Open Mic (K – M)

The Coast Reconstruction That Something
by Jennifer Karmin

americans is of give
to arm in who air deployed
been cash is example
president of that used
portion of expense
is people the congregations
for reach gulf corps
at country the school

–Jennifer Karmin’s text-sound epic, Aaaaaaaaaaalice, was published by Flim Forum Press in 2010. She curates the Red Rover Series and is co-founder of the public art group Anti Gravity Surprise. Her multidisciplinary projects have been presented at festivals, artist-run spaces, community centers, and on city streets across the U.S., Japan, and Kenya. At home in Chicago, she teaches creative writing to immigrants at Truman College and works as a Poet-in-Residence for the public schools.


Katrina’s Rain
by Freda Karpf

What’s in that gumbo that closed the bars,
swamped the music and floated Orleans
into a toxic Mardi Gras?
“This is big, man!” the mayor implored the State
and the Feds.
When the National Guard came
did they help or harass?

The whole country watched
New Orleanians helping each other.
The Coast Guard was really cool.
People wondered if right
to life is a white privilege or
was that just something we thought?
So many victories of human spirit,
saints on muddy streets,
the images made it very clear,
these aren’t just people of the
breaking down levee rain
these are the people we left behind.
So many defeats.

People wondering why they didn’t leave the city
cause the streets were washed away.
The president flying 40,000 feet over the Crescent City.
People taking food from abandoned stores
and the National Guard told to shoot those who loot.
Now tell us, how could they tell if they were looters
or folks that found themselves in a watery hell,
people taking shelter wherever they could
living in buses stuck in mud,
rooming in abandoned schools.
We saw the new homeless, scared and torn.
The town soul haunted, the country watching, stunned.
Who would have thought we’d see so many people
living on their roofs for days on end
with the government flying high over head.
Lotta good that did.

One family split by a broken roof.
Children with husband father on one side
wife mother on the other.
The choices we have to make
when the water comes.
It rained that hard.

We saw animals floating on broken roofs.
Heard there was a danger from sharks and crocs
snakes, kitchen toxins, oil spills,
debris, shit, urine, mud like you never seen before.
That’s how hard it rained.

Wasn’t it long ago and far away
when the color barriers came down?
Someone remembered how they crossed
the bridge from New York City shocked and covered in soot
they were met by applause and genuine support.
People fleeing New Orleans met a
blockade and rifles on the other side.
From citizens to refugees.
“There be no shelter
here, the front line is everywhere.”
Don’t you know, that’s how hard it rained.

Katrina blew open houses and stores.
Even their jobs disappeared
and new ones going to Halliburton crews?
You’ve got to be kidding.
That’s what’s hard to believe
when we saw people waiting on roofs.
Rescue is just an idea and our minds echo,
“We’re still leaving them behind.”
It can all be taken away in a moment.
This is a shakedown, a stone in Lake Pont-chartrain,
rings upon rings move out and changed lives,
ruined lives, erased lives circle about.
We all saw it. We watched New Orleans drown
and the government? The government was nowhere to be found.
They can hide the bodies coming home from Iraq
but they can’t stop CNN from showing a hurricane yet.

After the pain, suffering, sludge and muck
some thought about rain having a cleansing effect,
nourishing new seeds of growth.
Thought the people of that sassy, jazzy city,
were strong and will for sure come back.
We will be there for you Orleans.
The heart’s jazz is always a phoenix tune
singing Amazing Grace. How sweet those sounds will be
coming back from Louis Armstrong’s streets.

–Freda Karpf writes about the dailies or things that make you feel crazy and sane in The Daily Neurotic. She’s at work on a book about the intersection of grief, coastal environmental issues and comic revenge. Her Conversations with Nic is a multi-genre comic epic through the land of withdrawal.


Nature cries…
By Maria Keane
We mourn;
nature cries aloud.
Pain burns birds with faded eyes.
They swoop
with remembered

The sky darkens
its shadow
on earth refusing rays
that drown the night
in the gulf below.


Gulf Coast Telegram
By Mark Kerstetter

A quick hello
Sent at the wind’s mercy
And smudged by the hands of men

My boats are at port
Death fingers the booms
Fishermen wait for nothing

From all the King’s horses
And all the King’s men
Who know nothing

About blown wells
Spills and plumes
Crosswinds on loop currents

How pelicans glide
Or Katrina cries or how to eat
On the bottom

Down below the earth spews
And spews while men attempt to cover
Black deeds with white promises

Determined to drive right through
Estuaries and mangroves
On the way to market

For new detergents to try
And sample for free
The grease on the spoon

That won’t lick clean

— Mark Kerstetter lives and works on the Florida gulf coast. He writes The Bricoleur []


Tar Scars
by Laurie Kolp

A day at the beach;
Childhood memories clouded,
Castles made of tar,
Swimming in chocolate batter,
What will become of this mess?

–Laurie Kolp graduated from Texas A&M University with a BS in education and a specialty in reading. She has taught preschool through middle school, served as a dyslexia specialist and tutored children for eighteen years.

Laurie has three children. She can be reached at or, www.conversationswithacardinal.blogspot.


Colors are stardust
By Petra Kuppers

Colors are stardust. Minerals cooled with the core.
Iron is red, copper blue, and sulfur yellow.
Let’s live in a Steiner house,
edges round no angles saturated
color glazed, jeweled walls to code a life
Is it my blue phase?
Nervous system, nervously wriggling just next to my skin, so hungry for the Vitamin D, which is how I think of sunlight, of course, it’s good for me, right now, in moderation. I will monitor, see.
Builders are so expensive these days. It’s the recession, a regression, a doom for the exploitation of the earth: mined out, leaching, red and white scars where the soil shifts.
Lemon yellow: lemon so much less jaundiced, jealous, yell-us, Gelb, can you imagine that being good for you? But the sour, and astringent, pulling it together, all together now, it’s the nesting idea: we live in insecure times.
Let’s live in a Steiner house,
One here and one there, and no edges. Organically, I fall all over myself to get to the sun and then I hide in the cellar. Eyes fall out. Eyes grow hollow. The back of the neck far away from the forehead that screams pinched from above and pulled and the bed offers not enough black. Paint the world black behind your eyelids. Blackness over the world: paint black the room and the city and this strip of land and the beach and the river and the whole of the US and the earth and the round marble in space and space, and space itself, and the spaces between space and then there is black to be painted and space is black.

–Petra Kuppers is a community artist, a disability culture activist, Artistic Director of The Olimpias ( and Associate Professor of English, Women’s Studies, Theatre and Dance, and Art and Design at the University of Michigan. Her collaborative Cripple Poetics: A Love Story (with Neil Marcus and Lisa Steichmann) appeared with Homofactus Press, and her academic work includes The Scar of Visibility: Medical Performances and Contemporary Art (Minnesota, 2007), Community Performance: An Introduction (Routledge, 2007) and Disability and Contemporary Performance: Bodies on Edge (Routledge, 2003). For recent work on embodied poetics see ‘“your darkness also/rich and beyond fear”: Community Performance, Somatic Poetics and the Vessels of Self and Other’,


Evangeline Lost
by B.J. Laabs

Evangeline is crying for what is now lost;
Longefellow’s jewel of Acadian fades
into a mist of misery and pain.
No one understands.
The mysterious beauty of it dark, hidden bayous
and Crowning Oaks, draped in gray, velvet,
Spanish Moss, hanging majestically
through out it’s land.

Cajun Angels flying close to the ground
protect their charges below.
No one knew the sadness to come,
then came a boom, a hiss, as hot as the Sun

Dark swirling monsters made by man, not God
released crawling scrolls of lifeless ribbons
that churned its way to the
Lowlands filled with creative life,
a land that had survived so much.

Now we cry, as the Angels do,
Not knowing how or what to do
Life has changed
No one is sure, all is uncertain

I wonder about “Cause & Effect,”
and how little thought we give
to this.
Careless men, riding on a wave of
had not fully prepard for this
deep, watery, grave.

Mankind, I pray, will endure this plight
Though it may take eons
To make it right.
Let’s not forget
Those who were lost or scarred by
this dark, unholy night.
May their souls find solace
in Heaven’s Holy Light

May anger be deminshed and
Justice serve
as we ask God to lead us
to a place where he wishes us
to serve.

