When dictators who rule over transnational corporations
finally choose to do no harm to other people or species,
it’ll be an ice-cold season in hell as billionaires shout
at their servants to hand them their loaded assault rifles.
When they dictate their fresh plans for the triple bottom line,
will they explain to the crowd how they managed to run
their misinformation campaigns aimed at creating enough
doubt about climate disruption to block collective actions?
The dictators were hired to control takeovers and fabrications,
to camouflage needed information, and to deal with others
like them, single-minded money-mongers who’ll say anything
to maximize the bottom line, who seek positions of advantage
for putting one over on somebody else, to enrich themselves
before others, to give executives bonuses before investing,
to keep politicians beholden, harnessing them with blackmail,
to straight-out lie to congressional investigation committees
and position middle managers where they’ll do the dirty work
of cutting costs, compromising the local air and watershed,
and externalizing every possible cost for others to pick up.
When they finally decide they should cause no harm to others,
it will mean their view of world has been radically enlarged
to allow for presence of others and importance of ecosystems.
From the moment this is announced, immense relief will pass
from person to person, as we once again can picture a future.
by James Grabill
James Grabill’s work appears in Caliban, Harvard Review, Terrain, Mobius, Shenandoah, Seattle Review, Stand, and many others. Books – Poem Rising Out of the Earth (1994), An Indigo Scent after the Rain (2003), Lynx House Press. Environmental prose poems, Sea-Level Nerve: Books One (2014), Two (2015), Wordcraft of Oregon. For many years, he taught all kinds of writing as well as “systems thinking” and global issues relative to sustainability.
Stick-men crayoned on the closet walls
like astronauts abandoned
to the endless night of space,
ancient grease thick as suntan lotion
on the kitchen ceiling, a cloud of nail holes
floating the front-room wall,
slats of the fractured louver doors
scattered like bones on the bedroom floor.
It took a week to gather the detritus
of giving up, walking away.
So much left behind, hangers strewn in a jigsaw,
shirts and underwear piled in the corners.
the legless blue-foam seat
their child sat on all of every day
and died last month at seventeen.
She couldn’t move or speak,
only shift her eyes enough
that you believed someone lived in there.
They learned what her eye-flickers meant,
the gurgled cries, head wags.
Fed spoon-by-spoon so she wouldn’t choke,
I saw how they’d slide her in the blue seat
across the living-room, stationed by the television
so they could go on with their lives.
They’d check back in ten minutes,
read her eyes the way you try to do
when someone doesn’t answer.
You look as they stare out the window
at the pink streaks of morning,
see how still they are, wanting to believe
they’re loving the overwhelming
beauty of the sunrise until you notice
their eyes have stopped moving.
by Mark Burke
Mark Burke’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in the North American Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Sugar House Review, Nimrod International Journal and others. His work has recently been nominated for a Pushcart prize.
Let the wolf metaphor stand. Must I heed what some editor says about cliché. They see them everywhere: tone deaf to the sounds of poems: their boxcar rhythm. Occasionally, they astound with a miraculously astute observation. For decades, I let them throw me into bouts of depression, for they were the only route. Was I cursed to be able to hear the world? Once for a week I was obsessed with the words of osteology: epiphysis, apophysis. I take words upstairs to empty halls where I let them echo. When Michael took sick, there was a polite buffer of silence between the world and me. I cared for him and felt guilty pursuing my passion for language play. When the morphine did little I knew what was coming. Each night I whispered to myself, God don’t let that happen tonight. I would read aloud to him at all hours of the night. Sometimes I would put my face up close to him and think, it’s still him. I couldn’t help but reminisce to myself about the stories he told of growing up, of his family living in an unfinished basement. My mind wandered madly. I doodled on my unlined journal’s pages: a cross within a circle with distinct dots around the circumference. It reminded me of Southwest petrographs, of our time exploring the spiritual sites of northern New Mexico. After he passed, I convinced myself there was nothing in creation that is a home. I took up sadness. It took a couple of years for language to speak to me again. One day huddled in a winter coat and scarf jotting down thoughts on a park bench I thought: at one time in this world it was alright to throw a kiss to a pretty stranger. This world speaks more than ever, and there has never been a time when there is so little rich language to hear.
—written from phrases and lines from the same page number of fourteen different books
by Marc Frazier
Marc Frazier has widely published poetry in journals including The Spoon River Poetry Review, ACM, Good Men Project, f(r)iction, The Gay and Lesbian Review, Slant, Permafrost, Plainsongs, and Poet Lore. He has had memoir from his book WITHOUT published in Gravel, The Good Men Project, decomP, Autre, Cobalt Magazine, Evening Street Review, and Punctuate. Marc, an LGBTQ+ writer, is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for poetry, has been featured on Verse Daily, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a “best of the net.” His book The Way Here and his two chapbooks are available on Amazon as well as his second full-length collection titled Each Thing Touches (Glass Lyre Press). Willingly, his third poetry book, will be published by Adelaide Books in 2019. His website is www.marcfrazier.org