The American Dissident: Literature, Democracy & Dissidence

Contributors to The American Dissident

Rather than tedious publication and prize credits, each issue of The American Dissident features a short biography of each contributor, stressing what made the person in question become dissident in mind. Scroll down for a sample of the contributor's writing.

Tim Bearly (Sandpoint, ID)

Unemployed.  One of the many reasons why I didn't do any college is that I have what I like to call "academaphobia."  It’s sort of like homophobia, but instead of hating gays, I hate classrooms. I do not believe classrooms are conducive, in any way, to creativity. On the contrary, I believe classroom environments inhibit creativity.  I annoy teachers, and teachers annoy me, it’s very reciprocating. For this and other reasons (ditching classes), I was pretty much kicked out of high school. I was not a disrespectful student by any means, and I never did drugs or anything, but my teachers loathed me with a passion. And after many complaints (including, erroneously being accused of being on drugs, and having an insubordinate attitude) I was finally told to leave—I didn't mind. It didn't help that my unsupportive, maniacal mother—and all of her indifferent boyfriends—believed I was the problem.  But anyways, to answer your question regarding college, Unfortunately I do not even have a high school diploma. Hence the grammatical errors.  I do have a Barnes and Noble PhD however. I awarded this to myself after accumulating 10,000 hours on their sofa. I used to get dirty looks by some of the staff, but eventually they began to just accept the fact that I was always going to be there. 


And, having read that poet's work, Timothy, would you be inclined
(or even authorized) to evaluate his work as successful or unsuccessful?
—Zachary Bos, Boston Poetry Union, Editor of The Pen & Anvil Press
Having received my Master of Xeroxed writing degree
from the Boston factory of ersatz "poets"
and upon graduation day, my demigod professor—
who I yearn to please—
said to me, "Timothy, you are now authorized,
                            go forth and be an arbiter of taste".
Well, I did help found a "poetry union"
and, like a labor union uniting against the exploitative employer,
our poetry union is uniting against the obdurate individual, 
the Individual, who will not yield like the rest of us
and write poems about daffodils and springtime foliage. 

I have been published in No Substance Quarterly (NSQ),
The Conformist, The Prudent Pedestrian, The Sycophantic Review,
and many other "esteemed" literary journals.
I have also earned the acclaimed "Most predictable" and "Safe" writers’ awards 
for the past three years.
Most recently I won the writers’ competition held by Vacant Verbosity magazine
(winning the 500-dollar prize along with a contract).
I have an uncanny ability to write 10,000 word short stories,
without really saying anything (via diaphanous metaphors).
And because of the very fact that my writings say nothing,
I have few, if any, critics at all.
I like it this way, and moreover so do the editors and judges.
And of course, I am also a managing editor.

Yeah, it is safe to say that I am not only "inclined and authorized,"
but I also help determine who succeeds and who does not!

Now, would this hurt my chances of getting published by Pen and Anvil?
If so, I could just use a pseudonym and write about daffodils and the springtime foliage.


The Contrarian vs. True Believers
"Blasphemy!" They vociferate, in complete,
unadulterated, asinine unison.
Peddling red herrings and burning straw men in effigy,  
with their stentorian voices effectively silencing dissent.    

"Evolution is untenable" they allege, 
as they unabashedly teach a creation story
in which God fashioned Eve with a rib taken from Adam,
in which Allah—although omnipotent—needed rest on day seven.
But I leave them alone. Yeah, I leave them alone,
like I leave the kid in a wheel chair alone,
even if he attempts to verbally bombard me.
Because besieging those with disabilities is not my style,
no. . . I leave that to the insecure,
I leave that to you.

What is it that compels them to bow down in absolute subservience.
To such a degree that they would drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid   
if ordered to do so.

Like pistons, spark plugs, radiators, distributors,
they all play their role, and its all for the "greater good"
they are told.
So they dutifully, unconsciously, coalesce to form a
homogeneous organism. 
Thinking as one, acting as one,
excommunicating all who do not adhere to the consensus.

