Thursday, December 19, 2013

We elected him as a mirror,
And because he wasn't George W. Bush,
Racially mixed, he seemed to reflect US well,
Kids and wife; finally, a First Lady with a tooch!
A human Rorschach,
We projected onto him what we wanted to see,
Which has led to massive disappointment,
Because he just isn't all that we thought him to be.
Chin and nose up in the air, aloof, cocky, and distant at home,
"Willing to work together" words for the sake of the mic,
So it came as a shock when Obama went abroad,
And proceeded to act like a tike.
In the spirit of Mandela, shook Raul Castro's hand,
But can't be bothered schmoozing "The Hill,"
At Madiba's memorial, busy flirting and joking with Helle,
In plain sight of his wife - despite her giving him a look that could kill!
Old enough to know behavior appropriate for the setting,
Why the selfie? Not as if photogs would not be recording he was there,
It took a seat change to settle him into the solemnity of the service,
Momma Michelle not so gently scolding His Arrogancy with her stare.
Amidst the host of dignified dignitaries from around the globe,
The leader of the free world acting like a child, immature,
Mid life crisis? Take a lesson from Pope Francis, Time's Man of this Year,
Stay focused on "that vision thing" to build a legacy that will endure.
Or pursue "common ground," like those newfound grownups,
Paul Ryan and the Speaker of the House,
They're taking your name in vain on Obamacare; "stay the course" on other issues,
Man that megaphone, instead of momentarily pausing to squeak like a mouse.
It's easy to project superhuman qualities,
Shrug off the first signs of cognitive dissonance with a wink,
Two first black Presidents and a funeral,
Have given US a lot to ponder, leading up to 2016, much about to think.
Karen Ann DeLuca

Sunday, December 15, 2013

When a quarter moon can’t illuminate,
neon does just fine.
Hairstyles bob in the bouncing light.
Arms are branches suitably gold leaved.
Good old saliva. Good old smoke.
One spits down. One floats up.
City air, can’t get enough of its
grease-dipped oxygen.
City gardens, love those butterflies on fire.
And nothing like burned-out tenements.
Who do we bomb next?
Kids on welfare are watching the skies.
And what fish the brown river cannot kill
are immune until tomorrow lunchtime..
Meanwhile tens of thousands of rough gourmets
are devouring the menus’ temptations.
In clubs, hormones are boiling on the dark suit stove.
The people of perfume, of money, of sushi bars
and Robert Ludlum, stream through theater doors
to catch a falling song.
And I love car-parks like I love bad breath,
six story ones all the better.
No one will find an exit until one a.m. at least.
Better hang in the glittering hotel lobby
and imagine you’ve enough left over for a room.
What a sublime consciousness
is steel and brick and concrete and glass.
Even William Blake can feel a poem coming on.
On highways, on narrow roads,
a million cars are gulping down the world’s gasoline.
That’s what you get when you just can’t get enough.

Three months gone, and the nightly
news has never been louder.
Is it too much to ask of war to be silent.
Combatants, insurgents...
who makes a place for them at the table?
And a reporter in the battle zone
talks calmly into a microphone.
He doesn’t kiss his wife long distances,
merely speaks for the corpses at hand.
Three months gone by, it’s six now,
and everyone in uniform knows her son, every
helicopter flies him somewhere,
every rifle round has her screaming “Duck!”
A child of four killed by a roadside bomb.
Well at least he’ll never grow up to be dead.
And there’s the reporter again,
walking slowly through the rubble
that’s some suicide bomber’s handiwork
while, in the background, the locals
are left to wonder who he’s talking to,
why his back’s to them.

How loud the cry of church bells on this night,
high as spire spearing cloud
and echoing through the valley.
No tune exactly, merely a ding
and a dang and another ding and dang,
counting out the hour, shrill and solemn.
The father wakens from his sleep.
Church’s ding is countered by his “damn.”
The mother still knits in the parlor.
She awaits the telling dong
but if won’t come, not for cross,
not for prayer, not for the plaster Virgin Mary
staring down at her.
The kids don’t care. They’re buried under sheets,
headphones blocking out all sound.
One man’s ding will always be a child’s air guitar solo.
How loud the cry of the people on this night.
A father’s “damn.”
A mother’s disappointment.
And kids, a world away.
Ding. Dang.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

