Reaction of a Ten Year Old

by Jayden Ocasio


I don't feel comfortable with Trump as president because he's sexist and racist to all women, black people, and Muslims! President Trump even banned people from coming into this country.  If you ask me, "how do I get back?" I'll say go to a country that's not banned then go back to the USA. My worst enemy by far is Trump.

Why did people vote for Trump after all the things he said during the election? If Trump wants to be president, he should go to an isolated land, buy it, and call himself President.



Created: March 3, 2017

Age: 10

State: New York

Reaction of a 7th Grader

by Nate Gonzalez


When Trump was elected, I wasn’t very surprised. All presidents in the past besides Obama were white men and I didn’t think it would change this time by gender instead of race. Trump was a big business man and was trusted by many people. Also his reputation with many of the U.S. states are very good for the most part. His ideas and and thoughts on what he’ll do as president were decent but not excellent. He could have made a better slogan because America wasn’t great because we are always trying to get better and always making big mistakes. So how would we make America great again if it was never great in the first place? But on the bright side at least he isn’t thinking of doing anything out of the ordinary. So if Trump wanted to be the President of the United States then he should have at it with all his might and be the best president that he can be.


Created: March 3, 2017

Age: 13

State: New York

Make America Greater

by Michele Papa


 Tim put down his cup, punctuating his statement. His coffee, now cool, waved onto the table. “It’s time for a change,” Tim said. “We need to bring this nation back to when it was good —back to a time when people weren’t afraid.”

“Like when? I mean, at what point in history would you bring our country, if you could?” Maddie tucked a wet strand of hair behind her ear.

“Interesting question,” Elisa said. She dipped her teabag in her cup.

Tim leaned forward and fingered the lettering on his cap. “That is a good question,” he said. 


The aroma of hazelnut had greeted Maddie and her dad Tim when they squeezed into an overcrowded coffee shop about a quarter of a mile from the Capital. By the door, Maddie spotted a stack of newspapers. The Washington Post was spread open on the counter. Maddie edged nearer to read the headline: Inauguration Day 2017: Pomp and Chaos Collide as Trump Becomes President. Looking up to scan for seats, Maddie spotted a friend alone in a small booth. That’s where they ran into Elisa. Maddie and her dad approached Elisa’s booth and greeted a friend whom she hadn’t seen in a while.

Maddie had seen Elisa hesitate when she noticed the Make America Great Again hat on her dad’s head. She told them to sit with her. Her dad slid into the booth as Maddie shook off a drizzle-coated jacket. Maddie couldn’t help but focus on the other newspaper in front of them. She skimmed the headline article and then opened the paper. She found a letter written by a sixty-six-year-old woman from Chicago to the President-elect. The last lines read: “People are terrified of your presidency. Give them peace.” These could have been Maddie’s words. That’s why she ended up biting her tongue when she and her dad started talking politics.



 “I think I’d take us back to the 1920s. It seems much simpler then,” Tim said. 

 “Yeah, Dad, the glamorous roaring 20s. What a time. Woman could vote, the economy was booming, and people were happy, despite Prohibition and mob wars and all.”  Maddie tried to keep the sharpness from her tone. 

The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite novels,” Elisa said, “and the styles were fabulous. The Harlem Renaissance was exploding.” Elisa paused. “On the other hand...”

“Yeah, on the other hand…” Maddie adjusted her glasses and spoke directly to her dad.  “On the other hand, you know it was only great for some. The Ku Klux Klan was reborn and African-Americans were targets, just like today. Look what’s happening in our cities because of Trump’s hate rhetoric. He makes it okay to be mean. Is that making people feel safe?”

“I believe in Mr. Trump,” Tim said. “Crime’s ruining our kids. Young people are killing each other in the streets. I’ve plugged up more gunshot wounds than I can count. We’ve got to do better.”  He shook his head.

“What do you do?” Elisa asked.

“I’m an EMT in Maryland. Been doing it since I got out of Iraq.” He fingered a scar on his right hand.

“Thank you for your service,” Elisa said.

Maddie’s eyes softened. “I don’t know how you do it every night, Dad. And you’re right. We can be better, but isn’t America pretty great now? I mean, where else could tens of thousands of people protest legally outside the White House?” 

“It’s true,” Elisa said. “I’m here for the Women’s March tomorrow.”

“I’m guessing you’re not a Trump supporter,” Tim said.

Elisa shook her head. “I’m not.”

“I’m not either,” said Maddie as she wiped the rain from her glasses, “but Dad believes that Donald Trump will make America great again.”

“That’s what the hat says,” Elisa smiled. Tim turned the cap to face him. “It’s a privilege to be at an inauguration. I was at President Obama’s in 2012.”

Maddie beamed. She was too young understand the politics of his first election, but she remembered feeling a swell of pride as she watched from her seat in her middle school social studies class as President Obama took his oath of office. Maddie glanced back at the paper. “I voted for Hillary, but I promised my dad I’d go with him today.” 

Tim was still thinking about Maddie’s question. “Then maybe the ‘40s,” he began. “America’s greatest generation. The country was optimistic and there was a sense of family.” He leaned back. 

Maddie smoothed her damp hair. “I can’t argue with you. The 1940s began the biggest baby boom ever.”

“That’s right. I’m a boomer myself.”

She smiled. “I know, Dad. Men returned from WWII with jobs waiting. Unfortunately, those jobs were vacated by women who were told they were no longer needed and to go home to their families.” Her voice was firm.

“Show some respect,” Tim murmured. “Your grandfather fought in that war.” He turned to Elisa. “He met my mom at a USO dance and they married when he returned from France. She quit her job at Woolworth’s to have me. They had a good life.”

“Did Grandma like working?” Maddie asked, though she knew the answer already.

“Not being a sales clerk in a five and dime and she didn’t need to work anymore.”

Maddie shared how her Grandma told her of her dream to be an engineer but that her father wouldn’t let her go to college.

“She never told me that,” Tim said.

“My mom was the first Latina elementary school principal in our county,” Elisa said.  “My grandparents believed education was a gift, a promise for a better future.”

“You’re Latina?” Tim asked.

“I am. My grandparents escaped Cuba when Castro first took power. My abuela was pregnant with my mom at the time.”

