand with my deck of woman cards because
my body is not ratable and my choices are not punishable
and my pussy is not up for grabs
so don’t tell me to smile. 

don’t tell me to smile because
this time i’m fighting back. 

Copyright©2016 Lauren Coe – All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Protest Series - Janyce Stefan-Cole

“Happy Days Are Here Again”

Janyce Stefan-Cole

Changes are coming. I try to tell myself I won’t be affected.

Maybe reversing climate control measures world leaders are trying desperately to enact will affect me. New York may fill up with smog again; we’ll experience strings of air quality alert days in hotter and hotter, drier and drier summers. Or course, if global warming is all a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, we’re safe. If not, most likely I’ll be gone before the waters rise and food becomes scarce in longer and deeper world droughts. The millennials can worry that one—if I want to be selfish about it.

Walls won’t be going up in Brooklyn, nor will midnight raids harass suspected Latinos in their beds, a la the Kremlin. Our mayor has said our city won’t assist in Federal immigrant purges. That won’t guarantee the rust belt states won’t hunt people down, or Louisiana or Kansas, or Indiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi or Arizona. I hope there’s loads of press coverage when the cleansing begins, as they haul little kids in Pjs onto busses headed south of the Great Wall of America. And I sincerely hope the missing jobs come back once the corporations, who, after all, are people too, find it in their hearts to quit sending them over that same wall.

To me and my sisters: I would urge extra caution in elevators, lonely corridors, crowded streets and subways. Our new leader has okayed genital grabbing, long as a Tic Tac is on your assailant’s tongue. Handicapped people, prepare to be laughed at. Minorities of all stripes (increasingly that’s us whites, but never mind: power trumps numbers) prepare to be fair game for KKKers and White Supremacists. LGBT? Could you slip back into the woodwork till this blows over? Coming ideologues don’t think bakers have to bake or sell you their wedding cakes. There’s even talk of caged camps for Muslims, right here in the land of the free. “Oh, say can you see …”

No, no: Cheer up, the good old days are back, America will be great again! Sing along:
                   Happy days are here again! 
                   The skies above be dirty again,                   
                   The women won’t have choice again,
                   And the sick will have no care,
                   We’ll all feel free to hate again, plus
                   The rich won’t pay their share again,
                   Let’s sing a song of cheer again
                   Happy days are here again!                     
Janyce Stefan-Cole is the author of the novels, The Detective’s Garden, and Hollywood Boulevard

Copyright©2016 by Janyce Stefan-Cole – All Rights Reserved

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Protest Series - J.K. Zimmerman

“The Dream About the Eagle”

James K. Zimmerman

he never intended to knock at the door
just flew in through the window
(more bomber than jet) through
the screen, the sheen of his white-
feathered head was blinding, reminding
of black ice on back-country roads

he showed little fear, just alit on the table
a little ways off with the rest of us there
staring hard, didn’t care what we thought
caught completely off-guard when he neatly
removed the first of his feathers, the tip
of his tail, didn’t fail to yank hard at his chest
and his wings, singing anthems aloud
at the top of his voice in rhythm with pulls
at his pinions ‘til nothing was left save
a pileate crest on the crown of his seemingly
gleaming bald head

am I dead yet? (he asked) as he spread
out his bones on the dining room table
now known as the crypt, he was prone
to be pronate but offered to donate
his fearsome gold talons and hooked
glossy beak to the weak and the poor

to be sure, it was only a joke with a wink
and a poke at the rest of us watching to see
what he’d do or to fly with the fleas
on what’s left of his back, a sack
of potatoes by now for damn sure

but the cure to confusion was purely
his choice, his voice (still quite strong
among feathers and claws long removed
from their places, amazement still drawn
on our ashen-white faces) declared

in a tone on a par with the groan
in a bar when the bartender shouts out
last call:  remember (he said, with his eyes
turning red from the blood that surged
up in his featherless throat) don’t gloat
over things that you think you still have

or still own or still rule like a fool
or a juggler, don’t struggle to keep
what you reap for yourself on a shelf
where no one can reach it but you

then he threw the parts of himself
in a heap on the floor, and the door
flew off its old hinges before we
could move or approve of his stark
raving sanity gone

yes gone, leaving floating white
feathers and bits of gold paint
in the wake and the wind as he went
out the door, up the chimney and out
in the yard, breathing hard, and we

knew what he meant as he faded
from sight: maybe nothing at all
or to all a good fright

“Old Man Has a Can of Beans for Lunch”

James K. Zimmerman

eatin' a can of them beans th'other day
y'know the kind what got just a little
fatback in 'em an' the sauce got tomatuh
an' brown sugar an' all

makes pretty good eatin' with a roll
or a bag of Fritos or somethin' an' maybe
a Twinkie or a Ho-Ho for dessert
long as my stomach ain't actin' up
bubblin' around, makin' all weird sounds
like thunder or that ol' freight train
used to come by midnights, wake me up

made me think 'bout that ol' cannin' factory
down outside town, got a job there one time
first real job, really, with reg'lar hours
every week an' a week's vacation every year
they didn't pay you for, an' time off
for lunch, didn't pay you none for that neither

but they let us open the cans of beans
that didn't look right an' eat 'em out back
near the loadin' dock, and Ol' Charlie –
or maybe it was Mo – would bring along
a fifth of Jack or JB or a six-pack of Schlitz
or PBR or maybe even Stroh's, I dunno
and it was pretty good that way

