Featured Poet Laura Orem

Political poetry can be a rant, a howl, or a moan from under the oppressed rock: Or it can be POETRY. Laura Orem gives us humor and wisdom and meaning with the real stuff. She uses the lexicon of poetics itself to confront those who would destroy creativity. How we make Meaning is an important as the meaning we make, and there’s nothing wrong with style, cadence, crisp cutting edge confidence. By the way, you’d have to know poetry to write this poem. You’d also have to be awake in the world, and be the coolest nerd at the popular kids table. - Grace Cavalieri
— Grace Cavalieri

New Year's Poem for the NSA

Well, things are changing, no
question there, so as a patriot
in the land of the free
I thought it would be nice
to help you when the new admin
istration sends you forth
to save the world from democracy

I'm on the phone a lot
with my poet friends
and you might be confused
by the jargon you hear.
Prosody has its own code, 
but not the kind
you're thinking of.

An anapest is not a gun
A dactyl not a religious war
Synecdoche is not an ancient rite
of setting fire to government buildings
Prose is not the professional cadre
of trained assassins of poetry.

A masculine endstop is not a boy
who slits the throat of the enemy
A villanelle is not
a female suicide bomber
A quatrain isn't a terrorist cell
A rhyme scheme isn't jihad

Sestinas and sonnets,
neither are headscarves
Taha Mohammed Ali
was not an imam
Rumi was never a soldier.
A ghazal is not an RPG
A madih is not a mortar.

Scansion is metrics
which is counting
which is not
a sect dedicated
to executing a coup
on the boss.

Take off your earphones.
What he's told you is lies. 
Dear listeners dear spies
remember that, please.


Laura Orem is the author of Castrata: a Conversation (Finishing Line Press 2014) and Resurrection Biology (FLP 2017). She writes for the Best American Poetry blog. Her work has appeared in Zocalo Public Square, Blueline, Nimrod, DMQ, and many other journals. Recently, her poem "Ursa Major" was adapted as part of a song cycle, The Constellations, by Michael Thaxton. She's taught English several places including Goucher College. She lives on a farm in Pennsylvania.


Grace Cavalieri is founder and producer of “The Poet and the Poem“ on public radio, now from the Library of Congress. She celebrates 40 years on-air in 2017. She’s has 18 books and chapbooks published, the latest is WITH (Somondoco Press, 2016.) Cavalieri has had 26 plays produced on American stages. Her newest play is “ANNA NICOLE: BLONDE GLORY.” The play is inspired by Anna Nicole: Poems, published by GOSS183. Her poetry has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s “Verse Daily” and Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry.”  She is the managing poetry editor for PoetsArtists.