Behold! This is the bedrock of all
groups, institutions, and collective bodies.
And like white blood cells, the white collars
are ready to swing into action
to terminate and neutralize any existing threats 
to the harmony of the system.

The contrarian poses that threat. He is the antibody,
the anti collective body.


Doug Draime (Ashland, OR)

Everyone wants to be on the side they think is winning & they sell out at the drop of a phony smile—fucking sad!  Don't write till you see the whites of their eyes.  Yeah, I've been at it awhile. Actually started writing things when I was around 15, which would make it 1958. Used to write the stuff, then throw it away. Began sending out stuff when I moved to Chicago from southern Indiana, when i was 19, but threw everything into the Chicago river one night drunk and fed up with the process and games of trying to get something published and vowed never to write again. That lasted about 6 months.  Then after the army when I moved to L.A., someone broke into my hotel room, a woman I broke off an affair with; in a rage, she stole and destroyed everything in my room, even my tooth brush. Well, I vowed again to give it up, but a few months later, the stuff started to pour out again. The first place I published was in '67 or 68. I didn't publish a chapbook until 2002, when I was 59 (Slaves of the Harvest).  All those years I was just publishing in mags and attempting to get a larger collection published, to no avail.


Social Networking
Thanx, but
no thanx.
I’d rather save my
& self serving
                       for those who
might actually
my email, street address
Too Much Is Said
of  multitudes

in the heart of

Suicide by Cop
an Iraq
war veteran
was riddled
by thirty-one
9 mm bullet
& shotgun
holes like
a big chunk
of human

Swiss cheese
pulling out

a butter knife
and threatening
a neighbor

“go ahead, call the cops,”
he screamed,

“you think I
give a fuck?”

David S. Pointer (Murfreesboro, TN)

I grew up in a federal housing project called 'Camelot.' I joined the Marine Corps because I didn't have any connections to get on in the mines or at the telephone company. After the service, I earned an MA in sociology. I have been searching for a good job for about 18 years. I have no protection under Affirmative Action. Currently, I am enrolled in a government program for "single mothers.”  I’m about the only guy with a bunch of women on assistance. If I didn't have my two girls, I probably would have tried to get an overseas position of some type.  I just applied for a social science instructor position at a Native college in North Dakota. I began writing social justice poetry in about 1990. Gradually, I began to see what issues were "literature" and what issues were not. I tend to prefer the topics with substance over artificial trivia.


Questions for those Having Served
At Camp Pendleton and Lejune
For boot camp
The Marine Corps had
No-fray binding contracts
And big medical shot
Syringe pistols that we
Hoped weren’t used for
Experiments on us then
The permanent duty stations
Had unexploded ordinances
Sometimes built atop base
Housing—later Legion
Magazine told of all the ex-
Sailors dying with lymphoma
Or lung cancer when I finally
Received my own cancer
Questionnaire from Marine
General Jackson and his
Administrative entourage
Wanting to know if I was
Walking around or had
Become another water
Soluble frozen section, and
Suddenly I sensed that the
Time between a tour of duty
And tox lab intelligence
Sequencing software
Formulating these health
Questions wasn’t so far off
After all—Semper Fi!


Mather Schneider (Tucson, AZ)

Taxista by trade.  The reasons I run against the grain of celebrity poetry can be boiled down to this: I can't stand to see people acting full of themselves, and I want to disrupt their self satisfaction. To what end, I have no idea.


—for Jefferson Carter, retired poetry professor

There are a lot of retired writing teachers
with $600,000 houses
and pensions that would make you
shit a brick
and these retired writing teachers
like to come on Facebook
or in the local papers
and complain about current political
like the tea-baggers
or the inconsistency of cross walks
or the destruction of the environment by the rich
they don’t think of themselves
as rich,
which is a product
of some twisted reasoning
they have developed with the help
of their Lorazepam-faced
over sips of Oriental


roibeárd Uí-neíll (Corydon, IN )