My soul is eviscerated & hanging to the slaughterhouse wall, but
you don't care, my darling/ you don't care at all/ the pieces of
Humpty Dumpty cover the floor/ I gather the shattered shell, but
my efforts to glue them together come to naught/ the shell just crumbles in
my fingers into dust/ the more I try to fix him, the more futility rules/ soon
I am beset by hobgobbolins, ghosts & ghouls & surrounded by a
chorus of mad fools/ they see what I try to do/ they mock me & laff, until
the beauty of yr image shows, & their derision becomes their jealousy, but
I'm handcuffed by futility/ the best I do is observe yr beauty & am amazed.
O darling, take me off the wall/ take me from the shattered pieces/ I shall
not wallow in them longer/ U make me better than this/ U make me
climb into the sun/ I wrap up the fire & light & bring them as a gift/ I
also bring myself for U to hold/ U make me better than I am because I
need U because I love U/ if there's something U don't have, I'll
give it to U/ if it's worthy of yr love, my darling, it's yrs,
yes, my splendour, yrs . . .
Fritz Hamilton 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Voices in the Dark

He runs along a city street lit up at night.  Traffic avoids him even though he matches its speed.  His feet zoom but his legs seem joined with only one knee.  Some unknown force, Satanic, like shifting gravity, pushes him away from where he wants to go.  He tries to stay in control but his speed increases.  Panic sickens him.  He wants to crash into a building, anything, just to wake up. (Scene change) Wind-whipped but, somehow, in bed, true, now he begs the woman who sleeps next to him to save him but she can’t.  Stop me, he cries.  Stop me, his voice raw, pathetic.  He wakes, feeling full of age, his life so quiet, the trickle of it now, and realizes he has dreamt this type of dream many times before.  Because of his obsessive reading he wonders what causes his nocturnal distress.  What, of all the trauma of his life is responsible?  Is it his deep resentment of stupidity, starting with his loveless parents’?  Was it his ill-treatment at their hands, or being abandoned by them while he was still an innocent?  Or was it the violence, both received and dished out, in the way violence is passed on?  Or guilt for his own desertions?  Could it be about how, in his efforts to always avoid unseen potential trouble he actually avoids life itself?  Maybe, he reasons, it is the huge amount of alcohol he puts away, often on his own.  He thinks, wryly, it could be the novels (all that death lurking in wait) the essays, even those special poems that line the highway of his life like milestones.  He suspects it might be the poetry.  On this dark night he wants love to come around, to climb the stairs and make its boldness known to the spread-out waiting town and all the waiting people there, the wary, fumbling, guilty, and confused, and those who want their shifting guises excused.  When arrow-showers of rain spatter his windows he wonders if the sound shakes their weaving hearts, makes them think of whispered surprises and all the others they might have met.  He wants every restless thing that haunts them, niggardly, hidden, bruised, unfair, the dread of being alone, to be conquered by love, because he longs to make another start. 
Ian C Smith

Thursday, October 31, 2013

                                          Out of Whack
     Finances out of whack, with a projected 140 million dollar shortfall,
Fairfax County Virginia's School Board wants to bypass the Supervisors and tax residents itself,
     The only current alternative proposal: furlough days, larger class sizes...
Relegating "pet" programs and select, "superfluous" staff to the shelf!

    But what if the focus was kept on learning?
 That is, after all, what educational institutions are supposed to be for!
    Instead of slicing funding from academics...first, why not...
 Shove top of the line tech toys - and siphoning sports - out the door?

    If you've ever been waited on by a teen or young adult working at a register,
 You know they look at cash with scorn and cannot make change in their head,
    Or divide a price in half without a calculator if you have one item of a BOGO,
 The result of glutenous emphasis on glam technology - time to put that romance to bed.

    Sports serve relatively few students; gym grabs them all, like it or not,
 With a childhood obesity epidemic, the right choice is plain to see,
    The latter is a superior public value - and sufficient exercise,
 Jock kids can go beyond that elsewhere - for a nominal fee, sometimes for free.

     People matter more than "props;" Rah! Rah! now...
But such "spirit" doesn't sustain or linger loud in a long life,
     Chasing "simply the best," early adoption while "new" and "improved" is not necessarily better,
All things to consider before wielding the fiscal knife.

     Sometimes old school is good school...back to basics,
Eliminate excessive electives and concentrate on the curriculum's core,
     It takes a village, not one stop shopping, let's not forget the onus on parents and students,
Because responsibility for scholastics - upbringing in general - doesn't begin and end at the classroom door.