“Did they become citizens?” he asked.

“My mom was born here. My grandparents eventually became naturalized, as did my two uncles.”  Tim seemed satisfied. 

“So, what about the 1950s?” Maddie joked, her mood a bit lighter. “You know, Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley. You always loved the Fonz.” 

Elisa turned to Maddie. “I see you’re still passionate about history.”

“I’m a political science major at GW,” Maddie said. They told Maddie’s father how they had met working at a poling station a while back. “This election has sparked some intense discussions on campus.”

“I’m sure it has,” Elisa said. “My dad’s a poli-sci professor at Berkeley.”

“There was a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on,” Tim said, “but I don’t know how safe people felt with the threat of Communism. I remember being taken into bomb shelters for drills when I was a kid and I was scared.”  Tim folded his hands in front of him. For a few moments, they were silent.  “So, if you could bring us to any other time, when would it be?” He looked to his daughter.  “What do you think?”

Without hesitation Maddie said, “I’d bring us to yesterday.”

Elisa cocked her head. “Why yesterday?”

“Because yesterday I knew that my rights as a woman were supported and my right to choose was protected. I knew that Planned Parenthood was funded and that immigrants like your grandparents would be welcomed into the country; my uncle’s gay marriage was recognized and the LGBTQ community was defended under the law. I knew yesterday that the EPA would continue to safeguard our environment so that people and animals could live a cleaner life. I knew yesterday that patriotism didn’t equate with racism and that everyone was entitled to an equal chance.” Maddie’s voice trembled.

“Honey, I don’t believe Mr. Trump’ll take all that away. I think he says a lotta stuff he doesn’t really mean, but ...” Tim shifted in his seat.

“But what, Dad?” 

“But I believe he wants what’s best for our nation. That’s why I voted for him.” He looked at his cap.

Maddie inhaled deeply and continued slowly. “And I knew yesterday that kids would be safer because of laws on gun control. Isn’t this what you want, Dad? You want guns off the streets, especially because you see first-hand what they do to kids!”

The three sat, staring into their cups as the crowd thinning around them. People began to gather outside. Some carried umbrellas; others carried signs. 

“So what do you think?  Do you agree with my liberal daughter?” Tim nudged Maddie and smiled.

 “’Work hard and you’ll get ahead,’ my abuelo says. Nobody wants a hand-out, just an opportunity. I think America has always strived for greatness, but it doesn’t mean that it can’t be greater.” She picked up her newspaper. “I want us to learn from history, not repeat it.”

Tim stared at the navy lettering on his white hat.  Tim grabbed a marker from his pocket. Carefully, he added the letters er to Great and drew a line through Again. He placed his redesigned hat on his head. Maddie nodded her approval. “We better get moving,” she said.

Tim extended his hand and smiled to Elisa. “I’ve enjoyed our talk,” he said.

 “The pleasure was mine.”  Elisa shook Tim’s hand. “Good luck at GW. Let’s intentionally get coffee soon!” she told Maddie.

“Thanks. And maybe I’ll see you tomorrow. Wanna come, Dad?”

 Tim winked and placed his arm around Maddie’s shoulder. “Ya never know,” he said.

The three exited the coffee shop. Maddie zipped her jacket against the wind and followed her dad to the right. She turned to see Elisa pause briefly before crossing the street and turning left.






Created: February 7, 2017

Age: 58

State: Connecticut


Michele Papa is an educator from southern Connecticut. She is fascinated with how personal the political has become, and vise versa. After this election, Michele hopes that we can learn to listen and empathize better. Michele is an avid reader and writer, inside and out of her classroom. When she isn't teaching, she can be found with her family sitting in the sunshine reading, drinking tea, or marveling her cats.


by Michael Kenny


Over the past few years I’ve watched as my friends and family got sucked into the wave of right-wing nationalism that led to the events on November 9th. I’ve seen otherwise decent people align themselves with an ideology that is inherently paranoid,  and ultimately leads towards violent outcomes. I’m on the left because the political right is clearly a predatory body that feeds off the insecurities of the American middle class. I believe in a solid safety net for the poor, and protections for individuals who have been historically ostracized by society. The democratic party’s rhetoric most closely aligns with my viewpoints and I voted for them on election day because the alternative was too horrific for me to consider as a possibility. With all of that in mind, however, I came to a hard realization as the election season wore on. I wasn’t voting Hillary Clinton because I believed that she meant what she said. I voted for her simply because I thought she would maintain the status quo.  I think this points to something that needs to be addressed if those who identify as Democrats wish to make any steps towards minimizing the wave of hyper-national conservatism that is currently plaguing our country. We democrats need to take a look at ourselves and accept a few hard truths that will go a long way to saving not only our party, but perhaps our country as well.

Liberals love to put their leaders on a pedestal and shout down any criticism pointed at them. There were some legitimate concerns raised about Clinton’s campaign promises that were never addressed. I saw endless posts online presenting her as a borderline godly figure who would crusade for the greater good of the public. This left me feeling uneasy because I realized that many of my peers who idolized her failed to acknowledge on very important fact about government. Politicians don’t, and never will care about us. They’ve never cared about us. Just because they show up on Ellen to ‘dab’ on live TV does not mean that they are in any way relatable. Just because they are eloquent and generally upbeat in their demeanor does not mean that they have our best interest in mind. They dedicate their careers to throwing their base electorate just enough scraps to capture the magic number of votes needed to secure their re-election and leave it there.

I liked Obama. We won’t see a President nearly as charismatic as him anytime in the near future. His social policy gave me hope for the millions of people who for years had been pushed to the margins of society. All of this being said, he still deported more illegal immigrants than any other president before him. His drone strikes on various targets in the Middle East killed countless numbers of innocent civilians. He came into office with a majority in the house and senate following the financial crisis and chose Tim Geithner, a Wall Street apologist, as the Secretary of Treasury. The resulting bailout primarily benefited the rich, and left much of rural America without relief from the recession. On top of all this, he vehemently attacked any safety net for whistle blowers within the government and allowed a bill to pass which would allow the government to legally detain American citizens without reason or representation.