–B.J. Laabs is a Life-Coach and is currently finishing her book, Golden Moments with Spirit.


Our Ocean
By R. Laban

It happened in Louisiana
but we own it too
too horrible to fathom
how could this happen?
lives lost
someone’s father
a child born – just 7 days old
no hand to hold
no dad to run to
to swing her up high
dance with at the father daughter dance
to be adored and taught
how do you measure that loss?
not on a graph of profits and losses
not in dollars and cents
like the greedy oil lords do
how do they sleep at night?
how did this happen anyway?
why was this allowed in the first place?
no safety net, no plan in place
what were they thinking?
hmm thinking…feeling, caring…
no plan in place?
haunted by images of birds
covered in the black oil
descriptions of sharks in the throes of death
and all that life sinking, sinking
slowly to the bottom of
our ocean

–R. Laban is a medical professional, poet, and blogger. She does copywriting and is an editor for a published writer.


An ‘Island Cloud’
by Marc Latham

sky blue fills the air around
davy’s grey and ghost white
cumulus humilis above
aeronautic acrobats of feathers or frame
over islands masses
sandy brown and jade green
in aquamarine oceans down below


Oil spills make me ill.
But you need to chill and be still
The intellectuals are not homosexuals,
They throw fits over stupid shit.
Take from the rich and give to the poor, makes you nothing but a dirty whore.
Freedom isn’t free, can’t you see?
Millions have died for that luxury.
But still I have a heart, even when you try to part,
From the nation of your creation.
We need food, & we need oil,
Your lack perception makes me boil.
Put yourself in another place,
& your perception will go in another direction.
Last of least, I’m all for for peace,
But being so free unleashed a beast.
If you complain, then this poetry is in vain.
It’s a shame it will be like that.
Because of freedom… it is a fact.
I hope you see the other side of the table
But something tells me you’re unable.
Prove me me wrong and print my song, like it or not…
Poetry it’s got.

–Rich Lamazares


by J.A. Lee

The afternoon winds down and stops. Stalled bills doze in a corner. A stone Buddha rests after a short stroll. Air is taken off the menu.

Wind chimes breathe their last. The wind attends the autopsy. False documents cry real tears. A cloud of dust escapes the hour’s valise.

The hour itself dissolves into a rivulet of lowered expectations. Waters gather; air becomes their tenant. Storm clouds announce a press conference.

–J. A. Lee is the publisher of Crane’s Bill Books in Albuquerque, NM.


Old Beach
By Wayne Lee
Went back to the old beach
after a breach of time
not much there

couple of buffleheads
a great blue heron gliding by
an oystercatcher minus its mate

mud on the sand
from where the bluff
had been undercut.

–Wayne Lee’s poems have appeared in New Millennium, The Ledge, The California Quarterly, New Mexico Poetry Review, New England Anthology of Poets, Steam Ticket, Manorborn, Poets Against the War, The Floating Bridge Anthology Poemeleon, Poetry Motel, Jones Av., and other journals and anthologies. His chapbooks Doggerel & Caterwauls: Poems Inspired by Cats and Dogs, and Twenty Poems from the Blue House (co-authored with his wife, Alice Morse Lee), were published by Whistle Lake Press. Lee’s awards include the Emily Dickinson Award in Poetry, the William Stafford Award in Poetry, the Robert Penn Warren Award, the Writer’s Digest Poetry Award, the Charles Proctor Humor Award and the Santa Fe Reporter’s War Poetry Contest. His. Lee currently owns Club Z! In-Home Tutoring Services of Santa Fe .


by Rebecca J. LePage
The air is stagnant, my soul is breathless
I reflect.
Warfare is happening, scores of wars happening
Innocent boys and girls risk their lives
for the insatiability’s
of the self-indulgent.
Greed prowls, in a mad world, on a mad day in May.
Oil surges up far beneath innocent, blue–green waters
Derails dolphins, thieves winged ones from taking flight
On murky sea
A coastline once battered by the winds and rain
of ruinous, Katrina
Louisiana’s agony twice revisited
this time black waters,
forced ashore by materialism.
Greed prowls, in a mad world, on a mad day in May.

A volcano churns out ash in Iceland
Illuminating cautionary lightning strikes
Valiant, faithful military men and woman
beset with combat memories
Sit, delayed on a base in Kuwait
Wait an incessant eternity, to cross European airspace
And come home.
Greed prowls in a mad world, on a mad day in May.

Here in San Diego
the earth moves like waves under my feet
Yesterday, I paid for parking at the emergency room
while helping an ill friend .
If devastating underground eruption
Battered those we loved
Would it matter if the parking garage got paid?
Greed prowls, in a mad world, on a mad day in May.

— Rebecca J. LePage has her own greeting card line called Eagle Spirit Products. She has had previous contracts with Blue Mountain Arts and Recycled Paper Greetings. She also was a member of the Arizona State Poetry Society where she has received honors.


in the morning
by Ruth Lepson

in the morning
one’s preoccupations come
news of global warming
hardly sinks in
like life after death
it’s there but where

I see his picture and
imagine his laugh
even though he’s dead
turns out he
wasn’t so nice
to his third wife

that changes
my feeling about him
even now
and my feeling’s exactly
the same, too

–Ruth Lepson is the poet-in-residence at the New England Conservatory. Her books are Dreaming in Color (Alice James Books), Morphology, with artist Rusty Crump, and I Went Looking for YOu (both from


By Dennis Leroy Kangalee

They’re shipping knock-offs to Haiti.
(They forgot to send me.)
Somewhere across the ankles of the
Atlantic beneath a sign for second-floor
SUVs and torn up pink-slips, un-housed
and dispossessed eyes peer through the
gates that protect the imposter goods.
Officials cringe
when the boys
the sneakers
that fell from their boxes like frozen feet
that had been cut off and tossed out the
back of the truck, sprinkling the broken
boulevard like raindrops on an ice
cream cone.
A cop lobs fake Nikes at a pensive boy
with a Veteran’s limp and oversized
coat. He laughs as the boy hops home
with two left shoes and the cluster of
police cruisers split into a compass of
blazing sirens
each car
thinking he was the
North Star.
A red scarf emerged from the
dispersing crowd.
This crimson-caped man’s
clutched the air around him in
freak-spasm night.
He lost his shoulder and dropped his
jaw foaming at the mouth:
And a sound fell like a flame that had
been fanned from the deep well of an
executioner’s oven.
And the
blisters on the balls
of his feet
cut through the thick rubbers he wore
and eventually rooted him into an
eternity far beyond slums or beaten
down blocks or inner city apathy.
His fingers crawled like worms
sprouting over a dead soldier’s bayonet.
His scarlet fever snapping in the breeze
like a matador. He waited to rotate in
the barrels of the city’s finest. He just
hoped their bullets would be as bright as
he was.
An old woman shook her head and
said to her husband, “That boy is crazy.
Too much anger. Ain’t gonna bring em
nothing. Bad for the heart”, she said.
He blew a kiss as they whisked by into
their steeple.
He’d never be this again: a tsunami in
the drone of the limping ghetto night.
For blood
is less likely
to boil
as we
get older.
…So I ask you have we truly hit the end,
the rusted sediments, the ancient
depositories of whales long dead and
barnacles who swamped and sucked to
stay alive?
Just a school of fish trembling,
tremoring, and trying maybe thats all we
are: A school of fish, doomed.
Maybe we’re all madmen in scarlet
knowing that shadows dont lurk or
they simply stop being,
cease to follow
when there is nothing but stagnant air
and a muffled heartbeat that barely
brushes against the skin.
Deep schadenfreude
high as the cotton of a Mississippi
Ever seen a house on fire in the
You know what every man is thinking?
“How beautiful that fire burns
I’m just glad its not my house.”


Through the Plots
by Jeanne Lesinski

Through the plots
hurricane winds roared,
prying open stone doors, lids,
toppling urns,
scattering remains,
snapping moorings,

setting afloat parishioners’ coffins

in rushing water—soiled

with shredded leaves, shingles, the lives of a tabby.

As in tales told to frighten children,

the dead left for unknown destinations.

Marble hands clasped in prayer,

a lichen-encrusted angel, one wing tip broken,

watched them go.

After the water receded,

a single silver coffin rested

on the shoulder, like a hitchhiker


for a lift.