I have been in the blue-collar workforce for approximately 34 years, held half as many jobs, and never regretted leaving any of them. Obviously, the contemplative life will always be out of my reach. And I don't mean fucking academics.  I've been fairly-well castrated for voicing my dim views of religion, politics, and the general anti-intellectual streak among my co-workers. I've always prided myself on never pulling my punches, i.e., you'll see it coming.  Me not write pretty. But then, I write to take my own pulse, check my own compass, politically-correct editors and cerebrally lazy readers be damned.  I'm an unapologetic freethinker/socialist democrat/book-devourer residing in the Bible Belt. You don't know how isolated I am, regardless of the number of people I know.  I find most contemporary poetry safe and banal. Again, I write to amuse myself, and if it strikes an occasional chord with a reader, good; if not, I have no aversion to burning my bridges behind me.  I'm not worried about what you can do for me. In fact, I appreciate the fact you responded to my letter. Unlike that fuckhead, Joshua Meander, editor of Nomad's Choir, who told me my verse wouldn't be at home among the more mature voices he publishes, and returned the money I sent him for an issue of his journal, evidently because I'm incapable of learning from those "mature voices."  Talk about pissing someone off.


* a cosmic clown, born against *
A fool I may be; albeit, a doubting one.  I envy
No-one the assurances of their self-approved wisdom.
—Lord Byron
That's fine, Cheryl,*
call it an inadequacy on my part,
no void in my heart which requires
the meddling of a personal savior.
Feel free to saddle your triceratops,
plod after Adam & Eve, back to the caves.
i can't accept "original sin" as anything more
than a debilitating hoax: 
sex as vilified by Christians,
Knesset stonewalling any criticism of their
immoral, illegal, God-sanctioned settlements.
Nor am i so desperate for community i'd join
the 68% who believe in angels - & doesn't that
immediately confer a belief in demons?
Cheryl, i'm overjoyed you have answers,
although you'll never understand why
i prefer existentialism's discontents,
or why i furrow my brow at any mention
of divine intervention -
chaos theory seems to be as blameless,
as competently blind doling out good things
& bad things to all of us unequally.
& i confess, the cult of the saved amuses me,
the culmination of 6,000 years of non-evolution,
those who have the promise of life everlasting,
& so many of them unhappy, unloving,
so smugly satisfied i'm hot on the heels of Darwin
& Dawkins - overly curious & critical pond scum
doomed to sizzle in a lake of eternal fire.
Forgive me, Cheryl.
it was the poetic fall of the year,
& a young man was baptized in Blue River...
...but no sooner did he breach
scarlet & tangerine leaves
than he knew he'd betrayed himself.
Reason & skepticism are skeletons fused at the hip,
no wishbone washing up on the shale behind them.
It's a cold, lonely freedom, lass,
one in which i'll spend my last breath
emulating their fortitude in an absence of wings.
*Cheryl is a French teacher who works at Corydon High School, a colleague of my wife, Trish.  Cheryl is a Protestant fundamentalist who took objection to my remark about betraying myself immediately after baptism.  Your sister?  Trish, my wife of seven years, is a cradle Catholic, and yes, we occasionally butt heads over issues of religion.  Although she and I were stunned when Joseph Ratzinger, the patron saint of pedophiles, was elected as Pope. 


Rick Ferris

A Radical Conversion

As I remember it, I asked my mother if our priest was God.  In my defense, I was very young, perhaps four, possibly three.  Small enough to be allowed to stand on the pew and look up at the bespectacled priest, who seemed to glow in the bright incandescent light shining down from above him.  It didn’t occur to me that God would probably have perfect vision and wouldn’t require glasses.
“No, honey,” my mom said, “that’s Father Warner.”  This marked my first disappointment with God.
Where was He, and why didn’t He show Himself?
We were Episcopalians living in Utah amid an ocean of Mormons.  I can remember being disallowed from participating in a field trip to the Salt Lake Zoo because I wasn’t Mormon.  This was in the mid-Sixties.
Around 1970, when I was eleven, we moved to Ohio, where we began to attend St. Luke’s, a “charismatic” church.  This was when hell really began for me…


he light went out just as Jesus was about to dispatch Satan and the Antichrist.  I was about thirteen.  The little driftwood lamp I’d had for as long as I could remember (I’d brought it from Utah) was on my bedside table.  I was really feeling it, “in The Lord,” as my mom would say, reading Revelation, head filled with John’s vision of Christ appearing in the clouds with flaming eyes, sword in mouth, and astride a white horse—glorious!
What happened?  Who put the light out?
I pulled the covers over my head.  Felt a “presence” in the darkness, and it wasn’t Jesus.  This was malicious, evil—Satan, of course.  Who else?  Maybe I should have gotten up and opened my bedroom door, let some light in, but I was too afraid.