Karen Ann DeLuca

Saturday, October 26, 2013

     At the beginning of 2013, few Americans...
Except those in the DMV and near military bases knew,
     The extent to which our government contracted itself out,
The more temporary, private employees, the less the federal payroll grew.
     But then came Edward Snowden,
His NSA disclosures still dribbling out,
     Dollar darling Defense running ramrod over personal privacy,
Because, well funded, it could..our military industrial complex gone "walkabout!"
     In the sixteen day government shutdown, "good cents!"
Congress authorized furlough pay for bonafide civil servants alone, 
     Just imagine if all federally related workers had been compensated,
Beltway Bandits thrown off the gravy train...hear them moan!
     And now we have the ObamaCare website,
Hundreds of millions of dollars- and counting - for another wonder of the world of "the unseen,"
     Maybe it's time to put government's functions back on its balance sheet,
For transparency, accountability, and ultimately to make it LEAN.
     Perhaps the answer to our woes is to increase federal employment,
While decreasing - or eliminating - those involved in outsourcing and its oversight,
     Using contractors only for what civil servants absolutely cannot do,
Will trim the worker FAT off the public dole in the long run, and give us Government LITE.
     Thirty years plus of following Reagan's lead has led US to this dysfunction,
Where's the BEEF? By now, we should know and be aghast,
     An issue to consider in elections this year and the midterms of next,
Resolve to make this Year of the Contractor, this nation's last!
Karen Ann DeLuca

Sunday, August 25, 2013

     Six degrees of 9/11 begins with the NSA scandal,
Disclosing extensive snooping on US - and foreign "others,"
     Coincidental with Paula Deen's "I is what I is" tour, "apologizing,"
For using the "N" word; well...but...because...she's a Southerner!
     To the Brethren who cleared a path for homosexuals,
To have, "what therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder,"
     But those same Nine struck down part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act,
"Our country has changed," the pronouncement of the Chief Brother.
     The Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case showed US otherwise,
Neighborhood watch by definition is to keep "others" out,
     Young, black male, unarmed, dressed in a hoodie, ends up dead,
"Stand Your Ground" perpetrator freed because of reasonable doubt.
     Progress on immigration reform once promising, now stalled,
Securing the borders? Path to citizenship? Congress playing what and who goes first,
     In a melting pot nation built on welcoming all "others,"
Sending the message: "Keep Out" - your American Dream bubble has burst.
     With Judge Shira Scheindlin's decision, we come full circle,
Back to NYC, and its implementation of "stop and frisk,"
     Twelve years later, a country still terrorized by its fear of "others,"
Unable to balance personal freedom, privacy - against actual public risk. 
     As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington,
While allowed to bring less and less into an NFL stadium,
     Let US reflect on the dissonance of our national cognition,
And find our way out of this "other" conundrum.
Karen Ann DeLuca

Saturday, June 22, 2013


Despite an uproar over its keyword processing of 501(c)(4) nonprofits,

Our "short staffed" IRS seems disinterested in doing its sequestration part,

Wants to pay 70 million in bonuses the President ordered against,

Google and government...perhaps not so far apart.

Ditto for the Snowden revelations re: the NSA,

Broad sweeps capturing phone and Internet data galore,

Shouldn't we be shocked at how many "essential" government functions private contractors perform?

At least with IPs, we "agree" to the terms and conditions for which we are in store!

Which brings me to Benghazi, the "talking points" that won't die,

Security team turf wars behind the scenes, before Susan Rice was pushed out front,

Since 9/11, if this how our "democracy" has functioned...

Common threads among all scandals... is it any way to run a government?

Instilling fear; overreaching on constitutional rights,

The more technology used, the more that can be known,

Why not disconnect a bit and put less "out there,"

Politics aside, studies show psychological consequences, a negative change in societal tone.

Karen Ann DeLuca

Sunday, May 19, 2013


As I tuned in and out of the Daytona 500,
     I was struck by the repetitive ads for Low T,
I began to wonder if the condition was a real problem...
     And whether it could be connected to what ails society!
Most of our mass murderers are young men,
     Ditto those who gun down individuals, as a rule,
Hormones raging and at their highest lifetime levels,
     It's no coincidence for the front lines of the military, they recruit out of high school.
Environmental influences and changes have accelerated puberty and precociousness,
     Baby Boomer men medicate to stay "manly" and eternally young,
Athlete after athlete has been shamed for "performance enhancing,"
     Yet the praises of testosterone - for both sexes - are still sung...
Although a lot of violence and aggression seems to be linked to it,
     Maybe it's time to evaluate why we prize C19H28O2 - and "masculinity" - so much,
Can we at least agree to fund some research on this chemical imbalance?
     Instead of fashioning gun policy on political equations...really nothing more than a hunch.
Strong Sandy Hook sentiment sagged in less than a hundred days,
     Right at the start of the "Spring Shooting Season,"
Unbelievably unrevived by the Boston Marathon bombings,
     Many still searching for a cause other than weaponry as a reason.
Blame immigrants...the mentally ill..."others" not like "US,"
     While ignoring the common denominator - males in their twenties and teens,
The focus should be on why that cohort has such a disrespect for life,
     Or else expect more frequent, year round, sickening, savage scenes.
Karen Ann DeLuca