–Jeanne Lesinski is the editor of 360 Main Street ( an arts and entertainment magazine. Her poems, essays, and reviews have been published in a number of print and online journals. She teaches writing at Delta College in Mid-Michigan.


Humanity, what hast thou wrought
By Arthur Paul Levine
i would speak to thee,
of this tragedy of tragedies,
the death of a species,
the death untold, unseen, unheard,
the silent death under the sea,
our so very precious sea,
our lifeblood,
our mother ocean,
our heart and soul,

i would speak to thee and thine,
of this dark black season,
when the black blood flowed,
when the earth cried black tears,
when the black poison killed our gulf,
when the blackness filled our water,
when the lies within foolish lies,
the lie of flagrant negligence,
criminal negligence,

when the earth was wounded core,

i would speak to thee, dear BP,
of your sacred onus, of your sacred obligation,
of the sacred care of the soul of our sea,
the soul of humanity for time immemorial,
our dear, so very dear, precious sea,
it dies this day, dear sirs, dear ladies,
it dies while you stand silent,

the life so dear that dies in your blindness,

i would speak to thee, dear friends, dear humanity,
i would speak to thee, of our mark and legacy,
i would speak to thee, of the life within, lost,

once upon a time, we walked upon
simple land, the simple shore,
the tender shore,
the seashells white and gray and orange,
the stones and sand,
children playing upon the sand,
gone and all gone, dead,
think on this and these, dear friends,
dear sirs, dear ladies,

… think on this …

–Arthur has been writing poetry for over 28 years, has hosted open mike poetry readings in Soho – New York City, and has read at numerous open mike readings for over 20 years in New York City, Woodstock/NY, and Los Angeles. He has a web-site with over 400 poems, stories, and Martial Art teachings (


Submitted by David Liddell, written by Sabria Liddell, age 8.

As the wind waves the trees and the waves crash like thunder,
the salty air blows onto my face.
I watch as the waves crash on the rocks.
As I wonder at the secrets of the ocean, my cheaks get red from the wind.
I run through the booming waves as I think of the wonderful day I just had at the wonderful, wonderful place call the beach.


Black Sea
By Stephen Linsteadt


it was decided
to lower the flag half mast—
the black sea finally died

our innocence died too that day—
our lust washed ashore
for all to see

we blame it on the second angel
and the whore in a distant land
we dressed her in purple
and scarlet color—
decked with gold and
precious stone and pearl—
placed a golden cup in her hand
brimmed with black blood
of her fornication

man drills into her womb
then abominates her
when she dies


the cup that spilled
fell from our own hand


No Destination
By Miles Liss

The factory beats like a giant heart
Against the lapping waters of the Potomac
Its valves spilling out sludge
Into the ground
The egret stands peacefully fishing
Until a plane rips through the sky
Then it takes wing, and flies
Into the smog-tainted sun
A cottonmouth lies coiled beside
The marsh, diamond patterns
On its brown skin
As joggers and cyclists race
Over the wooden boardwalk
Screaming, “On your left!”
As they proceed frantically
To no destination
Meanwhile, on the right
A beaver swims like a wet dart
Through the water
Ignoring all
Determined to find
That pile of sticks
It calls home

— Miles Liss lives and teaches in the DC area. A Florida native, he has a lifelong connection to the water. He grew up alongside the Atlantic Ocean, swam in it as a child, sailed Biscayne Bay as a teenager, and as an adult, visits the beaches of South Florida at least once a year. He also has concern for the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay in his adopted city. Poetry is forthcoming in Blue Moon Literary and Arts Review.


You Murder The Sea When You Drive Your Car
By Jack Locke

You murder the sea when you drive your car
You pillage our Earth to feed your hungry dream
You are a son of a worm, you are.
In a gulf as pure as the eye sees far
With coral and plants and fish supreme
You murder the sea when you drive your car.
Go swim, swim under the light of a star
And reflect on glow of fallen moonbeam
You are a son of a worm, you are.
You have stolen our future, drunk in a bar
You and your highly motivated team
You murder the sea when you drive your car.
Liberty polluted sinks shame below par
Revisit youth when you sat by clear stream
You are a son of a worm, you are.
A fish does not swim with gills clogged by tar
A bird does not retire on pensions and cream
You murder the sea when you drive your car
You are a son of a worm, you are.

— Jack Locke is a Montreal-based writer, and editor-in-chief of the book, Leonard Cohen: You’re Our Man – 75 poets reflect on the poetry of Leonard Cohen. Jack’s poetry has been published in numerous poetry journals and he has performed his works in Canada, the U.S., and France. His first book of poetry, Freedom’s Narrow Window, was published in 2004. In 1999, while doing research for a story on naturally occurring radioactive materials in oil and gas, the government of Alberta (Canada) was intercepting his private communications. His blog is at


Jazz Fest/Oil Bleed
by Kirk Lumpkin

It’s Spring
in New Orleans
and time
for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival,
Jazz Fest—
an annually extravagant feast of amazing music
while out in the Gulf of Mexico
a ruptured oil well
hemorrhages fluid
the color of dirty rusty blood
spreading it shoreward
in toxic waves—
Katrina returning
rotting from the grave
while Jazz Fest
throbs deliciously on
swirls and pulsates
with brass bands strutting like it’s Mardi Gras day,
to Cajun and zydeco bands lettin’ the bon ton roulet,
from many many shades of the blues,
to gospel choirs praising,
from r+b to soul to funkadelic to hip hop,
rockin’n’roll from Southern rock to Seattle grunge to British new wave
and all kinds of jazz bands swinging, bopping, grooving
and gracefully haunted by the bright spirit of Louie Armstrong
as the greasy film
of the hugest oil slick
slides toward the Gulf coast
a Mardi Gras Indian band chants
“Shallow water, oh Mama
Shallow water, oh mama”
And what all is going to die
in the oil curdled
“Shallow water, oh Mama
Shallow water, oh mama”?
Already tuna, sea turtles, crabs, oysters, shrimp, dolphins and
countless others
for no ones dinner
like the pelicans (the Louisiana state bird)
and a human way of life
smothered with crude oil,
fossilized in their own time.
Don’t wade in the water,
don’t wade in the water, children
don’t wade in the water
There’s poison there in the water*
If only we could harness the joyous energy
of Jazz Fest
to at least stop this bleeding or better
to push this nastiness
back in the hole
it came from
miles below the sea—
impossible, but
maybe there’s still a chance
it could make us see
we need this magical musical energy
infinitely more
than we need
Isn’t this already
so much more than enough,
feel good music,
sumptuous food:
gumbo, red beans & rice, jambalaya,
crawfish etouffee, shrimp cocktail,
fried green tomatoes, Creole hot tamales,
fried oyster spinach salad,
catfish almondine, stuffed crab,
sweet potato cookies, strawberry short cake,
pecan pie, etcetera
Who could really need more than this
and love
and a safe healthy place to live
All here are paying the horrible price
of our oil addiction
and the greed driven
corporate drug dealer
peddling power
from a dark place
is happy to say
it’s taking full responsibility
but unwilling to really pay for it
because it sees its bottom line
as more important than life
human or otherwise
even of its own employees
Let the oil addiction end
and the healing begin
Don’t wade in the river,
Don’t wade in the Mississippi River,
Don’t wade in the river,
Way down yonder in New Orleans*
And even the ecstatic last set of the Festival
with the Neville Brothers, The Radiators,
Wayne Shorter, B.B. King,
Richie Havens, The Wild Magnolias,
a gospel choir, a Cajun band,
and a traditional jazz band
all simultaneously (on different stages)
raising their spirits and musical voices,
working their mojo juju art voodoo
Aren’t able to even slightly slow
the oily plague,
the coming disaster
At the mouth of the Mississippi
where continent-crossing Old Man River
meets Earth-circling Mother Ocean
is a place of fertility,
and vitality—
verdant delta lipped by swamp-bayou-spawning grounds-estuary
but this
is a dead zone
“Shallow water, oh Mama
Shallow water, oh Mama
Shallow water, oh Mama”
Let the oil addiction end
and the healing begin

* to the tune of the traditional song, Wade In The Water

–Kirk Lumpkin is author of two books of poems, Co-Hearing and In Deep. His poetry/music ensemble, The Word-Music Continuum has released two CDs, the first was self-titled and the second is Sound Poems. He has done featured performances of his poetry all around the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California, in Los Angeles (Beyond Baroque), New York City (Bowery Poetry Club), Colorado, Toronto, Canada and has also done readings in England and Scotland under the auspices of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). He was recently featured on the show Cover to Cover – Open Book on KPFA radio. He has been a featured poet at festivals and other events that have included two U.S. Poet Laureates, one California Poet Laureate, and three San Francisco Poet Laureates. He is on the Board of PEN Oakland.


ten also stitched
by Andrew Lundwall

BP’s — hydrocarbons
of the!

three may ten: many

begin mechanisms–
minutes test! about

stop the



By Rice Lyons
The sea at Slea Head wakens
with a yawn, and obeys
once more the ancient lunar law.
Sleepily heaving a shoulder,
he splashes a wave
onto the Irish shore.
In that instant
the sun-silvered sands of Dun Quin
become a dazzlement.