 have always been inquisitive when it comes to a “higher power” and especially regarding Christianity.  Even at a young age the Bible seemed to contain too much injustice, too many cruelties and contradictions.  What about the folks who had no access to it?  Weren’t there people living in the deepest recesses of, say, South America who had never heard of Christ?  What about the millions born before the Old Testament was written?  Before Judaism?  What about the Eskimos?  American Indians?  The Australian Aborigines?  What about the Russians?  Buddhists?  Muslims?  Hindus?  The Jews got a pass, I guess.  They were God’s chosen people.  But were the rest destined to spend eternity in a lake of fire?  My mother could give no satisfactory explanation.  It wasn’t her fault.  She didn’t know.  No one does!
Nevertheless, I believed.  I had to.  My soul was at stake.
While in college I was exposed to Descartes in an Introduction to Philosophy class.  I was particularly interested in his advice to pursue knowledge concerning God’s existence, that it was life’s most important question.  In me he was preaching to a member of the choir.  I’d been looking for answers my whole life, but his admonition lent credibility to what I was doing.  The Who’s “The Seeker” was my theme song.
I was born in Wyoming and am a member of the Eastern Shoshone Indian Tribe.  When visiting our reservation in the Wind River Mountain Range, I am filled with awe at nature’s wild beauty.  This of course happens other places too, but not like Wyoming.  The elk and deer and mountain sheep; coyotes and wolves; sage grouse and meadowlarks and hawks and eagles (a bird holy to our tribe); and so many stars at night!  I can almost hear the drums and chants, touch the ghosts of my ancestors, a noble race of warrior-hunters before the white man brought “civilization” and Christianity’s corrosive influence to bear.  What about them?  Were they going to Hell too?
There was something appealing to me about my ancestors’ pantheism—everything alive, even the stones, everything holy.  It was something I could feel to my core.  But I have at times felt the Christian Holy Spirit, too.  Which is the correct one?  Or is neither “correct”?  Could it be psychological?  A delusion?
I have often looked to the “lower animals” for guidance.  Sometimes I may have gotten misguidance.  For instance, it warmed my heart to know that most species are not monogamous.  Not that I necessarily “believe in” monogamy now, but I see its value, especially with AIDS and other STDs.  It also prevents us to some extent from murdering one another.  Maybe we are “meant” to be monogamous.  At any rate, I’m monogamous because when we got married I promised my wife I would be.  Perhaps this meme will take hold and become genetic.  I’ve heard that geese are monogamous, and they seem pretty happy.  But maybe that’s because they don’t have religion to make their lives miserable.  They probably don’t fear God, have no conception of Hell.  They have real-life fears—wild predators, dogs perhaps, and, of course, humans.


hen I discovered Nietzsche, whose Genealogy of Morals helped me see the crimes religions, particularly Christianity, had committed.  They negate life.  Finally I began to understand who I’d been fighting all these years.  It was my self.  Anything life-affirming, anything to do with the here and now was bad, especially sex.  Even thinking about it.  I always thought this Christian obsession with sex very strange, particularly the hostility towards anything “different,” homosexuality being the most obvious example.  Money was bad, too.  The two things I dreamt most about, sex and money, would consign me to the flames.
There are many who don’t like Nietzsche, who think he’s anti-Semitic, racist, fascist.  Many (most?) of these people haven’t bothered to read him and get their information second-hand, like we do our information about God.  I needed Nietzsche.  He came at a good time for me.  He woke me up.  I mean, “God is dead”?  Who has the guts to say that?
In my effort to better understand Nietzsche, I read other philosophers.  Schopenhauer’s World as Will and Representation was great up until the near-religious asceticism he ended up advocating.  Too much like a Buddhist.  Spinoza’s Ethics was the one.  His pantheism felt like home to me, perhaps because it corresponds in some respects with my Native American heritage.  Call it what you want, it’s really atheism.  He says “God” a lot, but he means “Nature.”