Why am I saying this? Because Obama was a politician, not a savior. At a time when the Republican Party found itself becoming more radicalized, the media failed to criticize Obama in fear of giving Conservatives cannon fodder. This decision has now backfired since the right has begun to use legitimate complaints about liberal policy to defend their twisted ideology. Given the hawkish nature of Trump and his cabinet, this will have dire consequences.

Democrats have lost significant power in DC. Over the past seven years, we’ve lost the House, Senate, and now the Presidency. We can’t blame the recent election on Russia or ‘fake news’. We liberals need to face the fact that we’ve been complacent. The Republican base built the tea party and used it to shift the party farther to the right. Any Conservative politician who may have disagreed with this more extreme viewpoint was forced to concede to their new base because they would have easily lost votes. The Tea Party overthrew the existing party and took over the House and Senate while they were at it. Besides the failed Occupy movement, the Democrats haven’t had anything to show for in terms of a populist liberal movement. Instead of reaching out to the lower class, Democrats paraded around celebrities as a way to garner support.  Rather than proposing legislation with substance, they compromised with Wall Street on their policies.

This level of arrogance carried itself into Hillary’s campaign. Hillary barely campaigned in Pennsylvania, Michigan, or Wisconsin since those were primarily her so called “firewall” states. She lost each one on election night. She abandoned the working class and minority voters in a number of states while campaigning to court middle class Republican women. This brilliant train-wreck of a strategy was summed up perfectly by Chuck Schumer when he stated, “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.” They ran their campaign on numbers and not any real policy. As a result, the last branch of government that Democrats had any control over has now been handed over to Donald Trump.

And where are liberals now? I remember watching the country turn red during the midterm elections between 2012 and 2014 and disregarding any panic because we would always have the white house. I’d actually convinced myself that the toxic influx of far-right ideology would never cross itself into the executive branch. The most recent presidential election obviously snapped me out of this, but the rest of the party will do anything to avoid taking any sort of blame. I’ve watched Ellen Degeneres invite George W. Bush onto her TV show and the New York Times hire a far-right columnist to open themselves up to “alternative views”. This isn’t a resistance, it's the same meaningless bullshit that lost the left any tangible power in DC.

We should be organizing against our own party. Hillary Clinton should not be deified into some kind of populist leader, she was a standard big-money politician running in a populist election. If we continue our political discourse the same way we have been for the past 7 years, we will continue to lose more. Liberals need to take something from the Tea Party and organize against our own representatives. We need to have a vision, rather than just denounce the policies of our opponents and expect that to motivate people to actually vote. We need to remember that politicians need to be kept on a tight leash, and their actions need to be vehemently scrutinized by their base. By recognizing the toxicity within our own party and addressing it appropriately, perhaps we can minimize the length of time that we have to actually deal with this current administration.


Created: February 7, 2017

Age: 23

State: Connecticut

Michael Kenny lives in Southern CT and graduated from Sacred Heart University with a degree in Psychology. He identifies as a leftist because he likes healthcare and public education. He doesn't like poor people being told they don't deserve a good baseline quality of life.

The 2016 U.S. Election

by Richard Paul


Do not mourn for the failure of the elitist

pigs! Instead, cheer for the triumph of the

working class, the jobless, the disaffected, the

“deplorables!” In an earlier day, we were

derided as “the great unwashed.”  But what

we really are is The People.

“We’re the people….we keep a-comin”,

as Jane Darwell says in the closing lines of the

film of The Grapes of Wrath. And no matter

how much and how hard the elitist pigs push us

down, theycan’t push us out. So let us

celebrate the victory of working class over

chattering class!


Created: January 27, 2017

Age: 29

State: Massachusetts

Richard Paul is a novelist, dramatist, and poet who has lived in Toronto, Boston, and Colombo, Sri Lanka. Among his credits are Poets Online and Fantastique.


The Fourth of July

by Sarah Duncan


I told you I wanted to know

what our flag is and you said it was

all hero, a kind of soft night

light in the hallway

so you can make it

to the bathroom without falling,

you said it was a quilt, wrapped

around mountains and snow drifts,

sleeving the arms of trees,

like purple, like mountain, like majesty,

you said it’s a taut man

in green with a barrel in his

hands the shape of freedom,

you said it’s our name, child,

your hands, your feet, and you

told me to touch it

so I gathered in my fingers

a piece of cloth, red-wet,

blood-dry, heavy with the sound

of last words from brown mouths


Created: July, 2016

Age: 29

State: Wyoming

Sarah Duncan currently lives in Laramie, Wyoming, where she's getting her MFA in creative writing. She is a queer multidisciplinary writer, performer, educator, troublemaker, and local community organizer as well as a member of SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) Wyoming. Her poetry has been published by Pelorus Press, Ghost House Review, nin poetry Journal, Souvenir Lit Journal, and Us for President; her plays have been produced by Sanguine Theatre Company in NYC. 

Trump Circle (Contains Explicit Content)

by Katherine Rudin

Age: 55

State: New York





Kathy Rudin is a writer and artist from New York City. Her work has been published in, OUT, Genre, Wilde, Riding Light, DUM-DUM, Rip/Torn, RIPRAP Journal, The Sun, The Boiler Journal and Bop Dead City, among others, and has been exhibited at galleries in New York City, Miami, Los Angeles,  and Vancouver. She also volunteers at an animal shelter, and her favorite words are, “no,” and, “slacks.”


by Ruth Hill

I remember watching baseball as early as 3 years old with my grandfather.

Grampa had played in the Triple A’s, and thrived on teaching me baseball. At age 5, in 1955, I was with my grandmother in the kitchen, when Grandpa called me to the living room. “Watch this,” he said. They showed a rerun from 8 years ago, when a man with dark skin entered the field. My grandpa, who usually sat in his armchair, stood up for the rerun. He saluted, and turned to ask me to do the same. He was 6 foot 6 and I was in Kindergarten, and there we were standing side by side saluting the TV. Grandmother knew what it was about, so she joined us in the background with her dishtowel. It seemed they had watched this together many times, and decided I was now mature enough to be included.

“Highest paid!” he said, then sat down. “First Rookie of the Year! Most bases stolen!” Then I knew which player it was, because Grampa always jumped up and yelled every time that player stole a base. “Most Valuable Player! .310 batting average!” Grampa just kept going with a long list of statistics.