Grumbling at the tug of the tide, he rolls
from the depths of his pebbled seabed,
stretches languidly, and showers
his largesse upon the ocean edge,

lavishing his wealth —
starfish, emerald weeds,
sea dollars and scallop shells,
some broken some perfect
in their fanned symmetry,

the creamy coral cups
his gift to the children
who search at the edge of the sea
to fill little tin pails
with his treasure.

— Rice Lyons has led the poetry workshop “The Wonder of Wordplay” for the past 10 years at the Princeton Senior Resource Center. Her poems have appeared in
US 1 Poets Worksheets, the Kelsey Review, and other journals. She is a retired academic administrator at Princeton University, where she also taught a course of her own devising, “LAFF, Life After Forty Five: Classes for People who Like to be Happy.”


When the Earth Bleeds
by J. D. Mackenzie
In a world where some humans
presume to name and number stars
for the purpose of selling them
while others buy them up
under the false belief
that the heavens can be owned
it cannot surprise us
when the earth herself bleeds
and the collective waters weep
as one
–J. D. Mackenzie was born in rural Marion County, Oregon. Between the ages of 14 and 32 he worked as a construction laborer, waiter and sommelier, steelworker, psychiatric aide and grant writer before eventually settling into his current role as a college administrator. His short fiction and poetry have appeared in several anthologies and publications, including Rogue River Echoes, New Verse News, Four and Twenty, Poets Ponder Photographs and The Moment. He lives with his family in the foothills of Oregon ’s Coast Range.


Brown Pelican
by Ann Malaspina
Low-flying plunge-diver,
scavenger, survivor –
Raise your wings.
The black currents
are sweeping poison
into marsh and bayou,
choking crab, shrimp,
fish, all things.
There is nothing
for you here.
You’d best soar
higher still—
Go far to another sea.
This one’s a goner.
Ann Malaspina is a children’s book author and poet living in New Jersey. Her poems have been published in Gargoyle, Mad Poets Review, Exit 13, and other small zines. Her latest book is Yasmin’s Hammer (Lee & Low Books, 2010), a story about Bangladesh written in free verse.


Far From Free Association
by Elissa Malcohn
Hair booms multiply on a warehouse floor
on a hot Friday afternoon,
when clipped fur sticks to sweat-slicked skin.

Petroleum hangs about us
like the clouds of dander
from a thousand dogs:

in the latex gloves on our hands,
in the nylons swelling with tufts
pulled from plastic bags.

I have driven south to Tampa ,
trailing fossil fuel vapors
in an attempt to save the shore.

How I ache to shed
this omnipresent oil drifting down
even as its black clouds billow up.

What can I touch that doesn’t burn?

On June 18, 2010, Elissa Malcohn joined other volunteers in Tampa to make hair booms as part of the Matter of Trust Hair for Oil Spills Program. The Matter of Trust website shows where and how the booms are being deployed.

–Elissa Malcohn’s poetry has appeared in dozens of journals and anthologies. Her poem “First Things First” (Encore; reprinted in Harp-Strings Poetry Journal) won the Save Our Earth Award in the 2004 contests of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. Her novelette “Flotsam” (Asimov’s, Oct./Nov. 2009) is a science-fictional treatment of environmental racism. Bibliography and more info may be found on her website,


by Maya Malhar

Many years ago, I lived by a well.
The dark well held many dark secrets in its core.
Some said, the slithering serpents crept below
or perhaps the silent skeletons of murdered husbands lay under.
I never dared to dive under to investigate,
Instead, I saw the boys pulling buckets of water and bathe in their underwear,
I saw girls carrying water in large round jugs on their heads and waists,
I saw babies running around under the watchful eyes of their
mothers, sitting around gossiping and waiting for their turn.
I saw smiles and tears, heard many fearful tales of
angry husbands throwing pots and pans around,
and in whispered hushed tones,
the blushing tales of lovemaking from the night before.

Today, I see the dirty red ocean.
The oil flows with vigor, and
I only see the limp lifeless lava float to the shore.

Maya Malhar is a nature lover and lives on the shores of The Pacific Ocean.


down in the parish
by Mary Jo Malo

should have passed the lethe
i saw an impossible blue rose
a red brick cottage
and a beautiful river
they said it was
the best place for fishing

just a matter of time
before my eye levees broke
carrying my heart
down to Delacroix
a gulf between the living
and dead
stilted homes
built on silted islands
washed away
bait and outfitters gone
fishing for babies now

fuck those corporate
seneschals of greed
kyoto accord busters
hope they perish
covered in black gold
mired in muck
in all that texas tea

no phone no tv no radio
we scramble onto
a dilapidated rope bridge
look down and feel cold water
rising above our knees
now up to our necks
3 of us can’t save 5 little ones
do we choose

repose en paix
mes cousins acadiens bébé

This poem first appeared in Adam Fieled’s P.F.S. Post, New Orleans Elegy, October, 2005. It was inspired by several dreams involving water symbology and predated the devastation of Katrina.

Mary Jo Malo’s reviews and essays are published at Galatea Resurrects, Unlikely Stories 2.0, and Big Bridge. Two chapbooks, The Gates of Gormley Park and Another Season, were published by D.D. Newlyn Company. Her two current poetry collections, This Shining Wound and Waiting for Apophis: or Deconstructing Absurdity are published @, also known as treeless, free self-publishing.


by Charlotte Mandel
As a child I knelt
with cupped hands
to catch flickers of fish
transparent as the water
sounding shush shush
like memories of ancient prayer.
The morning surf spills ocherous foam.
Oil on a wave’s twitching back
tars the feathers
of famished gulls
struggling to mount the wind.
Children run on our sands of denial
and slake thirsts
with numbing bubbles
bottled in plastic
the colors of jellyfish
cast like reliquary offerings
dutiful currents
ferry back to shore.

By Sharanya Manivannan

And I dreamt that we had sons –
twins – each one as perfect as the
swirl in a shell, paired like earrings,
our earnest, twinkling stars. Their black
hair. They were named Kal and El; and
they were each nemeses of the other. We
were driving with them, their dooms as
evident and distant as the horizon, visible,
along the coast on which we sped. The good
one with his eyes that would predict. The evil
one who would speak in tongues to disarm
the enemy. We drove and I caught my
breath as it caught up to us, the tide,
the submerged shore; the aquamarine
brilliant and terrible, electric like
an incantation uttered wrong.

And aware of all things only in the way
in which one thinks of his shadow, fresh
still with the blood of birth and these dull
dual loves, their first sight of the deep
before them, I lifted my children to the
window and told them to look –
the sea
the sea
the shining, shining sea

— Sharanya Manivannan’s first book of poems, Witchcraft, was published in 2008. Her poetry has also appeared in Drunken Boat, White Whale Review, Softblow, Pratilipi and elsewhere. She can be found online at


by Nancy Marie

Like a living plasmic organism it grows
Riding on top of the waves like an expert surfer
But not as amiable. No… rather it reaches out
Its slick fingers surrounding and suffocating all in its path.
Aquatic plants, fish, seals, herons all succumb.
No respecter of plant or animal is this amorphous enemy.
But a silent predator that needs to be firmly dealt with
As it advances ever closer to mankind.

