Since 1996 Volume XXI


Bruce Lader

















Bruce Lader is the 69-year-old Director of Bridges Tutoring, a Raleigh, NC organization

educating multicultural students. Červená Barva Press published his recent book, Fugitive Hope, 

and nominated “Winter Night Fugue” for a 2015 Pushcart Prize. Discovering Mortality

 (March Street Press) was a finalist for the 2006 Brockman-Campbell Book Award. His

poems have appeared in Poetry Salzburg Review, So It Goes: The Literary Journal of the

Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, The Humanist, Solo Novo, The Bloomsbury Anthology of

Contemporary Jewish American Poetry, Against Agamemnon: War Poetry, The Seventh Quarry,

New Millennium Writings, and many other magazines. He won the 2010 Left Coast Eisteddfod

Poetry Competition, and has received a writer-in-residence fellowship from

The Wurlitzer Foundation. www.brucelader.com.


Destination Unknown

The rough roads they travel

lead to huts of broken branches

covered with worn clothes,

detours of anemia, typhoid,

TB,…fading traces of

fugitive hope.


Their famine is not holy,

they are not starving for God

and truth. Insects feed

on skeletal bodies,

every time the émigrés

breathe deeply,

politicos escalate wars,

lances of light point

like compass needles

to the pit of poverty.


What workable dialogues

exist for people caught up

in the lethal quandary

of wandering the Earth?


Doctors with bandages

and miracle drugs can’t prevent

the horrible burns, phantom

limbs, irreversible trauma.


The refugees are too poor

to depose a government

or leak military secrets.


The ethereal music of angels

together with vows and prayers,

cannot transmute a mirage

into drinkable water

and arable land.


Where are the humane paths

of peace guiding them to rivers

and seas of fish, the avenues

of justice and education

they can use, the offerings

of earthly change that remedy

inurement to hardship?



The Angels of Refugees


traverse the multiverse in no time,

wings of blonde mist softer

than cashmere surround the diseased

and dying, like haloes, cocoon misery.

Weeping is the most heavenly music

the angels have ever heard.


The tears of displaced people

well up with agonizing prayers,

so tear-aholic angels (the sea’s

distances in their eyes) constantly

intercept dark notes of distress,

detect pheromones of fear,

watch out for children in wars,

radioactive zones, natural disasters.


When sunlight floods Earth

and the nightmares of violence erupt,

father and mother angels of sorrow

eager to help, poise for sacrifice,

unfold feathers. The divine divers drop

like exquisite pearls from the overflowing

cup of God’s dream of deliverance,

swallow seas of tears.


Traces of grief and pain disappear

like grains of salt in water,

complete euphoria removes gravity

from troubles, regret, old age,

the guardians of life rescue the refugees

in keeping with celestial order.



Cemetery Soldiers


We took for granted

the Divine Rights

of kings and presidents,

the way we took for granted

infinite clean atmosphere.


The media put ominous

spins on the domino theory

and we bought into them

the way we took for granted

unlimited pure water.


Rulers wagering perpetual

infernal and cold wars

for the most crude,

deployed our platoons


like chess pieces,

parlayed heavy losses

into heavenly profits. 


The way we thought supplies

of food would last forever,

we obeyed the commands

of officers, executed plans

like football strategies.


            In the minds of children

and credulous adults,

the flares and missiles

looked like shooting stars.


Our side never pretended—

except to spy, gather intel,

outsmart the devious

enemy, give allied battalions

and flyboys the edge.


Honor seemed always at stake,

missions urgent, operations

in jeopardy, heroes rare

as Purple Hearts, Silver Stars.


Untold rows and columns

of monuments watch over

our regiments dealt like

video games, items of traffic.


Flowers of dust decorate

our uniform of eternity.



A Tough Day for the Generals


The sun’s firepower reveals

everyone accounted for,

moonlight confirms all sides winners.


Children learn to think

in classrooms free of any threats.

Students, teachers, parents are safe.


Solid intel on theological and temporal lines

indicate all hot and cold spots

under control, the adversaries blameless.


Military actions, invasions of privacy—

canceled. We make thousands of allies

without attacking another country.


Trillions for the Antimatter Obliterator

stream into United Nations programs

to end starvation and poverty.


Worldwide peace overtures succeed,

a sense of independence prevails,

no one needs to be told who governs.



A Face in the Sky


Unseeing engines roar, the F-15

ascends above lunar landscape

into darkness. The captain flips

panel-control switches, checks gauges,

reckons the stars. He prays for the Lord’s light

to guide another direct hit,


and if he fails this time to return

from the mission, to watch over

his wife and their future pilot.


He throttles Mach 1, 2, pierces the kill zone

on wings of tech dominance

fueled with adrenalin and loyalty,

targets senseless power via satellite radar,

     reports to command post—“I see

the Face of God.” Gives coordinates.


It is not one of those momentary

     man-in-the-moon faces,

features molded in cumulus cloud

     before dissolving into vapor,

it cannot be a UFO.


The vague visage resembles

     his commanding officer,

the mouth recites a biblical passage

in his father’s resolute voice,

as the captain evades enemy fire,

    obeys the reply-or-die order to launch


missiles, uphold the supreme morals,

protect the secure lifestyle

of his people prospering in a land faraway

from the godless unseen desert below.


Mary Barnet


Grace Cavalieri

Joan Gelfand

Janet Brennan