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


As the commercial goes,

Lauren ditched Jack, because he was way too boring,

Jack then got himself a Citicard Private Pass,

And you've got it, he started scoring...

More events, more experiences, more concerts,

Met museum Marilyn, cooked with Giada, got Alicia to give him that "look,"

Watching this spot made me wonder when it happened,

That just being yourself would get you the hook!

In the 70's, Billy Joel sang,

Of love, "Just the Way You Are,"

Soon after affection became conditional; "what can you do for me,"

If nothing lately, pack up and hitch yourself to someone else's star.

For a generation reared on video games and in cyberspace,

I wonder if they even see analog humans as real,

Or other than appendages to electronic gadgets and devices,

They can't put down to talk or linger over a meal.

In this click, quick world, where what you sample,

And who you bump into, makes for superficial, sound bite conversation,

With no internal compass or intrinsic self worth as a guide,

As the population ages, where will we go as a nation?

When we refuse to be still, alone, or reflective,

Considering our vessel as nothing but empty,

How can we complain when we continue to get leaders "just the way we are,"

Disingenuous...less than civil...flip floppy...long on puffery.


Pope Benedict XVI gave up his job for Lent,

Obama's held his First, not Last, Supper with the GOP,

March Madness! Who cares about basketball?

With all the intrigue surrounding the Vatican and DC!

Church and State: financial follies and governing gaffs galore,

At least, for now, there's no sex scandal on the Potomac!

50 shades of Catholics, Elephants - and Donkeys - going in all directions,

Just look at the trash talking divisiveness at CPAC!

The Poll: Rand Paul barely edged out Marco Rubio,

Conservatives favored Cuccinelli and Cruz, and snubbed McDonnell and Christie,

Bracketology failed to predict the Conclave's "upset" choice,

A Jesuit; First South American, Se llama a si mismo Francis (of Assisi?).

Relevance? Unity? What's a party or a religion to do?

Warm the familiar bench? Stay stuck on status quo?

Dribble slowly toward change? Quickly go out of bounds?

How 'bout excise the extraneous - and flaunt founding fundamentals from long ago!

It took only two days and five votes for the white smoke to bellow,

The new Pontiff's already going off script and "communion-cating,"

Contrast with polarized Washington, where no one wants to waive even a partial white flag,

Guarding themselves with staged, sanitized, superficiality, US leaders keep moving the basket - and missing.

Karen Ann DeLuca

Monday, March 4, 2013

With Boots

on, I stand four inches taller.

Five-foot-seven in black

leather, knee high. I am spike-heeled,

armed for battle

against the mundane, mediocre, middle-aged

moms in flats and leggings. Tunic

tops shield view of asses

with the appearance of potatoes

stuffed in panties, dimples for which

cottage cheese (even large curd)

is still an insufficient metaphor. Miles

of road and treadmill in my wake,

I praise every defined muscle

two births left intact.

To Cum or Not To Cum

is not an option. On the table

is not a choice, but something

better left to chance and momentum. Hard

luck is a prophecy, self-fulfilled.

Intrusion, a welcome stranger,

master of impromptu movement.

Sudden, temporary fetish follows lack

of logic. Riding meaningless waves

of echolalic patterns.

My departure confirms your arrival.

Independence Day

It’s my body, but go ahead,

get off in it. You’re entitled to

nothing less. After all it’s your day

without work. And you’re horny. Never

mind that my stomach is killing me and the kids

are awake and I have a million

things to do. You wouldn’t

know what goes on between 6 and 8 a.m.

here. There is not a moment that I own.

I want to be a means to your end, really I do.

You say you will take a second

to my writing and my workout,

neither of which is an option

right now. But please,

throw a tantrum. Stomp your feet.

Whine some more. I am used to dealing

with children. They can’t delay gratification

either. My coffee is burnt, my stomach

still hurts, and I have to make a dessert

for a party I don’t want to attend.