— Nancy Marie was born in Buffalo, New York. She has joined a poetry discussion group in Greensboro, and become a member of the Eastern Shore Writers Association. It is only in the last couple of years that the bold step of offering her poems to the general public has been taken.


Wrest Wren
by Douglas A. Martin

expanded space a new by the
OIL the the
were the the
OIL feet by feet
an OIL,
water edged by and

OIL the are OIL
a departure used
and then
OIL create they OIL
were as as the the
they are a OIL

was taken the
that he
OIL persuaded trustees
OIL the a and
trustee wants
OIL buy them the OIL.

OIL say what they the was
OIL each was created
OIL the
OIL he the
OIL subject a
OIL age

yet there a
these he that he OIL
was precedent OIL
just as
had a the and a OIL

map the stars as the
these OIL

he are the OIL
have a space
OIL at the OIL

he planned have OIL a
space them the they
be the OIL

and the OIL and he added
rest OIL

–Douglas A. Martin is the author mostly recently of a novel, ONCE YOU GO BACK (Seven Stories Press).  His previous books include a lyric narrative, YOUR BODY FIGURED (Nightboat Books) and a volume of poetry, IN THE TIME OF ASSIGNMENTS (Soft Skull Press).


Happy Corner Space
by Claudia Martin

Is anyone listening?

The Earth is crumbling

like demented old ladies,

I want the bourgeoisie happy meal, of pinot burning burgundy on my rooftop.

What a chuckle to find myself

Starring myself in the headlining act,

With a brightly painted light scheme,

Loud visions of tangerine,

Happy corner space calls my name,

On loud speakers, in my free wander,

My fish-out-of-water intuition,

something is crumbling, what is it?

A crackly lisp dialect,


Disregard subjects,

Lift me like new knowledge,

Like when I learned what keraunothnetophobia meant

(To fear the fall of satellites),

And I flew high over heels over that ridiculous invasion

of endless stretched space, and time,

my own dimensions signified bronze tongues,

musical riffs, colorful snacks, and dinner party stiffs,

consume us.

Chronicle these nothing days,

Endless days of gamma rays,

what will get you out of bed?

Empty cycle parched by old highs,

Over-stimulated and lonely nights,

It’s a sleep-masking life.

–Claudia Martin is studying photography at PNCA in Portland, Oregon. She hopes that these poems that people submit will touch people’s hearts and help them develop a greater active awareness of the mother earth.


By Dawn’s Early Light
by Randy Martin
gulf morning
sunrise silent sheen
moves upon the open shore
death’s deliverance
unfathomable reach
above and below
ever widening swath
fruit of our greed.

estuaries stolen in the twilight
life’s birth place soon long forgotten
lost on a consumptive binge
life’s negation
unbridled wealth.

creatures of life’s origin
choke on shame we do not feel
our labor lost
a simple consequence
traded on un-reckoned tragedy
feast upon it’s gifts.

salvation’s new estuary
gives birth in the depths
beneath the ocean floor
hand that feeds the mouth
kills our spirit with the new tide
high-tide of empire’s state.

currency all around
today we drink
we will live life’s desperation
no harm intended
rejoice in the pennies
a salute to our decline
celebrate our lost soul.

today we weep
lament the generations lost
once life giving sanctuary
ghost now of yesterday
it will never be okay
just forgotten
in whispers
that sometimes pain.

— Randy Martin, has been active nearly all of his life in environmental, peace and justice and anti-war, movements. He is a self described Anarchist, a Student of Deep Ecology and Eco-feminism. He also enjoys life as an Amateur Photographer, Artist, Occasional Blogger and a Sometime Poet. Randy writes and maintains blogs at, a collage of work and information and he is building a tribute blog to the late Deep Ecologist Arnes Naess at


The Remains of the Mississippian Revisit Mississippi
by Susan Marsh

A continent of oil
Not an iceberg, not a slick,
Not a lipstick-smudge on the surface
Wiped clean in a few weeks’ time,
The size of five states and growing
It collapses under its weight
Like a thunderhead, raining
Bronze and iridescent tar onto
The ocean floor.

It rolls onto the shore with
The bloated carcasses of dolphins
The oysterman wrings his hands
The fisherman mourns and sells
The skiff his grandfather built by hand
Volunteers up to their elbows in sludge
Trying to save a tern.

Who did this? We sharpen our fingers
For pointing. Big oil, and government—
Asleep at the switch as usual—
The rest of us look the other way
Filling our tanks with two-dollar gas
And folding the front page over.

Addicted to oil, the president said,
And addicts we shall remain
We watch from our fuel-warmed rooms
As the last of the endangered,
The priceless,
The irreplaceable
Wash ashore. God weeps.

O pelican, sea turtle, man o’war.
There is nothing we can do
To earn your forgiveness now.

–Susan Marsh lives in Jackson , Wyoming . Her poems have appeared in Outdoors West, Manzanita Review, and other journals. She has participated by invitation in several public poetry readings sponsored by the Jackson Hole Center for the Arts and the National Museum of Wildlife Art. She received the 2003 Neltje Blanchan Memorial Award, awarded by the Wyoming Arts Council for literature inspired by the natural world.


by Cameron Mathews

a breeze
a bird calling
looking for a friend,
a mate
a parent
a child
a cry unanswered

a current
the fish darts
seeking its meal
the smaller fish
jets to the blackness
prey and predator both disappear
the quest ends

white sand
the crab runs
scrambling for its home
the hole in the dune
legs scurrying in chaotic concert
the opening lost
motion slowed by the slick

deep blue
a glide, a swim
cruising through the deep
the warmth
the embrace
it is gone

–Cameron Mathews currently resides with his wife in Lewisville, Texas, where he works in the telecommunications industry. He has been writing poetry and fiction for several years and has several poems available on his website (


For the Coquinas
by Caroline Maun

Modernity is loss.
We fumble a sea.
Eyes drink in the digital reel
of the spill, miles of null oil
more like an
enraged amputation
than a leak.

You better buy your oysters today.

Staggering, we fall.
Perhaps the golf balls will work,
or the unwieldy insertion of a mile-long straw
or maybe some cement.
These are our tools.

The shore smells like burnt rubber.

It’s the moment when the doll’s head
pops off at the neck
and it is no longer what it was a moment before.

I’ll miss the coquina clams.
They were easily overlooked,
the living presence of the sand underfoot.
When the waves came they would pirouette,
resettling themselves, digging in.
If you scooped up a handful
they would press against your palm’s skin.
They would just keep trying to find home,
until you put them back.

Where will the Mississippi go
When we’ve lost the Gulf of Mexico.

Caroline Maun, PhD, is assistant professor in the Department of English at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. She has published The Sleeping with Marick Press and Cures and Poisons with Pudding House Press.


Looking for Cormorants from the Ferry to Red Hook
by Susan H. Maurer

I lub you lil’ cormorants. So few this year.

I hope your cousins didn’t drown in the black blood BP shed.


by Joan Mazza

Deep in their beds, they sleep
as they’ve always slept,
as their ancestors before them.

They can’t smell what’s coming.
No email or phones, no radios
or TV. No warnings to tell them

to fly if they can fly, or swim,
abandon this year’s progeny.
For those rooted to their rock

homes, the oil seeps in. Too late
for them. The last of their tribe
and nowhere to go.

–Joan Mazza is the author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Perigee/Penguin), with work appearing in Potomac Review, Kestrel, Writer’s Digest Magazine, Playgirl, Writer’s Journal, and elsewhere. Read more at


Demons of Darkness
by Carol McCrite

Darkness covers the Face
of the Deep,
explodes into the light of day
and sweeps the Sun away
to some forbidden world.

The more I anoint with
religious rites,
it fights me off and buries
deeper still,
hoping I’ll forget its even there.

Through day, through night
I wrestle with its tight grip on
all humanity.
The Sea gives up its dead
and yet, I will not bow my head
and surrender to demons
of the underworld.

–Carol McCrite, a resident of the Gulf Coast of Florida, has been a professional writer for 32 years. She is the author of the award-winning poetry collection, The Circus: A Child’s Point of View and founder of Poetry, Prose and Potluck, an annual event under the auspices of The Cultural Arts Association of Santa Rosa Beach, FL.


New Orleans
by Ken McManus

This city is beauteous and sensuous
This amalgam of love and death and corruption intoxicating
Exotica with substance, given the weight of history,
The sentinel stance of the magnolias and
The aging creep of the river.