“But Grampa,” I said, “I thought you were rooting for the Yankees?” “Not this time,” he said. “This time I am rooting for the man, not the team. The one man who changed it all. Think about it! He is as brave as any soldier. He put up with so much abuse, even death threats.”

That was the year Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers won the World Series.

Jack Floyd August Hunt, born 1883, also liked to imitate Jimmy Stewart, Will Rogers, and Yogi Bera by inventing quips. “If you think you’re better than anyone else, it proves you’re not.” “If you can only stand by standing on someone else’s head, it’s not worth it. Stand on your own.” “They all want to be king of the dung heap; it’s still a dung heap.” “Build your own house; don’t build the bank.” “Differences do not deny dignity.”

My Grampa died 4 years later. When Obama took the victory stage on TV in 2008, I stood up alone and saluted his bravery, the way my white Grampa taught me.

As for Trump, Grandpa would have spit on the mound.



Created: January 28, 2017

Age: 67

State: United States/Canada

Ruth Hill was born and educated in upstate New York, and traveled North America extensively. She is a Certified Design Engineer, lifelong tutor, and enjoys spoken word. Over 300 of her poems have won awards or publication in the US, Canada, UK, Israel and Australia. She welcomes email at


How Did He Become This Way, and Where Will He Go from Here?

by Rachel Lyon


Consider a boy who compulsively writes his name on things. Maybe he starts by writing on a bathroom wall, in a hidden place where no one can see. Maybe as an elementary-schooler he carves it into the wooden surfaces of desks in school. Maybe briefly, as a teenager, he takes up graffiti. To write his name all over the city gives him the thrill of ownership. A thrill so intense it approaches madness.

But this boy is from a wealthy family. It doesn't look good for the son of a millionaire to be spray-painting his name all over town. He gives up his hobby but, like a drug addict itching for a fix, he cannot give up the urge. Years go by. As an adult man he inherits his father's real estate business. He buys a skyscraper and—what the hell?—emblazons his name across the front of it. To look up at his gleaming name among its hundreds of gleaming windows is better than an orgasm, better than anything.

It turns out to be far easier to license his name than to build new things, himself. He buys and renames other properties, whose purposes tend to reflect his own ravenous intoxication: a luxury hotel, a tropical resort, a casino. As his business grows, he finds he can lend his name to abstract things, too: businesses, enterprises. This is a revelation. It makes him feel almost limitless, almost immortal. He spends sleepless nights craving more. Can he lend his name to a concept? He can. He hires a ghostwriter and publishes a book that will associate his name with deal making. He arranges a reality television show, starring himself, in the hope of associating his name with leadership. But it isn't enough, isn't nearly enough. He wants his name to belong to a city, a country, a government.

You don't really get to share your name with a country unless you discover it, or transform it somehow. Unfortunately most of his world has been discovered already, and his country is (more or less) a democracy; in order to transform it, he must get himself elected. Fortunately, his country is (more or less) xenophobic. Many citizens are concerned about immigrants stealing their jobs. Meanwhile, because his name is still associated with real estate, people still think that he builds things. Bingo! He enters his own country's presidential campaign, and tells whoever will listen that he's going to build a wall to keep out the immigrants.

The wall is a fairy tale. Like the tower of Babel or Jack's beanstalk, it captures the citizens' imaginations. He is elected leader of the country, and begins looking into ways he can write his name on the country itself. He wants it to be big. He wants it to be huge. He wants it visible from space. It will require a major construction effort. He staffs his cabinet with men who won't mind if he evacuates and displaces millions. He announces to the citizens that he's created thousands of new jobs in construction. Then he sub-contracts all the construction companies, and tells them to report to duty at once. All over the country, infrastructure projects are halted. New jails and hospitals are left incomplete. New roads peter out in the middle of deserts. Thousands of bulldozers, front end loaders, backhoes, and excavators get to work tearing up large swaths of the earth.

The project lasts nearly four years. He's seen satellite images, and it looks terrific. But he really needs to see it with his own eyes. He sets a meeting with an acquaintance, an entrepreneur who's channeled an obsession with colonizing Mars into manufacturing rocket ships. He tells the guy he wants to use one of his rockets. The guy's hesitant, but he has to agree. There is a magnificent national ceremony. The leader emerges from the capitol building and is paraded through the city in a glorious golden spacesuit. Tens of thousands have gathered to watch the procession. When he climbs into the rocket, they cheer wildly. When the countdown commences, they chant along. There is a deafening, explosive sound, and the rocket thrusts up through the atmosphere. They are out of their minds with delight.

When he has reached the deep quiet of space, he unlatches himself from his seat and floats to the window to look down at his country. The first letter of his name touches the west coast of the continent, and the last letter touches the right. The letters in the middle, which cover farmland and prairies, are soft and flat. Closer to the coasts, they ripple pleasingly over mountains and valleys. He fogs up the globe of his helmet with a satisfied sigh. It is beautiful. It is perfect. But is it enough? All around him, zillions of planets and stars glow and sparkle. Even as the condensation of his own breath evaporates, he feels that familiar itch. Each of the zillion planets around him is an opportunity.



Created: January 2017

Age: 34

State: New York

Rachel Lyon's Pushcart Prize-nominated work has appeared in McSweeney’s, Joyland, Bustle, The Toast, The Iowa Review, and elsewhere. She is co-founder and co-host of the reading series Ditmas Lit, in her native Brooklyn, NY. Rachel's first novel, Self-Portrait With Boy, will be out with Scribner in February 2018. Visit her at





This piece has been previously published by Heavy Feather Review.



An Essay on Human Liberation

by J.A. Bernstein


Perhaps the best sign to emerge from the flood of protesters thronging the capital during the 2017 Women's March was one saying: “One abortion could have saved us all a trip.” The protest itself drew controversy when the organizers apparently disallowed pro-life feminists from backing it. Others, including David Brooks, the New York Times columnist, rebuked the March for not avoiding “the language and tropes of identity politics,” a claim certainly underscored by the evident tension between black and white organizers at the start. However one views the March, or the organizing principles behind it, it is fair to say that no other cause or movement in the last thirty years brought four million people to the streets—indeed in countries around the globe. Thus the question arises: what are the marchers demanding, and whom do they oppose?

