The Wound

A Poem by Jon Freeland

I long to look at length, but the blemish will not fade.
If any change, it grows ugly in the weather of my prying eyes,
but my curiosity is not satisfied.

I reach for it as a child, in clumsiness and innocence
testing the purity of the wound:
detect no infection, but now it’s open.

The most delicate of flowers – its petals spread wide,
welcoming the wasteland,
loathing breath and moisture, for all that is life stings

and all that isn’t, doesn’t matter; what creates can destroy.
And so, our sincerest of fingernail whims
stand in the way of healing when pain is the stimulant
and fear is not feeling.

How, then, do we know what is alive unless we kill it?
Attention, addicts,
peeling the limelight for citrus rapture.
Catharsis feels like stasis, baseless yearning.
But without vicarious charity, the venerable,
cannot be, living in the disparity of ignorance.

finally, we’ve found the truth.
Which is the sweetest sound?
The leading tone of which no living ear has proof,
or the absence, without which we are surely unwound?

Suppose that is the origin of curse:
I must always do more, knowing
not all ways can be done. So I toe the line
or sink ships in the dune, where only three things are shore:
death, taxes, and the wound.

You Can’t Go Home Again

A Poem by John A. Grochalski

but you can waste hours
scanning the faces of people on social networks
remembering the old bullies
from grade school
and all of the pretty girls who’ve gone gray
and you can make ten hour playlists
of all the old songs
play them on your morning walk all week
moving to the beat of endless regret
and you can see the faces of friends
who have vanished
like the thick blue smoke of first sickly cigarettes
on the way home from high school
or flaky snuff vomited on those safe childhood streets
contemplate your own insignificance
and now
picture endless do-overs in your head
first poems scribbled on homemade comic books
the fights you backed away from
the girl with the sweet face in the front seat
of some ugly jock’s car
and how you never talked to her
even though she gave you guns-and-roses
nerf football championships
and wiffleball world series
the smell of home on a wednesday night
you can’t go home again
old tommy wolfe was right about that
but you can kill the now
obsessing over the unmovable feast of time
until it makes you grow sullen and mad
paralyzed on a street corner
looking at the sagging man in the warped window
of a discount store
wondering where and when
it all
knowing that it wasn’t that good in the first place
but for some reason
how right then
you’d wish it all back.


A Poem by Donal Mahoney

Tomorrow morning when I wake
it’ll be the nurse who’s crazy.
I’ll heave my body up
on its elbows and yell
in her ear, “It’s time for your pill.
Get dressed. Breakfast is ready

in the Day Room. Juice, rolls, bacon, eggs.
You’ll find a tray with your name on it,
faces you know, a chance for conversation.
Eat each meal at a different table.
Mingle. Before you can get out of here,
you have to love all the faces you hate.”

Flashback: An End Piece

A Poem by Richard Hartwell

I see two Vietnamese women, old, walking
Hand in hand, symbiotically connected,
Down a Southern California street,
Years away from the American War,
Yet somehow reminiscent of it;
Sisters? Mother and daughter?
What memories do they share?
What absences do they share?

Hand in hand with rifles slung, shoes tied together, over their shoulders,
Barefoot ARVN soldiers meandered down the highway.
Who wanted to fight? No one! Everyone. Someone?
It was to be a game of politics and posture, pressure and retreat.
Only with the push and prod of outsiders did the game turn ugly.

Paper-doll soldiers ”laughed at by some, related by birth and culture,
Connected by more than sweaty palms and common provinces ”
Were no match for organized masses from the North, or the East.
Divided by the War of Aggression, weren’t they still the same?
So what was the difference? What made their blood run thin?

I am so alien in the presence of these women,
I who should not be here, observing, questioning,
I who still belong deep in their native country, loving.
What do they remember of Vietnam?
What do I?
What do I think of their living here?
What do they?
Together, we three share so much that others will never know.
Too much has passed for us to acknowledge what losses we all remember most.

An end-piece first appearing in the novella “Flashbacks,” featured in Burnt Bridge’s “Those Who Served,” a D-Day issue published in June 2011, and now available in a Kindle Edition as Vietnam Flashbacks: A Personal Memoir.

I Made a Mistake and Sampled Canada Dry Ten Ginger Ale

An Essay by Michael H. Brownstein
Food Freedom News

I’m one for freebies—always have been and always will be (until now). Why the sudden change? At my local grocery store, I was given a free sample of Canada Dry Ten Ginger Ale, took it home, opened it and took a huge swallow (perhaps five ounces).

Here’s what happened next:

Incredible nausea. A slow urge developing into a need to throw up. Sat on the toilet in waiting. Incredible gas. This went on for about an hour.

OK—why did a can of Canada Dry TEN Ginger Ale, a new product from the people who bring us Snapples, have such an extreme result on me?

I read the ingredients. Check them out:


So what’s the problem? There are a few: I never eat or drink anything with Aspartame in it. Recently I discovered Sodium Benzoate has issues that can impair your health, too, so I avoid this ingredient—though it’s awfully hard to do. And I never ever eat or drink anythng with high fructose corn syrup.