Faces tell a million American stories
In stark, abrupt fashion
And this is the rub:
How do you part sensuality from decadence and decay,
Beauty from age and disintegration,
Mystery from unforgiving facts, oral and tactile,
Joviality and joie de vivre
From the crushing cudgel of history?

Someone, some thing pays the toll
For every small pleasure we embrace
In this dreamy environment:
Sweet smoke filling our nostrils,
Languid tenor solos caressing our ears,
The steam and spice of foods touching our palates.

New Orleans has bent into the curve with us,
Its visitors
Daring us to consider, consider
The true range of our multi-branched bloodlines.
It is in its heartbeat
It is in its watching eyes
It is in its chord progressions from day to night
It is in the city of New Orleans
It is all around.

–Ken McManus has published poems most recently in Crux: A Conversation in Words and Images (Fulton County Arts Council, GA) and CrossBRONX (Bronx Council on the Arts). His chapbook, Americana, was published by Rogue Scholars Press in 2000. In 2001, his poetry was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Formerly a resident of Queens, NY, he now lives in Hartford, Connecticut.


Describe To Me
by Kenna McKee

That is how this world might describe us, were it able to use our words.
That is what the Gods might call us, were their voices widely heard.

And we were born but specks in webs,
that feed the universal chain.
Yet slowly from our bones we ebb,
the life that then is born again.

That is how the sea might chastise us, were it able to speak above the waves.
That is how the stars might see us, were they to, with us, remain.

And we were born but nothingness,
pure in soul and raised with lies.
And in death, to the abyss,
we go with naught but unheard cries.

–Kenna McKee is currently a student who can recall studying and discussing the Gulf Oil disaster in many of her classes. She was born in the southern part of Louisiana, and currently resides in a small but quaint Midwestern town.


Burning Flood April 22, 2010
Earth Day USA

By Joan McNerney

Flames leap from an oil rig
in the gulf coast. Another
eleven workers dead.
Scattered reports filled with
those lies called statistics.

But this time something is different.
We are being strangled.

An ugly snake comes closer closer
spewing slimy debris. Trapping us
in coils of filth. Day after day creeping
closer closer showing its greasy face.

Was it only yesterday when
we felt breezes brushing our hair?
When we tasted the sweet saltiness
of our beautiful sea? Our eyes
resting on green, blue waters.

What happened to our world?
Blur of seascape, haze of time.
Where are we? Where can we go?
Our hearts are caged in fear.
We can not hide. The sun…an
eye without pity glares down on us.

Today we found fragile
dragonflies pinned to oily reeds.
Dragonflies never to take flight.

Pray tomorrow will have promise.
Pray morning light turns from grey to gold.
Blessed be blue
blessed be our blue sky
blessed be our blue ocean.

— I was born in Brooklyn, New York and fell in love with poetry when I was nine years old. My first publication was in Young America Sings at fourteen. It has been a long and wonderful journey. Hopefully my poetry speaks for itself. Since my retirement I have been able to devote more time to it. Numerous literary magazines such as Boston Review of the Arts, Kalliope, Mudfish, Spectrum and Word Thursdays have published my work. 


Into The Ocean
by Stephen E. Mead

Visions diving, Technicolor
Lasers, snorkels,
Strobes across vermillion
Featherstars, fine silt
Coral shelves…
Visibility shifts. Respect
The formidable. Silk slips over
Lagoon tunnels, eely reefs, volcanic
Stalagmites, the holders of lost missiles,
Ships, planes…
Plankton blooms, viscous, the touch
Suddenly rubbery lace, pearl-smooth
Hair somersaulting with salt bubbles
That dream in another language…
What’s the password, friendly fish?
You—amberjack, borrito, cabria,
Doado. You—yellowtail wahoo,
Manta, you giant kites—–
Can’t you let your secret sound out?
You, strange streets breathing the ghosts
Of Cortez , Micronesia , Fiji , the orient—–
Your hope is an iridescent thing,
Your very walls teem…
Waves, waves, you continuous cast-offs,
Strip off my robes, waken the gills…
Listen, let me back.
This time, oil-adhesive, but clean,
How could I leave?

(Originally published in slightly different form and presented as a film on YouTube & at Annmarie Gardens Museum , Maryland .)

–Stephen Mead is a published artist, writer and maker of short collage-films living in NY.


In the future (a work in progress)
by Philip Meersman

In the future
there will be
time to discover the meaning
time to listen to poetry
time to paint the horse
time to visit the Museum
time to dejeuner sur l’herbe
time to write a manifesto
time to sit together with your loved one
time to read
time to talk
time to walk
time to work
time to study
time to teach
time to live
time to think about
what to do in the future
when there will be
time to discover the meaning of fubar
time to listen to your poetry
time to paint the Trojan horse
time to visit the Museum of Art
time to dejeuner sur l’herbe
time to write a manifesto
time to sit together with your loved one
time to read
time to talk
time to walk
time to work
time to study
time to teach
time to live
time to think about
what to do in the future
when there will be
time to discover all the meanings of fubar
time to listen to Vogon poetry
time to paint the Trojan horse in my notebook
time to visit the Museum of Concocted Art
time to dejeuner sur l’herbe
time to write a manifesto
time to sit together with your loved one
time to read
time to talk
time to walk
time to work
time to study
time to teach
time to live
time to think about
what to do in the future
when there will be

–Philip Meersman creates impro, sound & poetry installations & performances using current affairs, socio-political & environmental issues. Please visit for more.


Dark Blue Heroes of Honor
by Melissa R. Mendelson

The city of angels
lies in the nest of Hollywood,
soaring with dreams,
a beacon of life,
but across the emerald cities
glistening across the night,
there also lies
a city of heroes.
Through their darkest hour
did they rise
and did they sacrifice.
Their mighty wings took flight,
lifting us from ruble and despair,
and their shields of gold
broke the encroaching darkness.
But the streets still run red.
Bullets soar,
begging to steal innocence,
and cries pierce the late hours,
where dusk meets dawn.
But they rise again,
refusing to fall,
to break,
heroes made strong,
but will the weight
of this world
push them down,
press them hard?
And will we forget?
We look to the angels
for light and inspiration,
but do we recognize
their dark blue,
medals of honor,
men and women
dedicated to saving
the lives of strangers
walking the streets,
searching for peace
and praying every day
to end
the violence.

— I am an up and coming writer and poet. My writing has been published online on websites such as Glass Cases and in Bartleby Snopes Literary Magazine, and my writing has also been published in print in Names in a Jar: A Collection of Poetry by 100 Contemporary American Poets and in Hamptons Literary Journal.


The Middle of Saturday Night
By Rebecca Meredith
The middle of Saturday night sidles up
to the back door of the Gulf of Mexico
like a lover whose clothes she has thrown
out the front door, into the yard.
It slinks and shuffles, laughs
a whiskey and Lucky Strike laugh,
knocks “shave and a haircut,” and is let in,
unrepentant, for one more go ‘round.
Out where buoys toll like seagoing hounds,
Out where gnarled tree branches swim for shore
working men sweat oil and hot rivets; they lie
in the bottoms of little bateaux, and tong up
women like pearl oysters from milky dreams.

Back home, the radio stations crackle in
from Mobile and New Orleans,
and the shackled young in their various uniforms
become momentarily fine
in the moonlight and the big city beat

And all around the bowl of ocean
salty as lip-licked blood, warm as desire
the night pulse pulses like jukin’—
like it will dance them right out of their everyday shoes
and Monday morning, they just might not go back to work at all.

–Rebecca Meredith grew upon the Mississippi Gulf Coast and in New Orleans. Though she now lives in the Pacific Northwest, much of her writing is about the Gulf region and its unique character. Her poems have appeared in numerous literary magazines and anthologies. She is now serving a two year term as the first poet laureate of the city of Redmond, Washington.


Another Victim
by Donna Marie Merritt

Struggling till she
could struggle no more
the turtle washed up on shore

covered with oil.
There was no way to explain
why we destroyed her water terrain.

How could we explain
when we can not even tell
ourselves why we cause this hell?

