Monday, May 22, 2017

Charles Rammelkamp


I didn’t even know my legal status
until I tried to enlist in the marines
when I was eighteen;
I couldn’t do it without a Social Security card.
I came to the United States when I was three,
my mom and my dad illegals.
Now I’m living in a sanctuary city.

My friend Karina, from Chihuahua?
She got her degree in biochemistry, Arizona State,
wants to be a pharmacist,
but now she might be separated
from her three American-born kids,
sent back to Mexico, to get her green card.

In school we read about the Jews
hiding in German-occupied Eastern Europe.
Gentiles who aided them faced capital punishment
if outed and captured.
Israel described these non-Jews
who risked their lives during the Holocaust
to save Jews from extermination
khasidi umot ha olam.

Karina’s afraid if she goes back
she could be there for years getting her papers
while her kids grow up in Sedona motherless.

Charles reads "Righteous Among the Nations":

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Charles confesses: "Among the many disturbing things about the Trump administration is its cruel immigration policy based on a racist xenophobia. Now, the bigot Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, the Attorney General named after a Confederate general, has threatened to withhold money from cities that refuse to detain people based on their immigration status but without a criminal warrant. This is the real crime, the Trump administration’s policy. This is a Shanda."

CHARLES RAMMELKAMP's collection of dramatic monologues about the life and career of William Jennings Bryan, American Zeitgeist, was published May 2017 by Apprentice House.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Kristina England


Yellow buses roll into procession line,
teachers on either side of students,
trained pallbearers of sorts.
School darkens behind them,
stagnant air laced with chemicals.
"Poison" says community and
another teacher coughs

School committee waves hands.
"Not to worry. Not to worry.
We'll start scrubbing the dust more
often,we'll replace window caulking,
but let's not dwell on the certainty
of certainty that all of this is
probably connected."

Another teacher coughs cancer.
Yellowed buses leave in long,
quiet line, headlights flashing.
School dims, shroud so subtle,
you could almost miss
the years of ghosts
moving by.

Kristina reads "Early Dismissal at Burncoat High":

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Kristina confesses: "In 2008, a Harvard School of Public Health presentation raised concerns about high levels of PCB in Burncoat and Doherty high school in my home city of Worcester. The union spent the next 8+ years arguing with the school committee; testing was approved on March 31, 2017."

KRISTINA ENGLAND resides in Worcester, Massachusetts. She is a writer and photographer. Her writing has been published in several magazines, including New Verse News, Silver Birch Press, and Topology. She can be followed at

Monday, May 8, 2017

Amy Holman


she says, and it's a child you see
in a room full of bunny toys and art,
not a music teacher in her mid-thirties
in Brooklyn, defending herself to the press

after the arrest. They need to be
wild, she says of the meat rabbits
saved from butchers, the lab testers,
Netherland dwarfs and Belgian hares

who listened to her flute, but you'd see
a tasty meadow with burrows and buttercups,
maybe her grandmother's farm in Poland,
not 182 cold bunnies huddled behind chipped

wood in an unused tire yard. They need to be
wild game for the zoo lions, she also said once—
to her shame—perhaps when the monthly
multiplications troubled the limited space

and budget. Rabbit girl could not see
her way clear in her failed million dollar, pastel
Easter Bunny breeding project she later
passed off as an attempt to develop a children's

bunny garden under the F/G overpass. To be
caging leporidae—as a fraction were—in a
padlocked shed on the Gowanus auto strip, hops
in the face of flutey rabbit girl's pastel lion

luncheon community. But then, you can see
that with the herd biting and raping each other
and contracting syphilis, that special, confidential
quality that her first rabbit, Snowflake, shared

with Rabbit Girl, was diminished. She's to be
caged for 45 days, kept from owning rabbits
for five years, and see a shrink about collecting.
She's resisting with a suit against the bunny

activists and the ASPCA who, anyone can see,
do not want people owning animals, which,
by the way, she didn't because you can't own
what is wild, or what needs to be.

