Ex Gratia

A Poem by Jon Freeland

For Michael H. Brownstein


I was not there – chances are, neither were you.
Chances are, those who were are here no longer.
“Ah, but also no shorter!” is the hastily
copy-pasted reply, a wry attempt
to monger good will to
the shrunken few.

“Prove the poison.
Mete the motive.
Devote to duty.”

Da Nang.

A human right is second-class,
a head full of fiction.
Money grows not on trees
but the gaseous breeze whither
thrice they lay their defense
against ruined beds
of men, women,
children, rice

Animals and Earth.

“Prove the poison.
Mete the motive.
Devote to duty.
Sustainable worth.”


You hail from lands which
consequentially exist beyond
the fondest local dream,
a reality seam from the Jetsons
or some other promising stetson lie:
“Surely, Indians do not die
for proprietary seed.”
Well, they are no less angry
than their cousins in the west.

“Prove the poison.
Mete the motive.
Devote to duty.
Sustainable worth.
We did no wrong,



Oh, brother John…
I wonder how you would react
to find such word murder commited
in your wife’s maiden name.
Perhaps you would be enraged, having first done no harm.
Maybe you would frown at your legacy…
or be proud that your descendants
can talk their way in and out of an ethical game?

“Technically, they signed the contract.
Technically, children must work there.
Technically, we underestimated the difference in culture,
because that changes the definition of misrepresented fact.”

You dealt death out of obligation, not defense.
You gave aid out of reputation, not benevolence.
You, who boast advancement, have still not learned:
When we Do Our Worst, we will always get burned.

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A Poem by Michael Strosahl

You already know these things.
You already know how families
were packed breathless,
lungs expanded by gloom
as they descended the cattle cars.
You already know choices are not choices
at the wrong end of a gun
and the lucky among us
were those already facing the mud.

By force volunteered
to prepare for the showers,
to clean up when all went silent,
to take carts loaded
and spill them into the pits.
We did what had to be done.
When the holes were filled,
we dug more.
When those full
we reloaded carts,
rolled them to the incinerators
took bones to the grinders.

You already know these things.
You already know how many died
for the sin of birth,
the sin of mothers and fathers,
Jacob, Isaac and Abraham.

But some of us were held back
from the immediacy of death
only to live every second
with its burn in our nostrils,
comforting new arrivals,
helping them into the showers,
lying to the children,
those little girls crying and naked,
telling them to stay calm,
everything would be just fine
after they wash up.

At the end, some of us survived.
At the end, some of us
walked away from hell,
from the black smoke of the furnaces,
black smoke that stained our lungs
so that all we could breathe
still reminds us.

You already know all these things.
You already know
how we wished we were dead,
how we wished our faces
were pushed lifeless into the muck,
how we wish we could forget.

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45 Years Later

A Poem by Devlin De La Chapa.

he still talks about the hill,
going up the hill
coming down the hill
not Hamburger hill
just a hill, in the middle of a place
displaced by war’s chemicals
combative to communism
combative within himself
exasperated with his past
guarded of everyone, everything
his soul, a piper cub
flying high on a Monsanto and Dow dream
dispensing all that was once beautiful and sacred
clutching on dog tags from within an eternal nightmare
of an unborn son

(for Dennis Dermody, forty-five years later)

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Parchment Farm Blues

A Music Videa by Bukka White

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Factory Farms

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Chapter 20–A New Plan from Unwanted President