–Donna Marie Merritt is the author of Job Loss: A Journey in Poetry (Avalon Press, 2010) and Cancer: A Caregiver’s View (Avalon Press, 2011); Too-Tall Tina (Kane Press, 2005); 14 children’s math and science books and 38 teacher’s guides (Abrams Learning Trends, 2004 to 2006); and numerous articles on education, parenting, faith, and writing. She lives in Connecticut and can be contacted through


Oil Volcano
By Robert Milby
-for Tony Hayward, CEO British Petroleum
“Well, now I am awake and I do not want BP’s crazy, soiled dimes or their forced delusion of the End of Times.” From British Petroleum, by Delgado

Oil Volcano—and they call it a spill, as if poured from a cup, once containing a dark beverage. The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig was a large syringe with a blood donor catheter, just waiting for the right vampire colony to claim the benthic volcano of Earth’s heart. Explosion! And a day and a half later, the Horizon sinks into the Mississippi Canyon.
Raw, black fountain of funerary shrouds for Cranes, Pelicans, Turtles, Crabs, and Swordfish— but humans refer to the cost; the sick bay is Sea Gulls and Shrimp—batter-dipped in crude, tar volcanic madness— primordial oil—an arterial psychosis of culpability, deepwater with no horizon but destruction of wildlife at the Gulf. Oil for the junkies; ubiquitous for the military and gasoline engines. Oil as bile in the automobile; the blood of industry.
Crude proof for no Peak. Beaks caked in heavy blankets of warfare, death with Top Kill, no horizon for a seafood industry given to carbon sludge. Nothing is hydrophobic. How is this for a crude, carbon footprint?
Stuck in my craw; gluing my beak; caked in my wings, coating my feet; my claws gouging balls of tar, black tears descend my ruined features. I am dead because of corporate men. Trapped in a pool of midnight hell and I can not breathe. My poisoned children feed on black consequence and baby turtles—gummed in black amber—frozen to a beach paved in a standard skin; a petroleum grime against Earth. Covering shells, smothering someone we used to know. Starfish morgues and Gulls crying for mercy, yet who would hear them? A toxic horizon: We always feared this from industry, but never like April. Their great, Spring sacrifice. Burning our lives. Eleven men dead; what of their scent on the wind? The price of the cleanup: measured in scales, measured in oxygen, measured in fins, measured in feathers, measured in bones. A Manatee Mermaid, a Whale calf in peril, a Shark suffocated; a driftnet of Oil.
III. Oil Volcano, and the Shrimpers call it Hell. Worse than Katrina; a driftnet of oil. And media heads speak, again. The suits continue to sweep lives under a blackened rug. Rescue teams cleaning sick and dying animals, but who shall hold a funeral for dozens of Dolphins? Sea Turtles and Birds—always our Birds, thousands gone—in a no-fly-zone. With a No-Fly-Zone and a State of Emergency, this is a Warzone! Top Kill, Dead Man’s Switch, dispersants, controlled burns, and cover-ups… On March 17th, Hayward sold one-third of his stock. But nobody gets their lives back, Hayward, nobody gets their lives back.

–Robert Milby, of Florida, NY currently hosts 5 Hudson Valley poetry readings and has been reading his work in public since early 1995, throughout NY, NYC, NJ, PA, and New England, from the gutter to the garret. His first book is Ophelia’s Offspring(Foothills Publishing, 2007). 5 chapbooks have been published, most recently: Crow Weather(Fierce Grace Press, Pooler, GA, 2009). Two spoken word cds: Revenant Echo(Sonotrope Recordings, High Falls, NY, 2004) and Underground, APB Productions, 2008). His poetry has been published widely in print and online. A second book of poetry, Victorian House: Ghosts and Gothic Poems, is pending publication by Foothills Publishing, later this year/early 2011.


Mr. Pelican sings the BP Blues
by E. Ethelbert Miller
So there I was down near New Orleans
and a song began to fill my ear. It was a Pelican
on sax doing an Armstrong tune. Bird I thought
had returned.
But as Mr.Pelican blew
I could hear the pain. He had been
suffocating in the water, now he was suffocating in
the air.
Mr. Pelican was trying to fly -pushing
the notes to lift his wings. But the oil was holding
him back like Negro chains.
I heard a cry,
come from deep inside his head

– what did I do, to be so black
and blue?
oh lord bp- why did you make me
black and blue?
-E. Ethelbert Miller

Mississippi Succuss
by Sabine Miller
A crack in the river-
gate. The seap-through
marinates the avenues,

doorsteps of darkened houses.
Salt on the air stirs
the rooms the strength of sleepers.

What river souses

the sills,
scatters moonfish
in the gutters?

The sleepers throw off their sheets.
Squid turns the knob:
nightgowns are stripped

and flung
as ghost skin
What river runs

rug grunions,
eel in stairwell,
dogfish on stair––

Close your eyes
an attic crumbles

Close your eyes
the sleepers on their beds
extinguish the streetlamps

are rocked
by a current They open
their mouths

What river runs

speak phosphorescent
speak pearl
––pitches the fathoms

The sonorous damage,
The hingeless door.

–Sabine Miller spent her childhood in Miami, Florida and her adulthood in the Pacific Northwest. Her poems have been published in journals such as Modern Haiku, Origin/Longhouse, and The Tule Review.


A down day for the market
By Mary Mills
an oil rig crumbles
power stops fail
lives exhale with a flash.
black hemorrhages
sicken the sea
from a mile below,

pulling terrified turtles
into a growing plume,
burning them alive.

stocks slid slightly today
don’t sell your oil shares yet
they’ll rebound tomorrow.

–Mary Mills is a retired world language teacher, whose specialty is German. Her translation of poems written by concentration camp inmates, “Voices of Theresienstadt,” appeared in the Nov., 2009 issue of Pacific Coast Philology. These poems can be viewed at Her own poetry has appeared in Autumn Leaves, Rattlesnake Review, Inscribed, and disenthralled.


By Robert Miss

On shadberry trails
And breaking waves.

Sky blue heron
Swoop spinnaker sails
And drowning rays.

Black-bottom jetties
Tell sandcastle tales
To the hungry sea.

Faint rosie cliffs
Spurn whalers’ pleas,
La da da, dee dee dee.

Two hundred years on down the line,
Will our fleeting fish have gone?
What beast will eat our swimmers
Just for fun?

You can’t get back to Toko-Ri, my friend.
Once the bridge is out at Toko-Ri.


By Reid Mitchell

Hinton does not trust himself for wisdom.
He trusts the mountain and the cold mountain breeze.
The flap of his sandal, the soles of his feet.

Mountains are dirt piled high.
Like him, like you, like me,
like us. Think mercy.

Cold air is not wiser. It’s just cold.
Pray on your knees till tomorrow:
sunlight still stays warm.

The Himalayas stand no nearer heaven
than our backyards where we grow tomatoes,
strawberries, and pale green mirliton.

We barbeque pork–ribs, rump, and shoulder–
boil crawfish bright red, and welcome
saffron-robed monks. Oh You Monks

Who rise above lust for cochon de lait.
You monks who trust yourselves enough
to bless and come in our opened iron gates.

— I am a New Orleanian now living in Albany, NY. My poems have been published in various place including the Asia Literary Review, At Large Magazine, Pedestal, and Poetry Sky Quarterly. I frequently collaborate with Hong Kong poet Tammy Ho Lai-Ming, and am consulting editor for Cha: An Asian Literary Review.


slow cover, underwater night
by Rajiv Mohabir

my nephew was five when
ankles submerged, we walked dawn
along the Sanibel Island shoreline,

what magic can we do?

we witnessed a manatee and calf
lumber grace just below the surface, sang
to sand, to water, to childhood love
of the ocean’s profundity.

two years later, i heard of the explosion, the steady stream of dark,
the spilling, the coast
hugging drift, the dead.
a friend counted the stranded dolphin carcasses,
thick in death or slicked into eternal life.

at the Clearwater gulf shore now, we watch
clouds thicken, stand calf deep, listen
for songs we sang full hearts, light.

water retracts.
what do i tell him of our magic,
toxic words, spillage, controlled burning.

what does it mean to bear witness?

–Rajiv Mohabir is the author of  the chapbook na bad-eye me (Pudding House Press, 2010). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Bricks on a Yellow Brick Road, Trikone, EOAGH, Ghoti, Saw Palm, and SOFT BLOW.