Obviously everyone attending—or even scoffing at the marchers—has answers to this question. But I want to advance the hypothesis, echoing Marx, that what unites every one of these protesters, and in fact unites them with the people they oppose (in most cases, conservatives), is a genuine distrust of capitalism and all the inequities it's invariably engendered.

When I raised this idea with a friend, a lawyer and fellow marcher, he laughed. “I didn't see a single sign denouncing capitalism,” he said. While he's right, and while probably ninety-five percent of the people marching—as well as those opposing them—would, if asked, express their support for capitalism, every single one of the causes they were marching for—or, as the conservatives would see it, against—boils down to capitalism and is explainable in terms of class.

Even abortion, long a lightning rod of controversy in the U.S., and on which the populace is evenly divided, even across party-lines¹,  is, at a bottom, a dispute regarding class, as Antoinette Konikow, an early Russian communist and American immigrant, argued as far back as 1923. “Women can never obtain real independence unless her functions of procreation are under her own control,” she wrote in a pamphlet called Voluntary Motherhood. ² Today, most feminists, citing Roe v. Wade’s (1973) upholding of the right to privacy, see the regulation of abortion as the state's intrusion on their bodies, essentially an encroachment on labor rights (labor in both the economic and obstetric sense). Conservatives, by contrast, see themselves as defending unborn babies and upholding the sanctity of life, which is also, at bottom, a claim against intrusion and a defense of human rights. Who’s right in this debate is less important than what unites both sides—and indeed all socio-political debates: the collective belief that individuals are being trampled or hurt. Until both sides recognize this commonality—the fundamental fact of their unity—and until both sides of the political spectrum recognize their common cause—their revolt against Capital—both sides will continue to lurch in an endless void of discontent, during which time the conditions around them will worsen. Indeed, this is exactly Capital's goal in so far as a divided opponent—the entire working class—is split on baseless grounds. It is also a fact that no genuine social change will come about, and no improvement in circumstances arise—except for those of the ruling class—until all working people recognize their common plight and the fact of their opposition to Capital.


Brooks was right when he remarked that the March represented a return to identity politics, and a fruitless regression at that. Of course, what he didn't say, and couldn't be expected to understand, is precisely why the March devolved into this: namely the ruling class, of which he is invariably part, or at least in thrall to ideologically, requires protesters to cling to these cultural identities: black, woman, Latino, gay, disabled, Muslim, etc. No doubt each one of these groups represents targeted types. One should not and cannot trivialize the facts of their daily oppression, nor minimize the horrors they face. But what one also cannot overlook is the degree to which the vast majority of members of these groups have been deluded into thinking their oppression as a group is singular, or that it stems from their cultural identity rather than their social class. The ruling class wants them to believe this—in fact requires them to—since it effectively divides the opposition and prevents them from attaining any kind of common linkage.

Traditionally Marxists have described racism, misogyny, ethnocentrism, and other forms of social oppression as epiphenomenal, meaning they result from struggles of class but aren't entirely reducible to class struggles. Marxists themselves faced enormous backlash during the upheavals of the 1960's, when their views were accused of being “reductionist.” Indeed, the Black Power Movement, and its latter-day movement, Black Lives Matter, have both accused Leftists of this, a claim that perhaps reached its apotheosis in the 2016 Presidential Primaries, when African-Americans overwhelmingly rejected the self-described “democratic socialist” candidate, Bernie Sanders, in favor of the more centrist one, Hillary Clinton. ³ Clinton herself campaigned vigorously around a mode of identity politics, and even Sanders, compelled to adapt, tried to adopt her traits. When he was asked at a debate in October, for example, whether “black lives matter” or “all lives matter,” he responded, fittingly, “black.” In the end, both segments failed—“democratic socialists” and “centrists”—as arguably the ruling class sought.

More recently, within the Academy, the question of whether racism and other forms of oppression are ultimately reducible to class has been revived after a period of relative dormancy. The rise of intersectionality studies has tried to do precisely this, employing terms like “matrix of domination,” as Patricia Hill Collins calls it, or “vectors of oppression and privilege” to show how social differences combine to create social inequality. But by falling to recognize the primacy of class, and the fact of epiphenomena, the movement undoubtedly plays into the hands of the ruling class, which probably explains its ascendance at universities.

Even within the realm of pure philosophy, where scholars grapple with the question, some of the most radical Leftists continue to invent creative ways of effectively dodging the question. Robert Paul Wolff, arguably the doyen of Marxist philosophers, and a self-described anarchist, summarizes his approach on his blog:

There are two structures of domination and inequality in virtually all societies, the first social and the second economic, neither of which can be reduced to nor explained as a function of the other, although they everywhere and always interact in endlessly complex ways…Neither of these structures, I say, is explainable merely as a subordinate form of the other, though many of the social theorists whose work I most respect have thought that it was.

Note the word “interact,” which, if not minimizing class, treats it as one of multiple causes of oppression. Admittedly this is only a blog post and shouldn’t be seen as indicative of Wolff’s broader work, though he has repeated it elsewhere. The problem is Marx himself never uses the word interact, nor does he imply it. In his Preface to the Critique of Political Economy, he famously explains:

In the social production of their life, men enter into definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their will; these relations of production correspond to a definite stage of development of their material forces of production. The sum total of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society — the real foundation, on which rises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life determines the social, political and intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.

Thus, while humans might become conscious of their racial, gender, ethnic, religious, or varying identities, it is one fact alone, a person’s “relation” to the “mode of production of material life,” i.e., class, that “determines” this consciousness. Class is causal. Any thinking that tries to dispute that, or lessen it, or rearrange it, risks, as Terry Eagleton points out, trivializing the role of class and overlooking its potential for revolution. As Eagleton explains in The Illusions of Postmodernism (1996), class, for Marx, is not entirely a “bad thing”; indeed it contains the site of revolution, or the foundation on which social change can be built. While many feminists, critical race theorists, and even Marxists, as Wolff’s posting shows, have tried to deflect this claim, doing so not only bowdlerizes Marx, but it overlooks the revolutionary potential of his work: the fact that class alone, or the relation to the mode of production, is the sole springboard on which a revolution can be built.