hen I noticed on television a rumpled-looking, bombastic character with a British accent named Christopher Hitchens.  Boy was he making people angry.  I began to read his articles in Vanity Fair, Atlantic, and on Slate.  Where had he been all my life?  I read God Is Not Great.  Wow!  You can say that? 
I was reading a Hitchens article in the Atlantic and noticed a review of Richard Dawkins’ The Greatest Show on Earth.  Hmm, interesting.  The reviewer kept mentioning The God Delusion.  I was one of the few people on Earth who had never read it, never heard of it.  I happened to be sitting in a book store, so I bought a copy, read it, and that pretty much sealed it for me.  I took Dawkins’ advice and dug up my copy of Darwin’s The Origin of Species, not exactly my cup of tea, but neither had the Bible been.  One big difference, though: Darwin dealt with evidence, the concrete (almost literally if you consider fossils), with reality.
Even after all of this, “atheist” still sounds like a dirty word to me (I prefer “freethinker”).  Besides, I can’t say that I know there is no such thing as a god.  I don’t believe there is.  I think I am, like Richard Dawkins, as close to being an atheist as I can be.  When someone disproves God’s existence, I’ll be an atheist.  Likewise, when someone (preferably God) proves God’s existence, I’ll get on my knees, if He or She, or It, so orders.  Until then, I’m content to live this new life I’ve found—right here in front of me.
Reading these books, old and new (Hitchens’ The Portable Atheist is a treasure trove), keeps me fresh, inspired, for lack of a better word, which brings up another, residual problem.
When you’ve been trained all your life to believe in God, habits become ingrained.  I “instinctively” thank Him when I go outside first thing in the morning and look at the star-filled sky, thank Him when anything “good” happens, a financial windfall, for example.  I am trying to eliminate from my speech certain phrases: I have faith that this will happen; let’s pray that that doesn’t happen; and especially thank God that whatever happens.  I consider these words and phrases detritus of unhealthy thought-habits.  I try every day to eradicate them, but I never will completely; I’m too old, and they’re too ingrained.  This essay is filled with them, I suppose, just as is my mind and its thoughts.  It’s something that I work at daily.  It happens slowly with me, this replacing the old with the new.  (Now where have I heard that before?)
Why am I so much happier now that I’m as close to being one of those wicked atheists as one can be?  (On the “Dawkins Scale” I am a six; it goes from one to seven—one being total belief in God, seven, pure atheism.)  I have that ebullient feeling I had during those times I was “in The Lord,” but now it’s more substantial and concrete, less ephemeral and fleeting, and tempered with confidence.  If I were still a religious man, I’d probably call it a miracle.


 took more than thirty years for me to realize once and for all that it wasn’t Satan but physics that extinguished that old driftwood lamp’s light.  In the intervening years, another light, dim, at first, has been lit.  It burns brightly now.  A mere candle-light becomes a blazing fire.  Who knows what it might be someday?  Something blindingly modern, I hope.
I don’t know what my “purpose” in life is.  Maybe the Nihilists are right.  Maybe there is none.  But I suspect I do have a purpose, in a Darwinian sense.  Maybe it’s to do what I can to help preserve or prolong the survival of the human race.  Maybe my “calling” is to endeavor, in my small way, to help awaken others, especially the young, from this long, dangerous nightmare of religion.
But how?
A good place to start might be by speaking out  against and categorically refusing—in any way—to support power-hungry, elitist, hypocritical, war-mongering politicians (including our current president) who use religion as a sort of velvet cudgel to win ever-larger numbers of wide-eyed, worshiping followers, which, as we know, translates to ever more power and riches for these politicians and their cronies, the well-fed, grinning Wall Street cats with the already swollen-to-bursting coffers who got the scoundrels elected in the first place.  It’s a higher power machine—money-lubed and God-fueled—and it does untold harm.  But the machine won’t run, will sputter, and die without believers.
It is inevitable that, given sufficient time, science would completely discredit theism, and a generation of non-believers—“those wicked atheists”—would ascend to build a modern machine, using science, not superstition, as its guide.  Unfortunately, that time might never come, given the monotheist (i.e. Christian, Jewish, Muslim) penchant for wiping out anything standing in its path and its insanely suicidal longing to fulfill its prophesied apocalyptic vision, Armageddon.