Obligation is mymiddlefuckingname.

I’ll be okay.

Tweeting Christ

Lost my faith don’t believe in miracles



please Retweet if you give a fuck

April Salzano

April Salzano teaches college writing in Pennsylvania and is working on her first (several) poetry collections and an autobiographical work on raising a child with Autism. Her work has appeared in Poetry Salzburg, Pyrokinection, Convergence, Ascent Aspiration, The Rainbow Rose and other online and print journals and is forthcoming in Poetry Quarterly and Bluestem.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Electric Volley

balls refuse to fly.

They like the contrast of the sand

against their moonly trail. They roll


Automated Attitude

Thank you for calling. To continue

in English please press 1. [1 is pressed] This is America,

right? English should be automatic

ally assumed. Otherwise, press 2. I pressed 1

already. [1 is pressed again.] I’m sorry. I cannot process

your selection. To continue

in English please press 1. [1 is jabbed repeatedly

with forefinger.] Did you get that this time? Thank you.

How can we help you today? To pay an outstanding balance

please say “make a payment.” What? Outstanding

balance? I paid my bill last week. Would you like to make

a payment? No, no I don’t. I don’t

have a payment to make. I’m sorry, I did not understand

that. If you would like to make a payment say “make

a payment.” Would you like to make a payment?

[Visibly reddening. A deep breath is taken.] No. Thank you.

Would you like to go to the main menu? What? This isn’t

the main menu? It’s the main 800 number. Shouldn’t I get

the main menu by dialing it? If yes, press 1. If no, press 2.

[1 is pressed.] I’m sorry I couldn’t process

your selection. Please try again. For the main menu . . .

[1 is pressed so hard the button gets stuck and makes annoying

beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep sound.] There’s your fucking

1, you arrogant electronic bitch! Can I talk to a god-damned person

please! I’m sorry I cannot process your selection . . . [Phone is

banged against forehead in frustration.] . . . please hold for our first

available operator. Hallefuckingluya!

Billing Department, this is Cindy, would you like to make a payment . . .

Deep Fried Barbie

Barbie wanted out. She was tired

of being forced into whatever

occupation the marketing machine

gods tagged as trendy that year.

She was sick

of the ridiculously impractical outfits,

a nightmare to get off

and on over unbending joints,

shoes that never stayed

on her feet, an assigned significant other

with an annoying smile and hair

that never moved.

Barbie secretly dreamed of growing

old and fat, of having wrinkles and gray

hair, of no longer living out someone

else’s fantasies. She tried slitting

her wrists, but she couldn’t bleed. She jumped

off a bridge, but couldn’t drown (she doesn’t

breathe, does float). Finally,

she found her way out. She threw herself

into a pan of oil, happily melted into a pool

of plastic oblivion.

The Road to Abnegation Road

falls (painfully) short of its idealistic intentions.

Waivers at the sight of its own

blood flowing freely in continued sacrifice.

Genuflects on scabbed knees for forgiveness that never

comes. Maxes out

its credit at corner of hammer and nails, pools

pieces in semblance of sacred

circle under signed

guarantee: 4 strikes and never

a holler.

A.J. Huffman

Thursday, February 21, 2013


 As the commercial goes,
 Lauren ditched Jack, because he was way too boring,
 Jack then got himself a Citicard Private Pass,
And you've got it, he started scoring...
 More events, more experiences, more concerts,
Met museum Marilyn, cooked with Giada, got Alicia to give him that "look,"
 Watching this spot made me wonder when it happened,
That just being yourself would get you the hook!
 In the 70's, Billy Joel sang,
Of love, "Just the Way You Are,"
 Soon after affection became conditional; "what can you do for me,"
If nothing lately, pack up and hitch yourself to someone else's star.
 For a generation reared on video games and in cyberspace,
I wonder if they even see analog humans as real,
 Or other than appendages to electronic gadgets and devices,
 They can't put down to talk or linger over a meal.
 In this click, quick world, where what you sample,
And who you bump into, makes for superficial, sound bite conversation,
 With no internal compass or intrinsic self worth as a guide,
As the population ages, where will we go as a nation?
 When we refuse to be still, alone, or reflective,
Considering our vessel as nothing but empty,
 How can we complain when we continue to get leaders "just the way we are,"
Disingenuous...less than civil...flip floppy...long on puffery.
Karen Ann DeLuca

Helpless I do not know if good intentions prevail among the elected, among the appointed, leaving me apprehensive that the fate ...