March 4th-March 10th, 2011

A Letter to the Fab 14 and Scott Walker

by Matthew T. Bauman

Save your quarters for the Laundromat friends,
press your ties wrinkle your suits, you don’t want to look
too disheveled yet too dignified after all we know,
you’re only in a motel not sitting gun-cocked at the door,
waiting for shotgun Palin.

They rushed in on a Kerosened rope but like A-Rodg you’re nimble,
your hearts moved fast just as feet, you made me want to believe
we can eschew “foes”, look up “reconciliation” in Webster,
maybe not be so slick, so sticky with our own malfeasance and
maybe not lick our fingers before touching someone else’s pie
but why? Why didn’t you bury your ethics under the steps of Madison,
why didn’t Scott pay for your shovels,
why didn’t you meet Jesse on the lawn? (It’s ok, you know he’s cool with it.)

Answers are to be found, when they are to be found in the
eyes, of impoverished divine
whose half-baked cries, squirt out…sunlight wedged through blinds.

(You know Marx is settling comfortably in his grave.)

Your silent majority is skittering away,
leaving a fine (invisible) trail of rust,
and your boy Bobby Koch’s getting pissed
his face puffy, cotton candy pink.

Is it really your fault, Scott?
I know Kochy’s grip is tight on your testicles
flinch but (once) and he will squeeze.
Pop. Pop.
You’re already a phenomenon, governor with “some college,”
Even more Roman-judgment,
Thumbs up for life thumbs down for...

we’re outside,
Indiana to Pakistan,
“One World One Pain,”
We’re knocking, knocking.

Matthew T. Bauman is a student at UW-Marathon County, in Wausau, Wisconsin.

beyond the soundbite and the essay

by   janine arseneau
      madison, march 3, 2011

Somewhere in the parched eroded landscape
in the space twixt nuanced essay
and staccato soundbite 
once beat the heartdrums of the long forgottens
  the disenfranchised and the left to rottens

In these days of March and marches
  in that place of pot holed ruin
          ever taller ever stronger
sprout the sturdy spear tipped shoots of spring
   leafing through the rightwing's floor
   slipping past the leftwing's door
ever climbing ever reaching
  filling rooms and halls and chambers
finding windows sun and daylight
with their green hued tendriled promise
       of a commonwealth
       of common good 

In the quiet steady pulsebeats
  of the tender heart shaped shoots 
rise again
the once forgottens
   left to rottens
who believed in public service
public trust and public good

In the space beyond
the sticker and the soundbite
beyond nuanced words and metered essay
rise again
the once forgottens
left to rottens

there our future lies awaiting
there the parched earth comes to life

Jack Speaks To His Friends About the Politician

by John Sierpinski

The politician narrows his black
eyes, allows the corners of his mouth
to drip down before speaking into
the microphone, “Our state is broke
and there is no room for compromise
on this.” He addresses the statement

to his foes, but also to corpulent,
blotchy, red faced supporters who
stand in the legislative chambers,
and cheer. In private he tells his
cronies, “It’s us against them. I’ve
been elected to do a job,”

like a blow job on his friends. He
begins his odyssey by railing,
“The teachers are defiant. They’ve
been overpaid and insured for far
too long.” Teachers like my wife
who often work twelve hour days,

buy their own supplies, take work
home, ask that their students (some
handicapped, cognitively disabled,
autistic) always come first. Teachers
are vilified. The Politician works
the podium, the halls, he is white

heat in his Protestant fervor. He
is tame with his friends, as he takes
away resources from the poor,
the lower middle-class. He shoves
his shit into the magazine before
he pulls the trigger. He does all

of this is the throes of his paranoia,
his schizophrenia, with the smirk
of his face. Meanwhile, storm clouds
gather around the state capitol.
The placards glow blue. RV’s,
the poor are parked in a jagged line.

Why Teachers Should Earn Minimum Wage     

by Greg Hill
Federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.
As a teacher, I teach five classes per day, and each class
lasts forty-five minutes and averages twenty students.
I officially work one hundred-eighty days per year.
Let’s ignore the fact that teaching requires certain skills
and training, none of which is necessary for say, a baby-sitter,
who can reasonably expect to earn more than minimum wage
to teach absolutely nothing to exactly those same children.
Let’s ignore the fact that I will be preparing lessons, grading,
meeting with students at odd hours before and after school,
speaking with parents in person and on the phone,
attending meetings with administrators, monitoring students
in the hallways and in the cafeteria, attending my students’
athletic games and stage productions and that all of that is achieved
outside of class time.  For the sake of simplicity, let’s just assume
I’m willing to do all of that for free.  And let’s ignore
the fact that the in-classroom education of students is one of the most important
endeavors of our society, if not the most important—just ask any politician.
Let’s ignore all that.  Let’s just focus on the time in class.
At the federal minimum wage rate, $7.25 an hour
times three quarters of an hour per class times twenty students per class
times five classes per day times one hundred-eighty days per year
is ninety-seven thousand, eight hundred seventy-five dollars per year.
$97,875.  For one teacher.  For one year.  That’s what I should get paid
as a teacher earning minimum wage.
And oh yeah, that’s not what I get paid.

Greg Hill lives in West Hartford, CT.