The Biggest Thieves
By Russell Streur
Note: the author is entering his twentieth year of investigating health care
fraud. Along the way, he has worked with the Federal Trade Commission in
closing false durable medical equipment companies, teamed with the FBI and
US Attorneys in obtaining the convictions of unscrupulous physicians, and has
contributed to criminal and civil prosecutions of psychiatric hospitals and
pharmaceutical companies.
aw in the news the other day that the biggest thieves in America today
aren’t the crooks who run the military industrial complex any more. The
biggest thieves in America today are the crooks who run the health care
I’ve been investigating health care fraud since 1991. The news is always
bad where I work.
Take this recent tidbit. Guy back in the 80s. Started off buying a couple
hospitals in El Paso. Franchised up a chain. A merger or two later, he’s built
the biggest health care company in the history of the world.
Ten years later, he’s forced out of his fancy digs on the executive floor and
the company pleads guilty to 14 counts of Medicare fraud and related felonies
and coughs up $650 million to the government in round numbers to cover up
the tracks, plus another $1.4 billion to cover all the civil claims against the
Of course, that particular Mr. Big wasn’t exactly forced out of his office.
Persuaded is a better word, since he left with $10 million in loose buy-out cash
in his pants pocket and 10 million shares of company stock still in his wallet.
With the loot, he buys himself a heavyweight legal team, beats the personal
raps, and comes out clean on the payroll, as far as clean goes in the
He lays low a couple years, goes the venture capitalist route and before you
know it, decides on politics for a new career. Not a bad choice, after ripping off
Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer in the biggest theft on the continent since Peter Minuit
bought Manhattan for 24 bucks in Mardi Gras beads.
And you know who he is now? Rick Scott, Governor-Elect of Florida.
No lie. You can look it up.
Remember that in a couple years when he’s running for President.
Of course, the company Scott was running, Columbia/HCA, wasn’t doing
anything new on the corporate level by defrauding the government in the
health care game. Big business went bad, way before those guys turned up on
white collar crime street.
ational Medical Enterprises was the first big corporate case. In the early
1990s, the company flooded the country with inpatient mental health
hospitals. Corrupt business managers filled the beds by paying illegal kickbacks
to physicians to admit patients, falsified medical records to obtain insurance
payments for the admissions, and locked up patients in guarded wards to bill
for unnecessary treatment right up to the day the coverage ran out. When
NME ran out of Americans to hospitalize, it started funneling patients from
Ontario across the border and into Wisconsin and called it the Canadian Gravy
The American Dissident 33
Train. In 1994, the company paid the US government and 28 states a thenrecord
$380 million and entered guilty pleas on eight criminal charges to settle
the fraud allegations.
Turns out the psychiatric scam wasn’t the only swindle the company was
running. There were also small matters of performing unnecessary heart
surgeries on hundreds of patients, on which the company settled without
admitting blame, and bilking Medicare for years on a high-stakes diagnosis con,
for which the company did take a fall. A dozen years after buying off its first
set of fraud allegations, the company coughs up another $900 million to settle
the new round of charges.
Columbia/HCA is now known as HCA. That’s the HCA you see during the
Tour de France on the jerseys of its bicycle racing team. If you scratch the
surface of Rick Scott’s years of playing three-card hospital monte, you’ll find a
few million bucks ended up in the vest of Bill Frist, former Majority Leader of
the United States Senate. Just an accident of birth. National Medical
Enterprises is now known as Tenet Healthcare Corporation. Tenet does not
have a team in the Tour de France, but prominent on its Board of Directors is
Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida and soon to be once removed from Scott.
Just an accident of fate. HCA is the nation’s largest for-profit hospital chain.
Tenet is third. Remember that when you need an operation.
he hospital chains weren’t alone in stealing from the public trough and the
private pocket during the 1990s—clinical laboratories manufactured millions
of fake claims on tests that were unneeded for the patient, unwanted by the
doctor, and unperformed by the lab. Household names joined the parlor
charades—Corning pleaded guilty and paid $119 to the federal government in
the fall of 1996; Laboratory Corporation of America paid $187 million that same
season; and SmithKline Beecham (now GlaxoSmithKline) paid $325 million the
following spring.
Back then, that was big money. But the Pharmacy America has all those
numbers beat to shame. In just the last five years, the world’s biggest
pharmacy companies have paid almost $15 billion to buy off state and federal
For instance, take Eli Lilly (one of its heirs dumped $100 million on Poetry
magazine). Told its sales staff to lie to doctors that its drug Zyprexa would
help treat Alzheimer’s patients. Made the company a fortune but wasn’t true.
In January of 2009, Lilly pleaded guilty to criminal misbranding, paid $515
million—the biggest criminal fine ever—and forked over another $800 million in
civil penalties to end an investigation by the US Department of Justice.
Lilly’s world fraud record stood less than eight months. In September 2009,
Pfizer shredded the marks with its own settlement covering the company’s
misconduct in the sale of its pain medication, Bextra. According to the
government, Pfizer promoted the sale of Bextra for uses and dosages the FDA
specifically refused to approve due to concerns over patient safety. Pfizer
doubled Lilly’s ante with a criminal fine of $1.2 billion with another billion
tossed in the pot for civil penalties.
o I’m laughing at the TV set in October when the story comes on about the
FBI taking down Armen Kazarian, the vor* of a troupe of gangsters around
the country who are charged with sending Medicare fake claims from 118
phony medical clinics run out of mail drops in 25 states. Laughing because
those amateurs took a lousy $35 million out of the till and they’re going to get
decades in prison because of it. Meanwhile, those pinstripes on Wall Street
made billions, and none of them even got their mug shots taken. Like I said,
the news is always bad where I work.
*Vor = East European underworld slang, closest English word is Godfather. For a light article discussing the
vor, see:


