Monday, January 30, 2023

Shirley J. Brewer


"Maryland Threatens to Block or Yank Vehicle Registration of 131,000 Toll Violators"
The Baltimore Sun

You know who you are. Oh,
you are going down
beneath that doomed bridge,
down to the tortured soil
where trolls lurk. Death row.

They will make you pay,
boil your wallet in axle grease,
fry your toll arm—
most often the left—serve the snack
with mustard at the troll buffet.

Sure, they will offer to replace
your limb with a metal prosthetic,
a monster hand dispensing
coins for every damaged bridge
peppering this worn-out land we grace.

Show the money, toll-skippers, or hell
awaits. You will take the grimy plunge.
Trolls sniff the air, light a fire,
hungry for flesh in the toll-less night.
Never ask for whom the bell...

Shirley reads "The Toll-Skippers":

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Shirley confesses: "A few years ago, the state of Maryland threatened to block or yank the vehicle registration of thousands of toll violators. From there, I pictured a bridge and a troll. The rhyme of "toll" and "troll" was irresistible!"

SHIRLEY J. BREWER (Baltimore MD) serves as poet-in-residence at Carver Center for the Arts & Technology. A Pushcart nominee, her poems garnish Barrow Street, Passager, Gargoyle, Little Patuxent Review, Poetry East, Slant, among other journals and anthologies. Shirley’s poetry books include A Little Breast Music (Passager Books), After Words (Apprentice House Press), and Bistro in Another Realm (Main Street Rag). Her fourth poetry collection, Wild Girls, is forthcoming from Apprentice House Press in June, 2023.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Jennifer Lagier


“In June, the Supreme Court decimated nearly 50 years of established abortion law and handed abortion rights over to the states, unleashing legal chaos. Thanks to “trigger” laws springing into effect, Civil War era bans being resurrected and an overall legal uncertainty that combined with high criminal penalties, many clinics ceased abortion services or closed entirely.” — The Hill

An Antonin Scalia handmaid,
joined by spiteful male Supremes,
two accused of sexual misconduct,
gleefully usurp a woman’s right
to control her own body.
Misogyny informs their decision,
a bully’s need to press jackboots
upon the neck of sisters, daughters and mothers.

Outraged Americans spill into the streets,
protest draconian overturn of fifty-year-old law.
One justice vows to ban contraception,
roll back LGBTQ rights, recriminalize miscegenation,
resegregate schools, encourage persecution, repression.

Who knew in my lifetime
the dark ages would stage a comeback,
democracy corrupted, deformed
into a cruel, intolerant Gilead theocracy
funded by Federalists and the NRA,
a nightmare more horrific than fiction?

Jennifer reads "Roe v. Wade Falls":

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Jennifer confesses: "I am outraged by the continuing war on women in this country, depressed at the erosion of rights many of us fought hard to obtain."

JENNIFER LAGIER has published nineteen books, in a variety of anthologies and literary magazines, edits the Monterey Poetry Review, helps coordinate Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Recent books: Meditations on Seascapes and Cypress (Blue Light Press) and COVID Dissonance (CyberWit), Camille Chronicles (FutureCycle Press). Website:, Facebook:

Monday, January 16, 2023

Robert Cooperman


So I embellished? Like that gimp Libbo,
FDR, never embellished, but to Dems,
he’s a greater warrior than Robert E. Lee.

Like The Rail Splitter never embellished?
Talk about career padding! Show me
his callouses, and still that RINO’s
as close to Jesus Christ
as this country’s ever seen.

And who says I didn’t work at Goldman Sachs?
No record of my employment? Off-book, baby,
looking discreetly into irregularities
by their traders and the execs.

And claiming to be Jew-ish: incredibly brave
in this age of anti-Semitic white nationalists,
Neo-Nazis, and violent Holocaust deniers.
Believe me, any contributions from Jews
didn’t come close to the hate raining down
on me like fire and brimstone.

And if you think I’ll say where the 700 thou
came from to finance my campaign,
there are things a gentleman doesn’t talk about,
and I’m nothing if not a gentleman.

Gerald So reads "George Santos...":

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Bob confesses: "Since Republicans are brazen, never-back-down liars, I thought Santos' response to his accusers should be one of unabashed chutzpah (Yiddish, for unmitigated gall), not only proudly crowing he did lie, but dragging the decent name of better men into the mud with his."

ROBERT COOPERMAN's latest collections are Go Play Outside (Apprentice House) and Reefer Madness (Kelsay Books). Forthcoming from Kelsay Books is A Nightmare on Horseback.

Monday, January 9, 2023

Charles Rammelkamp


Born Tura Luna Pascual Yamaguchi in Hokkaido,
I moved to Chicago with my family in 1942.
The anti-Japanese bullying was bad enough,
but just before my tenth birthday,
a group of five teenagers raped me
when I was coming home from the grocery
with a loaf of bread for my mother.
Those boys were never prosecuted.

But my dad taught me martial arts – akido and karate –
and over the next fifteen years I got my revenge
on each and every one of those guys.
I dare say they suffered more than I had,
let’s leave it at that.

I married John Satana at thirteen,
started working Illinois nightclubs
after the marriage fell apart nine months later –
burlesque dancing, nude modeling –
my act combining martial arts and tassel-twirling.
Then I moved to LA, where the action was.

What a life! I dated Elvis and Sinatra,
worked the Trocadero on Sunset Strip,
had bit parts in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,
a prostitute in Billy Wilder’s Irma la Duce
starred in a number of B movies –
Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and The Astro-Zombies among them.
But I had to quit acting
after an ex-boyfriend shot me in the stomach.

I also tossed in the towel on burlesque
  when California licensing laws led
club owners to require dancers to work topless.
I was a performer, not a sideshow freak.
So I got into hotel security in Reno,
trademarked my image, cashed in
on an action figure, Halloween masks, t-shirts,
worked the cult film conventions.

One time? I had to deal with this over-enthusiastic fan
who hid in my hotel room. He wound up
with a broken arm, busted nose and a twisted leg.
The house detective carried him out.

Charles reads "Getting Even and Getting Ahead":

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Charles confesses: "I’ve been researching burlesque stars of the twentieth century – vedettes, exotic dancers. Not surprisingly, they all seem to have interesting lives, often in the demimonde where noir thrives and crime is not uncommon. Tura Satana was a real noir figure, for sure! Born in Japan 1938, she grew up in Chicago, started dancing as a teen at the Club Rendezvous in Calumet City, where she was known as Galatea, the “Statue the Came to Life.” And that was just the start of a career that included television roles, an exploitation film, and a scifi horror cult classic The Astro Zombies."

CHARLES RAMMELKAMP's A Magician Among the Spirits, a collection of poems about Harry Houdini, is a 2022 Blue Light Press Poetry winner and has just been published. A collection of flash fiction, Presto!, will be published in 2023 by Bamboo Dart Press. Another poetry collection entitled Transcendence has been accepted by BlazeVOX Books.