A Section from a Novel by edRogers

Chapter 20. A New Plan

As Tom pulled down the drive to his house, he felt a warmth come over him. It had been almost a month and a half, but it felt like years since he was home. This was the first time he had thought of this house as his home. In his mind, it had always been the place where he lived, but now he understood what it meant to come home. Mary must have given him these feelings. He wondered what else he would find that Mary had changed about him.
    Tom parked the car and leaned against the door. He felt at peace looking at the shadows from the setting sun – yes, it was good to be home. He also felt the deep pain of being alone.
    Tom closed the car door and went into the house through the kitchen, where he sat his bag on the counter, intending to go on to the living room. The one thing that had sold him on buying this house was its big living room with the large fireplace. And he wanted to go in there right now and start a fire.
    A voice from a dark corner of the kitchen said, “Mr. Warring, don’t do anything you’ll regret and you will live to see tomorrow.”
    Tom froze. His mind began racing to find an idea what to do, but nothing made good sense, and every option ended with him dead.
    The voice said, “Sit down in that chair. I’m not here to hurt you. If I were, you would already be dead.”
    Tom was not feeling all that heroic at the moment and quickly decided that sitting would do just fine since he was having a hard time standing. His legs were suddenly weak and his stomach felt as though it were tied into a knot.
    Tom pulled out a chair from the kitchen table and sat, with his elbows resting on its arms. His could hear footsteps moving around from behind him. The first thing he saw was the gun – it was big, and a black hole of death was aimed at his head.
    “You can call me Pete if that will make you feel more at ease.”
    The voice pulled Tom’s attention away from the view of pending death and he saw a well-tanned man with black hair and cold blue eyes. He was an over-dressed, handsome person who looked more like a banker than a killer.
    “Okay, Pete, what’s this all about?”
    “It’s about the story you think you have. You see, there is no story.”
    “There is a story,” Tom said, “and I know what it is. And so do a lot of other people.”
    “If there were a story you would be dead, killed the second you entered the house. However, your death now could cause your paper to rethink discarding what you have told them. Certain people would not like that. You see, you’re the only one alive who wants that story told. No one will be willing to corroborate your allegations. So, like I said, there is no story.”
    Tom asked, “Just who are these people you think won’t corroborate my story?”
    “Well,” laughed Pete, “there was the pilot in Finland whose plane crashed in the mountains. There’s the professor here in the States who died in a house fire. Then there were the two Russians who both died in explosions. Then there was the German couple – but I don’t think you knew them, they were friends of the Cahill girl, who ran off the road and died.”
    Tom was on his feet again, his blood coursing.
    “Now, now, Mr. Warring, sit back down…unless you wish to join your girlfriend.”
    Reluctantly, Tom sat down.
    “Let me see, is that all? Oh, that’s right. I almost forgot your friend Jake in Vietnam. Hell of a thing. His whole house blew up. Then I understand that a General Wainwright was killed by friendly fire while on a tour of Iraq.” Pete spoke with a contemptuous sneer. “There may be more. But you get the idea. You are alone in this, and because of that, we are going to let you live. It would only draw more attention to your story if we killed you. We know your paper has refused to publish it. It is better if we just let people think you’re a drunken fool. How many people do you think are going to believe that the President of the United States would be part of a plot to take over the government?”
    Pete looked closely at Tom to see what effect his words were having on him. “I should warn you: don’t start feeling too safe – the vote to let you live was a close one.
    “I’m here to tell you to stay out of our business, and we’ll forget any of this ever happened. Your problems with the police have been resolved – we don’t need outsiders poking around. Now we can all just get on with our lives.”
    “What kind of men are you?” Tom asked. “You kill all these people, and yet you can talk about getting on with our lives. What about the lives of those you killed? They have to count for something.”
    “What you need to ask yourself, Mr. Warring, is how many more could die because of you?”
    Pete stood up and pointed the gun at Tom’s head. “If that many people died because of how stupid I was, I’d want someone to pull the trigger on me.”
    “If you’re going to kill me,” Tom replied, “then get it over with. I’m tired of listening to this bullshit.” As Tom waited for the bullet, he was thinking that Pete was right – death wasn’t such a bad thing. But he was now gripping the arms of his chair tightly.
    “I would love to put you out of your misery, but I follow orders. This time they’re to talk to you. Maybe next time I’ll be lucky and they’ll order me to kill you. Until then, remember what I told you: stay out of our business.”
    Pete stepped toward the kitchen door. “Don’t get up. I’ll see myself out.”
    Tom heard the door close but he didn’t make a move to stand up. His mind was running ninety miles per hour and going nowhere. His eyes were fixed on the back kitchen wall in front of him. He still had a death grip on the arms of the chair.
    He spent the night sitting there reliving the love, hate, and fear that had become his life. It was one long nightmare, which ended only as the warm morning sunlight came in through the kitchen window.
[Editor’s Note: The novel from which these excerpts are taken can be ordered from Amazon, as either a paperback or a Kindle book.]

Chapter 20 was serialized on Moristotle & Co. on June 13, 2017, at https://moristotle.blogspot.com/2017/06/fiction-unwanted-president-chapters-19.html.

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International Women’s Day 2021

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Rising Gardens are a defiant creative call for revival, restoration, and transformation. We cultivate in many ways including: Seed distribution through seed banks and exchanges; Artistic creations in the forms of zero waste food art in Bangladesh; Artistic risings featuring speakers on ending violence against women and new ways to sustainably engage with the environment, performances, dancing, and more; Film festivals featuring a range of films on the topics that Rising Gardens uplifts; Planting trees to create community green spaces and planting community gardens; Collaborations with agricultural workers and gardeners; Educational workshops about gardening and education about herbal medicine and the effects of gardening to boost immunity; and actions to advance women’s rights.

JOIN US! Create a RISING GARDENS Action in your community.
VISIT onebillionrising.org and Instagram.com/one_billion_rising for information, ideas & inspiration from activists around the globe.

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Unsent Post

A Prose Poem by Anon ymous

I love edges. Anything that can take me down another city block, around corners; into the permanent. The air is lousy with shouts from irritated cars. It’s all breakable; you tell me joy is the number 8, always doubling back on itself. There is a catch in your voice; you would rather be home, digging in the garden until the sensation of floating ebbs into a drop of rain but this is no longer an option. Monsanto happened. Decay is left.

I want to plan a full color escape, feel the brush of your hand against my cheek. Until everything is simple math: minus me; plus you; divide us both in two, but this is no longer an option. Monsanto happened. Decay is left.

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Acquittal Vindicated the Constitution, Not Trump

An editorial by Mitch McConnell

Jan. 6 was a shameful day. A mob bloodied law enforcement and besieged the first branch of government. American citizens tried to use terrorism to stop a democratic proceeding they disliked.

There is no question former President Trump bears moral responsibility. His supporters stormed the Capitol because of the unhinged falsehoods he shouted into the world’s largest megaphone. His behavior during and after the chaos was also unconscionable, from attacking Vice President Mike Pence during the riot to praising the criminals after it ended.

I was as outraged as any member of Congress. But senators take our own oaths. Our job wasn’t to find some way, any way, to inflict a punishment. The Senate’s first and foundational duty was to protect the Constitution.

Some brilliant scholars believe the Senate can try and convict former officers. Others don’t. The text is unclear, and I don’t begrudge my colleagues their own conclusions. But after intense study, I concluded that Article II, Section 4 limits impeachment and conviction to current officers.

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