Alan Garvey (Carlow, Ireland)

I've worked a variety of jobs from life modelling to church organ repair and restoration and stacking shelves in supermarkets—they may not provide material to write from but they do provide a more grounded perspective than one might have working in academe for all of one's life.  I'm 35 and a stay-at-home dad as nothing I could earn right now would pay the cost of childcare for two kids.  I used to work in event organisation and as a part-time assistant lecturer.  Lippy, difficult and arrogant—that’s how many writers in Ireland would describe me, just because I take/have taken some to task for things like treating free speech as a flag of convenience or suggesting that a community-based writers’ festival be liquidated and its funding given to a ‘select few’.  I despise blind acceptance of authority, dictums and received wisdom and am interested in totalitarianism in all forms, including the totalitarianism of pseudo-liberal rhetoric; and aspire to be fair, consistent and honest at all times. 

November 27, 2010*
There were rumbles of distant thunder that day
heard for a hundred miles round the capital.
Coincidence, omen, call it cliché,
pathetic fallacy that matched the hundreds
of thousands of feet pounding Dublin’s streets,
snow falling on Leinster House, a fairytale
where no amount of mere bitching or wishing
or marching will make the nightmare go away.
*100 000 people took to the streets of Dublin on that day to protest against the Irish government agreeing to underwrite losses accrued by the banking and construction industry in Ireland.


The Cart before the Horse
—adapted from Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech*
For reasons they cannot comprehend,
in pursuance of a decision by default
on which they were never consulted, they find
their wives unable to obtain hospital
beds, children unable to obtain school places.
They begin to hear more and more voices
tell them that they are now the unwant-
ed: their employers hesitate to apply
to the immigrant the standards of discipline
and competence required of native workers.
Homes and neighbourhoods changed beyond
recognition – disgruntled, prospects for a future
defeated, pilloried for their private actions,
nothing but strangers in their own country.
*The "Rivers of Blood" speech was a speech criticising Commonwealth immigration, as well as proposed anti-discrimination legislation in the United Kingdom made in 1968 by Enoch Powell.


