Monday, January 14, 2019

Charles Rammelkamp


“Heil Hitler! Heil Trump!” I shouted
from the balcony of the Broadwayfarer Theater
during the pogrom scene
toward the end of Fiddler on the Roof,
raising my arm in a Nazi salute.

I’d had several glasses of wine
during the intermission,
been fuming about Trump all day.
The parallels with Der Fuhrer
seemed so obvious to me,
kids in cages like trapped animals,
migrants tear-gassed at the Tijuana border,
Trump’s rhetoric exactly like Hitler’s,
turning foreigners into vermin,
his followers having no qualms
about hurting and killing people.

But then it all went wrong.
“Oh God!” a woman shrieked.
“He’s got a gun!”

“Fuck, it’s Aurora, Colorado, all over again!”

A stampede started to the exits;
a dozen people aimed their cellphones at me,
recording the spectacle for posterity.
Somebody called 911.
“There’s a shooter at the Broadwayfarer!
Send somebody over here quick!”

When the cops came,
I apologized all over the place.
I hadn’t anticipated
going way over the line.

I didn’t have a record,
and the cops saw I was sincere,
so they let me go without a charge,
but the Broadwayfarer management
banned me for life.
Can’t say I blame them, but
I’d already bought tickets
for a performance of Hamilton next month.

Charles reads "Wie Viel Ist Genug?":

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Charles confesses: "How much is enough? Or, where do idealistic intentions get out of hand? I felt so much sympathy for the real-life Baltimore man this poem is based on who did more or less the same thing, and the way, as in a dream, things spiral out of control. What I didn’t fit in was the Anti-Defamation League, missing the ham-fisted sarcasm, demanding this guy be prosecuted for his “anti-Semitic outburst.” Sheesh. Way more than enough!"

CHARLES RAMMELKAMP is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore and Reviews Editor for The Adirondack Review. A chapbook of poems, Jack Tar’s Lady Parts, is available from Main Street Rag Publishing. Another poetry chapbook, Me and Sal Paradise, has just been published by FutureCycle Press.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Robert Weibezahl


the shooting at the bar leaves twelve dreams dead
thirteen if you choose to count the gunman
as journalists descend and twitter feeds
alight with condemnation and concern
the return to a kinder past becomes
more improbable by yet one more day

we recall when death was occasional
killing something from a distant jungle
beamed monochrome to living room TVs
nothing that happened to you or to me

birds sing next morning in acacia trees
and people walk their dogs and wash their cars
hearts heavy yes but propelled still onward
abiding pull of life’s necessities

innocence may pass into oblivion
as shock slams into anger into grief
before dissolving to numbing despair
to mourn a world where hatred abets fear
fear abets madness which abets killing
once more while none speak of that time before

Robert reads "borderline: an elegy":

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Robert confesses: "'borderline: an elegy' speaks to the devastating mass shooting that recently took place in the community I have called home for the last eighteen years. Rather than seeking answers to the chronic violence that envelopes our world, it is instead an elegy to lost innocence and a admonition against growing complacency."

ROBERT WEIBEZAHL is a playwright, novelist, and poet.His poems have appeared in Enjambed, Tipton Poetry Journal, Long Island Quarterly, The Five-Two, and The Caterpillar (Ireland). He is the author of two novels, a number of short stories (one of which was a finalist for the Derringer Award), and plays that have been produced in the U.S. and Australia. A book review columnist for BookPage for sixteen-plus years, he grew up in New York and lives in California. Visit

Friday, January 4, 2019

New Year, New Swag

Happy new year, everyone. New in my Zazzle store, I've updated The Five-Two's signature calendar for 2019. As always, Mondays are highlighted to remind you when each Poem of the Week debuts.

You can buy the calendar in various sizes of refrigerator magnet and wall poster. Enjoy, and thanks as always for your support:

Monday, December 31, 2018

Linda Umans


She had a name, Susan, and a
slit throat—the 70-year-old woman
found dead inside her apartment
on West End Avenue and 95th Street.
There was a 24-hour doorman;
no signs of forced entry.
No L&O episode here.

Other tenants were alarmed.

"It’s a really family-friendly
neighborhood. I’m surprised
this has happened here."

"She was a nice person. She
loved my dog."

"She wasn’t an easy person. She
was like in charge of the gardening.
I helped her. She was very, very,
very adamant that we use certain colors,
like purple and yellow."

"People begged her to stop
scattering seed around for the birds.
'You’re feeding rats, they’d say.'
She wouldn’t stop."

"She pushed her old white bulldog
around in a baby carriage. You
couldn’t miss her. She was like
from a movie.”