All of this is to say that when four million humans marched, they did so with various causes in mind, and there will be no hope, indeed there can be no hope, until they start to realize what it is they collectively oppose, and, in fact, what causes all of their dismay: capitalism.

So what's the alternative to it, you might ask. That I don't know. And neither, arguably, did Marx. Certainly he, like many thinkers after him, trumpeted the idea of collective planning, or the notion that the means of production should be controlled by producers themselves, rather than an ownership class. Whether communism, socialism, or even just a regulated economy serves that end is very hard to say. In fact, my ambivalence on this question—and Marx’s as well—may very well parallel post-Marxists’ inability to unite around class, or uphold its primacy in determining social ills. Indeed, it's entirely possible that both ambiguities serve the ruling class by stifling effective opposition. It's also possible, as Marx probably thought, that humans are so inscribed in class conflict, and indeed curtailed in their liberation, that they cannot yet arrive at a plan, or an effective means of escape.

Certainly Marx saw the process of liberation as gradual—and inevitable at that. Perhaps social planning will come about the same way.


¹ Interestingly, a 2016 Pew Survey indicated that over a third (36%) of surveyed Republicans thought abortion should be legal in all or some cases, and about a quarter (25%) of surveyed Democrats thought abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. on-abortion- 2/

² Cited in marxist-tradition

³ See, for example, Colin Daileda’s piece at Mashable, “Black Lives Matter and Bernie Sanders aren't natural allies.”


Created: January 27, 2017

Age: 38

State: Minnesota


J. A. Bernstein's story collection, STICK-LIGHT, is forthcoming from Eyewear Editions (U.K.), where it was shortlisted for the Beverly Prize. His novel, RACHEL'S TOMB, won the Hackney Award and Knut House Novel Contest. His writings have appeared in Boston Review, Kenyon Review Online, and Tampa Review, as well as academic journals, including The Conradian. He is an assistant professor of English at the University of Minnesota Duluth and the fiction editor of Tikkun. His website is

Orphaned America

by Rachel Ashworth


My America broke

today. My Independence

is no longer a Day celebrated—fourth

of July is a chipped picnic

plate, a firework that forgets to explode.

Riding bicycles on the street, calling

kids to play, holding hands

with a black or an Asian because

she’s been bullied, and I’ve

been bullied. Now we don’t follow

each other home to see we make

it safe, to see we go inside, to see

we made it

before the streetlights shone.

Under the weight of broken

people, under the hope of broken

dreams, under the piles of broken

promises. My America is a broken

home, and Mom and Dad have broken

vows, and we all live in a box of



Created: January 22, 2017

Age: 30

State: Missouri


Rachel Ashworth is a freelance writer, mother of three boys whom she homeschools, a Christian, and proud wife of a military veteran. She lives together with her family in a country cabin in rural Missouri. 

Poem for the Resistance, January 21, 2017

by John James


First with the hands clenched around the sign’s wood,

resist. Your fists themselves are stones to be thrown.

Resist, next, with the heart, that viola humming in your chest.

Resist with the mind. Let reason do its work.

With your eyes. Do not let evil go unseen.

Repeat your resistance: repetition makes it real.

Like a virus, spread. Invade the blood, the lungs.

Resist in the name of science—of objectivity, of truth.

Resist for knowledge itself, for they would take it from you.

Resist for your family, for your mothers, daughters, sons.

Resist for posterity. The future will know where you stood.

Resist, too, for the past: you owe it to those who resisted

so today you could resist. For the fascists, resist,

for they deserve it too. Know this, they will deride you,

but resist their resistance, for that is the reason you resist.

Resist for the disabled. Those who cannot resist in body

resist the more so in their minds. Resist for the voiceless,

the fearful, the disenfranchised. Resist in the name of God,

if in a God you trust. Resist for the Qu’ran, the Bible,

for the Bhagavad Gita. Resist for whatever books you read,

for the right to read or burn them—even if you do not read.

Resist for the blind. They see what happens, too.

Resist for the environment, for clean water and air worth breathing.

Resist for the indigenous, who were here before you.

For women, from whose womb you come.

For teachers, workers, lawyers, engineers.

Resist for power, pleasure. Resist in perpetuity.

Resist your inclination to think you can’t resist.



Created: January 22, 2017

Age: 29

State: Washington, DC


John James is the author of Chthonic, winner of the 2014 CutBank Chapbook Prize. His poems appear or are forthcoming in Boston Review, Kenyon Review, Gulf Coast, West Branch, Best American Poetry 2017, and elsewhere. He serves as graduate associate to the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice at Georgetown University, where he directs the Summer School's Creative Writing Institute.


A Reaction To The Election of Donald J. Trump

by Kyle Bostrom



America sings a




The squash-toned

chief executive of the United States of America:

a division of the Trump Organization

waggles stubby fingers and uses words—

the best words—but just locker room talk

to float a bullshit raft down the rugged Potomac

over critical character concerns, questioning divestment,

releasing tax returns, and relevant experience

a sharp turn right

onto Pennsylvania ave

about three million short

but hey, who’s counting?





a brief tour of the White House kitchen:


cabinets reminiscent of kitchen

cabinets full of nepotistic-cronyism


brilliantly white,

as you’d imagine

sparkling almost

with familiarly fake

faces all smiles and radically right

in their convictions:

that Roe v. Wade suppressed State’s rights ¹

or that—to the Senator from Connecticut—

guns are needed in schools to protect

from vicious grizzly attacks ²

or that America is at war with Islam ³

and it makes sense that the cabinets hang crooked

don’t open and can’t hold weight

because the structure—

walls through to foundation

is crooked, unstable, and entirely inept.


¹ Sessions, AG

² DeVos, Sec. Edu.

³ Mattis, Sec. Def.




Created: January 20, 2017

Age: 21

State: Rhode Island


Writing a Letter

by Finley Clough


“Ali! Where are you?” Ali’s mom called up the steps.

“I’m in my room writing a letter,” Ali said pausing. Ali’s mom came into the doorway.

“Who are you writing to?” Mrs. Grover asked reading over her shoulder.

“It’s to Mr. Trump," Ali replied, signing her name.