Ed Galing

Putting up the Good Fight

Believe it or not, this essay won’t find me bitching about my poor health, and all that stuff about my problems with old age. If I am lucky enough to be around this year at 94 then that’s all that matters. Even riding around in a scooter wheelchair ain’t that bad.
We need to put up the good fight for those who dare to speak the rude truth.  Most of us don’t tell the rude truth, and poetry then becomes nothing more than a lusterless piece of fluff and this is what a lot of my own stuff has become, coward that I am. So, in this little essay I want you to know me the way that I was; the way it used to be when I walked, drove a car, went all over without problems and worked my ass off for everything I ever got which is all my life, just for a small piece of the American pie. 
Today one can’t get a job if older that fifty or even younger.  Jobs are scarce, and the rich stay rich and the old people go on welfare and social security.  Today as I write this, Congress is thinking of shutting down the government because it can’t ag4ree on the budget.  And no one will get a paycheck like social security, and many government offices will shut down.  Yeah, it’s a threat.  Who ever heard of America shutting down the government?  Whether it happens or not, Congress and everyone, Demos and Repubs are all full of shit.  Yes, I used the bad word shit.  So go ahead and lock me up.  Notice I didn’t use the word fuck.  Fuckin’ government sounds more truthful, don’t it? 
When young, I worked for 50 cents an hour in a hamburger joint—worked hard, long hours.  Later I go a raise to one buck an hour.  I was so broke when married I borrowed from loan companies, and couldn’t pay them back for years.  The damn loan companies gouged me with high interest rates, and I was one of those.  I gave blood in a blood bank too for six bucks an hour.  This is America, right?  Why do people sleep on the streets homeless? Why do people commit crimes?  Why indeed?  Why all these damn wars with Obama smack dab in the middle?  Even his smile seems a put on.  What the hell is so funny anyway? 
I am more than happy to tell the truth.  Take the health care system.  Now that I am old and cannot do things, they send people to help me and most of them are incompetent, useless and some untrustworthy.  They come late, and do very little.  I can’t speak for other old people, but I am certain there are unspeakable acts of brutality both in homecare and in nursing homes.  Nursing homes are the worst place for someone to die in.  Once in there you lose your money, your freedom, your integrity, and self worth.  The workers in the homes suffer from the same ignorance and lack of respect as those who take care of me at home.  To be helpless means to be at the mercy of others, some who even steal your life savings.  I think that the entire health system needs to be revamped, and more attention to be more compassionate, and less gouging.   
 I am a dissident against the fraud and deceit, in and out of our government.  Our country loves entertainment, movie stars, and wild sex, and could care less about the important things in our lives.  Every company needs to be examined, and surely found at fault.  We, as poets, need to focus on truth and integrity, and not shut out those who put up the good fight and continue to point out the fake smiles on librarians, etc.  Enough said. 
When you watch television you see many commentators who speak their minds, and are being heard.  Sometimes the speakers are brutal, but honest.  They stir up anger and hatred, and everyone has a say.  Democracy is not working.  So you see, I have not complained about my health at my age, but those who are in charge of me could care less about it.  As I write this, it is Sunday, and the health aide has not arrived, which means I will be on my own all day to cope by myself.  And nobody cares.  The door won’t open, no one will come in to make my bed, cook my meals, and do some errands for me.  So be it.  Good enough that I am still alive, and wish I was young again. 
N.B.:  The editor typed and corrected this essay, and deleted certain passages regarding The American Dissident because of their laudatory nature.  Despite his confession, Ed is not a coward.  For many years, I’ve disliked the fact that people tend to stay confined in their particular generation. In America, the old are viewed by the young often disparagingly.  “Old man” has become an insult.  We need to open our ears to older citizens.