Love for Oil
by Jenn Monroe

Imagine if love filled the Gulf of Mexico, gushed
from a love well deep underneath the ocean floor
thick, fast, unobstructed. Imagine slicks of love. Pelicans
covered in love, plumes of love droplets on a collision
course with pristine Panhandle beaches, or caught
up in hurricanes and crashed into seaside communities
up and down the East Coast. Imagine a love spill
irreparable, children up to their ankles at low tide,
then to their waists, their chins. Media reports
of failed efforts to recover the love on tankers,
to contain it. Imagine the mess we’d be in then.

–Jenn Monroe is an assistant professor of writing and literature at Chester College of New England in New Hampshire. Her poetry has appeared recently in Off the Coast, Third Wednesday, and OVS Magazine. Her chapbook, Something More Like Love, was a finalist in the Midnight Sun Chapbook 2010 Contest. New work is forthcoming this summer in Magnapoets, Big Lucks, and Permafrost.


Ecological Disaster in Four Parts
by Jacqui Morton

Navarre Beach covered

in coin-size gobs of brown goo

smells like a freshly paved road

oil in the gulf

killing summer sales and souls

BP suits get tan

media access

dying like land sea species

they try to report

news of more tar balls

in Santa Rosa County

news faster than assistance

–Jacqui Morton is currently an M.F.A candidate at Antioch University, Los Angeles. She lives with her husband and baby and has a day job in communications. Concerned about a growing number of issues in our society and on our planet, she finds writing and reading poetry to be key to her survival.


TALK ABOUT IT – Think about it
By Diane Mofazelli

Talk about the river – how the open waters flow, taste, feel, the color from afar and close up.
Environmentally pleasing or displeasing, – playful, high level, flat? who is living beneath the surface and what your eye cannot see.
Would you swim in it, eat from it, bathe in it, dump in it – Talk About It.
Does it give you peace, does it calm your mood or make you nervous, scared, upset.
How deep would you go, Can you swim and survive, or panic and not make it.
What do you hear, How does it smell, inviting or repulsive.
Think About It – from the 1st memory as a small child with your parents/grandparents holding your little hand
in the lake and gooky feeling on your toes, the security of being held by your father, up so high on his shoulders, nothing
can hurt you, you are the star and he hold you with pride. How many times in your life do you have that –
maybe a wedding, a birth? where does it take you, What do you need from it.
What does it need from us. Why do we so disrespect this beautiful given gift to the planet – How does it make you feel
in the morning, and how does it make you feel in the darkness of the night – where does your comfort level change, what memories
do you have, what memories do you share? Talk About It .

Nothing is ever like the first time – – Think about it.

How bout the terror of the storm serge in the Louisiana – 20ft waves, people homeless, no power, death, no food, no clothes, no work, no
health care, no bath, no place to live – how terrorizing – everything you know, have, had, loved, worked for, gone – in the blink of time
Gone by the winds, gone by the water – how lonely, how scared are you.
Tears and tears just adding to the river – tears of despair and tears of joy to repair, replenish, regroup.
In a few years it will be a memory, terrible memory of people yelling, grabbing their kids, parents, neighbors, strangers,
pets, never thinking it would end…. and then
the silence, the sun, the waters receding and the hard work to repair and rebuild and
relive… Do you question your faith, your government, yourself.
Think about it.



by Jalil Muntaquim

Katrina, Katrina what made you so mean?
Katrina, Katrina you’re worst than a crack fiend!
Bush promises, an Halliburton moves in fulfilling
Mandates with no dib contracts as New Orleans and
Biloxi resembles the bomb-out shell that once was
Mesopotamia. As the once contained oil seeps back
from where it came, contaminating the land of the
displaced, considered refugees in the Astro-dome.
The promises of Bush are as revealing as Judge

Roberts confirmation hearing – and we are asked

to trust he will be fair. But we know the Bush

political agenda is neo-cons revelation,

Chapter 6 – Verse 5.

Katrina, Katrina what made you so mean?

Katrina, Katrina you’re worst than a crack fiend!

The levees broke open the heart of America like

the piercing screams of an Afrikan body thrown

overboard during the middle passage – as

slavery’s face grimaced with the knowing the

federal government cares nothing about New Afrikan

people. As CNN broadcast their affliction around

the world, embarrassing democracy, exposing

America’s history of eco-racism in living color;

but mostly in Black and white. With the 9th Ward

in disrepair, white flight and black despair,

proceeding mass gentrification to ensure the

poor are dispersed to new enclaves of poverty,

hidden away from the disaster of media exposure.

Katrina, Katrina what made you so mean?

Katrina, Katrina you’re worst than a crack fiend!

Where are the 2500 New Afrikan babies? A reminder

of the retreat from Vietnam and the kidnapping of

Vietnamese babies; as in New Orleans the taking

of babies, leaving the parents behind, to watch water

lines climb, as tears and fears stretched into the

dark unknown; while CNN reports floating bodies

and the national guard wait on standby for the

next commercial break or red tape so no one could

escape their watery fate, sponsored by Dick Cheney

and Halliburton.

Katrina, Katrina what made you so mean?

Katrina, Katrina you’re worst than a crack fiend!

Hurricane Carter did 25 years for a crime he did

not commit, a prime example of American justice

personified. Hurricanes in America always screw

poor folks. The hurricane should hit the White

House and leave the Bushes in Shock and Awe,

Perhaps, then they will be better off; and we’ll

name that hurricane – Mumia!

Jalil Muntaquim is an inmate in Auburn Correctional Facility, Auburn NY . A former Black Panther, he is a poet, writer and activist who is the longest-held political prisoner in US history. For more information, consult


by Paul Murphy
The hill is over the hill.

The sun is over the horizon.

The landscape´s stillness

Is a well-sculpted end vision.

There are no farmer´s left

But still there is produce.

There are no bank´s left

But still there is commerce.

Even if Hell is retracted

The rest is still coming on.

Even is annihilation is imminent

There will still be a discount.

In Manebach the choir

Sings the songs once

Composed in Erfurt

By a hell-faced child

In Arnstadt. The dappled

Organ music is played

In the Bachkircke:

Sunlight in the square.

–Paul Murphy was born in Belfast in 1965. He presently lives in London. He has many poems in UK and US journals, including Envoi, Orbis, Minotaur, Iodine.


Those Birds Will Fly Again
by Rose K. Murphy

coated in oil
confused by the heaviness
of a bath
in the gulf

once so freeing
and cooling
after a long flight
the perfect place
to rest and feed
to take a bath
before continuing onward

the water is black
and red
so heavy

infused with birds
who flew 140 million years ago
when this was not a gulf
but a jungle or swamp or marsh

long ago
those birds
stopped flying to rest

the pressure of time
of continents drifting
of dust and dirt accumulating
of plants multiplying and decaying
of creatures of the land roaming and dying
of creatures of the air alighting and nesting
of ice melting
of oceans rising
of creatures flying through water, not air

the pressure of time
changed the birds
into oil
into oil craved by a creature who appeared
long after the birds were gone

those primordial birds are awakened
freed from their slumber
released from their cage

those birds
those birds
will fly again

— Rose K. Murphy lives in Jackson Heights, NY.


Cruder than Crude
by Cara Murray

The Valdez crude was galactic black, iridescent in the moonlight, like a million wasps’ wings. It sealed feather against feather, tarred feet and tarnished lungs, froze into shore-shorn ice and settled: thousands of gallons sit in sand and soil still.

The Gulf Coast slick is cesspool brown, and shines red, yellow, white in the sunlight. Sucked straight from the ground—not filtered, stored, shipped—the deepest detritus unearthed is now dispersed with a toxin less toxic than the first.


by Stephen Murray

We have made the world a hostile place:

Oily water, sulfurous space.

Yet blossoms bloom and eggs are laid:

Life defiant, unafraid.

–Stephen Murray


7 thoughts on “Open Mic (K – M)

  1. The voice of poetry is a beautiful and powerful medium to help us see ourselves and the world we create around us through our actions.

    I like the theme of Poets for Living Waters – and, I like the spectrum of thoughts flowing from the poets featured on this website. A wonderful idea whose time has come. Thank you

  2. I will be moving to the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the next few months. I would like to know if there are open mic poetry readings on the coast.

    If you now of any readings in the area, please let me know.


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