Prosperity Gospel (Their McMansions Have Many Rooms)

by Mark Zimmermann

How miraculous it seems—the divine, omniscient, all-wise and merciful
Creator of the universe, Our Lord Jesus Christ, lovingly validates
my acquisition of a vast economic fortune!
Miraculous, but seeming unholy to the ignorant unbeliever—
the atheist, the sodomite, the unionized front
for collectivist world government marshaled
to riot in The People’s Republic of Madison.
For truly, Unbeliever, I say to you: Repent
and see the living, inerrant Gospel in action:
It is the Lord Jesus Christ’s will
that the wealthy Christian is wealthy, that the poor are poor.
And to be a wealthy American Christian is the next best thing
to being the Lord Jesus Christ himself. God bless the good old USA.
(Shoppeth till thou droppeth!
Thou shalt have many chariots in many garages
but only if you tithe 10% off the top
to the Lord and His humble servant.)

But there are those who hate God’s true Prosperity. There are those
who hate America. Our enemies are legion—they would destroy
our children with atheism, with false doctrines of communism and homosexuality.
Free lunches in public school today, mandatory sodomy in kindergarten tomorrow!
Yet the Lord is just. We must pray for our enemies as we battle their conspiracy
against us. The Whore of Babylon and Anti-Christ shall be cast down
in their abominations. Unionized state labor is an abomination, the greed of the wolf
gorged on taxpayers’ flesh. Wealth gained through collectivist bargaining marks the wiles
of the unholy deceiver. These out-of-control unions must be stopped!
Yet we must not be prideful. For the Lord is my CEO and I am his humble and worthless
slave. We must never say God is on our side. We must say we are on God’s side!
Make no mistake—this is a battle for America.

Mark Zimmermann lives in Milwaukee.

Against the Click of Capitol Consonants

By Margaret Rozga

Madison, Wisconsin, 2011

I am long o
a slow float on the road
to protest.

And you, Rachel, may
be long a,

with the rain of claims
against state workers and their pay

with the hail of fake debate
business takeover of worker rights
the major wind that still prevails

yet day
after agitating day waking

Margaret Rozga lives in Milwaukee and blogs at

Wisconsin Pond

by Helen Padway

The bully frog in our pond sits
on his lily-pad throne belching budget.  
His digestion enhanced by consumption
of weaker and smaller marine life.  
What he cannot swallow whole
he lays at the feet of those greener
and more powerful waiting at the water

Small toads are all but drowning
in the murky waters.  Beneath, subterranean 
forces of greed have taken residence
hiding serpentine ambition to strip 
the pond of all its assets: the schools 
of fish, the mollusks trying to keep the bottom 
clear. the algae on which they feed, 
weakened so the natural cycle of pool life 
disappears.  The bully frog feels
no obligation to sustain pond health. His eyes
are on the prize of a bigger pad.

Helen Padway lives in Milwaukee.

Before Unions

by Len Tews
Grandpa showed me his crooked hands
that he said were from playing baseball
without a mitt, but I think it was from
all the hard work.
He showed me the B B
under the skin of the meat of his left thumb
that he got during a hunting accident.
"Still there,"
he said.
He let me feel it myself and roll it around.
When I sat on his lap
he would let me listen
to his Hamilton railroad watch
"It’s the most accurate watch there is,"
he bragged. And I guessed it was.
Then he took down his small cap
with a candle holder on the front:
"It was about eighteen eighty-six
I wore this cap in Hurley when I was twelve.
to climb down ladders hundreds of feet
into the dark iron mine.
All I had for light was a candle,"
he stated without self-pity or boast.
"I never went to school, I couldn’t understand
English, and Ma and Pa needed my earnings."

Len Tews is a retired biology professor at UW-Oshkosh.

A Letter to Bishop Morlino

by Ed Bennett

“If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workmen accept harder
conditions because an employer or contractor will afford him no better, he is
made the victim of force and injustice.” --Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum

your church is empty,
the beeswax candles sputtering
in the shadows and stained glass.
You exhort us to enter,
slake our souls with sacraments,
prayers and patron saints,
take part in a universe
revolving around a promised salvation,
little enough for the absent
who must live in the here and now.

We aren’t far away,
just outside the cathedral,
joined into a multitude
chanting in the sunlight
for our secular needs.
We are here under the sun,
here still in the cold and rain;
we are frightened by a Herod
stripping us of our dignity
while his functionaries cast lots,
prepare us for crucifixion.

We do remember our catechism,
the teachings of social justice,
how Christ blessed the poor, the undefended,
in your holy texts, but not out here.
We do not come to your table
because you chose a Pharisaic feast
casting crumbs to us, the new Lazarus.
You sit with the money changers,
promise to stay the divine whip
that will not come from your church,
no longer The Father’s House of Prayer.

Where are you in these days of outrage?
We have heard the words of Popes
proclaim our right to seek our wage
but the company you keep anoints us
with the unction of a rich man’s venom.
Christ walked the earth with workmen,
knew the pride of calloused hands,
the kitchen miracle of a stretched meal;
He was with us then and He is here now.
Your church is not empty because we do not come
Holiness – it is because you walked away.

Ed Bennett is a Telecommunications Engineer living in Las Vegas and is a Staff
Editor of Quill and Parchment.

Mission Accomplished?

by Jerry Buerer
Mission Accomplished!
Then eight more years of liberating warfare.
And who really cares?
Especially if your team has a good quarterback,
And like teens in the back seat of a Buick,
“They go all the way.”
Double the military budget, plus some change.
But who really knows?
If we can only destroy collective bargaining,
Then we can have peace on earth
And everything should be hunky-dory.
But who really rests?
What with Muslims and Mexicans
Making a mess of our lives.
Build bigger and better borders
Go the route of God’s Chosen People.
Then everything should be just fine.
Especially if our team repeats next year
And not too many troops are killed,
Especially by “friendly fire” or
Malfunctioning drones.