“Mr. Trump! Why don’t you read it to me and Daddy before you send it?" Mrs. Grover said as she glanced at some of the words.

“That’s great! I will read it at the dinner table,” Ali said folding the letter in thirds. At the

dinner table that night Ali read her parents the letter.

“Dear Mr. Trump, my parents are really happy that you are the new president. They

can’t wait for you to get rid of Obamacare! I stayed up all night to see who got

elected. I didn’t do the math, but I think you beat Hillary by a lot of votes. Hillary

gave a good fight but, she still lost. I hope you will make more jobs in America.

Please, make America great again! I know it is hard to run the country but don’t

forget your family, even your grandchildren. You will do a lot for this country. Thank

you for being our president!

Ali Grover, Williamsburg, Virginia.”

Ali’s parents were surprised she wrote such a long letter. “So what do you think?” Ali

asked folding the letter back up again.

“It’s great! You did a really good job,” Mr. Grover said as he looked at his amazing daughter.

“Thank you,” Ali said as she slid the letter into an envelope. Ali put a postage stamp and her address.

“Don’t forget to put on Mr. Trump’s address,” Mrs. Grover said taking the pen from Ali.

“Oh! Thank you for reminding me,” Ali said as her mother wrote it on. The next day Ali put it in the mailbox. “Bye, bye! Get to the president," Ali said to the letter as she closed the door.


Created: January 15, 2017

Age: 11

State: Pennsylvania


Finley Clough is eleven years old. She is home schooled and loves writing stories. She has written about seven stories and hasn't been published before.


by R. Bremner



You did it, babe!

Take your victory lap, Jersey girl!

When the pundits and poohbahs positively stated, “he can’t win,”

you drew a deep breath, dug in your heels and worked harder.

Harder and oh, so much smarter than your rivals!

You were hardly the ”blonde bimbo”

they thought they could push around.

When Chuck Todd and Victor Blackwell and

Andrea Mitchell and especially Randi Kaye

mocked your straight ahead, right on answers

to their sarcastic, sycophantic jibes,

your razor intellect cut their legs

right out from under

their pompous posturing!

And after the election

instead of congrats and hugs for you

that you so deserved,

those creeps, whom Wikileaks exposed

for their hate of Catholics, coal miners, and the whole

working class had the incredible gall and bad taste

to accuse you of racism and sexism.


The first woman campaign manager

to ever win a presidential election!

You became a beacon to women everywhere!

With an oaf of a candidate who shot himself in

the foot everyday! Well, you straightened out

the rifle and showed him how to aim!

While they were running up big leads in

California and New York, you focused like

a laser on the struggling Midwest, and the needs

of the suffering folks there.

Yeah, you, from working class folks in Camden,

and Trinity College and George Washington U.

beat the pants off the Yalies and the Harvard Crimson!

Kellyanne, the good Irish Catholic girl

who don’t take no shit from nobody!

Jersey girl, you make me proud of my home!

You go, girl!


Created: January 1, 2017

Age: 64

State: New Jersey


R. Bremner, of Glen Ridge via Lyndhurst, NJ, USA, writes of dead kings and many things he can’t define, incense, peppermints, and the color of time. Ron was in the first issue of Passaic Review, along with Allen Ginsberg, and has since appeared in International Poetry Review and dozens of other literary journals. You can find his inexpensive eBooks You are once again the stranger, Poems for the Narrow, Stories of Love and Hate, and Kerouac Dreams, Kerouac Visions at Amazon, BN, Lulu, and Smashwords.

Wurstfest, New Braunfels 11/9/16

by Maya Lowy


Here’s masses of Texans in twenty-buck

hats: hats with buttons on, Viking hats, poop

emoji hats, hats that look like chickens.


The bars in here primarily carry

Shiner & Bud Light, but one’s got German

beers: Spaten & Hofbrau, Paulaner &

Dunkel, color-coded so the girl who

takes my order just has to holler, Can

I get a Small Green & grab my ticket.


Alex Meixner, virtuoso on the

accordion, headlines the set tonight.

A couple folks can actually polka.

The crowd is raucous, cheering in German,

but organized & polite. Nobody

mentions the election; the closest thing

to politics here is the bratwurst stand

tip jar labeled for Chloe’s college fund.


I’m sharing a footlong brat on a stick

with my sister, who has never been to

Texas before. Last night when I tried to

open my window it broke clean in three

big pieces.

Created: December 28, 2016

Age: 25

State: Louisiana


Maya Lowy’s work can be found in The Golden Key, Quaint Magazine, Kalyna Review, and other publications. Born and raised in Santa Cruz, California, she completed her MFA in poetry at the University of New Orleans in 2016.


by Gerard Sarnat MD


Since it means

“rule of commoners,”

we coastal elite had Trump coming.



Created: December 20, 2016

Age: 71

State: California


Gerard Sarnat’s been nominated for a 2016 Pushcart Prize. He’s authored four collections: HOMELESS CHRONICLES (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014) and Melting The Ice King (2016) which included work published in Gargoyle, Lowestoft, American Journal of Poetry and Tishman Review plus was featured in Songs of Eretz, Avocet, LEVELER, tNY, StepAway, Bywords, Floor Plan. Dark Run, Scarlet Leaf, Good Men Project, Anti-Heroin Chic and Tipton Journal feature sets of new poems. Mount Analogue selected Sarnat’s sequence, KADDISH FOR THE COUNTRY, for distribution as a pamphlet in Seattle on Inauguration Day 2017 as well as the next morning as part of the Washington DC and nationwide Women’s Marches. For Huffington Post/other reviews, readings, publications, interviews; visit Harvard/Stanford educated, Gerry’s worked in jails, built/staffed clinics for the marginalized, been a CEO of healthcare organizations and Stanford Medical School professor. Married since 1969, he has three children, four grandkids.

My Dad and Trump

by Katie Jansen


The last time I wrote about my dad was over a decade ago, in middle school. I wrote an essay about how he was my hero.

In November, my hero voted for Trump.

He voted for Trump after months of attacking my Facebook posts, verging on cyber bullying me.

He voted for Trump after I watched him turn into someone I did not and still do not recognize, spewing vitriolic hate online for the world to see.

He voted for Trump after he read dozens and dozens of articles from websites no one has ever heard of, ignoring the questions of his journalist daughter and claiming the “mainstream media” was a sham.