Amy reads "I'm a Rabbit Girl":

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Amy confesses: "Recently, there was a headline in Brooklyn about the conviction of the Gowanus Bunny Hoarder, and I knew that a poem lurked among the herd of distressed and wounded bunnies in an abandoned tire yard in the neighborhood named after a toxic canal. I had somehow missed all the other news reports—from the time of the police raid on the tire yard the day before a projected snowstorm to the arrest, the hearings, and sentencing. However, when looking for information on the breeds of rabbits kept by the hoarder, Dorota Trec, I came across all the previous news pieces, and in each, Trec named a difference reason for having kept the rabbits. That’s when I knew the poem was more about her than them."

AMY HOLMAN is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet and prose writer and the author of the poetry collection, Wrens Fly Through This Opened Window, published in 2010 with Somondoco Press, and the poetry chapbook, Wait for Me, I’m Gone, which won the 2004 Dream Horse Press Annual Chapbook Prize. Her fiction chapbook, Lighter Than A Dream was a finalist in 2015 at Anchor & Plume Press. Recent poems have been in Gargoyle, The Westchester Review, and Rabbit Ears: The First Anthology of TV Poems. This publication with The Five-Two, is her "second offense", having first had a poem up on the week of April 7, 2014. She is a literary consultant to writers of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, and teaches poetry workshops at the Hudson Valley Writers Center. More about Amy can be found at her website:

Monday, May 1, 2017

Peter Braddock


Scared of life, the open, breathing world
outside of parents' insurance and meal plans.
Are we supposed to be scared or happy
because all I see is ignorance.
In the halls men sing
"fuck that pussy, fuck that clit,"
What the hell is there in singing those songs
and sucking on a woman, sticky like lollipops.

Drunk in the morning,
in line waiting for food I listen,
"The food here tastes like shit,"
"I can’t wait to get the fuck
out of here", standing outside
the sandwich glass. "That bitch
I swear has something wrong with her,"

working 5:00am to 10:00pm.
Two kids, a drunken husband
and a mortgage.
Minds of the 21st century blinded by ignorance.

Walls built 200 years ago to represent
the greater version of yourself,
where men's "ideals of old" lie dead
under the floorboards beneath layers of
piss, beer, and cum.
Fat fucking fraternity men dribble spit
and laugh, grinning with their alcoholic
breath watching virgins drip cum
from every hole in their body—
imagining through their jeans,
holes to fill.

In the news I see dead kids and bombed villages,
politicians yelling at young Africans
"those fucks didn’t die how they’re supposed to."
Walking through the mounds of dead bodies,
slicing off fingerprints and dental records,
gathering supporters for the next election.

Where is the red wheel barrow
to carry out these animals?

Peter reads "The Beggar Generation":

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Peter confesses: "I was reading Alan Ginsburg for the first time, and understanding his work did nothing--and crying for seeing that. Today we still have young men growing up in the dregs of masculinity and racism, and sadly, a President who epitomizes these attributes. It's just sad, that's all."

PETER BRADDOCK is twenty-three years old looking to apply for graduate school this winter. He typically writes poetry about personal experiences, dark or lighthearted, and wants to learn to write more fiction. His mother recently asked him to do something with his hair, he replied, "I am doing something, I’m letting it grow."

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Day 30: "Interrogating Water"

This year's 30 Days of The Five-Two ends with Philip Fried's poem questioning one of life's basic elements.

Thanks again to everyone who participated and followed along this month. Remember, though National Poetry Month is over, The Five-Two publishes year-round and is always open to submissions. —Gerald So

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Day 29: Mystery Playground features "Fair Housing"

For the fifth and final Saturday in April, the tour returns to Mystery Playground, where Deb Lacy features Charles Rammelkamp's "Fair Housing". My thanks as always to Deb for anchoring the tour, and to Charles, who has not only submitted to The Five-Two but also guest-edited at times. —Gerald So

Friday, April 28, 2017

Day 28: "Confronting Plagiarism"

In my opinion as a former teacher of first-year college composition, plagiarism after college is an under-punished crime. Today's tour poem, by Christopher Goodrich, brings back bittersweet memories. —Gerald So