In other words, I eat healthy, and I eat healthy. Fruits and vegtables—many organics—wild caught fish. I make my own chicken soups and stocks and I have a garden that supplies me with spices and green onions among other things for almost eight months of the year.

But how can Aspartame have such a negative and quick effect on me? Or was it the sodium benzoate? Or perhaps it was the ingredient not listed on the website
( phenylketonurics and phenylanine.

What are these two ingredients? Why are they not listed on the website? Why does the can end its list of ingredients with “contains phenylanine” in bold letters?

I know about Aspartame: and I know about sodium benzoate: But I never ever heard of phenylketonurics and phenylanine.

So I did a google search and this is the first entry:

“Phenylketonurics” is NOT something you can catch from diet soda! This long, scary-sounding word is included in a warning at the end of the ingredients list on some products, but it is NOT an ingredient these products. “Phenylketonurics” is the term used to refer to people that have the metabolic disorder Phenylketonuria, or PKU for short. So – kind of like how the word “diabetics” refers to people that have “diabetes”, “phenylketonurics” refers to the people that have “phenylketonuria”.

I myself, am one of these phenylketonurics and the warning on diet soda cans is included merely to inform people like me that the product contains the synthetic chemical ASPARTAME. People that have the disorder PKU cannot consume any product that contains
aspartame. (Dr. Tracy L. Beck,

I don’t think I have this condition, but I sure did have side effects from drinking that can of Canada Dry TEN Ginger Ale and after reading the following links first paragraphs, I know I will never ever touch any drink with Aspartame in it.

“Have you ever noticed this on your product labels – WARNING: The amino acid L-phenylalanine should not be used by pregnant women or by those who suffer anxiety attacks or those who have high blood pressure or with pre-existing pigmented melanoma (form of cancer), or people with phenylketonuria (PKU). The amino acid DL-phenylalanine should be used with caution if you are pregnant or diabetic, if you have high blood pressure or suffer anxiety attacks.” (Dr. Janet Starr Hull)

OK—another poison on the market, it was marketed to me and I took it freely, so I’m changing my opening paragraph:

I’m one for freebies—always have been, but I won’t be in the future. I’ll need to know the ingredients ahead of time. As for a free sample of Canada Dry TEN Ginger Ale—don’t do what I did. Outright refuse it.

I was gaseous and nauseous for about eight hours after I drank from the can. It’s just not worth it.

Letter from the Congo

A Letter from Eve Ensler

Dear All,

First let me begin with the deepest thank you to all of you who believed in City of Joy and have stood by us with your confidence and support. I have spent the month here and all I can say, is you would be proud. Let me start by describing the current state of Bukavu. It is nothing short of catastrophic. In one of the richest resourced countries in the world, the poverty is inconceivable. In a place where it rains almost every day, there is no water.

It is a country with the most fertile green fields, people are starving. There is no electricity. Most of the month the children have been sent home from school as the teachers are on strike. (they have not been paid). Even the policemen are begging for food. The road is better but most of the time we have not driven on it as there are so many reasons for detours. This is the environment our director Christine and her astounding staff face and transcend every day. Then of course there is the issue of security. The month I have been here there have been no incidents, but it feels arbitrary as there is no real political basis for security and one feels anything can happen at any time.

I will not even begin to tackle here the many proposals that seem to be circulating for peace in Congo. They either feel rhetorical or implausible. I think it is safe to say that if Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi were to get out of Congo, if there were real leadership and a functioning government in Kinshasa, there would be change. But that is not the nature of what I am writing about. We made a decision four years ago to put our energy into the grassroots women of Congo, to support their visions, their plans, their desires, their futures. To believe in their strength. To find the support for them to heal from gender violence of all forms, to be trained and educated in skills and their rights, to become leaders in their communities so that they could build a grassroots movement that eventually would be strong enough to transform this country and turn pain to power.

I am happy to say we are on our way. None of it would be possible without the brilliant leadership of Christine Schuler Deschryver and Dr. Denis Mukwege. Their devotion, tenacity, great humor and fierce love makes all transformation possible. I could not admire or love them more. Let me also reassure you that Dr. Mukwege, in spite of his new life (which due to high security measures has limited his freedom and autonomy), is doing extremely well. Operating, working non stop in every direction to support all he can. We are so thrilled he continues to teach sexual education at City of Joy and be our partner. So let me begin to give you a taste of what is happening here.

I send my love and gratitude from that place which is the City of Joy,


To reqad the entire letter and see the accompaning photographs please click the following link:

Still Life

A Poem by Donal Mahoney

“On the window sill
the sun’s pure gold today.
Usually it’s white,”
says drooling Nell,
in her hospital smock,

her tea turning cold
as she braids
ram horns of hair
high and tight

to the sides of her skull.
“On gold days
like this, I warm
my hands for hours
on this sill.

“Yesterday, the doctor said
someone should paint me,
the fool. A still life,
that’s what he said.”


A Poem by A. J. Huffman

I opened my eyes and I screamed
so loud I turned my skin
inside out. Forcing
the blood I had left to the surface.

Once I was painted, I was silent.
There was nothing else to say.
You could not ignore me any longer.
I was a spot, a sore, a scab.
You had to pick me.
You had to make me
your own.