He voted for Trump after calling into question the stories of sexual assault survivors, ignoring an article I sent him that explained the psychological reasons behind the fragmented and fuzzy memories of those who have endured trauma.

He voted for Trump after raising two daughters he’d do anything for, and I am having trouble reconciling the facts.

I grew up learning my body was mine and mine alone, that no meant no. But my dad voted for someone who normalizes unwanted sexual contact, who thinks women are his for the grabbing.

I am one of the few women I know who is not a victim of sexual assault. That is sad — that I only know a few. But I am still a victim in some sense — a victim of fear, who is afraid to walk alone at night, who grips her keys in between her fingers, who has called her dad as she walks through parking decks, wooded areas, dimly lit streets.

I trusted him to protect me, to be there if anything happened. But after watching him question the stories of these women, the stories of my sisters who I haven’t met, I’m left to wonder—would he believe me?

In the same thought, I think, yes, of course he would. The reaction is always different when it’s one of your own. It’s easier to brush away the pain of a stranger.

But that doesn’t make it any easier to forgive.

My dad has never been outspoken about politics. He went to the polls in silence every four years. But this year brought something out of him, something I am afraid of.

I’d always known he held conservative, Catholic values, and I was fine with that. Agree to disagree. But when he joined with his candidate in attacking women, attacking journalists, attacking everything I am, it felt personal.

After the election, that man seemed to vanish. He wanted to chat via texts and phone calls. He posted a few statuses, but didn’t mention the election to me once.

And I am left with my wounds, and my guilt about my privilege. Many are terrified about what a Trump presidency will mean for their daily lives, whether they will be harassed, injured or worse. I am a white woman, and unfortunately, that means I may fare better than some. But I am terrified about what a Trump presidency has already done to my relationship with my father.

Created: December 17, 2016

Age: 24

State: North Carolina


Katie Jansen is a communications professional and writer from North Carolina. Hobbies include drinking craft beer and writing snarky Tweets.

If Only He Could

by Richard Miller


  The trouble with modern coffins is they're too well built and too damn tight. How can any self-respecting former world leader be expected to turn in their grave properly when they're packed like a sardine inside an indestructible case? John F. Kennedy tried to give the coffin lid a kick but the cushioning, though loosened with time, was still too snug to get any kind of a back swing for his leg. Besides, the last time he tried that, when he'd heard that bastard Nixon had got himself elected, his foot was so decomposed it fell off. He could do nothing but lay there fussing and fuming with anger seeping into his vacant eyes. Cremation would have been better. Gandhi was right, the smart ass, he can twist and turn any which way he likes as the living continue their reckless journey into oblivion. But not John, no, he'd been shackled by the rules and traditions of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave to an eternity inside a matchbox dressed in a suit he hated. How many times had he clenched his decaying fists in rage and shouted "The blue one! The blue one!! I wanted the blue one!!! I look like shit in this thing!" And now, good God now, when this latest election should have transformed him into a flashing blue turbine he was stuffed and stuck, a brown stiff unable to roll onto his side never mind have a twirl in his eternal resting place. He was, to say the least, not very happy.

        Certainly there had been frustrations in life. Take Castro for instance. The Bay of Pigs was never his idea. He was all for getting along. Communist? Capitalist? He didn't care. There were some decent night clubs in Havana and a trip there would have offered a welcome break from the boring social stiffs he had to suffer at Hyannis Port. He'd asked Hoover to get Fidel's telephone number so he could give him a call, maybe get invited down to Cuba, have a few beers, smoke some decent cigars, catch a ball game or two—fat chance! The real powers that be decreed there would be no deviation from their regimented truth and when the missiles arrived those same suits had him bound up tighter than his coffin did now. There was no choice but to bring the world to the brink of nuclear war. Far too much had been invested in The Red Scare to change tack over Cuba or anything else for that matter. What wasn't controlled by the Pentagon was controlled by Wall Street and what wasn't controlled by Wall Street was controlled by Madison Avenue.

        Life was bad but death was worse. He had no choice but to lie there, his face locked upwards, and watch as those same powers inexorably ground the spirit of freedom into dust. Whenever he got bored watching tourists pass by the eternal flame which—to be honest, was quite often—he'd shake his head at the destruction of the American intellect. Lying on his back he could do nothing but watch helplessly as the increasing crush of inanities first from television, then the tabloid media and finally the internet crippled the attention span and drained the intelligence out of the land he'd loved. If he'd had a cork he'd have blown it when reality television hit the screens. Once that started the tourists and eternal flame became interesting by comparison. And now—you couldn't make this up—a reality TV star had been elected President of the United States. The Democrats, HIS DEMOCRATS, had managed to pick a candidate and a design a strategy that lost to a political amateur—an illiterate political amateur—in a blue suit! It was enough to send him rolling in his grave. If only he could.

Created: December 1, 2016

Age: 62

State: Maine/Belgium


Born in the United States, and still subject to the long arm of the I.R.S., Richard Miller moved to Britain many years ago. There he delved deeply into the culture of public life, by that he means life in a pub, and rugby. Moving to Belgium in 1996 he, eventually, established himself as a statistical programmer in the Pharmaceutical industry. More recently however he has begun the transformation into a semi-retired, neophyte writer and songwriter. While there is a book simmering on a back plate somewhere, his current focus is towards short stories, articles, and songs designed to build up his writing chops while learning about the trade. Each Friday he posts a short poem on his website designed to start the weekend on a positive note, and maybe a smile, which, most of the time, shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

A Crimson Colored Map

by Rebecca McGilloway


The president’s cue card says

the sun will rise tomorrow,

but this is not the same sun

that rose yesterday.


This one is overcast,

leaden, swelled upon by



The weather man says

the sky will clear in four years,

but my bones may not survive

this swampy heat

and scorching rays

set upon my skin by

the deepest red this sun

has ever seen.

Created: November 29, 2016

Age: 24

State: Massachusetts


Becca McGilloway, a 24 year old Massachusetts native, is a graduate of Emerson College where she received a bachelor of fine arts degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing. She’ll be continuing her education in poetry and creative writing later this year at The Stonecoast MFA program.