Daryl Muranaka, “Identity Politics”

Daryl Muranaka lives with his family in New England. In his spare time, he enjoys aikido and tai chi chuan and exploring his children’s dual heritages. He has written one book of poems, Hanami, and two chapbooks, The Minstrel of Belmont and Leading the Beast Home.

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Identity Politics

When I was younger, I dreamt of Japan,
and then one day I found myself there,
living like an echo no one understands,
living like a shadow fading in the glare
of time, of memories past and forgotten.
No one here ever seems to get that—
my old country wouldn’t wait for a son
it had never known, never knew it had.
But I am no Other, no enigma,
no inscrutable gene, nor foreign mind,
no horde, nor coolie, nor Sherpa.
Do not take, do not mock what is mine.
This is what I am, here now as a man.
Free to claim I am an American.





Raymond Luczak, “Moose”

Raymond Luczak is the author and editor of twenty-two books, including Flannelwood (Red Hen Press) and Lovejets: Queer Male Poets on 200 Years of Walt Whitman (Squares & Rebels). He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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his head
crowned with
bones of war
moves slowly
to the right
then left
before he wades
past the cattails
and dragonflies
soldiering around
he catches sight
of me trying not to breathe
as he demands
hey you





Jared Carter, “How Do You Know?”

Jared Carter’s most recent book of poems, The Land Itself, is from Monongahela Books in Morgantown, West Virginia. He lives in Indiana.

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How Do You Know?

“Friends, applaud, the comedy is over.”
       – Beethoven’s last words

Exactly how do you know when the moment
of your death has arrived? How distinguish it
from all preceding moments? It cannot be
the pain’s intensity. You left all that behind
long ago. The drugs have tamed it, made it
constant, unnoticeable, like white noise.

Those waiting at your bedside have no clue –
the priest whose proffered hand you refuse,
the nurse pottering about, the young intern
propped in his chair, scanning the classifieds.
None of them would know. Besides, death is
commonplace to them, they see it every day.

Have you ever wondered? In the old movies,
when the hero is about to die, he always knows
exactly when to say goodbye. Was it rehearsed?
Is there a cue from off-camera, beyond the lights?
Does the director give a nod, is there a prompter?
When it comes your turn, will you get a heads-up?

What if your timing is off, and you blow your lines,
fall short of the mark, with everyone still there,
lounging in their plastic chairs, snoozing away?
Your relatives are here now, they all expect you
to get to the point. Quite clearly, this is it.
No more dithering. Time to wrap the last scene.

The slate-board claps before your eyes, the sound
comes up, your ratcheting cough approaches
titanic proportions, loved ones reach out
for one last embrace, but you shake them off,
you seize it for yourself – this moment, come
at last. With only one take, you want to nail it.





Jared Carter, “Gerstein Report”

Jared Carter’s most recent book of poems, The Land Itself, is from Monongahela Books in Morgantown, West Virginia. He lives in Indiana.

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Gerstein Report

Kurt Gerstein, an ethically conflicted but subsequently
resistant Waffen-SS officer, describes a moment at Bełżec
extermination camp, in August of 1942, when a large group
of naked men, women, and children are being herded into
a gas chamber. A woman “of about forty years of age, with
flaming eyes, calls down vengeance on the head of the
murderers for the blood which is shed here. She gets five
or six slashes with the riding crop across her face from
Hauptmann Wirth, then she disappears into the chamber.”

Then she disappears into the chamber,
Lost beneath its waves – forsaken stranger,
       nameless witness, having spoken out for
       all the others, in a voice that soars –
Calls down vengeance, heedless of the danger.

Scornful of the measures to restrain her,
Unafraid at last, with proud demeanor,
       she turns about, to face a final door.
           Then she disappears.

Gerstein sabotages gas containers,
Seeks to warn; denounced as a complainer,
       dies mysteriously alone. All that shore
       is distant now, all quieted, that roar.
Waves erase whatever might explain her.
           Then she disappears.





B. P. Greenbaum, “Morning in the Woods”

Barbara Greenbaum’s work has been published or is forthcoming in American Writer’s Review, The Cape Rock, Crack The Spine, The Prick of the Spindle, and The Massachusetts Review, among others. Barbara has a B.A. in English from the University of Hartford, and an M.F.A. from the University of Southern Maine Stonecoast. She retired from her career as a creative writing teacher at a public magnet arts high school in Willimantic, CT. In addition to writing, she is a volunteer at The Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford. She writes using the pen name B. P. Greenbaum.

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Morning in the Woods

On our walk, I pace the dog
or we pace each other, our steps a bit
slower than last spring.

Her face is almost entirely white,
a snowy replacement for the caramel
she once wore. The fat tumor rides high
on her back.

We step over rocks we cannot see,
our ankles pivoting
as we navigate forward.

She smells everything.
I’m transfixed by shafts of light
warming the woods, littered
and golden with autumn,
leaf molds, and old rain.

My voice ricochets off rocks,
evaporates in the carpeted path of moss,
sending her frantically searching
the wrong way. I have to run then,
get in front of her, let her see me,
before she’ll lose the panic
in her eyes.

Toward the end of the trail,
we let the other walkers go ahead of us.
A hustling couple in their thirties, their mutts
dressed in plaid jackets bouncing ahead.

Quickly, she gives up trying to catch them,
her collection of dog tags jingling
on her collar, as she comes back to me,
her stump of a tail
pointing straight to heaven.