Ol' Charlie used to nip a little more
than the rest, an' me, I was just a kid
maybe sixteen, seventeen, so I only did
a little, maybe just once a week or so
an' anyways Ol' Charlie didn't have no
wife no more an' didn't have a coupla
fingers on one hand no more neither

story goes he got 'em caught after lunch
one day in the sortin' conveyor, missed
a coupla weeks' work that way
coupla weeks' pay too

an' Mo, he had a big patch on his face
looked like somebody else's skin or
maybe treebark or a lizard or somethin'
'cause he got too close one afternoon
to the stare-lizer where the cans got clean

gone coupla months after that
jus' 'bout bought the farm, he said

so me, I didn't drink too much at lunch
those days, just ate my beans, drank
a ten-cent Coke outta the machine
listened to Ol' Charlie an' Mo tell stories
'bout the ol' times an' the hard times
an' the war an' all, kept at my job

worked my way up from the loadin' dock
to dumpin' them beans in the sortin' machine
an' even sometimes – 'cause I guess the boss
he liked me – sometimes loadin' the cans
on the trucks when they was all done
an' ready to go to the IGA or Kroger
or A&P or whatever

but after a while they came in with them
new-fangled, fancy-ass machines
with lotsa buttons to push, an' you gotta
have high school or so an' all kinda trainin'
just to run em', so we all got laid off

just 'fore Christmas, think it was

but the beans still taste just the same's
they always done, just the way they's
sposed to, the ones with a little
tomatuh an' brown sugar an' fatback

still make pretty good eatin' with a roll
or a bag of Fritos or somethin' 
an' maybe a Twinkie or a Ho-Ho
or a PBR for dessert, maybe even
a Stroh's if it's a Saturday

“Hero Worship”

James K. Zimmerman

thirty-gallon garbage
bags, home on the broken
dog-shit sidewalk

black ones tied with rags
savings bank for nickel-
deposit bottles and cans

shopping cart of sweat-
stained shirts, torn pants
year-old magazines
            laceless shoes

any change
            to spare, brother?

buy you something to eat?
(won’t help you feed
            your habit)

I could use a hero

oh -- can’t do that
            but here:

(hand in pocket
            singles snug
between fives, tens
and twenties) 

here’s a buck

thank you, brother
            bless you

walking on, venti
latte, house and car
            quicker step

a hero

“A Fable For Our Time: The Fox in the Henhouse Revisited”
with a nod to JT

James K. Zimmerman

There's this fox, see, and he's really, really good at breaking into the henhouse. He can get in any time he wants and take whichever hens and chicks he chooses, with impunity and no repercussions. And certainly without any regard for the effect of his skill on the chicken population as a whole.

So he goes to the chicken farmer and says, "Y'know, you've got a real problem with security around your henhouse. I can go in any time I want and take whichever hens and chicks I want, and you can't do anything about it."

And the farmer says, "Yeah, you're right, it's a real problem! It's making it so I'm not so sure I can even keep the farm going. I'm feeling like a loser. But what can I do?"

"Well, here's my plan," says the fox. "Since I'm the best one in the world at breaking into your henhouse, I'm the only one who knows how to fix the problem. So what you should do is hire me to tell you how to keep your hens and chicks safe. I can make your farm great again. Whaddya say?"

And the farmer says, "Y'know, that's a really totally awesome idea! Why didn't I think of that in the first place! You're on!"

So the fox designs a really, really beautiful system for protecting the hens and chicks, much easier to understand than the one the farmer had originally, and the farmer is totally happy. "Life really is great again," he says.

But after a while, he notices that his poultry population is continuing to decline, the ones that are left seem really anxious and off their feed, and the fox and his family are getting sleeker and happier all the time.

Eventually, the situation gets so bad that the farmer decides to give up his farm, declare bankruptcy, and sell off the few remaining hens and chicks. And even his last rooster – to the fox and his beautiful family.


James K. Zimmerman

it is moot to maintain hands
up don’t shoot will change
the world when a little
girl with errant aim can
claim the life of her instructor
at a vacation-destination
firing range with one stray
shot from an uzi

accidentally I’m sure --
no one to blame, no
cure, the same all over:
guns don’t kill people
            bullets do

and who’s to know how
many of us would die in
any case, of shark attacks
lightning strikes, black  
widow bites, or apples
fed to us by green-faced
vampy witches if there were
no guns around to jam
those evil bullets into

and too there are the rituals
we share to keep our fair
humanity intact:

we openly carry high-
powered pride and stand
our self-determined ground

we hunt our ducks and deer
with rapid rounds to keep
them from escaping

we die and rise to play again
safe within our online web
rebooted from the ashes

and to celebrate when peace
breaks out we fire our bullets
in the air so sure when they

return to earth they will not
find their resting place directly
on uplifted heads of blissful
cheering children

All work Copyright©2016 by James K. Zimmerman – All Rights Reserved