And so on. A post-mortem assault,
being mirrored by your neighbors.

Police are searching for a suspect,
possibly another tenant, and
trying to find a motive.
The investigation is ongoing.

Linda reads "Murder":

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Linda confesses: "I was drawn to this case by proximity. I am close in age to the woman who was murdered. I live very near the crime scene. I know the neighborhood and am familiar with the apartment houses on those blocks. And I have some things in common with the woman who was murdered. I also have been known to sound a bit like the quoted neighbors. So...proximity."

LINDA UMANS taught for many years in the public school system of New York City where she lives, studies, writes. Recent publications include poems in Spillway, Composite {Arts Magazine}, DIALOGIST, Carbon Culture Review, The Maine Review, LIGHT - A Journal of Photography and Poetry, Gris-Gris, 2 Bridges Review, and pieces in Mr. Beller's Neighborhood.

Monday, December 24, 2018

John Kaprielian


They stole
my father's car
packed with presents
parked on a
New York City street.

I assume the BMW
was chopped and dispersed
within hours,
the carefully chosen
colorfully wrapped packages

The police were not
surprised or even
particularly interested
in looking up from their
desks or apprehending

Nothing was ever recovered.

I do hope
everyone enjoyed
their gifts,
with love
for someone else.

John reads "Very Secret Santa":

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John confesses: "My father once had his car full of presents stolen. It was awful, happening just before Christmas, but wasn’t a real hardship -- gifts were mostly replaced, and the car was insured. Instead of anger I have always hoped that some needy people got nice presents they otherwise wouldn’t have had."

JOHN KAPRIELIAN is a Russian linguist by education and has been employed as a photo editor for three decades. He has been writing poetry for over thirty-five years; in 2012 he challenged himself to write a poem a day for a year and in 2013 published the 366 poems in a single volume, 366 Poems: My Year in Verse. He has also had poems published in The New Verse News, Down in the Dirt Magazine, and Minute Magazine. His poetry ranges in subject matter from the natural world to current events and politics to introspective and philosophical themes. He lives in Putnam County, New York with his wife, son and assorted pets.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Jeff Bagato


now there's
no time

eat only
you can

no job

a sweet

a banana

the small
the dry

cheese blocks,
lunch meat,

the ice
you can
at a time
a coat

Jeff reads "Ice Cream Uber Alles":

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Jeff confesses: "'Ice Cream Uber Alles' describes an experience from my younger days, crossing the highway from my apartment to the Safeway, where I could supplement my meager income. I don't recall why I wanted to eat an ice cream bar on a cold day. But why not? By the way, I still have the coat and the bad attitude."

A multi-media artist living near Washington, DC, JEFF BAGATO produces poetry and prose as well as electronic music and glitch video. Some of his poetry and visuals have appeared in Chiron Review, Slipstream, Synchronized Chaos, Angry Old Man, and Outlaw Poetry. Some short fiction has appeared in Danse Macabre and Horror Sleaze Trash. He has published nineteen books, all available through the usual online markets, including Savage Magic (poetry) and The Toothpick Fairy (fiction). A blog about his writing and publishing efforts can be found at

Monday, December 10, 2018

Teresa J. Wong


Your innocent eyes saw too much.
Your naive voice said too much.
And nothing could've saved that little girl,
stepping softly into the sheriff's car.
Just like nothing can save you, boy.

Yes, they already had the noose tied
long before either of you laid eyes on that girl.
They just didn't know its target
would be so small.

And you're all I have left, boy.
You and these four thin walls
and this stretch of land that's a mere sliver
next to all the others they've amassed.

But don't you worry, my dear boy.
I won't let those white men hang you.
No, they won't be able to harm you—
this sweet poison will guarantee it.

And with cataracts in my eyes
and arthritis in my hands,
I'll bring this rusty colt onto the porch,
and we'll see what else your old grammy can do.

Now eat your beans, boy.
That devil sheriff's comin'.
You best stay quiet.

Teresa reads "Maybelle":

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Teresa confesses: "I was in the middle of editing Travis Richardson's short story collection, Bloodshot and Bruised, when I attended a Tracy Grammer house concert. During the show, the muse hit with the voice of Maybelle, the protagonist of his story, "Maybelle's Last Stand." I wrote this poem the next day."

TERESA J. WONG is a poet, linguist, knitter, photographer, techie, and occasional editor. She recently participated in the 30 Poems in November! literary fundraiser for Center for New Americans, writing one poem each day of the month. She lives in Los Angeles with her crime writing husband and superhero daughter.